Saturday, December 31, 2005
Sue checks in from Russia. OK, not quite, she is having a holiday back in NYC from her time in Russia.
Kamila is really in Russia, though.
Storm are offering a special session with AD before the Sonics get beat by the Heat in January. (I am not being overly negative, it is just highly unlikely they can beat a team with Shaq, Wade and Gary Payton.) The Sonics are not so good this year, but as a season ticket holder to both Seattle pro hoops team, I am likely to be there and hope to see a good number of Storm fans there as well.
Monday, December 19, 2005
I am off on vacation and will do my best to keep up with news and post as much as I can, but my time and my net access will be limited. Happy holiday season to everyone, whatever holiday you may be celebrating!
The first game was against first place Dandenong Rangers. As expected, the Capitals could not overcome the lack of scoring and fell 82-68 to the Rangers. Jenny Whittle (14) and Kellie Abrams (12) led the Capitals in scoring with very little help. Tracey Beaty managed 9 points to go with her 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Whittle added 8 rebounds and 3 blocks while Eleanor Sharp led the team with 4 assists. The Rangers offense was led by the 23 points of Jacinta Hamilton and 22 points of Carly Wilson. Hamilton added 10 rebounds to achieve the only double/double of the game. Kathleen MacLeod and Samanth Richards added 9 points each to help out. Emma Randall led the Rangers with 5 assists.
The Capitals recovered the next day to steal 2nd place in the league by beating the Bulleen Boomers 77-65. Whittle and Abrams again led the team in scoring with 21 and 22 points respectively. They had some extra help this time with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists from Eleanor Sharp. Angela Marino and Tracey Beatty added 9 points a piece rounding out the scoring. No other Capitals player scored a point though Tully Bevilaqua added 6 rebounds, 7 assists, a block and steal. Whittle added 10 rebounds to go with Beatty's 12 leading to an 11 rebound advantage overall for the Capitals. Beatty continues to turn the ball over with 6 TO's in this game alone. She has had a number of games this season with 4 or more turnovers. The Boomers were led by the 20 points of Sarin Milner, with Katrina Hibbert adding 13 and Hollie Grima chipping in 11. Grima added 14 rebounds to earn her team's only double/double. Milner led the boomers with 4 assists.
The Caps have the next several weeks off, playing their next games on 13th and 14th of January. WNBL league play picks back up on January 6th.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
WNBL latest, the Capitals have played four games since I last updated.
They beat Adelaide 81-71 and wer led in scoring by Jenny Whittle (22), Tracey Beatty (21) and Alana Beard (17). It was nice to see some balance in the scoring for the first time in a while. Tully was the only other player in double figures with 10 points. Beatty did an impressive LJ imitation overall, adding 13 rebounds, 4 on the offensive end and she also chipped in 5 blocks. Beard had an off shooting night, going 5 for 15 from the field and only hitting 1 of her 5 threes, but she put in a solid all around game, adding 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals and an assist. Kellie Abrams struggled with the ball shooting 2 for 9 and committing 5 turnovers. Samantha Woosnam (19), Cherie Smith (18) and Tami Willey (14) led the Fellas in scoring.
The Caps followed that up with a solid 90-71 thumping of the Syndney Uni Flames. Beard's scoring touch returned to lead the team with 28. She had support from Jenny Whittle (19), Tracey Beatty (16) and Kellie Abrams recovered her shot as well, going 6 for 9 and adding 15 points. Beatty got a back to back double/double, adding 10 rebounds and 2 blocks. Beard continued her all around play with 9 boards, 6 assists, and 2 steals to round out her 28 points. The Flames struggled, with only Belinda Snell (25) and Natalie Porter (22) offering any scoring punch, the only other player with more than 4 points was Eva Afeaki with 12.
They took their momentum from week ten into their next game against the young ladies of AIS and set themselves up a solid 72-46 victory to continue their winning streak. With Alana Beard returning to the States, and LJ still out with injury, the Capitals used defense to maintain their winning ways. Jenny Whittle (16) and Kellie Abrams (13) led the team in scoring with help from Angela Marino (12). They outrebounded AIS 44 to 32, led by 12 from Tracey Beatty who missed her third consecutive double/double by a mere point, and 10 rebounds from Jenny Whittle. They survived their poor 16 for 25 shooting from the free throw line by never fouling AIS who only got 7 shots from the charity stripe all night making only 3 of them. Mikaela Dombkins was the only player to reach double figures with 11 with Abby Bishop adding in 9 and Katie Ebzery adding 8.
The Capitals are going to need some scoring this week as they take on leaders Dandenong and Bulleen in back to back games and they want to extend the current 7 game winning streak. They still didn't find any in their second game without Beard, managing to squeak by with a 53-51 victory over the Townsville Fire. Tully took over scoring for the struggling team with her best performance of the season. She led the team in scoring, rebounding and steals with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Jenny Whittle was the only other player in double figures with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Tracey Beatty disappeared after three solid games with 0 points, 0 for 1 shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 fouls, 3 turnovers and a block in 13 minutes. Fortunately for the Capitals, no one but Jennifer Crouse (18 points, 10 rebounds) came to play for the Fire.
Good news from LJ says that her recovery is on track, though she is skipping the Opals training camp this December. Suzy Batkovic was not selected for the Opals this year, nor was Penny Taylor adding WNBL players Rohanee Cox (Townsville) and Deanna Smith (Perth) instead. Capitals Tully Bevilaqua and Jenny Whittle were also named to this year's Opal's squad.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Shot Clock: cut from 30 to 24 seconds to line up with the NBA. It will reset to at least 14 seconds in the event of a foul. This will speed the game up and increase the number of possessions per 40 minutes. It should help offensive teams like the Storm, Liberty and Sun.
