blueollie

Wet walk, climate change and women’s basketball

Today: I walked; I figured that I need to walk more. I did the hilly Cornstalk 5.1 course in 1:11:54 (14:05 mpm pace); it was overcast, dark and a bit slippery.

Climate change Last night I went to hear Harold Brooks speak: he is a NOAA scientist. He spoke about thunderstorms and climate change.

Of interest:

1. When it comes to rain, the total volume hasn’t changed much. BUT the way we get it has; we get a higher percentage of it from strong storms.
2. When it comes to thunderstorms, wind shear and available energy are the two big factors. Climate change has reduced the former and increase the latter; these are competing effects.
3. The models are pretty much in agreement as to what will happen (over time) during the winter, spring and fall. What is open is what will happen during the summer: more storms? Fewer? Wet? Drought? No one knows and the models can’t reach even a tentative conclusion.

Women’s basketball

Yes, there is a huge difference between the great powers and those lower seeds in the NCAA tournament. Attendance at the games isn’t so great either, but part of the reason might be the unusual start times.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | basketball, science, walking | , | Leave a comment

So so 5K

I looked at last year’s races, and this year’s 5K (Interplanetary) is more or less in line with them: 5K in 25:27, 71 out of 269, 5’th in my age group (55-59 male; about 3 MINUTES from being fast enough to place, and no, that isn’t close :-))

7:59/16:10 or 7:59/8:11/9:16

I jogged about 2 miles from our house to the start where I met Barbara and Tracy. I did NOT feel good on my jog down; in fact I wondered if I was even going to be close to being under 26.

Day: sunny, no wind (rare for Illinois), chilly; tailor made for running.

And yes, there was a TON of cute spandex; severe eyestrain day.

I made a mistake and perhaps got a bit impatient during the first mile; I got there in 7:59 which, given my current conditioning, was perhaps 10 seconds too fast. I could tell that I faded a bit as we went around the Goose loop as I started to lose places.

Still, 16:10 at mile 2 wasn’t that bad but just a bit afterward, I pulled off of the course to walk perhaps 5-10 seconds. I am not used to feeling “race bad”; some speed work during the week, as well as this race, will take care of that. Dianne went past me so I tucked in behind her and let her pull me along. She finished stronger than I did (8 seconds faster; most of the gap came in the final 400 meters or so); my last 1.1 was 9:16 (8:25 pace)

Afterward I went back for Tracy and then met up with Barbara at the end; she walked the mile and then went 1.5 miles more.

NCAA Basketball
I watched Wichita State women get eliminated by a strong California team (seeded 4’th in their bracket); it ended 78-66 but it was 78-58 when Cal emptied their bench with under 2 minutes to go. This was one of those “death by 1000 cuts” blowouts; it started close and every 2-3 minutes or so, Cal had extended their lead by a point or two.

Now the Golden Bears play the Texas Longhorns, which are a team I used to watch from 1985-1991. UT even won a national title and made another final 4 those years. A Sweet 16 was *almost* automatic for them; during that era I saw the Wichita coach play for Tennessee.

I note that ALL of the Missouri Valley teams are gone; Drake, Northern Iowa and Missouri State all lost their first NIT games.

On the other hand, all of the MVC men’s teams won their games: Northern Iowa and Wichita in the NCAA, Illinois State in the NIT and Evansville and Loyola in the EIEIO.

This might not be by chance.

I think that men’s basketball is deeper than women’s in that there is a bigger talent difference between the seeds; that is, the talent difference between a men’s 13 vs. 4 seed is less than the difference between a women’s 13 vs. 4 seed.

There is historical data that bears that out

I don’t know all of the factors, but I have a conjecture as to one of them: there are greater social (and monetary?) rewards to being good at basketball if you are male than if you are female; hence I think that if any male has any talent in basketball, college scouts will find them. So the talent pool is bigger and more spread out, since there is a limit to the number of players that can be put on scholarship at any one school.

