Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tonight Can Be Coming-Out Party For Underrated Andre Roberson

For those who have watched the University of Colorado's men's basketball program closely, the inevitable emergence of Andre Roberson as a national name won't be a surprise. In fact, it might happen tonight, should the eyes of the college basketball world see Roberson emerge as CU knocks off an ESPN- and mid-major-darling Wichita State Shocker ballclub in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Note: Shockers a 9.5 favorite, according to Vegas. UniOf course, as luck would have it (can't CU beg for a schedule change in PR here?), the Buffs are up against a resurgent Bronco ballclub, playing the Thursday night national TV game at home against the Jets.

But for those who are NOT intimately familiar with CU basketball - and that's most everybody - the emergence of Andre Roberson will not be seen as quite so inevitable.

I've recently finished reading "Moneyball" - I know, I'm late, there's a Brad Pitt movie about it that I haven't seen - but Moneyball describes the late-90's/early 2000's baseball trend by Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane to identify talent using new methods of looking at tradition-bound statistical analysis.

The college basketball equivalent of Billy Beane, although not a general manager or even an affiliate of a single program, is Ken Pomeroy. Pomeroy's brilliant blog - - uses, in a nutshell, efficiency statistics to identify college basketball teams, and players, that are undervalued or who may be underappreciated and poised for breakout. When the pace of a game, and resultant statistics, is removed from statistical analysis, Pomeroy and his acolytes (of which I'm one) believe, TRUE value of teams and players can more closely be analyzed.

One of those people who won't be caught of guard by an Andre Roberson coming-out party is, you guessed it, Ken Pomeroy. In an analysis of Andre Roberson posted here in August - yes, in August - Pomeroy makes the brilliant arguement that, eventually, the college basketball world WILL know who Andre Roberson is.

In his analysis, Pomeroy first details Roberson's "absurd rebounding rates", showing Roberson's rebounding efficiency statistics (must be seen to be believed how many of all rebounding opportunities are claimed by Roberson) and THEN discussing comparable players. Further, Pomeroy then points out Roberson's pace-adjusted steal and blocked shot rates, which also are beyond impressive, if not "absurd."

However, the most interesting point discussed in Pomeroy's piece is WHY Roberson is so unknown, despite these remarkable efficiency statistics. Pomeroy posits Roberson's lack of blue-chip status, the fact that he was overshadowed by Burks and Higgins during CU's 2010-2011 season, and the fact that CU's offense last season didn't emphasize Roberson (nor should it have, with Burks and Higgins doing the heavy lifting on the scoring end.

But what Pomeroy does NOT speculate may be even greater. And there are two ways to look at this.

1. Efficiency statistics are not yet analyzed or even discussed by the mainstream media - read ESPN - and thus no matter HOW eye-popping Roberson's efficiency statistics are, the segment of the sports world who listens only, or even primarily, to the "worldwide leader" will never know the value of efficiency statistics in college basketball. Further, just as Billy Beane's unorthodox use of statistics were poo-poohed by the mainstream baseball world when he started using them and are now a part of (nearly) every team's scouting, it can be expected that Ken Pomeroy's brilliant analysis will similarly be embraced. Simply put, ESPN moves the college basketball needle more than anyone else, and as always, they are behind the curve. Talk to me in 2021 when efficiency statistics are so mainstream that the college basketball world laughs at the thought of ANYONE placing importance on a player leading the nation in scoring while playing for the rabbit-paced tempo of a novelty team such as US International or whoever the hell they were.

2. There is also the possibility that Roberson goes so unnoticed and underappreciated because the University of Colorado basketball program is irrelevant in the college basketball world... and makes little or no effort to become relevant. The appearances in the Maui tournament last year and the Puerto Rico tournament this year notwithstanding, CU's non-conference schedule - the part of the year when striving teams serve notice of their aspirations - is a joke. Its sports information department is regarded as inept within the industry, and its relationship with that entity that moves the needle - ESPN - never improves because the aforementioned inept sports information department continues to be insular and never finds a way to promote the great players that CU DOES have. Additionally, it's a 2010 world, and there are many opinion leaders on blogs, message boards, Twitter, etc., just like Ken Pomeroy. Does CU's sports information department embrace these buzz-makers? Nope - it sits idly by in a 1980's mentality, passing out paper statistics at halftime of games and failing to embrace those people (other than the worldwide leader) who really COULD build buzz for Andre Roberson... and for CU's program.