(corrected disconnected brain and typing error on length of the halves vs. the NBA quarters thanks to an alert reader)
Periods: increased from two 20 minute halves to four 10 minute quarters, not yet the four 12 minute quarters of the NBA. This will give some extra time for commercials, coaching and rest for the stars. LJ can now sit at the 30 second mark of each quarter and get a couple full minutes of rest between quarters.
Initial Possessions: Jump ball at the start of regulation and OT periods. Regulation jump will determine who has the possession at the start of each quarter. Winner has 1st and 4th and loser has 2nd and 3rd similar to the NBA. Jump balls during play for tying up the ball were NOT eliminated.
Timeouts: Mandatory 2 minute timeouts in the first and third periods. 2 Mandatory 2 minute timeouts in the second and fourth periods. Teams are given 2 regulars per half and they will fill the mandatory slots if used. After the mandatories have been met remaining timeouts will be 1 minute.
Fouls: Teams only get 4 fouls per quarter before entering the penalty, just like the NBA. 2nd foul in the last minute (not 2 minutes like the NBA) puts them in the penalty regardless of total fouls in the quarter.
Nothing huge here. They are trying to take advantage of the superior atheletes in this 9 year old league to drive up scoring and create more interest.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
2005 Worst 10 Performing Combinations (with >5 minutes of play)
As I said with regard to the best performing combinations, 5 minutes in the course of a season is not a lot of time. Every player on the final roster shows up in at least one of these combinations.
2005 Worst 10 Performing Combinations (with >10 minutes of play)
Now we start to see combinations that were used a bit more. No combination with Vodo playing more than 8 minutes has a negative +/-. She only shows up in three combinations with a negative +/- for the whole season.2005 Worst 10 Performing Combinations (with >10 minutes of play)
The good sign here is that very few negative +/- combinations got much floor time. The one with the most is the starters with Tanisha over Betty. That lineup does not look ready for prime time yet. Replace Castro with Vodo in that same lineup and you jump to +20, however. That might be a rotation worth investigation next season.
Friday, December 02, 2005
On a side note, Kara Lawson looked and sounded good with her in-studio commentary, she looks like she has her second career all lined up.
2005 Top 10 Performing Combinations (with >5 minutes of play)
Francesca Zara, who is the only player to play the whole season and still offer up a negative individual +/- on-court rating is in 50% of the best lineups with more than 5 minutes of floor time over the course of the season. I ignore the combinations with less than 5 minutes because they are so rarely seen that it is hard to accurately accept their values weighed across the whole league. This limits the 140 season combinations to 57 different combinations. Combinations that played at least 5 minutes most likely faced a number of teams. One lineup was only seen for the first few games of the season as it included both Ashley Battle and Mandissa Stevenson, both of whom were cut by the time Suzie Batkovic arrived. Because these combinations still don't see the whole league, I also want to look at those that saw the most time, and that would be the combinations with at least 10 minutes of floor time.
2005 Top 10 Performing Combinations(with >10 minutes of play)
Three of the previous combinations remain on the list when the sample is culled down to the 32 combinations with at least 10 minutes of floor time. Zara only shows up four times here and three of them are paired with Bird and Jackson. All of these combinations include LJ and all but one include Sue Bird, further indicating their importance to the success of the team. One interesting point is how much better the starters played with Vodo than they did with Castro or Thompson. The Thompson combination with the starters makes the top 10 but came in more than 18 points less per 40 minutes played. The Castro combination comes in at number 12 and offers almost 26 less points per 40 minutes. The best part is the depth of the team that this data represents. With Sue and LJ in the lineup you could use a variety of the options at the other positions and still dominate the competition over the course of the season.
When you cull the list even further to only combinations with 20 minutes of floor time, you end up with only 14 combinations and only seven of those are positive +/- combinations.
Top Combinations (with >20 Minutes)
Zara shows up in 5 of the 14 combinations, but only one of the positve combinations. Interestingly the Wright led combination shows up in the 14 as well with Burse instead of Batkovic at a startling -5.34 per 40 minutes of floor time.
This weekend I will take a look at the worst combinations from the 2005 season.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Top 10 Most Used Lineups
It is somewhat frightening to me the that 5 of the top ten most used lineups are negative +/- lineups. The Storm were a +46 overall and +11.01 per 40 minutes across those ten lineups. These ten lineups account for just under 50% of the minutes played by the Storm for the season.
The Storm deployed 140 different on floor combinations over the course of the 2005 season. Only 57 of those lineups saw at least 5 minutes of floor time. The Storm as a team had a +91 overall for the the season, and a +2.69 points per 40 minutes.Stevenson, Battle, Zara, Batkovic, Castro, Thompson and Jackson were the seven Storm players who had negative individual +/- statistics for the season. Only Stevenson, Battle and Zara offered up negative on-court +/- numbers, the rest of the players with negative ratings were impacted by the stronger numbers offered up by their team while they sat on the bench.
Tomorrow I will take a look at the ten most effective lineups for the 2005 season.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Best Lineups (based on Per40 +/-, at least 10 minutes played)
Worst Lineups (based on Per40 +/-, at least 10 minutes played)
Notice that Vodo now shows up in two of the top five lineups and none of the worst. Not surprisingly, Jackson is in all but 2 of the best lineups, Bird is in 11 of them, Betty 12 of them, JB 8, Izzy 7 and Suzy 6.
I should have the rest of the season complete by the end of this week.
Tanisha Wright posted her second installment of her "back to school" blog. She gives us a little more personal flair in this entry and expresses her relief at the results of the expansion draft and her return to Seattle.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Top Ten Most Used Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 139 minutes +16.69
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 42 minutes +3.74
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 40 minutes -35.79
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards 23 minutes +18.80
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 22 minutes -5.34
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 19 minutes -16.07
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 17 minutes +1.80
Bird-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Burse 16 minutes +14.23
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse 13 minutes -11.65
Zara-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse 12 minutes +21.84
The season was stalling at this point...they were under .500 at 8-9 and were due one more loss before they went on a major winning streak. Coach Donovan utilized 109 different lineups throughout these first 17 games. The 12-5 run for the second half ensured them a playoff berth and likely will shift the numbers above significantly. Vodo has yet to log many minutes, however all her lineups are positive at this point, with two of them at +50 points per 40 minutes.
