Tag: Harvard


Video: Jeremy Lin tells you how to get into Harvard

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When it was time to apply to college, I almost sent my application in to Harvard. Because I figured the evaluators there needed comic relief now and again just like everyone else.

But for those of you thinking about going, Golden State Warrior and Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin has some ideas for you. It’s a bit goofy, but what else have we got to run around here? You really want another depressing lockout post?

Video via SLAM and HoopMixTape.

Tom Thibodeau had Obama in his corner for Bulls job

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Don’t mess with Tom Thibodeau, the man has supporters in high places. The highest of places.

The story goes back a few years. Thibodeau coached for a while at Harvard as a young assistant, and one of his charges was a younger Arne Duncan, co-captain of the team. Thibs impressed Duncan, and that paid off later Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf told the Chicago Sun Times.

‘‘Tom Thibodeau was first recommended to me by [U.S. Secretary of Education] Arne Duncan,’’ Reinsdorf said during an exclusive interview with the Sun-Times on Tuesday. ‘‘And that was two years earlier. The Celtics didn’t give us a chance to talk with him until after the playoffs, when they won the championship.’’

That was the summer that the Bulls ended up hiring Vinny Del Negro. Last summer the job came open.

‘When the job was open again, I talked to Duncan several times on the subject, and he still strongly recommended Thibodeau,’’ Reinsdorf recalled. ‘‘So we hired him. Then in July 2010, the White Sox were playing in Washington, and we invited President Obama to come to the game.

‘‘First, David Axelrod [then Obama’s senior adviser] arrived and said, ‘Thanks for hiring Thibodeau.’ Then a little while later, President Obama came in and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Great hire.’

You know, that is almost exactly how I got this job at PBT….

Dunk more, win more games. It’s that simple.

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We love watching dunks in games because, well, that’s what we wish we could do. It’s exciting. Shannon Brown throwing it down in a game is way better than Shannon Brown in the dunk context.

According to the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective (via Slam) dunks are also good strategy if you want to win games.

In 08/09, the average team dunked the ball 310.4 times in an 82-game season. Of the 13 teams above that mean, 9 of them made it to the playoffs (69.2%). When looking at the 17 teams below that average, only 7 of them made it in (41.1%). Going deeper, the mean winning percentage of those 13 teams (0.550) was nearly 9% better than that of the 18 below (0.462). These numbers are even more drastic in 09/10, with the average number of dunks per team dropping to 292.1. Out of 16 teams above the 292.1 threshold, 12 made the playoffs (75%), with only 4 of the 15 below qualifying (26.67%). The difference in winning percentage is even greater, at a 14% advantage for the dunking teams (0.569 vs. 0.421).

Conventional wisdom would assume that the reason for this disparity is because good teams not only dunk more than bad teams, they score more than other teams as well. However, when factoring in dunking as a percentage of a team’s scoring, the same differences exist: a difference of 69% vs. 41% in 08/09 and 75% vs. 26.67% in 09/10.

There’s a simple logic to this — teams that win are the ones that are efficient in scoring. No shot is more efficient (meaning shot at a higher percentage) than the dunk. Also, dunks tend to happen in efficient scoring situations, such as fast breaks or offensive rebounds. Ergo, teams that dunk a lot tend to be efficient on offense and win more because of it.

Unless Travis Outlaw is involved. Then this whole theory goes out the window.

Harvard takes up question of fouling late when up by three

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horry_lastsecond.jpgIt’s one of the most divisive of question in basketball, right up there with “is David Kahn as bad a GM as Isiah Thomas?”

You’re up three, there’s 10 seconds left in the game and the other team has the ball. Do you foul and send them to the line for two free throws? If so, when? Or, do you show faith in your defense to contest the three and not foul at all, going for it in one play?