So when Andre Roberson inevitably becomes the star he is, he can blame two things that prevented that inevitability from presenting itself earlier. First, the underappreciation of efficiency statistics, such as those proffered by the brilliant Ken Pomeroy. And the backwards insular nature of CU's sports information department, which refuses to get onboard with modern methods of player and program promotion offered by the 2010's digital world.

Monday, July 25, 2011

At Their Heart, Rockies Are A Bush-League Operation

So Ubaldo was traded. I'm OK with keeping him, and I'm OK with trading him.

I'm not OK with letting him go out there an emotional wreck and be embarrassed for one horrifying, cringe-inducing, 45-pitch, 4-walk, 4-run 1st inning in San Diego before being pulled so he can be traded.

That's just bush league, Rockies. And I suspect you know it. Because we as fans know it.

If Ubaldo was to be traded, let Esmil Rogers (Ubaldo's replacement) start the game. Don't force Ubaldo to attempt to pitch while Rogers warms up in the bullpen.

Rockies brass looks like a monkey fucking a football, as was said in the classic "Days of Thunder."

Thanks, Ubaldo, for all the excitement - the no-hitter, the leadership, the fastballs, the miniscule first-half of 2010 ERA, thanks for everything. And best of luck in Cleveland.

As for the trade itself, it basically hinges on the long-term success of 2010 overall #5 pick pitcher Drew Pomeranz (who, because of contractual reasons, is the "player to be named later.") If Pomeranz turns out to be an ace, the trade was a wash. If Alex White turns out to be a long-term starter, the trade was a good one. And if Joe Gardner (P) and Matt McBride (OF) turn out to be contributors at all, then the trade was VERY good. But it all hinges on Pomeranz... and if he doesn't come up until 2013, it means Rockies management may have written off the 2012 season waiting on Pomeranz. Wonder if they will reduce my season ticket costs...

As for HOW the trade was handles, it could not have been worse. Rockies management, for whatever bullshit reason they will most certainly proffer in the coming days, humiliated a guy who gave the Rockies a lot of good moments, and gave Rockies fans a lot of good memories.

Godspeed, Ubaldo.

Shame on you, Rockies management.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blame Mike Bohn For CU's NCAA Snub

First, let's get this out of the way. The University of Colorado men's basketball team was ABSOLUTELY robbed when the mysterious "selection committee" left them out of the 2011 tournament. Given the lower-than-usual quality of the teams on the bubble, and given the expanded size of the tournament, there is absolutely NO excuse for Colorado to have been left out of the tournament, and without question, there should be a change in how the selection committee members are chosen, and how they do their work. Disgraceful is probably the BEST word to describe the decision.

But, there seem to be two reasons why the committee COULD have eliminated Colorado - one quasi-legitimate and one totally nefarious. And BOTH the fault of Mike Bohn.

Reason 1: CU's Pre-Conference Schedule Was Laughably Weak... and Mike Bohn Could Have Changed It

This is the reason most often cited for CU's exclusion, and there is SOME validity to this. The Buffs' pre-conference schedule was, and has been for several years in recent memory, embarrassingly weak. This pattern - which has been in effect for the tenures of at least three head coaches - is SO well-known that many CU fans eschew season ticket purchases to avoid the cost of buying tickets to so many lousy pre-conference games, preferring just to attend the one (or MAYBE two) worthwhile pre-conference games and then the Big XII games that follow.