12/1/2005 ESPN2 7:00 EST vs. Texas
1/23/2006 ESPN2 7:30 EST vs. Duke
2/9/2006 ESPN2 7:00 EST vs. LSU
2/12/2006 ESPN2 5:00 EST vs. Vanderbilt
2/16/2006 ESPN2 7:30 EST vs. Georgia
Their SEC tournament games will also be aired on ESPN2 with the schedule TBA.
I have to rant a bit here about the "Lady" tag in front of school team names. I find it a ridiculous and virtually infuriating practice. My own school dubbed its women's teams the "Lady" Tritons. This is beyond foolish since a Triton is essentially a male mermaid. This means that our women's teams were really the Lady Male Mermaids. Give them their own names or stick to one name for all your teams. The tag addition carries subtle insinuations of status that are not favorable...we don't see any teams named the Gentlemen anything, so drop the tags.
They routed AIS 95-37 led by Alana Beard's 28 point, 5 rebound, 4 assist a 7 steal, performance. She was helped by Jenny Whittle's 19 points and 3 rebound performance and rounded out by the 11 points of Kelly Hannett.
As a team they controlled every aspect of the game, gathering 60.5% of the total available rebounds, with 88.6% on the defensive end and a 39.1% on the offensive end. Their defense was brutal, with 19 steals and forcing 36 turnovers.
They hold on to third place and are creeping up on Bulleen, though Adelaide is not too far behind them. With the impact of Beard clear, however, they better hope LJ returns to fill the gap before Beard reports to her team in Europe. Though she was rumoured to return in December by Jayda Evans, recent reports have indicated the original January/Februrary are more likely if she returns to the WNBL at all. Her desire to remain injury free for the National team in the spring may dictate her return.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Lineups are growing more steady...and should continue to solidify until the injuries to Thompson and then Lennox disrupt the depth later in the season.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Capitals played two games in Round 7.
The first was a 101-93 loss to Adelaide. Despite a stunning 41 points, 12 rebounds and 6 steals from Alana Beard and a solid 23 point 10 rebound performance from Jenny Whittle the stronger depth of Adelaide allowed them to hold on for victory. The Fellas were led by the 31 points of Erin Phillips and 23 points of Laura Summerton. They had more help than the Capitals with Tami Willey, Cherie Smith and Jennifer Screen also chipping in double figure points. Tracey Beatty was the only other scorer for the Capitals. Beard did achieve a triple double, unfortunately the third double digit category was for 10 turnovers.
The second was 72-75 victory over the Perth Lynx. Beard led the team again with 24 points, 10 rebounds but only turned the ball over 3 times. Whittle took over the loose hands with 7 turnovers, though her 20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assist performance made up for her gaffes. Eleanor Sharp added 15 points for the Capitals. The 21 points from Deanna Smith, 18 points from Kaye Tucker and Kelli Hayward were not enough to overcome the Capitals this time.
Round 8 offered another victory for the Capitals bringing them to 6-3 and third place on the season. Beard offered up another solid game with 31 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Whittle continued her streak with 24 points, but they had little help from anyone else. Fortunately, that was enough as only Rohanee Cox (15) and Claudia Brassard (15) were able to muster double digits for the Townesville Fire.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The Sue character sings about a recently hot Seattle political issue. Other local celebrities such as Kenny G, and more notorious local characters get spoofed as well. I haven't seen it yet but word is that the show is a hoot.
I have run through the first four games of the season, and so far Anne Donnovan has deployed 42 different lineups. Only three have been on the floor for at least ten minutes.
Bird-Lennox-Jackson-Stevenson-Burse +10.75 per 40 minutes
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +39.36 per 40 minutes
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards +27.53 per 40 minutes
Anne's rotations are starting to solidify, with a few experiments here and there, but only a few of the lineups we saw later in the season are getting solid time now. I will keep working, and I am starting to get some better structure in my spreadsheet with some better use of formulas and DB functions to make this go faster. I hope to get as much done as possible over the holiday weekend.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I have not found a good way to store the data to make analysis more flexible yet. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. As it is, I have to recompile all the original data manually to look at lineups and clutch values. I may look at adding in court locations for shots for next season, it depends on how well the official stats record this. It is well recorded for the NBA, but I am not so sure about the WNBA.
I read a good article in this week's ESPN The Magazine on Tennessee's Candace Parker. They were hyping her return from knee surgery and calling her the "female Lebron James." She is 6'3" and plays the two guard. She has a 27 1/2" vertical which proves that the floor is NOT the limit for the woman's game. The young players are tuning their athleticism and we will be seeing more and more above the rim play as the game continues to evolve. I hope the fundamentals don't drift as much as they have in the men's game, but it will be exciting to be able to watch the evolution over the next few years.
Friday, November 18, 2005
With the upcoming draft and free agency possibilities, the Sky may not be mired at the bottom next season, though Charlotte and San Antonio might like the company. They have some solid starters and some solid bench players...we'll see what they do next.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I finally decided to utilize the estimation formulas from Dean Oliver's book to look at individual defensive ratings. Unfortunately these formulas are truly estimates, and assumes that every player contributes equally to defense when they are on the floor. Without tracking of additional statistics in the defensive area it is impossible to accurately rate defense for individuals today. With that said, the numbers actually support my initial subjective thoughts on the difference in defense between the 2004 Championship team and the 2005 team that was eliminated in the first round.
