Big East Hoops

Archive for the 'Juice' category

… And we’re back.

February 17, 2009 3:20 pm by Juice

Sorry about that downtime. It took a little while for us to locate Marcus Williams and, shortly thereafter, the laptops he stole from us that control the massive data centers that power Big East Hoops. We’re back up and running now, though. Thanks for the “assist”, Marcus.

Alum Report: Ray Allen, 33, still doesn’t suck

January 25, 2009 4:16 pm by Juice

When the Celtics acquired Ray Allen, UConn’s first legitimate NBA superstar, they figured they knew what they were getting: a perimeter offensive threat, a defensive liability, a guy who was at the tail end of his career.

He surprised everyone (me included) with his defensive competence in last year’s playoffs, and though he slumped early on offense, he ended big. Nevertheless, there were a lot of questions about the Celtics this preseason, mostly having to do with age, and Ray was probably the biggest reason for that: he’s 33, which is about 250 in NBA years.

So the Celtics surprised everyone again with an utterly dominant start to the season. When they came back down to earth, losing 7 of 9 to bracket the new year, the same old questions arose.

Yet they’ve turned things around once again, and, biggest surprise of all, it seems like Ray Allen is the reason. He never seemed as integral a part of the Celtics as Pierce, KG, or even Rondo. But here he is, putting up monster numbers (some of the best of his career) over their most recent 8 game winning streak: 60-89 FG (67%), 26-39 3PT (67%), 18-18 FT (100%), while averaging 20.5 PPG.

It’s easy to dismiss a perimeter shooter who relies on picks rather than his own athleticism to create most of his shots. (18 free throws in 289 minutes is pretty pathetic, it’s true.) But as old age looms, and athleticism declines, it looks more and more like Ray Ray is playing it smart — contrast with Allen Iverson, another Big East alum, just as old, and struggling mightily to match his already-inefficient career stats. Denzel would be proud.

Site changes: new alternate URL, forums

March 9, 2007 8:37 pm by Juice

Hey all,
We’re just as tired as you are of typing “” into our browsers. So for quicker access, we’ve registered a second domain name that points to this site: Check it out if you’re feeling lazy.

Also, we’ve started up some user forums, in response to a number of users who wanted to have their say. You can get to the forums by clicking on the bold “Forums” link at the top of the page. Now you can write up any of your thoughts about our front page posts, or anything else at all about the Big East.

We’ll be reading the forums frequently (and often posting there ourselves), and we’ll make sure to refer to/quote any especially good posts in a main page blog entry. Represent!

Beating the system

March 6, 2007 2:44 pm by Juice

There were a couple of good articles in the latest edition of The New York Times’s excellent if infrequent Play Magazine. Though there were a few short pieces about college basketball, none were about the Big East (well, one, if you count the feature on a UConn Women’s Basektball superfan).

However, How to Build a Prodigy describes the latest in what I would call “sports neurology”. Not everything is new here, but it’s a good summary of the past few years of research. And now I know that it’s too late to improve my jump shot, unless I want to make 5000 or more correct attempts.

If you’re still trying to determine your picks for our Big East Tourney Pick ‘Em Challenge (see below), you might want to check out For the Gamblers, 1+2=5. Key points:

Ignore seeds once they’ve been assigned. Just because a 12 seed often beats a 5 seed, this particular 12-seeded team didn’t get magical powers from the selection committee’s decision.

Don’t watch games. Counter-intuitive, but true. Not that this is going to stop you, but the more you watch, the more biased your opinion becomes. The article mentions the obvious fact that if you watch one team a lot, you’re going to be subjective. But memories are extremeley selective in general, and “The best handicappers are people who don’t watch games at all”. This leads to an interesting corollary: all the big pundits who make predictions are going to be wrong. (Has anyone done an analysis of how accurate ESPN writers’ picks are?) More interestingly, it also suggests that the NCAA selection committee, which uses a combination of statistics and watching tons of games, might do better by just using statistics. (Or having some kind of double-elimination tournament for all Div I teams.)