So whose fault is it that the pre-conference schedule was so weak? Well, as good leaders will always proclaim, and as President Harry S. Truman said, "The Buck Stops Here." In this case, the buck SHOULD stop with the CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn. However, the buck apparently stops "over there"... as in Winston-Salem, NC. The university athletic department may want the public to believe that the 2010-2011 pre-conference schedule that probably cost the Buffs a trip to the Big Dance was the fault of former coach Jeff Bzdelik - an easy scapegoat since he's not around to defend himself nor did he leave a positive legacy with most Buff fans when he bolted for Wake Forest - but this type of scheduling was in place LONG before Bzdelik arrived in Boulder. After Bzdelik left in the spring, there was one person who COULD have changed the schedule had he wanted... Mike Bohn. Basketball schedules, unlike football schedules, are relatively fluid and not finalized until just a couple of months before the season begins, and had Mike Bohn wanted to, the schedule could easily have been beefed up. But he chose not to, and now the team is paying the price for his inaction.

But why would Mike Bohn NOT beef up the absurd pre-conference schedule, when he had the chance before the season?

It's simple. Mike Bohn didn't believe that this team had a chance of making the NCAA tournament. Rather, he runs the entire CU basketball program in a bush league fashion, with the obvious goal - based on his actions - of reaching the NIT rather than the NCAA tournament. Bohn and the CU Athletic Department can pay lip service to how the NCAA tournament is always the goal for the basketball team, but his actions belie his true beliefs. The pre-conference schedule this year - and every other year, by the way - was designed to get the Buffs to a final record over .500, thus making them eligible for the NIT. Load up on horrendous out-of-conference competition, then a 4-12 Big XII record doesn't drop you below .500, and you can get in the NIT. Clearly, this has been the scheduling goal of the CU Athletic Department for years, and now that bush league philosophy has caught up with them.

And given that Bohn didn't believe enough in this team to beef up the pre-conference schedule, thus costing the team an NCAA berth, Bohn owen an apology to the players. Of course he's too arrogant to make that apology - or any apology, including one for the Dan Hawkins contract extension 3 years ago - publicly, so I guess Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, Marcus Relphorde, and Alec Burks (who will almost certainly declare for the 2011 NBA Draft) will have to accept my apology. Guys, I'm sorry your Athletic Director didn't believe in you enough to provide you with a schedule copacetic with that of all other NCAA at-large teams.

So what's the solution?

Well, a VERY smart CU fan posting on a message board has boiled it down in detailed, accurate fashion that even Mike Bohn should follow. See the solution for future out-of-conference basketball scheduling here:

It shouldn't come down to message board posting fans - who, if Mike Bohn agrees with Dan Hawkins, are the "scum of the Earth" - to tell a Division 1 Athletic Director how to do his job. But it has - and if Mike Bohn is smart, he prints that message board poster's suggestions and follows them EXACTLY in the future.

But it's worse than that. Read on:

Reason 2: Mike Bohn Gave A Double Middle Finger to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, Who Used His Role On The NCAA Basketball Selection Committee To Exact Revenge on Bohn

Here is the evidence: Over a month ago, this very same blog predicted the Big XII getting revenge on Mike Bohn, and the CU basketball program, for Bohn and the athletic department's decision to remove all Big XII logos from the Coors Events Center, and specifically from the arena floor.

Well, we were off the mark. While we assumed (erroneously, apparently) that it would be the Big XII officials who would get back at CU, based on the thin skin and petty grievances of new Big XII Director of Officials Curtis Shaw, apparently the pettiness and revenge-seeking extends even higher. All the way to Big XII Commissioner Dan Beebe.

This is the same Dan Beebe who refused to go to Lincoln to honor the Big XII North football Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers - who, like the Buffs, are bolting the Big XII conference after the season - but then absurdly excoriated the fans in Lincoln by claiming that it would be unsafe for him to attend a game in Lincoln. Yet he sent his officials and a Big XII opponent to the "lions" in Lincoln. Just an absurd, classless statement for Beebe to make - and if you can make this blog actually DEFEND the Cornhuskers, you really have to stoop low.