Player in Rotation
|2004 Off. Rtg||2005 Off. Rtg.||Change|
As you can see, defense as a whole dropped for the team, totaling +68.49 points allowed per 100 possessions. The only improvements appear at the starting center position and the last spot on the bench (Vodo once again shows up positive for the team...hmmm). The defensive strength for both teams was in the post, and that improved in 2005. Unfortunately the perimeter has clearly suffered. The largest impacts are at the starting small forward position and the backup point guard position. I am very surprised at how well Suzy shows in the defensive statistics, since her defense was really suspect to those of us who followed the team closely last season. She is most likely benefitting from her pairings with either JB or LJ who are clearly the best defenders on the team. This is where the actual statistics would be most useful.
Looking towards next season, the best defenders should all be returning (with Vodo the only question.) LJ, Suzy and Janelle are likely cored or protected. Sue and Betty need to tighten up, and Tanisha will be back. I believe that Anne Donnovan needs to focus on shoring up the starting small forward and backup point positions this off-season, and this data just further confirms my assertion.
I think we will see a veteran in both spots with another guard and post drafted for the long term. Barring a trade, they have a solid young players in Sue, Tanisha, LJ, JB and Suzy. They need to fill their current gaps with veteran leadership and look for the eventual backup 2 guard and post to replace Betty and Simone down the road. Izzy and Vodo would be good bench players with Vodo serving a larger role than last year.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
The first points to an article in Tacoma News Tribune from last Saturday (this road trip has me WAY behind) that says LJ's injury status has improved and that she may play in December based on her discussions with Anne Donnovan. That conflicts somewhat with previously published reports including the article on the Australian Olympic site I pointed to yesterday. Perhaps LJ isn't ready to make an announcement in Australia. I will cling desperately to this Anne Donnonvan leak in the hopes that perhaps this is a sign of LJ feeling better about her playing in the W next summer. Unlike the October 5th Canberra times article, an article at the Australian sports injury site postulates that it is the lower paying Australian league that might suffer from Lauren's need to cut back on year round play in favor of the higher paying WNBA and Euroupe. The Storm site article also continues the trend of hinting the WNBA season will be contracted by two weeks at each end next season to adjust for international schedules. It would be nice if the WNBA which just formally make the announcement...Kevin Pelton also gives more international updates. Where is Sue Bird, by the way...wasn't she going to play for Dynamo this winter?
The second article is the year in review for backup point Francesca Zara. Zara has continued to put up solid numbers in Euroleague play, but struggled most of last season with the Storm. Zara offered the worst +/- ratings of the Storm players completing a full season last year. She had a Roland Rating of -5.03 meaning that the Storm scored 5 points less their opponents per 40 minutes of playing time with Zara in the lineup. This may be attributed to the pairings Zara faced given that most of her floor time was earned while Sue Bird rested. She had most of her best +/- outings towards the end of the season as she meshed better with the team, and 7 of her 12 positive games were on the road. All but four of her best games were against playoff teams. She had 4 double digit games: at Indiana (+22), at New York (+18) in the early season when Sue went down with her broken nose also at Los Angeles (+19) and at Connecticut (+12) at the end of the season when Betty was out of the lineup. Looking over these numbers briefly, has now made me curious as to whether I can spot any trends and opened a whole new door of exploration that I will have to make time dig deeper into.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
I grow more and more worried about Lauren Jackson's thoughts on a return to Seattle next summer. Jan Stirling, is the coach for the Australian Olympic team, the Opals, and her comments to the AOC regarding the need for LJ to "manage her body" combined with LJ's clearly stated #1 priority of bringing an Olympic Gold to her homeland for the 2008 Olympics is making me sweat. She gave up WNBL play for a second straight year, and she is 100% committed to the Commonwealth Games. Will she risk a WNBA season injury interfering with her commitments to the Australian National team? I had hoped her early comments were just a result of depression from facing more injury based time off. Now I see my hopes start to fray. Anne Donnovan better be looking at tickets to Australia, perhaps with LJ's buddy, Sue Bird, in tow.
On a side note, the horrific quality of WNBA officiating became much clearer to me after reading in that article that Dee Kantner (who was the second woman official for the NBA) is the supervisor of officials for the W. Dee was the antithesis of Violet and probably made it more difficult for other women to succeed as NBA officials. Unlike most outsider rants about the quality of officials, the NBA agreed and fired Dee for her substandard performance on the court. She of course immediately cried foul, but like many a players plea, her unjustified complaints were ignored.
The USA Today ariticle is a nice piece, and one I was pleasantly surprised to see get such a prominent placing as the centerpiece front page story. Way to go USA Today.
You know the off-season is going to seem even longer than it actually is when you find yourself reading articles on the pets of WNBA players. For those that haven't already checked it out, Sue Bird doesn't have a pet, though she had a dog growing up while LJ is mourning the passing of her 18 year old cat and talks of her new dog's fear of her remaining 16 year old cat. Oh, and Katie Douglas' dog is quite cute, and I swear they have the same smile. Perhaps next week we can enjoy articles on their favorite school lunches from elementary school.
Sue Bird and Betty Lennox are the only two Storm players to earn nods for Strong Plays from last season.
How long before the draft perks up our interest?
Friday, November 04, 2005
I loved Danny Fortson's off-court "nice guy" image and on-court enforcer mentality for the Sonics last season. His blatantly ignorant homophobia has changed my perspective, however, and now I am going to root for the goofy rookie Johan Petro to get more minutes this season. I know Danny's religious beliefs may color his opinion, but his commentary to the Seattle PI was quite frankly moronic. Perhaps it will endear him further to any gay members of the NBA officials squad, an organization that already showers him with whistles whenever he is on the floor.