Trust Vegas. When it’s all about the money, rationality prevails over emotion.

The tournament never follows seed exactly, but it’s never that random either. Take small chances, but don’t pick your favorite Cinderella 16-seed to run the table.

Remember, it’s not too late to enter your Pick ‘Em brackets!

Is the NBA good for college basketball?

December 19, 2006 12:58 am by Juice

Most of us are college basketball fans first, and NBA fans second. That is, we’ll watch the playoffs and the Finals when they roll around, but from January through March, college basketball is basketball.

But the NBA overshadows much of college ball — it’s the ultimate stage to which most college players aspire. At the same time, many fans view it distastefully, as an overly-commercial game with no heart that sucks up the great college players far too early. How does the NBA affect the college game? Is it really so bad? Let’s break it down.

Minus: Good players leave early
This is the most obvious and often-cited complaint about the NBA. The best college players declare for the NBA after a few seasons at best. Of course, you can’t fault them: millions of dollars in pay and endorsements are always a convincing argument. But for fans, the transition induces pain, when you find out that one of your favorite players has finally decided to declare, or fatalism, when you know a player is going to head to the NBA early the minute he steps on the court, and you start watching him like he’s a dead man dribbling.

Sometimes, of course, you get what you wanted anyway (Carmelo Anthony), but far more often you’re left wondering just how good your team could be if only he were still around the next season (Caron Butler, countless others). That’s pain, and frustration. The churn of good players means that your team is constantly in rebuilding mode.

Minus: Showboating
We’ve all seen it: the talented player, destined for the NBA, determined to improve his draft chances by… being a ball hog, going for the showy play rather than the good one, and playing lackadaisically when he knows he’s not in the spotlight. In short, doing everything that you hate about the NBA regular season. Ben Gordon in the 2004 championship game comes to mind, but there are plenty of other examples. The purity of college basketball derives from the notion that the team matters more than the individual (which is partly why we are able to remain sane while rooting for a rotating cast of characters a la Minus #1 above). There’s no pay, so the only reward, theoretically, is a championship, which encourages better team play and more beautiful basketball.

Sounds great. Except that the expectation of future rewards — NBA contracts — is so significant that, in some players, it’s the most important factor. The end result: ugly, ugly games that leave a bad taste in your mouth. (Remember, many of these players aren’t even good enough to play in the NBA, much less be superstars. So they do a far worse job of doing cool stuff on their own.)

At this point, it’s looking hard to argue for the NBA at all. But there are some positives, and I think they actually outweigh the negatives.

Plus: A bigger talent pool
This is a simple economic argument. NBA = riches. College = best chance at NBA. End result: any kid with half a chance of making it in college is going to want to play. More players = bigger talent pool = better overall play.

Plus: Greater parity
This is a more subtle argument, but perhaps the most important one. Mister D recently commented on how much parity there is in Division I ball. And it definitely is impressive. But why is there such parity? Consider the following argument:

If college play is all about winning championships, then the best programs should attract the best athletes, because each player supposedly wants to maximize his chance of winning a championship. In this world, you’d never see Wichita State in the Top 10; instead, you’d see (roughly) the same 10 teams in the Top 10, not only all year long, but year-in and year-out. Why doesn’t this happen?

It seems to me that the main reason is that good players want to play ball in college, and you won’t get to play much ball if you’re on a team with 11 other superstars. Now, part of the reason that good players want lots of playing time is that they love playing; it’s what they do.

However, another reason is (surprise) the NBA. If you’re a good player, and you know you have a shot at the NBA, you’ll want to attend college somewhere that will make your talents visible to NBA scouts. I’d wager that being the sixth man on a great team that makes it to the Final Four is not as lucrative (last year’s draft-record-breaking UConn squad aside) as being the first man on a good team. So the NBA encourages a natural diffusion of talent throughout the NCAA, which makes March Madness so awesome every year. The desire to showboat, as nasty as it is, ultimately strengthens the league through greater parity. It’s a crazy world.

March Madness is the heart of the college basketball experience. Thanks, NBA, for making it so good.