One-and done: It’s simple statistics … the outlier effect.

Oh, really?

Tom Boswell – Washington Post sportswriter wrote an obligatory “what’s up?” column yesterday.

Most of it was pretty soft, in effect, insinuating that very lower seeds have a tourney advantage because they have nothing to lose … so, they can play at full throttle.


And, Boswell says that “exceptional coach JT3” may need to tweak his system a bit, but not too much.

Not exactly what I’d call hard hitting.

But, Boswell did raise a couple of interesting points:

John Thompson III, may have to reevaluate, tweak and adapt the teachings of his Princeton coach and mentor Pete Carril so that Georgetown teams in the future can play up to their ability in the NCAA tournament.

A methodical pace, offensive efficiency and, especially, limiting the number of possessions in a game — all smart Ivy League tricks that Carril conceived to help his team beat more talented foes — may not carry over to the sudden-death March format that’s decimated the Hoyas five times in six years.

At Princeton, Carril conceived a brilliant system that gave him the maximum chance to beat better teams outside the Ivy League and also to defeat teams of roughly equal ability within the league

Carril’s system … has functioned exceptionally well for Thompson at Georgetown in the regular season against Big East teams of roughly equal ability, when the Hoyas’ efficiency, discipline and defense have been decisive.

But there may be a weakness in the Carril method, as adapted by Thompson.

The fewer possessions in a basketball game, the more vulnerable the better team becomes to weaker teams because they have shortened the game.

By reducing the data sample, you introduce more outlier results.

I buy this part of Bowell’s argument: the NCAAs aren’t the Ivy League and a slow-motion offense is problematic against reasonably talented, and lightning fast teams .

As I posted earlier this week, it’s why the Moneyball Oakland As won in the regular season but usually got bounced early from the play-offs.

It’s simple statistics.

But, the problem is more than a few “outliers” …

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Like father like son … not

Another point that Boswell raised caught my eye:

Ironically, John Thompson Jr. had just the opposite philosophy to his son’s — end-to-end pressure defense …  plus constantly pushing for a faster tempo.

The best Hoyas teams of that era thrived in a chaos that they had created.

John Thompson Jr. believed in the fast break, the spontaneous explosion of talent.


Sounds like the FCGU coach.

And, sounds much more compelling than the outliers’ argument.

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Will Georgetown fire JT3 ?

I know: co-champ in the Big East this year; Final 4 in 2007, Coach of the year, etc.

Can’t fire a coach with that record, right?

Well, ask Ben Howland – canned coach at UCLA – who bagged 4 Final 4’s in 10 years.

Yahoo Sports cut to the chase on JT3 Saturday morning:

Jamie Dixon is an annual NCAA tourney underachiever at Pittsburgh (including this year).

Bo Ryan had some memorable flops at Wisconsin (including this year).

But they look like Mike Krzyzewski compared to JTIII.

So Georgetown faces a decision: Does consistent regular-season success  matter enough to overlook continual failings at tournament time?

Pitt and Wisconsin have made their decisions: they’re very happy to have Dixon and Ryan and take the consistent regular-season winning.

Georgetown probably will feel the same way, for a couple of reasons.

One, the school has history and prestige and wants to be good at basketball, but it’s not Kentucky or North Carolina or Kansas or Duke.

They don’t demand national titles or Final Fours on a regular basis at Georgetown.

Two, program patriarch John Thompson is alive and well and in the neighborhood.

And the school might hear from Big John if it had any designs on firing his son.

So I don’t think it will happen.

But the Georgetown powers that be probably would like to win a few games in the tournament, especially as college basketball increasingly becomes all about what happens in March.

You’ve got to beat somebody eventually, Georgetown. Seriously.

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BTW: JT3 hauls in more  than $2 million per year …  roughly twice what Georgetown’s President get’s paid.

And, unlike Babe Ruth, JT3 didn’t have a better season than President DeGioia.


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One Response to “One-and done: It’s simple statistics … the outlier effect.”

  1. Rob Marshall Says:

    Keep the college hoops posting coming! Gives me a lot to think about and my thoughts end up all over the place. The only thing I don’t get is the tenuous (in my eyes) connection to the A’s. People like to reference the A’s for street cred, but I don’t see the analogy between the A’s and Georgetown’s predicament on the basketball court. In MLB, teams with two elite, number one type starters seem to thrive (Johnson/Schilling famously). The A’s and teams like them, known for relying on high OBP, get bounced in games against guys like Schilling and Johnson who didn’t walk anyone. It was like running into a buzz saw offensively. Even Wood/Prior at their peak nearly carried the lovable losers to the WS (until the Bartman game of course). Maybe the Hoosier-style defense in college basketball would be the buzz saw in the analogy, but that style of defense seems like more of a “will” over “skill” type of talent compared to Randy Johnson.

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