MY VEINS, THEY FLOWIN'! MY PAINS, THEY SLOWIN'! LORDY HOW I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!
That's the chorus to "Net Gain," my rap song about March Madness. I'm still pretty much just in the shopping-it-around stage of things, you know? A lot of interest, though...a lot of interest.
So much that I've taken the shot-making chart up a notch. For Seth Curry, I didn't just do three-pointers, and I didn't just cluster them in zones. This time, each shot on the floor is more or less exactly where he shot from. Caveats:
*As usual, the CBS game shot charts I took from were not 100% accurate. I was pretty meticulous in my plotting, but at the end I had Seth 57-130 from three. He was actually 56-128. Pretty close, especially considering the sample size, and as before there's no good way to know where CBS goofed. Not without tape.
*My court dimensions, as you see, are not exact. There may be like a 2-3 foot distortion of certain shots. Not much more than that, but I want the perfectionists to know what they're seeing.
*I should have said this before, even though it's pretty obvious; when I talk about right side and left side, make sure you flip it from the chart in your mind. The left side of the screen is actually the right side of the court since the basket is at the bottom rather than the top.
*On the year, Seth Curry is 43.8% from three. He's 38.8% from inside the arc. He's attempted 128 threes, and just 80 shots from inside. The man is a true bomber. My friend Nick had what I thought was an excellent and logical point: he'd probably shoot like 55% from half court. Behold.
As you see, his only real "bad" zone is the left corner, where he shoots 28%. It also happens to be his second-most frequent shooting spot. That's one really interesting thing about making these charts; the players shoot a lot from the cold zones.
With Nolan, his "coldest" zone was the left wing, and he shot more threes from there (42) than any other spot on the floor. Singler was more efficient, shooting the most threes (61) from his hottest zone (right wing). But he also shot 58 from the very cold left wing, showing that he doesn't discriminate between sides of the floor. And Seth takes his second-highest frequency of threes from the cold left corner.
That being said, the man shoots 51.3% from threes on the right side of the floor.
Repeat: The man shoots 51.3% from threes on the right side of the floor.
Incredible. 37-72. On the other hand, he's really poor from like 10 feet away from the basket a little above the baseline; as you see, he's 3-14 in that little cluster. His low 2-point percentage overall (only 6-14 on layups) shows that he needs to work on finishing. Which is to be expected; he's playing in a better conference, and he's not the biggest dude on the planet.
So there's Seth. Moving on to big news:
Nolan Smith is ACC Player of the Year.
"I came back knowing I was going to be a (shooting) guard and playing alongside Kyrie, and at the same time, I prepared if anything, God forbid, happened," Smith said. "And it did, and I was ready, and (coach Mike Krzyzewski) called my number. He was like, 'It's your time to lead this team. You're ready.' And I said, 'I've got you,' and it worked out well."
He received 73 first-place votes out of a possible 75. The other two players receiving votes? Jordan Williams and Kyle Singler.
Yes, you read that correctly: Kyle Singler got a vote for ACC POTY. Who would possibly vote for him? Unfortunately, the votes aren't public, because some public ridicule is in order. I mean, did they even watch the season?
Anyway, no harm, no foul. Roy Williams got coach of the year (I would've picked Donahue, but I guess Roy is a good pick), Harrison Barnes got freshman of the year (should've been Marshall), and John Henson was the defensive player of the year (no-brainer).
In news that certainly isn't bad, Nolan was also voted National Player of the Year by two media outlets: FoxSports.com and Yahoo.com. This probably has zero bearing on the Naismith or Wooden Awards. And there are other voices out there; CBS gave it to Jimmer. I'm not holding my breath.
Back to Singler for a moment. Yesterday, I came across this article from the Winston-Salem Journal about the slump. It's just okay, but it does have some comments on the topic from Coach K. As you'd expect, he's supportive and, at least in public, hopeful:
"He just hasn't shot well," Krzyzewski said. "It's such a tough thing. It's a deep, precise thing you do in basketball, shoot the ball, unless you're an inside player, and you're powering it. He's got to just keep at it.
"Last year there were times when he didn't shoot well. And then all of a sudden he's the MVP of the ACC Tournament. I think he was 0 for 10 against Baylor (in the NCAA Tournament South Regional) and he's the MVP in the Final Four.
"I know he'd like to see the darn thing go in. There's nobody that wants it to go in more than he does. But I'm right behind him."