There is no consensus, although most observers want the foul. Orlando chose not to foul up three in Game 4 of the 2009 NBA finals, and Derek Fisher got lose (after the Magic double-teamed Kobe) to tie the game with a three. Many coaches will foul, but often not until only a few seconds are left on the clock (Phil Jackson’s stated rule of thumb is under 5 seconds left, although he has let his team play it out and defend the arc on numerous occasions).

But with the odds of making a three roughly 35 percent (give or take, depending on the shooter), and that is just to tie, are you better off defending the arc, contesting the shot and just going for the win?

The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective looked at the data — every college game with this situation last season — and said, to quote Bill Murray in Meatballs, “It just doesn’t matter.” (Hat tip to Deadspin)

In the 2009-2010 season, I found 443 instances where a team held the ball down three points during their last possession of a period (either the end of the 2nd half or an overtime period). In 391 of those cases, the team leading did not foul. In 52 cases, the team chose to foul…

Of the 52 teams that committed a foul, six lost the game for a winning percentage of 88.46%. Of the 391 teams that did not foul, 33 lost the game for a winning percentage of 91.56%. … In this sample, teams that did not foul won slightly more often. For the less statistically inclined, this means that there is no significant difference between the two strategies.

This makes some sense, there is not likely a huge disparity, and the first lesson is you would rather be up three than down three late in a game.

But the Harvard study does not factor in the time component, and that is key. Up three and foul with 10 seconds to go and you have created a free throw shooting contest (the other team will foul the second you inbound). Both sides are likely to get to the line a couple times.

But if you can foul — not in the act of shooting — with Jackson’s five seconds or less? Then you essentially force the other team to make the first and miss the second, trying to get the rebound. In that case, in the Harvard college study, teams won 94 percent of the time. That’s odds any coach would take. So unless you’re at a huge rebounding disadvantage, it seems the wise strategy to foul late.

Or, to put it another way, you can’t really go wrong doing what Phil Jackson does.

Jeremy Lin a fan favorite in Vegas

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At the beginning of Friday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Washington Wizards, those assembled at the COX Pavilion in Las Vegas were on their feet and craning their necks to get a look at No. 1 overall pick John Wall. The crowd oohed and ahhed at Wall’s pre-game routine of windmills and tomahawks, just like they have before every Wizards game in Vegas.
But while Wall was the star of pre-game warmups, Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin ended up stealing the show. Lin isn’t the most athletic guy in Las Vegas, and he’s not the most skilled, but he may be the most fearless. 
Don’t let the Harvard degree fool you — Lin is a hard-nosed player who loves to take the ball right at the rim in every situation, and he doesn’t mind taking a bump or flat-out crashing into an opponent on his way to the hoop. 
Lin played the same aggressive game against the Wizards that he’s been playing all week, and the crowd ate it up. When Lin converted a tough drive, the crowd cheered. When he threw down a fast-break dunk, they roared in appreciation. When Lin split a double-team, weaved through the rotating defenders, got knocked down, and had a shot linger on the rim for a few seconds before it fell to the floor, the crowd went absolutely crazy. Even though the shot missed and Lin actually got called for a charge on the play, it was as loud as the COX Pavillion has been all week. 
Just like his and-1 that wasn’t, Lin’s bid for an NBA roster spot may come up just a bit short. Friday was by far the best of Lin’s four summer league games, and his stat line still didn’t look all that impressive: 13 points on 6-12 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, four turnovers, and six fouls. It’s hard to make the NBA as an undrafted rookie without great athleticism, a great shooting stroke, or great court vision, and Lin doesn’t have any of those. What Lin does have is the toughness, determination, and savvy that have made him one of the most fun players to watch in summer league, and there’s always a chance an NBA team will want somebody with Lin’s attitude and approach to the game on their bench. 
Lin has a bright basketball future ahead of him, even if that future doesn’t include a stint in an NBA rotation. Wherever Lin does go, he’ll have plenty of fans who will remember the fearless show he put on during his time with Dallas’ summer league squad.