Then Beebe stooped even lower when he OBVIOUSLY didn't defend the CU Buffs when fulfilling his role on the NCAA Selection Committee. Presumably tweaked by Mike Bohn's decision to give a double middle finger to the Big XII by removing those logos from the CEC, Beebe seems to have made SURE that CU didn't get into the Big Dance. If you believe that the NCAA Selection Committee members "leave the room" when their school/conference is being discussed, then you are a moron.

And so is Mike Bohn, for not only believing enough in the 2010-2011 University of Colorado basketball team to provide them with a tournament-worthy schedule, but for being short-sightedly bitter as his school exited the Big XII and removing all Big XII logos from his school's basketball arena.

The CU basketball players deserve an apology.

The CU basketball program deserves better.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Short-sighted CU Athletic Department Gives Double Middle Finger To Big 12

With the announcement that the University of Colorado was moving its athletic teams from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 came cheers and kudos from CU fans, CU academic staff, CU alumni, and of course, the sycophantic local media.

And let's be fair... it IS a great decision. And it was a great, proactive move by CU's Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, who got ahead of the tectonic shifts in conference switching and ended up in a great situation - in the Pac-10, WITHOUT Texas and its sure-to-be-masturbatory ESPN TV contract, and in a Pac 10 division with BOTH Southern California teams. Considering the number of CU alumni in California, the number of current CU parents who are in California, the imminent new-media contract of the Pac-10, and the FAR more desirable travel destinations offered by the Pac-10 (Palo Alto vs. Ames? no contest), this clearly was a great move.

But CU, after some negotiation, had to play one more season in the Big 12, in both football and basketball. Clearly, Dan Hawkins's final football season was never going to be a success given the abject failure of a head coach the 2010 Buffs were saddled with for the first 9 games, but there was hope for the basketball team. A new coach, some returning experience, and the fortuitous return of Big 12 superstar Alec Burks all signalled good things for the Buffs. And when the Buffs won the first two conference games, both against ranked opponents, and surged to the top of the Big 12 standing, the outlook was rosy.

Then reality set in. Since its 3-0 start, CU has lost 4 of 5 games, several close, and several on the road. The games at Nebraska and Oklahoma were games the Buffs had NO business losing, yet somehow they blew leads and lost. But as CU was losing these road games, I noticed something.

CU has removed ANY reference to the Big 12 Conference from the Coors Events Center - including the Big 12 logo from the basketball court.

This is AMAZINGLY stupid and short-sighted, and represents a double middle finger to the Big 12 Conference. Every single other team in the Big 12 - yes, even Nebraska, also bolting the conference at the end of the year - has the Big 12 logo on its floor. Who made this decision at CU? And why? Don't they realize this will antagonize a conference office that already was exposed as petty and stupid when its commissioner claimed to be unable to attend a division-clinching football game in Lincoln because of fear of the Husker fans?

A primer on how basketball officials are assigned:

Each conference employs a coordinator of officials - in the Big 12's case, this is Curtis Shaw (new to the position this year). Shaw assigns game officials based on whatever criteria he likes. He can claim to review them, or to have a committee to review the officials' performance, but ultimately, whatever Shaw says goes. And the officials know that getting these plum officiating assignments hinges on whether they are able to effectively play the political game and kiss the ass of the conference assigners. In other words... if you are an official and you want to work Big 12 conference games in the 2011-2012 season and beyond, start kissing Curtis Shaw's ass NOW.

So for the rest of the season, CU should EXPECT to get the short end of the officiating stick, as officials try to kowtow to Curtis Shaw and his arrogance in his future assigning duties. Basketball, more so than ANY other sport, has a lot of calls that "could go either way" - and which way do you think they will go in a Colorado game?

Why? Because the Big 12 conference office - which staffs small, petty men like Curtis Shaw in powerful positions - has to have noticed what I noticed. That the CU Athletic Department gave the conference a double middle finger on its way out by actively removing the conference logo from the Coors Event Center floor.