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I will cite one example but it could be applied widely and it just happens to be the one I heard most recently.
"North Carolina is the 2nd best rebounding team in the nation" was said on tonight's ESPN broadcast. It was a talking point a few times. And it is not really wrong in a technical sense. One can go to their team page on ESPN and see it in big bold letters. Now I am not saying that the statistical research that was done by the ESPN crew stopped on the front page of UNC's ESPN team page (oh who am I kidding it probably did, these guys are clowns) but does that really tell us anything about how well UNC really rebounds the ball.
If we were to instead look at UNC's KenPom page we would see that they are 159th in defensive rebounding. Does that sound like a strong rebounding team? Of course not.
I just don't get it with guys who are professionals and ought to know this stuff. If one just looks at basic stats you would think UNC is a great offensive team. 2nd in scoring. 2nd in rebounding. But it is all because they play a ton of possessions per game. At some point I have to think that sanity will prevail and the professionals will stop using stupid numbers but I don't know. It is almost every game I watch where someone is using a stat that really tells you nothing about what is going on or is just flat misleading.
North Carolina Tar Heels basketball scores, news, schedule, players, stats, photos, rumors, and video highlights on ESPN.com.
Major media, and espn is a prime example, is about the lowest common denominator. They'll use more sophisticated numbers at a rate about a year behind broad acceptance by the general public. Too bad. Helping the public get there would be a win.
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The vast majority of Americans can't do math beyond "this number is bigger than that number." They can count the number of rebounds or number of points for a group of teams, and tell which one has the most. They can't comprehend that different paces of play affect the value of raw data or the need to normalize that data across those paces. There is some complicated math involved (okay, none of the steps are complicated, but it's just multiple calculations) and that doesn't catch on with casual observers, which accounts for >95% of the population.
BY THE WAY, the beast in the middle, Jeff Withey, has moved into the Ken Pomeroy top 10 for NPOY, at #8.. Russdiculous is #1, followed by Plumlee and Burke.
See, I am not even asking that they explain the numbers. Simply don't do things like say UNC is the number 2 rebounding team in the nation. Because then you look like a jackass when they get beat on the glass by a middle of the road UVA team. You don't have to explain tempo adjustments or anything else. Just equip yourself with the readily obtainable information out there that suggest very clearly that UNC is a pretty poor rebounding team this year. It is plainly obvious when you watch them as well. They don't have good post presence or physicality on that roster.
I don't want them to explain real stats to people necessarily (would be nice). I just would like to feel like announcers did any research beyond looking at PPG, RPG, APG and team FG% before a game starts. And honestly I think plenty of Americans would understand the more advanced stats if they were used regularly. I honestly think the people most intimidated by new stats are not the average joe, who may not be able to explain the math behind something like eFG% or OBPS (baseball) but is bright enough to figure out that a higher number is better, but the plethora of former players and coaches who help announce games and are incredibly lazy when it comes to their job prep. Understanding some of those stats might challenge their long held perceptions and makes knowledge of the game accessible to anyone willing to spend a bit of time looking at things.
This leads to the kind of stupidity where you will get media wonks (an ex-coaches) declaring that Bruce Weber is a better offensive coach than Frank Martin. The objective is to put points on the board and on a per possession basis Martin has been better at that than Bruce Weber for quite a while. I just would like to see the media do a little bit of work.
Don't hold your breath, that's been going on for awhile because of grabbing a handful of nonprofessionals, ie, Clark Kellog, to announce or be the color man on basketball games.
I would love for the announcers and writers to not dumb it down for the audience. But that begs the question, are they dumbing down or are they just plain dumb? if the latter is the answer then they need to hire people who know what the hell they're talking about. It would be infinately more entertaining for real fans if they did and probably wouldn't make a lot of difference to casual fans. The "I only watch the championship game" types aren't going to know the difference.
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I think it's the latter. That is the only explanation for why some guys are so good. Bilas and (I can't believe I'm saying this) Miles Simon are really, really good. They actually enhance the broadcast to me. I'm sure there's another few out there (Dana O'Neill is pretty good), but most of the rest of the color analysts provide a LOT more color than analysis.
I got eaten alive for this on TFS but I can't stand Raferty (however you spell it). The first time he said man to man or onions it was a legit, interesting expression. Now you can practically feel him waiting for the first chance to stick it into a broadcast. Like he is ticking the box.
Any of the goobers with a schtick bother me. Raftery with "onions" and "the kiss," Kellogg with his plethora of non-synonyms for a BASKETBALL, heck even Gus Johnson bothers me at times. Knight doesn't have a schtick per se, but he's always calling for shot fakes. Vitale actually bothers me less in how he calls the game because he doesn't have too much that's predictable. What bothers me about Vitale is that he has only one volume: MAXED OUT and that he almost refuses to talk about the game that he actually, you know, CALLING right then.
What impresses me about Bilas and now Simon is how prepared they are. Fraschilla fits in this category as well I think. I remember when we played in Vegas in 2010 and Bilas had been in Maui Monday through Wednesday. By the time he got to our game on Friday, he had flown from Hawaii to Las Vegas, done something for Thanksgiving, AND managed to watch us play (likely on tape) at least twice, and probably more than once for each game he watched. He clearly knew our personnel (Knight in particular is horrible about that, always referring to guys who start now as a "great sixth man" because they didn't start last year) and what our strengths and weaknesses were that year versus the year before. Bilas is one of the all time great basketball minds in my opinion.
I will give ESPN and Eamonn Brennan credit for this article on Withey. Clearly points out how outstanding of a defensive effort Withey has given this year using stats. Remarkable.
Last season, we spent a lot of time singing Anthony Davis' praises, and for good reason, and that is a huge, huge understatement. Davis won all the ma
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