JB put up solid numbers in FIBA play. She had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots against Nicole Ohlde's (of the Minnesota Lynx) Dexia Namur team following up her 10 point 6 rebound game against USO last week. Sheri Sam did not play this week. Sacramento reserve forward Rebekkah Brunson plays for Dexia as well.
Vodo is displaying some diversity for Moscow Dynamo. She had 6 points and 13 rebounds against Lietuvos featuring Connecticut Sun players Katie Douglas and Jennifer Derevjanik and 12 points with 6 assists vs. USVO featuring the Indiana Fever's Kelly Miller. Tammy Sutton Brown of Charlotte Sting plays with Kamila and Vodo on Dynamo. Sue Bird has not yet joined the team.
Suzy is playing well for her team also. She followed up her 9 point, 9 rebound performance against Famila with a 16 point, 7 rebound, 3 block performance against MKB featuring Nikki Teasley of the LA Sparks.
LJ's Capitals broke their losing streak earning their second victory since LJ went down with injury. They were led by the 24 points of Alana Beard, along with Jenny Whittle's 10 points, 15 rebounds and 5 block shots. Between the two of them they are trying to make up for LJ, but that is a tough role to fill. Tully was a defensive force, adding 6 steals to her 6 point, 4 rebound, 2 assist performance. The Rangers were led by Jacinta Hamilton (15) and Carly Wilson (13). The Capitals will need to find some additional scoring if they want to survive against the high scoring Dandenong, Townesville and Bulleen teams.
Finally, Francesca Zara is charging forward for Napoli with 10 points and 8 assists against Phoenix Mercury player, Anna DeForge and Wisla Can-Pack and 13 points, 5 assists and 2 steals against Kelly Miller and USVO. She had 7 turnovers in her first game but only 3 in her second. Alicia Thompson had 3 points and 3 rebounds in the win over Wisla and chipped in 2 points in the loss to USVO.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Canberra Capitals continue to struggle with Lauren Jackson injured, falling 69-60 to the Bulleen Boomers in Round 5 of WNBL play. Tully contributed a nice floor game with 3 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, a blocked shot and 4 steals. They really need someone to pick up the scoring however. The Boomers outscored them in 3 out of 4 quarters of play. The Capitals were led by WNBA Washington Mystics guard Alana Beard who chipped in 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals. She had very little scoring support with only Eleanor Sharp and Kellie Abrams adding double digits at 11 points apiece. Jenny Whittle ended her double digit scoring run with a 6 point 9 rebound performance. The Boomers were led by Katrina Hibbert (22) with scoring support from Hollie Grima (15) and Desiree Glaubitz (10). The Capitals really surrendered the game with poor control of the basketball, they committed 25 turnovers for the game. Kellie Abrams and Eleanor Sharp were the worst culprits, with almost half of those turnovers shared between them. Newcomer Alana Beard added 4 turnovers herself as she acclimates to her new team's offense.
The WNBA shares player's memories of Halloween on their site. Our own Seattle masked lady, Sue Bird was once Oscar the Grouch (now that MUST have been quite the costume) and the now injured Lauren Jackson could use a little magic to heal her tired bones, alas her stint as "the best witch in the world" was merely for one night. Swin Cash as Tina Turner, hmm, I bet she could have taken DeMya Walker's pink haired Gem anyday.
2005 SEASON MEMORIES
Want to know how hard the end of the season was for Lauren? WNBA.com interviewed players, LJ's first comment is the team's inconsistency and they way they "bombed out in the first round." Her highlight finally comes off the court in the time she spent hanging out with Sue and her other mates. Her buddy Sheryl Swoopes rubs it in by citing the comeback against Seattle in the first round as her team highlight of the season. Sue Bird points to the All-Star weekend, and calls Ticha Penicheiro dribbling through 7'2" Margo Dydek's legs in the finals the best play of the season.
SUPPORT TITLE IX
If you are a US citizen and you follow women's sports of any kind, please contact your local congressional representatives to let them know that the recent "clarification" added to Title IX needs immediate repeal. The new policy allows schools to meet the interest gauging metrics by sending a mass-email to their female students asking if they are interested in participating in sports. Students who do not reply are counted as NOT being interested lowering the requirements for the institution to fund and provide athletic opportunities for women. With the prevelance of SPAM and traditionally low responses to email surveys, this could seriously impact the current investment in women's athletics that Title IX has created. Since the majority of money in sports comes from the male athletics, there will be no business reason for schools to continue to invest in women's athletics. These are institutions of LEARNING and should not be driven by business, but by the needs of our children. You can learn more about the issue and email your congressional representatives here.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Lauren Jackson skirts away from predictions on the 2005-2006 NBA season by claiming ignorance and blaming it on being in Australia all year. LJ, I know that Aussie TV carries ESPN and that you can get NBA League Pass via Satellite, and I even recall an Aussie Sonics fan calling Australian NBA rookie Andrew Bogut a "poor man's Lauren Jackson" on an NBA fan site. You could watch the games if you really wanted to....
Fortunately Sue Bird steps in to bail out the Storm's NBA brethren with a heart-warming but sadly misguided homer vote for the Sonics to win the west, the finals and earn Ray Allen the MVP. Sue, I am a huge Sonics fan, and even I know the chances of that happening are about as high as George Bush taking the podium this January for the State of the Union and apologizing for really screwing up the country.
The Sonics will be competitive, but I haven't seen that they have all the pieces to push past a team like the Spurs or a healthy Suns (the Suns in Phoenix, not Connecticut) in a seven game series to make it out of the west. Additionally, Ray Allen just simply does not have the ability to match the numbers of yearly MVP candidates like Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kevin Garnett. Nash made it last year because he had solid numbers, and his previously underachieving team exploded to lead the league with him added to the helm. Had Ray gone to the Clippers or the Hawks and turned THEM into division champions he would have a chance. Unless the Sonics beat all the odds and win 60+ games this year with Ray averaging 30+ ppg, 5 apg and 5rpg, no one will seriously consider voting for him as their top choice.