Among the women: my guess is that many “hidden gems” remain hidden; those that are discovered get snapped up by the BCS type schools leaving less top talent for the mid majors.

This is part of the reason that sports records (e. g. world records for track events) continue to improve; as financial rewards improve, more talent is mined.

Upsets
Many complained when the UCLA men’s team got an NCAA berth. Now they are in the Sweet 16.

In honor of that:

bwstfugtfo

Yes, there were players of yesteryear that could “get up there.”

March 21, 2015 Posted by | basketball, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Corporatism, college basketball experience, and Illinois State vs. Green Bay

Last night I drove 45 minutes (each way) to watch Illinois State beat Green Bay in an NIT basketball game.
In the first half, ISU got off to a 10-2 lead but then started taking bad shots (GB was in man to man). Also ISU stayed in a zone and frequently rested their big, shot blocking center (who had some turnovers on offense), hence GB got some inside scoring.

At the half, it was 31-24 Green Bay, though Green Bay shot 16.7 percent from the free throw line! That was to cost them; ISU was shooting 20 percent from the field.

The second half started with a 13-2 run by ISU; they made some changes to their zone and their big center made life miserable for GB’s post players; he had 6 blocked shots to go with 8 rebounds and 15 points; ISU’s small guard got 18 points and their star had 17 and a small forward had 14; it was a very balanced effort.

Though ISU outscored GB 45-25 in the second half, it was only 57-51 with 3 minutes to play when GB had to take risks. Those backfired and ISU went up 65-51 with just over a minute to go, ISU cleared the bench. GB promptly hit a 3, got a turn over and two free throws; suddenly it is 65-56 and the starters went right back in. They eventually game out again and the final was 69-56.

Overall, though I am a Bradley fan and not an ISU fan, it was a very fun game to watch; the building was full of energy. The 10,000 seat arena was half full (turnstile count was just under 5000) and LOUD, and yes, ISU has a lot of gray haired fans just like Bradley does (BTW, I am 55 and was probably the youngest one on the early shuttle; that wasn’t the case on the return shuttle).

They featured a neat park and ride shuttle service from a lot that is perhaps 3/4 of a mile way; had I known it was that close I just would have walked. Concession prices were reasonable (3 dollar hot dogs) by modern standards.

COMMENTARY ABOUT THE FAN EXPERIENCE
Given that I am not a fan of either team but was there as a fan of basketball, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience. Mentally, I made the mistake of comparing it to the usual Bradley basketball experience instead of comparing it to the two EIEIO tournament games I went to in 2013 (which I enjoyed as well).

I was directed to a ISU basketball fan board and many ISU fans also remarked on the atmosphere.

Differences:

1. They said that many of the long time season ticket holder seats and corporate seats were sold to others; hence some of the more passionate fans who were normally upper bowl fans were lower.
2. The fans weren’t quite as spread out (due to the “purchase for this game only” selling) which contributed to the noise.
3. There weren’t the usual dreary “at every frigging time out” sponsor stunts and promotions; there was more band and less canned music.

But one can say the same about the two Bradley EIEIO games I went to 2 years ago, though these were played at the much smaller on-campus arena rather than at the larger Carver Center.

So…it is my conjecture that increasing corporatism is really hurting the “live” college experience. BUT: programs need money and can’t win without it. And athletic programs such as ISU have subsidies much larger than what Bradley can sustain..and they have a football program to generate at least some revenue. Illinois State athletics gets a 12.7 million dollar subsidy from their school (scroll down to 122).

So, what are you going to do? I have no answers.

Now, Bradley has hired a new athletic director (highly credentialed and a Peoria native; he was previously the deputy AD at Northwestern) and right now he is everyone’s “golden boy/savior”.