The writer points out that Singler is 2 for his last 19 from three since the Virginia game, and only 30 for 83 overall. Unlike Coach K, I'm not super confident that anything's going to change. Aside from a few good games, it's been an entire year of disappointing shooting, and as Nasty's chart from yesterday showed, the entire style of his play is altered. He's less involved in the offense, for one reason or another, and his assists and inside points have suffered. I'm not sure if he came into this year trying to re-define himself as a pure jump shooter, or what, but as of now he's doing a poor impression of J.J. Redick. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think that whatever Singler lost can be turned back on overnight.
And then there was this. Jalen Rose, former Fab 5'er, had some pretty hard words for Duke. "I hated Duke," he said. "I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms." Check the video:
The meat of the issue is this quote from Rose:
"Well, certain schools recruit a typical kind of player whether the world admits it or not. And Duke is one of those schools,” he said. “They recruit black players from polished families, accomplished families. And that’s fine. That’s okay. But when you’re an inner-city kid playing in a public school league, you know that certain schools aren’t going to recruit you. That’s one. And I’m okay with it. That’s how I felt as an 18-year-old kid."
As you might imagine, this caused quite a stir in the Duke world yesterday. Some people were pissed. But here's the thing: he's not wrong.
He was wrong about using the label "Uncle Tom." That's nonsense, because it connotes an abject, servile black person who's always bending over backward to please white people at the expense of his own people. The players recruited by Duke had no say about the circumstances into which they were born, and they shouldn't have to apologize or be stigmatized. In Rose's defense, though, he was speaking to his feelings as an 18-year-old kid from Detroit. That's probably what he thought at the time, and that's probably what he was being told.
And here's where I sympathize with Rose: Duke really does recruit a certain kind of black player (and white player, for that matter). Yes, you can find exceptions. Absolutely. What I'm saying is not true 100% of the time. But by and large, the black players Duke goes after come from either middle class or affluent families. Some of them are sons of former NBA players and others just happen to be well-off for a variety of other reasons. But it's happened too often, with too much frequency, to be considered anything other than a trend. Coach K obviously has an ideal kind of player, and a talented black kid from a poor, urban environment is not that player.
So if you were Rose, how would you feel? Why wouldn't Duke recruit him? If I were him, my suspicion would be that Coach K and the Duke program in general didn't trust blacks from the inner city. That they doubted their character and intelligence based only on their origins; that there was something inherently less reliable about Jalen Rose than Grant Hill, that they were worse as people. Of course you'd resent the Duke program. It would feel like a silent, legal form of discrimination. It would feel like a white establishment propping up black players and families who were like them and hanging the 'real' black culture out to dry. You'd feel like dirt in their eyes, and you'd feel hopeless, and then you'd feel angry.
I'm not saying Jalen Rose is right in his beliefs or that Coach K is wrong in his recruiting practices. I'm just saying I understand how Rose feels, especially as an 18-year-old kid. And he's expressing a common sentiment; you'll notice that Ray Jackson and Jimmy King aren't disagreeing. There's a deep bitterness on their part, and the fact that they never beat Duke stings more than any other loss. To beat Duke would have proved that Coach K was wrong about not recruiting them, and by extension wrong about the perceived stereotypes that urban black players everywhere have been trying to overcome for decades. You can tell it's something they deeply wanted, and it's a bitter pill to this day.
Anyway, I saw that Rose took some grief for the comments, and I thought they were sentiments worth defending. I can definitely see how he feels, and I know I'd feel the same way if I'd spent a childhood in his shoes.*
*(At the end of the day, though? Fuck Michigan.)
Arkansas Little-Rock, Butler, and Oakland punched their tickets last night. The Big East kicks into high gear today, with UConn and Georgetown squaring off at noon (I'm rooting for the scoreboard to fall) and the hometown Johnnies taking the floor at 2pm in a tough game against Rutgers.
Gothic Madness starts next week, and I still need e-mails from: Tim, Daniel, Lisa, Keith, Ty, Robert. I'll give you guys until about noon tomorrow, then I'll start recruiting newcomers.
Tomorrow morning I'll post an ACC preview. Later, I'll be sitting pretty at the ACC Tourney in Greensboro. My plan right now is to do some live updates throughout the day, especially during office hours. I'll talk mostly about the ACCT, obviously, but also about the day in MBB in general. It kicks off at noon with Virginia-Miami, a surprisingly enticing game. That's when the updates be poppin,' and I'll see you then.
I wish this video was less weird, but I don't wish the song was more awesome; we might pass out from the glory.