If you haven't been to a Sonics game yet, attendance is light in November and early December, the season kicks off on Wednesday (Tuesday for the league) and they have some good games on the early schedule this year. The Clippers, Timberwolves, Bulls and Kings are up in November and Lebron James brings his improved Cavaliers in to Key Arena to kick of December. The Pacers, Knicks, and Rockets are on tap in December along with the much improved Warriors and Wizards. Check out a game, you can get individual game tickets via TicketMaster or game packs online.
WNBA protected lists are due from teams by tomorrow...though we will never know who's on them...and the expansion draft is just around the corner.
Friday, October 28, 2005
As some may know, Lauren Jackson's microfracture injury may keep her out for the remainder of the WNBL season, which has led to the first season loss for Tully Bevilaqua, Carrie Graf and the Canberra Capitals. In Round 4 action the Capitals took the court twice without the world's best woman player. They held on for a 78-67 victory against the Perth Lynx. Tully had a solid game with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals. The Capitals were led by the scoring of Jennie Whittle (22), Eleanor Sharp (14) and Kellie Abrams (14). The Lynx were led by the 25 points of Deanna Smith. When the Capitals faced the Sydney University Flames, however, they saw their first taste what another season of league play without LJ may mean. They fell 92-68 to the Flames with Tully adding 8 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. They were led again by the scoring of Jennie Whittle (17) and Kellie Abrams (14), with Angela Marino adding 14 points of her own. Trisha Falon (22) and Michelle Musselwhite (19) led the scoring scoring charge for the Flames. The Flames took advantage of the Capitals lack of an inside presence, dominating the boards at both ends of the floor and outrebounding the Capitals 65-39. The Flames offense seemed much more in synch as well as they doubled up on the Capitals in the assists category, 26-13 which allowed them to overcome their 17 turnovers. Their scoring may be helped by the short term addition of Washington Mystics guard Alana Beard next round, but she will do little to help them on the boards. Someone besides Jenny Whittle is going to have to step up in the rebounding department if they want to salvage their season.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I really have a hard time grasping why the personal life of an athelete is becoming such big news. I sincerely thought of this as a non-issue and had no intention of any deeper thought or musings on the story from ESPN The Magazine that hit the stands yesterday. For those that have not been innudated by the traditional media blitz on the topic and somehow managed to miss the several hundred blog entries in the past 24 hours, Sheryl Swoopes booked a trip on a lesbian cruise line, they saw her on the roster and asked her if she would be a spokesperson. She decided that it was time for her to stop "pretending to be somebody I'm not" and gave an exclusive interview to the ESPN print magazine and also announced her sponsorship of the Olivia Cruise Line. She was once the spearhead of the "we're not gay" marketing motion of the league in its early days when she was married and pregnant. She reportedly left UT for Texas Tech because of unwanted advances by players. After her divorce she had what she says were her first feelings towards a woman and she has been in a long term relationship with that woman since that time. Together they raise Sheryl's eight-year old son.
Apparently this is all big news. I just don't understand why. I read an excellent article by Mechelle Voepel that made me reconsider my stance, but I still lack the understanding that makes it all clear to me. Perhaps I have a hard time grasping the importance of Sheryl's decision to go public with what is truly private because I lack the appropriate perspective. I have unfortunately never had the opportunity to be a woman, gay, famous, an athelete or for that matter to be a famous, gay, woman athelete (wouldn't life be so much more rich if we all could easily slide into and out of the perspectives of others). I am not blind to, nor ignorant of the pervasive poison of fear and hatred of those that are different that permeates modern society. I personally try to fill my life with people who are not tainted by that fear or that hatred and remain tolerant of but distant from those are thus tainted. I endeavor to make clear that I do not agree with the voices of fear and hatred when I am confronted by them so as to avoid the dangers of implied consent, and I stuggle with my own intolerance of the intolerant.
Personally, I am glad that one who has given so much to others is able to give a little something to herself and those she loves. I am thrilled that she is able to live up to the WNBA slogan "This is who I am." I am ashamed that we as a species have been unable to purge fear and hatred of ourselves from our society. I am saddened that people around the world live lives in shadow, secrecy and misery because of the fear created in them by the fear expressed by others.
It is impossible for me to imagine a world where I could not talk about the person I love with anyone with whom I felt like sharing personal conversation. I cannot imagine being self conscious about what I say or do when in front of others with regard to how it might impact my job or any other aspect of my life.
I understand that Sheryl will serve as a role model in a different way than she already does, and that is a great thing. Every child, even the grown up ones, needs quality role models. Sheryl is certainly a person to be admired for who she is as well as for what she has accomplished.
In the end, I guess while this may not be big news for me, I will stop my rant that it should not be big news at all.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
In other news, I am currently considering an in-depth expose on the rampant propagation of vegetarianism in the NBA. In addition to the openly veggie Bill Walton, I have recently uncovered some details of the dietary plans of current and former NBA players including Anthony Peeler, Jacques Vaughn, and Robert Parish. Currently their employers and former sponsors have declined to comment on how this dietary choice impacts their continued associations with these players.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
2005 WNBA bottom dwellers Charlotte and San Antonio continued their year long string of bad luck as they were surprising beat out by Minnesota and Phoenix for the top two spots in the draft lottery.
Phoenix only missed the playoffs because they played on sloppy half against Seattle in their last game of the season. Had they had Maria Stepanova for a full season that game may not have mattered as they would likely have secured the final post-season berth long before that game. They get a HUGE benefit in the number 2 position
Minnesota gave up Katie Smith and is intent on leaning on their youth. Now they get to build on that existing youth with the top spot in the draft. If they can grab a few veterans in the offseason the West could look different next season and VERY different in a few years. Houston, LA and Sacramento are aging. Seattle, Phoenix and Minnesota could be the next reigning Western Conference teams.