Personally: I am interested in seeing how he handles the budget issues and how well he does at the PR end of things. Remember that fans are a fairly sensitive bunch. Example: when the previous AD pointed out that the lower crowds at games weren’t the main drivers in the revenue losses by pointing out that the cheaper, upper bowl tickets really don’t bring in that much money, he was accused of disrespecting the fans who bought cheaper tickets. (Note: at a place like Bradley, the first half of the arena is usually filled by expensive seats; what makes a sell out is the cheaper tickets being sold; hence the average marginal revenue drops when the crowd gets larger)

As far as the on-the-court performance, well things could hardly get much worse than they currently on (BU finished 10 out of 10 this year). But if one looks at the previous two coaches:

1991–92 Bradley 7–23 3–15 9th
1992–93 Bradley 11–16 7–11 7th
1993–94 Bradley 23–8 14–4 2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1994–95 Bradley 20–10 12–6 4th NIT Second Round
1995–96 Bradley 22–8 15–3 1st NCAA First Round
1996–97 Bradley 17–13 12–6 2nd NIT Second Round
1997–98 Bradley 15–14 9–9 5th
1998–99 Bradley 17–12 11–7 2nd NIT First Round
1999–00 Bradley 14–16 10–8 5th
2000–01 Bradley 19–12 12–6 2nd NIT First Round
2001–02 Bradley 9–20 5–13 8th
Bradley: 174–152 (.534) 110–88 (.556)

2002-03 Bradley 12–18 8–10 T–5th
2003–04 Bradley 15–16 7–11 T–6th
2004–05 Bradley 13–15 6–12 8th
2005–06 Bradley 22–11 11–7 T–5th NCAA Sweet 16
2006–07 Bradley 22–13 10–8 4th NIT 2nd Round
2007–08 Bradley 21–17 9–9 T–5th CBI Finals
2008–09 Bradley 21–15 10–8 4th CIT Finals
2009–10 Bradley 16–15 9–9 5th
2010–11 Bradley 12–20 4–14 T–9th
Bradley: 154–140 (.524) 74–88 (.457)

Not much difference in the overall records or in the post season record; the previous coach had a better conference record.
Note: Tulsa (who made some Sweet 16s) was a member of the conference; similar to Wichita State right now.

People don’t want to hear this, but the first coach (Jim Mollinary) probably got Bradley to its ceiling. Yes, he played a deliberate type of basketball (very defense oriented) and his religiosity was a bit off putting to me. But his players graduated, there weren’t scandals that I was aware of and I’d be thrilled with those on-the-court results.

At the time, I thought that he was fired prematurely.

Well, it will be interesting.

March 19, 2015 Posted by | basketball | , , | Leave a comment

Hills and Patience

Workout notes I may or may not lift this afternoon; I might work a bit first.
I went outside to run 6 miles. I did a 22 minute warm up and then:

5 x 290 meter (.18 mile) hill between 1:34 and 1:37 on the 5 minutes, with jog rest (about 24 minutes total)

22 more minutes of running, which included one hard 350 meter (.22 mile) hill taken hard enough for me to have to walk a few steps. I feel some lung burn, as I should.

So this was about 6 miles total; the day was sunny, crisp (46 F) and windy. The idea is to strengthen my legs for faster track work, which I’ll start in a month or so.

Patience
Keep in mind how the past 4 basketball seasons have gone under the current coach:

MVC records:

2011-2012 2-14 (7-25 overall)
2012-2013 7-11 (18-17 overall, 2 CIT wins)
2013-2014 7-11 (12-20 overall)
2014-2015 3-15 (9-24 overall)

Yes, the first season was an injury riddled, transitional season in which the team had to resort to playing with walk-ons and former student managers. The second season was an improvement, though one wondered what was going to happen as 2 of the best 3 players on the team graduated. The third season was a step backwards and the 4’th season: the best you can say is that the team won a conference tournament game (52-50 overtime win against a dreadfully bad no. 7 seed) and that some of the home losses were close.

