Monday, April 8, 2013

Team of Destiny? Yes

Congratulations to the University of Louisville Cardinals Men's Basketball Team for winning the 2013 NCAA Div. I Men's Basketball Championship. Watching this tournament was a treat and watching this finals match-up of the Michigan Wolverines and Louisville Cardinals was a pleasure. Both teams deserved to be in this spot and both teams were a part of a special championship game. Louisville won this game, but let me tell you, Michigan did not help themselves. Earlier this month, I saw a graphic of the Final Four coaches. Boeheim and Pitino are obviously solid; however, the coach that had the most concerning credentials was John Beilein. The team that he has is extremely talented, but extremely young. He is the one that needed to be the "X-factor", but the key decisions that he made during the final did not help his team out. The NCAA Player of the Year, Trey Burke of Michigan, was taken out of the game early by Beilein after he picked up his 2nd foul. Burke's absence was the reason Louisville was able to come back from a double-digit deficit and change the course of the game. A player like Spike Albrecht could only do so much for the Wolverines during his little shooting spurt, but experience counts on these national stages. Michigan could have won the game, but the sports gods smiled upon Pitino and his Cardinals. They wouldn't be stopped and they Won for Ware. Great game. Well deserved title to the Louisville Cardinals.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

ASU's Sparky Gets a New (Demonic) Look. Thanks a lot, Disney

If you have seen my blog before, you'll probably sense that I am not very fond of Arizona State University. Leaving that aside, I do know quite a bit about the university since I am a former Arizonan. From my sense, people never had a whole lot of beef against ASU other than the fact that they have the highest undergrad population in the country, have consistently been named one of the best party schools, have the highest rate of STDs in a college campus, have a plethora of California chicks and bros that decided to attend their safety-safety school, have an alarmingly high number of alums that went on to be pornstars, and have a Devil as a mascot. In this post, I want to zoom in on their mascot Sparky.

A Brief History of Sparky the Sun Devil
Sparky in 1970

Sparky in 2011
ASU's mascot wasn't always a fiendish, pitchfork-wielding imp. Arizona's Second University was initially called Tempe Normal School and their mascot was the Normals. Soon, they became a state school and toggled through a bulldog then owl mascot. After a while, an ASU alum that was fired from Disney was given the task of creating a new mascot for the school. He then sent ASU a devilish caricature of Walt Disney, which has since become the image of ASU and has been named Sparky the Sun Devil.
Sparky in 1965

Over the years, Sparky has gone through quite a few changes; however, the constant has always been the Sun Devil logo

Sparky the Sun Devil (circa 2013)
This new look is unnecessary. It is tasteless, scary, and designed by Disney (pretty ironic). A classic case of "If it ain't broke, don't break it" in the sports world. The old Sparky had almost a stuffed animal charm about him, but now, it seems as though I am looking into the eyes of Lucifer himself. The mascot was intended to be more "child-friendly", but it looks more like a child's worst nightmare. Before, it seemed as though the devil-mascot debate has always been a silly argument, but now, this mascot gives it a devilish twist. At least it's Sunday so I can go pray.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How many points is home-court advantage?

How many points is home-court advantage. Putting a number on this stat is extremely difficult so let me begin by stating how home court yields an advantage. When a team plays at home, they have both the fans and refs by their side. As much as people will deny that the fans influence the referees, no human being will willingly make 15,000+ fans hate their guts whenever they call a foul or blow their whistle. As a result, the referees are more likely to call fewer fouls against the home team and more against the home team. The fans will then attempt to distract the opposing free-throw shooters and offense in order to make an impact on the game.

In this post, I will be looking at the more consistent teams with a high average home attendance in order to formulate an average of how many points home-court advantage yields based on home-and-away conference match ups.
Now let me explain the process of this calculation before I give you a number. So let me show you the equation:

Home Margin—Away Margin= Difference
Difference/2= Home-Court Advantage

In order to make this number as accurate as possible, I took scores from schools that are renowned for having a daunting home-court advantage like Gonzaga, Kentucky, Florida, Arizona, Duke, UCLA, etc. I then sampled from 106 games in which the team played home and away against the same opponent to formulate this number: (drumroll please)

   4.8679 points from Home-Court Advantage

This pretty much explains why the teams that I have listed have won some thrillers this year when they played at home. By using this stat, maybe we can project the scores of any neutral-site, regular-season rematches during March Madness

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Home Court... Hurts?

Is it possible that playing at home can negatively impact the home team? I'd like to say no, but I can't help but think yes. In college basketball, most any team can give another a scare and this season, most any team can pull off an upset. All AP top 10 teams have been upset at least once, most of which have come on the road; however, playing in front of the home crowd does not give a team that is picked to win the extra push necessary. Any basketball coach will tell you that it is difficult to win on the road and that they put in more preparation for road games. What a coach won't tell you is that the team will not focus as much for a game that has "already been decided". Oftentimes you will see a team not play as hard as they should and then receive a scare from lower competition. Other times, you may observe a team that is trying to impress the home crowd by playing a more stylish brand of basketball with no-look passes or alley oops. Sometimes, it doesn't work out and the away team will capitalize. Judging from the Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team today and other home games at the McKale Center, they haven't played the brand of basketball that they would like. Instead, there was a crowd watching their every move, just waiting to explode. That will oftentimes get you mixed results if the other team came to play. Either you will have a closely contested game that goes back and forth seeing the home team as the eventual winner, or you will see the away team come bursting out of the gates to quickly silence the home crowd and grind out a road win. Today, as the Wildcats played the Cal Golden Bears, there was no sense of urgency, especially at the start of the 2nd half, by the home team. Before fans could return from concessions to their seats, Cal had come bursting out of the gates to grab a 10-point lead. The crowd was stunned and the team never recovered as the Golden Bears pranced away with a 77-69 win over the 7th ranked Arizona Wildcats. With tickets had to come by in Tucson for these basketball games, each fan is waiting for a Mark Lyons trey, a Solo fade away, or a Nick Johnson alley oop that they see so often on TV. The players know what the fans want to see and every now and then, you catch them not prepared or trying to impress. In a season like this one, you cannot afford to do that.

I'm Back!!!

I'd like to apologize for my lack of posts over the past several months. Since the summer of last year, I have moved from Tucson, Arizona to Pullman, Washington. There hasn't been much to cover here in the Palouse other than WSU's disappointing 2012 football campaign as well as an extremely mediocre season from the basketball squad. Things down south in Tucson have looked quite good as the Arizona Wildcats football team finished 8-5 with a ridiculous victory against Nevada to conclude their season with the New Mexico Bowl trophy. The men's basketball team has also been performing well with a consistent ranking in the AP top 10. The Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks have both been very active in the offseason, with the Blue Jays drastically improving their roster with many acquisitions. However, the D-backs have made changes that don't seem to make the team a bona-fide contender in the NL West. The Arizona Cardinals started off their 2012 campaign with a surprising and encouraging 4-0 starts, only to finish the season 5-11, which led to the dismissal of Coach Ken Whisenhunt. The Phoenix Suns have become a doormat of the Western conference and the NHL lockout began and ended. Plenty of sports news is still to come and I will attempt to post more frequently. You can also follow me on twitter @thefanaddict