Friday, September 09, 2005

Anti-Comcast Tirade

I switched from my well loved Tivo and DirecTV service this fall. I wanted HiDef, and after a lot of research I decided that Comcast was the better way to go. For a list of reasons I won't go into here (this blog is about basketball after all), I still believe it was largely the right decision. That said...

This is the SECOND time in the playoffs that my new Comcast DVR has burned me. I configured TODAY to record both the Sun/Fever game on NBA TV AND the Monarchs/Comets game on ESPN2. I confirmed that they were both set up. For some reason the blasted piece of scrap metal with a Microsoft brain AGAIN got the first game and didn't record the second game. There was no reason that I could find for this to happen. Nothing else recorded last night, at least that I could find, so I don't believe there was a conflict. I miss my Linux driven Tivo, and its recording history log that ALWAYS told you why it didn't record a program. To top things off, the stupid machine hangs so much it is a royal pain just to watch a show.

Needless to say...I missed the Sac/Houston game entirely. I have two kids to take care who has homework to do, I just can't babysit the DVR all night...and I didn't get to finish watching the first game until 9:30 last night.

Sun vs. Fever
First of all...I have a newfound respect for people who chart basketball games. I did it (using my own improvised method) for the last eight minutes of the Storm's loss to Houston in Game 2 of the playoffs. Last night I tried applying Dean Olliver's system from Chapter 2 of Basketball on Paper to the Sun/Fever game. It is incredibly hard...and I have a blasted DVR. It is hard enough to read the players jerseys on the poor NBA TV feed, and get their numbers on the plays...but add in the two small children running around the room as I charted, and got 10 possessions charted in about 40 minutes. It was exhausting. I realize what a HUGE effort it is going to be for me to chart NBA defense this winter if I get the opportunity to do so. I am sure that it gets easier with practice, but I know now that I have to wait until the kids are in bed before I try to tackle charting again.

I'll start with my gut observations. Tamika's head injury cost Indiana this game, and probably the series. Indiana performed admirably in her absence, but was never able to get over the hump. She didn't start playing like herself until the last few minutes, and by then it was too late. Tully was amazing. She and Kelly Miller played 38 minutes of non-stop defense last night. Tully left everything out on the floor and played like a champion. Her stat line...


...well it just doesn't tell the story, as it seldom does. She didn't have the clutch shooting in this game that she showed in the series against the Liberty, but her scrap, her energy and her heart single handedly kept Indiana in this game until Catchings was able to step up. Kelly Schumacher (12 pts) picked up the scoring load in the first half, and Deanna Jackson (12 pts) did it in the second half, but in the end it just wasn't enough. I expect more of the same from Indiana in game 2, with a boost from a (hopefully) healthy Catchings.

Frankly, I was underwhelmed by Lindsay Whalen and Nykesha Sales in this game. The only thing spectacular that I saw from Whalen was her rebounding effort (7). Tully managed to take her out of her offensive game...even when she got more aggressive in the second half. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but I thought she was brilliant against Detroit in the first round. I expect both Whalen and Sales to step up their games in Game 2. Taj McWilliams-Franklin looks like a different player with Dydek on the floor. She made me ask myself if she even played against Seattle in the finals last year...she was hitting everything from everywhere...ok on 50% from the field, but hit all 9 of her free throws. She was THE dominant force throughout the game. That may be all Margo was good for. It has been said a million times already, and it will be said a million times more. How can you be 7'2" tall in the WNBA and have 1 block, 5 rebounds and 6 points? Natalie Williams is a full foot shorter than Dydek at 6'2", and you can't dominate the center position in this game? I know that Natalie offers more bulk with her 210 pounds on that 6'2" frame, but she managed to get more offensive rebounds than you in this game. If this team ever starts to lose and Dydek doesn't take over, their failure to win the championship will rest 100% on her shoulders.

From a numbers perspective...(thank you Mr. Oliver)

Using a possession calculation from Basketball on Paper I calculated that there were 61 possessions per team. It is easier to use the formula than to count the actual possessions from the play by play, but I tested it out myself against the Storm playoffs, and it is fairly accurate. The possession calculation lets me determine offensive and defensive ratings.

Off. Rating120.13101.05
Rd. 1 Rating109.70107.66

The offensive rating reflects points per 100 possessions. Both teams defensive ratings slipped considerably from their round one matchups where the Sun had a 94.63 defensive rating and the Fever had a 87.05 defensive rating. The Fever had the better round one differential at +20.61 with the Sun at +15.08.

Frankly, I don't think Indiana can recover against this Connetticut offense even with their vaunted defense. I think Indiana falls in a more closely contested game 2. Connetticut just seems to be getting better.

Monarchs vs. Comets
As I have already said, I missed this game, so all of my observations are based on the stats, with no gut feel from observing the players. I really thought Houston would take this game with Ticha Penicheiro out with a bum ankle. Nicole Powell seems to be living up to her MIP award, stepping up and hitting the big shot when her team needed it.

Off. Rating101.4099.66
Rd. 1 Rating108.61101.88

It is clear that the Comet's lost this game on turnovers. The Monarchs actually improved their offensive efficiency with Ticha out of the game, though the return of DeMya Walker may have helped that somewhat. The Comets stayed close to their average, but were killed by their inability to handle Sacramento's defense and maintain control of their possessions. The Monarchs defensive rating for round one was 96.33 with a +12.27 differential compared to the Comets defensive rating was 93.77 but they only had a differential of +8.11. With or without Ticha, it looks like the Monarchs own this series. I won't write the Comets off just yet...not after the way they dismantled Seattle at home, but I now believe Sacramento takes this series in two games, not the three I originally expected.

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