And so our outgoing athletic director is interviewed in today’s paper:

JS: Any regrets?
Cross: “From a process and decision-making standpoint, I don’t have any regrets. The regrets have to do with how this business works. Ultimately, winning and losing matters to a lot to people. I wasn’t here two weeks in 2010 when I told my wife, ‘No question in my mind, Bradley can be great. But I hope there’s enough patience for that to happen.’ Unfortunately, there isn’t enough patience.”

Uh…I suppose one could argue that some of the non-revenue sports (e. g. track and cross country) did VERY well. But men’s basketball is the athletic face of the university and, at one time, the one sport that produced revenue for the athletic department. Now look at the FOUR YEAR record and look at the direction.

Note: during this time, he INCREASED the season ticket prices for men’s basketball. Really.

Bradley Basketball season-ticket prices will increase for the first time in six years, but the school is adding benefits for all season-ticket holders and introducing improved premium seating at Carver Arena, according to the 2013-14 men’s basketball ticket plan announced today.

Bradley enjoyed one of the best turnarounds in the nation during the 2012-13 campaign, improving from 7-25 in 2011-12 to 18-17 this past season while advancing to the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Bradley’s improvement at home was pivotal in the overall turnaround as the Braves were 14-4 at Carver Arena (11-4) and Renaissance Coliseum (3-0) to equal the most home wins since the 1993-94 Braves went 16-0 at home.

Though season-ticket prices will increase in all of the Carver Arena sections for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign, Bradley will continue to offer budget-friendly and maintenance free season-ticket packages in designated upper-bowl sections at Carver Arena. In addition, five of the season-ticket levels will include games in Bradley’s on-campus arena at Renaissance Coliseum. In all, Bradley will offer season-ticket options at seven different price points with new labels: Courtside, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Red and White.

So: raise prices as the team’s record gets worse…the predictable result: average “paid” attendance for the season was 5726 per game.

bradleyevan2015

That is easily the worst figure since 1991 (and actually well before that) and it has been dropping over the past few years:

2010 9339
2011 8447
2012 7640
2013 6557
2014 6984 (carver games)
2015 5726

And keep in mind, these are tickets sold; during this past season the actual turnstile count was in the neighborhood of 1/2 to perhaps 2/3 of the “tickets sold” number. Even sportswriters from opposing teams have noticed. (and here)

There is more too this; after all the AD had a boss. And, at times, it appeared that the situation was like this:

“Down” (for years) was really “up” and those who wanted to make changes gave us no reason to have confidence that they knew what they were doing.

So perhaps the newest wave of changes will put us back in the right direction.

Note: given that we’ve had so much change, so soon, I understand that is MIGHT not mean getting a new basketball coach. I am in favor of sitting back and letting the new athletic director do his job.

March 17, 2015 Posted by | basketball, running | | Leave a comment

Post Season College Basketball: Missouri Valley Conference

I’ll have more to say about the women later as the NCAA announces the brackets tonight.

Men: Nate Silver has a cool “probability of winning the game” bracket here.. Of interest to me is that Wichita is given a 72 percent chance of beating Indiana and a 34 percent chance of reaching the Sweet 16; Northern Iowas is given a 75 percent chance of beating Wyoming and a 43 percent chance of reaching the Sweet 16.

Though I watched a lot of live basketball, I don’t know much about the rest of the country. Surprisingly I’ve seen 3 NCAA teams in person this year; Robert Morris (who was horrible early) made the play in game. RM stated 5-9 (early win over Bradley) but finished 14-5 and won their last 6 in a row.

I am also following Illinois State in the NIT and have a ticket to their first round game vs. Green Bay. They play 45 minutes away from where I live; that is a reasonable drive. If they win, they play the winner of the 1 vs. 9 game (Old Dominion vs. Charleston Southern) and, IF they win, would only play a second home game if Charleston wins.

Loyola is in the CBI (home game vs. Rider) and Evansville is in the CIT with a home game vs. IPFW.