The lottery teams were those teams that missed the playoffs, and include Minnesota, Phoenix, Charlotte, San Antonio and Washington. The remaining draft order is determined by record.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Thanks to someone else's careful reading, I have discovered up and cleaned up a couple of important errors in my original computations. I had two games with errors in the scoring columns that cascaded down those games into their +/- numbers skewing the results, and found around 25 games where Ashley Battle and Mandissa Stephenson were given incorrect calculations which threw off the totals. I used the overall team +/- to sanity check the data and got all 34 games to line up. Strangely I seem to be off by a single point when they roll up to the final numbers, but I haven't been able to track that down yet. My previous post has been updated with the correct numbers for raw +/-.
Per 40 Minute +/- Ratings (edited 10/24 to reflect corrections to player minutes and net40 Off Court computations)
It is difficult to assess the actual potential value of a big minute player from a minor contributer with the raw +/- ratings. A better view is to see how a contribution might play out over a 40 minute contribution (playing one full game.) This still does not adjust so much for players who get most of their time in garbage time, but gives us a little better perspective.
Suddenly the biggest contribution on the team come from Natalia Vodopyanova. She had very a strong line, but played considerably less minutes this past season than did raw leaders Sue Bird and Betty Lennox. Tanisha turns positive in this scenario, making her potential contribution to the team with increased minutes next year even more clear. Simone also turns up positive strengthening my case that she returns AGAIN next season. I struggle understanding why LJ turns negative numbers in this scenario. I simply cannot believe that the team would actually play better without her.
Judging by these numbers we could have had a very dominant lineup if we had played a starting five of Bird, Lennox, Vodo, LJ and JB. Press reports at the end of the season said that AD was not likely to bring Vodo back because of her inability to defend the SF position effectively in the WNBA. These numbers seem to contradict her assertion. We don't have insight into all that goes on in practice or on the bench, but these numbers seem to indicate that her value to the TEAM may outweigh her particular weakness. This alone may warrant Vodo another look, if not by Seattle, perhaps by another team...perhaps the Chicago Sky should be eyeing her for the expansion draft.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I have finally finished the +/- ratings for the Storm this past season. For those who are not familiar with this rating, it is a fairly commonly used measure of what impact a player has on their teams play. You calculate the number of points scored by the team while the player is on the floor and you also calculate the number of points scored by the opponent while the player is on the floor, and their rating is the difference between those numbers. A positive rating shows how many points their team outscored the opponent when they were on the floor.
The second set of ratings is how well the team plays when the player is off the floor. The same two numbers are calculated for the team and the opponent when the player is off the floor and the difference shows how the team performed against opponents without the player. A negative rating here shows that the team was outscored by their opponents when the player was not on the floor.
The final set of ratings is sometimes known as the Roland Rating for Roland Beech who calculates this number for NBA players at 82games.com. This rating computes the per 48 minute ratings and then computes the difference of the first two ratings together. A player with a positive on floor rating and a negative off floor rating earns a high Roland Rating since the team performs well with them on the floor and poorly with them off the floor. I will be posting the per 40 minute numbers as well as the Roland Rating later this week.
2005 Storm Player Ratings (Edited 10/24 to fix errors)
I was really surprised by the final numbers. I was not as surprised by Zara being at the bottom of this list, but the huge gap in performance between Bird and Zara reinforces for me how much the Storm need to strengthen their backup point guard position next season.
Suzy's ratings also surprised me. Obviously she was not a problem offensively, her other numbers are too strong in that area to lead me down that path. Clearly her defense could use even more work than I had originally thought. Granted, since she is generally substituting for Lauren and JB, I expect the her to not show fantastic off-court numbers since the players she is replacing are such high quality, however, she will need stronger on court defense to raise her overall rating.
The other big surprise for me was how poorly Tanisha shows over the full year. While she is a solid defensive player who has grown her offense over the course of the season, her numbers were hurt by some seriously poor showings in a number of games. Despite some assertions that Betty hurt the Storm defensively, these numbers say the team did much better offensively with Betty and without Tanisha, moreso than the other way around. Her rating actually dropped as she earned more minutes in the second half of the season.
Vodo's strong showing compared to Izzie's makes me wonder why she saw such limited minutes, though her strong numbers were during a solid midseason stretch and dropped considerably over the remaining season.
Among the expected results were a strong showing from JB. She more than stepped into the role vacated by Kamila Vodichkova's exodus to Phoenix. Her importance to the team offensively and defensively is clear. Her ratings dropped off in the last few weeks of the season, but she was dominant in the early in the season. Sue was the inverse, starting off strong, but falling off early and ending the season with some amazing numbers.
I am not fooled by LJ's middle of the pack numbers. For one, the post was the strongest that it has been for the Storm off the bench. JB would often sub in for LJ with Suzy already on the floor, leaving less of a whole in the front court than we have ever seen. Additionally, she is almost NEVER off the court, so her on-court numbers are clearly skewed by the other players on the floor with her, moreso than a player who actually rotates out for more than a minute per game.
As far as AD's cuts for the season...there were only three players who presented a negative on-court statistic in their limited minutes, and they were Zara, Ashley Battle (-1) and Mandissa Stevenson (-6), two of whom were cut early in the season. I am not sure we see Francesca back next year for this very reason.
These numbers merely reinforce what we already know about this team. The biggest weaknesses for the year were at the SF position and the backup PG position. I expect these to be the two areas AD attempts to bolster in the offseason.
Monday I will take a look at the Net40 ratings, or the values per 40 minutes each player acheived. This will alter the ratings for players who see less time. We expect them to have smaller numbers than the big minute players in the raw ratings.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Women's Hoops blog points out an Australian article that indicates LJ has been diagnosed with stress fractures in her leg believed to have been suffered in WNBA play back in July/August. She hopes to be back playing in January and guarantees herself ready for the Commonwealth Games in March. She said that she is rethinking her commitments to the Seattle Storm in light of the recurring injuries and their impact on her ability to play for her country.