March 16, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

Bradley Men’s basketball: retain Coach Geno Ford?

Yes, I know; the on the court performance was dreadful this season as it was for 3 of the 4 years:

MVC records:

2014-2015 3-15
2013-2014 7-11
2012-2013 7-11
2011-2012 2-14

But prior to that:

2010-2011 4-14
2009-2010 9-9
2008-2009 10-8
2007-2008 9-9

So, the current coach inherited a ship that was sinking. Now, no one would call his tenure successful.

But the current University President is being forced out as is the current Athletic Director; right now there might not be the proper people in place to do a proper, careful search for another coach.

And a bad hire means 4 more years of bad basketball; keeping the current coach means no more than one.

And…he might turn it around (though it seems doubtful).

The best move might be to retain for one more season and see what happens next season.

Yes, I know; attendance has fallen sharply but, well, I am not completely sure that all of the drop is due to poor performance, though some of it surely is.

Bradley has a much older than average fan base and, well, some of the fans move to warmer climates, others lose their mobility and some..well..die.

Newer generation: it is tough to attract new fans when there is so much basketball on television and, while I think that Bradley can definitely do better than they did in their past 5 seasons or so, I really think that Bradley’s new ceiling is more or less what happened with the previous 2 coaches:

2002-03 Bradley 12–18 8–10 T–5th
2003–04 Bradley 15–16 7–11 T–6th
2004–05 Bradley 13–15 6–12 8th
2005–06 Bradley 22–11 11–7 T–5th NCAA Sweet 16
2006–07 Bradley 22–13 10–8 4th NIT 2nd Round
2007–08 Bradley 21–17 9–9 T–5th CBI Finals
2008–09 Bradley 21–15 10–8 4th CIT Finals
2009–10 Bradley 16–15 9–9 5th
2010–11 Bradley 12–20 4–14 T–9th
Bradley: 154–140 (.524) 74–88 (.457)

1991–92 Bradley 7–23 3–15 9th
1992–93 Bradley 11–16 7–11 7th
1993–94 Bradley 23–8 14–4 2nd NIT Quarterfinals
1994–95 Bradley 20–10 12–6 4th NIT Second Round
1995–96 Bradley 22–8 15–3 1st NCAA First Round
1996–97 Bradley 17–13 12–6 2nd NIT Second Round
1997–98 Bradley 15–14 9–9 5th
1998–99 Bradley 17–12 11–7 2nd NIT First Round
1999–00 Bradley 14–16 10–8 5th
2000–01 Bradley 19–12 12–6 2nd NIT First Round
2001–02 Bradley 9–20 5–13 8th
Bradley: 174–152 (.534) 110–88 (.556)

March 7, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

Bradley women fall at Northern Iowa 74-68 but…

Yes, the Braves gave up 14 3 point shots. But BU was down by 13 and fought back to make it a 3-5 point game for most of the end of the game and cut it to 3 with 1 minutes to go.

Yes, UNI is better, but the Bradley team HAS improved over the second half of the season; they won a few more games and were more competitive in their losses. I can see BU making the midpack of the Valley next season and perhaps better than that 2 years from now.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

Bradley Basketball Men: out of gas in the second half; fall 71-46 to Northern Iowa

thatkindofday

Well, UNI started with a 26-13 lead in the first half, but a streak of good shooting and some opportunistic defense by Bradley cut it to 27-25 at the half.

Second half: Bradley started well and kept it at 34-32 with 16:44 in the game. After it got to 36-32, Bradley got a steal and had a 3 on 1 fast break. But the UNI “1” was too much for our guys and we threw it away. That lead to a 11-0 run that put UNI up 45-32 with 12:46 lead and then the heavy legs from last night’s game became a factor.

It just poured after that; 3 point shots, break away dunks, etc and with 3:11 to go it was 71-43 UNI…a 37-11 run over 13:33. They then emptied the bench and won 71-46. Bradley was outscored 44-21 in the second half, and yes, it was that lopsided.

Personally: I’d just as soon see the play-in round eliminated and just don’t let no. 9 and no. 10 teams into the tournament.

To be sure, UNI is better in every conceivable way (talent, depth, coaching, etc.). But I’d rather they played a fresher Drake team; the winner of last night’s game was doomed to failure from the get-go.

The coach Frankly I think that our problems are deeper than a coach, and..well…who would want to step into this train-wreck with so much uncertainty given that our AD and University President are stepping down during the same semester?

A rushed coaching choice all but guarantees 4 more years of bad basketball, and keeping the current coach basically gives us the potential of one more year of bad basketball.

The decision is not mine to make and I have no insider information.

March 7, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

Bradley splits with Drake: women fall 86-70, men win in OT 52-50

Women: well, though the Bulldogs had lost the previous 2 games going in, they were to the no. 1 and no. 3 teams in the conference. We are not at that level, and the Drake offense was simply too much; Drake lead by 20+ points at times and cleared their bench in winning 86-70. I expected this one to be a tough one, though this rates as an “improvement” of sorts over the previous game (80-47 loss at home). Drake shot 53 percent.

Men: well, this game wasn’t a game of beauty; Bradley was up 21-17 at the half and regulation ended tied at 43. But BU played good perimeter defense; they held DU to 3-13 from 3 point range (they’ve hit 50+ percent before). Drake’s offense was their center, period (24 points total, 22 of the 43 regulation points).

On offense, everyone chipped in a little. Bradley’s center had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. The senior forward had 13 points including 3 big 3 point shots. Their much criticized guard had a big 3 to tie it at 43 in regulation and their freshman forward hit two big free throws while exhausted to extend the game, and their junior guard hit two free throws with 3 seconds to go to give BU their winning margin.

Yes, it was two terrible teams, but BU had lost these sorts of games all season long.

But it is one more game..though it comes against a rested top 25 Northern Iowa team. THAT might not be pretty. But it IS one more game and one that I didn’t expect.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

Bradley Basketball: where I disagree with Coach Ford on something

Yes, this has not been a great year for Bradley Basketball; the men finished 3-15 in conference and in 10’th place, out of 10 teams. I had predicted 4-5 home conference wins and 1 road win for somewhere between 5-13 and 6-12. When I heard that we were predicted to finish in 8’th I joked “that high?” Turns out that the joke was on me.

So no one denies that this wasn’t a successful season. I figured that our getting beat in an exhibition game by a D-3 team was a clue, but hey…

So now after our 15’th conference loss, our coach is quoted as saying (we did play Wichita to a close game (after falling down by 16), and rallied to give UNI a scare prior to losing by double digits):

“We have to go with the mindset we can win the tournament,” Ford said. “To do that, we have to win four games in four days. I’m aware that nobody’s done that. And I’m aware that we have not won. But if you look at how we’ve played against the upper-tier teams, we’ve played better. We kind of play to the level of our competition and then a half step below that.

(emphasis mine).

Uh, coach, there is really a simpler, less flattering explanation: the better teams probably didn’t take us that seriously and just went through the motions against us. Northern Iowa lead us by 22 before relaxing and still winning by 11 at our place. Wichita lead by 16 (at our place) before losing interest in the game and letting the lead dwindle to 3. Those games were merely a matter of those teams PLAYING DOWN TO A LEVEL JUST ABOVE US and not the other way around. That is why the only teams not to sweep us were Evansville (beat us by 10 here, lost to us by 3 there), Missouri State (2 point win here, 3 point triple overtime loss there) and Southern Illinois (each home team blew out the visitor).

The reality is that we simply aren’t a good basketball team, period.

I am not sure as to why things didn’t work out here; at Kent State he inherited a decent program and kept it at a good level; here he inherited a wreck and…well…kept it there.

March 2, 2015 Posted by | basketball | | Leave a comment

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