Let's hope this is just a moment of mental darkness for LJ or that the media is creating a story...the Storm fall to the middle of the pack in the league, if not worse, without LJ.
Monday, October 17, 2005
On my +/- journey, I have three games remaining. Sue Bird has taken over the lead from Vodo with JB right on her trail. I should have the final numbers up this week, though business travel is getting in the way of my analysis as I am presenting at a conference in Orlando all week.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Women's Hoops Blog and Rebkell both got cited by ESPN's Mechelle Voepel in her offseason wrap up as places on the web worth a fan's time.
Speaking of Voepel...she makes the grade over at Full Court Press for their all-WNBA awards. With her Best WNBA analyst (print) award, she joins Storm favorites Lauren Jackson (first team) and Sue Bird (honorable mention). Also of note to Storm fans is Trudi Lacey's award for Worst General Manager move (player). She gets picked on for signing Sheri Sam away from the Storm for far more than any other team even considered offering.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Some hints on what I'm seeing...
Well about halfway through the season JB is leading the +/- race averaging +48. The other big surprise...Batgirl is leading the other end, averaging a sad -35. I expect that Suzy's numbers have to improve as the season goes on. Also, despite her light offensive production at the start of the season, Tanisha is already in the positive at +19, thanks to her solid defense. This is even more impressive to me, since I am now at the low point of the season for the Storm, they have just slid to .500 for the first time.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Thanks to the She's Got Game blog for the pointer to another of Sue Bird's offseason activities. She will be joining former UCONN teammate Diana Taurasi back in Connecticut Friday, October 14th for the Women's Basketball Supershow. WNBA.com has posted the list of International team destinations for WNBA players in the offseason.
For the Storm, Betty Lennox will play for Beijing in the China league and JB will be playing in the Czech Republic for USK Blex Praha. Sue will return to the cold of Russia and join Vodo to play for Moscow Dynamo, and LJ is already playing in Australia for the Canberra Capitals. Suzy rounds out the list, gaining some more international experience playing against Sue Bird in the Russian league for Ekaterinburg. If you don't speak the languages...try translators from Google and Alta Vista.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I believe that good teams tend to play to the capabilities of their opponents, rather than to the best of their own capabilities, which allows for some artificial parity in the team records over the course of the season. For this reason I wanted to take a look at the offensive and defensive ratings in the league since 1997, and see how the spread looked from those perspectives. I am only looking at the spread between the best and worst teams in the league and the standard deviation for that year.
Offensively we are looking at a spread of the number of points scored per 100 possessions. For example, in 1997 the best team (Houston) scored 14.07 points per 100 possessions more than the worst team (Utah). The standard deviation represents a number of points per 100 possessions a team is away from the average. In 1997, the standard deviation was 4.04 points per 100 possessions. The average rating for that year was 92.27 points per 100 possessions. Houston, which had a 99.43 point per 100 possession offensive rating was ~1.7 standard deviations from the league average. Utah, which had an 85.36 points per 100 possession offensive rating was ~1.7 standard deviations from the league average.
|Year||Offensive Rating Spread||Std. Dev.|
Offensively the league has essentially remained at the same parity it was since it was originated. The difference between the best and worst teams has changed drastically, but outside of the year 2000 when there was much less parity and the year 2004 when there was the most parity, the balance in the league has not changed much.
Here we are looking at how many points per 100 possessions a team allows. The best defensive team in 1998 was the Houston Comets, allowing only 88.22 points per 100 possessions. The weakest defense in 1998 was run by the Washington Mystics, allowing 104 points per 100 possessions. This created a spread of 15.77 points per 100 possessions between the best and worst teams defensively in 1998. The average defense in 1998 allowed 94.70 points per 100 possessions and the standard deviation was 4.40 points per 100 possessions.
|Year||Defensive Rating Spread||Std. Dev.|
Here again we see more change in the difference between the worst team and the best, than we do in the standard deviation. There was less parity in the league defensively to start with but it moved more quickly to parity before drifting apart, returning and drifting apart once more. In general it looks like there is more parity in the league defensively, with last year representing the largest difference since the first two years of the league. 2004 is once again a year of the greatest parity with only 1999 representing a small amount more.
The differential relates to the difference between a teams offensive rating and its defensive rating. In other words, if the best team scores 105.76 points per 100 possessions and allows 92.49 points per 100 possessions (as Houston did in 1999), then it has a differential of 13.27. It will outscore its opponents by 13.27 points per 100 possessions. Compare this team to the worst team which scored of 88.74 points per 100 possessions while allowing its opponents to score 97.69 points per 100 possessions (as Cleveland did in 1999) earning a differential of -8.29. This gives the year 1999 a spread of 22.63 points in differential between the best and worst teams. The average differential for 1999 was -0.02 (it was a bad offensive year) and the standard deviation was 6.12.
|Year||Differential Rating Spread||Std. Dev.|
Now we have something that follows Kevin's numbers in terms of trending, though the standard deviations are broader. The league shows an approach towards greater parity with 2004 offering the greatest parity. This past season has shown a wider gap, returning to the gap more like the earlier years of the league.
Is there parity in the league? For the most part, there is. What remains to be seen is whether the widening gap of 2005 is an abnormality or the start of a new trend. With the addition of the new Chicago Sky there may be some dilution of talent, and less parity than 2005, unless the influx of talent from the draft outweighs that impact. Whether the league decides to adjust its season to accomodate FIBA's conflicting schedule may also impact league parity. There is a great deal of International talent in the league, and their absence could dilute the league further and create less parity as well. For this, we shall have to wait and see.WNBA