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Just The Sports: 2007-04-15

Just The Sports

Friday, April 20, 2007

Maybe I'm Obsessed With This Class

As a team, University of Florida's '04 class (Corey Brewer, Taurean Green, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah) have experienced improvement, both offensively and defensively, each year they have been in college. Individually, their careers have not followed so linear a path and as each of these four players embark upon an NBA career, a look back will tell you who used his time at Florida the best.

For all of the accolades Corey Brewer has received for his elite athleticism and ability to play suffocating on-the-ball defense, as an offensive player he is not at a premier level. This conclusion was drawn from the fact Brewer never statistically significantly improved in his sophomore and junior seasons the rate statistics he established in his freshman season (58.3 TS%, 1.17 points per shot attempt, 19.6 AsR, 16.2 ToR, 8.2 RbR) even though he did maintain those numbers while taking over more of an offensive shooting load for the Gators: commendable but not impressive. If any NBA team thinks they are going to acquire a highly contributing offensive player when drafting Brewer, it is sadly mistaken.

Joakim Noah is partially in the same boat with Brewer, but still has at least one foot and most of his ponytail hanging out of it. Although he played sparingly as a freshman and only took 2.1 field goal attempts per game, Noah, too, has been unable to post a significant jump in his shooting rate statistics. Noah's sophomore season was his best shooting the ball (67.2 TS% and 1.34 points per shot attempt on 8.3 field goal attempts per game), but even with those impressive numbers, Noah will be unable to handle taking numerous shots per game for any NBA team. He will, however, be an excellent rebounder on the NBA level if his significant improvement in rebound rate from his freshman to sophomore to junior campaigns (15.4 RbR to 16.8 RbR to 19.6 RbR) is any indication.

With Taurean Green, we are finally able to discuss a player who did make a giant leap in his shooting prowess, coming between his sophomore and junior seasons. Due to the fact Green averaged more field goal makes per game (3.9 to 3.1) while taking fewer field goal attempts per game (9.1 to 8.7) from his sophomore to junior seasons, Green's true shooting percentage and points per shot attempt increased from 59.0 TS%/ 1.18 PSA to 63.2 TS%/1.26 PSA. Unfortunately, Green saw a drop-off in both his assist rates/turnover rates and rebound rates, which were not that spectacular to begin with, from sophomore to junior seasons, pointing to the deficiencies Green possesses in his game. Although shooting is Green's best attribute, his lack of height (6'0), relative to NBA standards, may prove a problem when he tries to translate his shooting touch to the professional level.

In saving Al Horford for last, I am also saving the only member of the '04 class who managed to get statistically significantly better in two categories, shooting and rebounding. His largest increase in shooting efficiency came between his freshman (52.6 TS% and 1.05 points per shot attempt on 4.0 field goal attempts per game) and sophomore (62.4 TS% and 1.25 points per shot attempt on 7.5 field goal attempts per game) campaigns. He then maintained his sophomore numbers in his junior season where he had a 65.7 TS% and 1.31 points per shot attempt on 8.1 field goal attempts per game. Horford also took it upon himself to become a more prolific rebounder, elevating his sophomore rebound rate of 17.2 to a junior rebound rate of 20.2.

As one can infer from these statistics, the sum of Florida's men's basketball team was greater than its individual members. None of the players is likely to become a superstar on the NBA level, but each can at least be a decent role player and stick around the league for a number of years.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

NBA Fans' Reaction To Crawford

Citing the recent suspension of NBA veteran referee Joey Crawford by NBA commissioner David Stern, NBA playoff teams have been deluged by ticket refund requests from fans no longer interested in watching games where Joey Crawford will not be refereeing. This boycott of games represents the first time fans have openly declared that they do indeed go to games to watch certain referees work.

After learning about Crawford's suspension, long time NBA fan Robert Jackson admitted he could not imagine watching this year's NBA post-season without being able to watch his favorite referee, Crawford, in action. "Once I heard of Stern's decision, I just couldn't believe it," Jackson stated. "For the past thirty-one years, I have followed Crawford's career and been wowed at how well he managed to overshadow all the NBA players and their incredible athleticism with his authoritarian form of refereeing. I even started pretending I was Joey at my son's youth basketball games, dispensing personal and technical fouls like candy whenever I felt like it, regardless of whether or not the players deserved them."

Jackson added: "Now that Joey's out, I guess I will just have to make do with watching the world's best basketball players play against each other to settle which team is the best in the league. What a letdown that will be."

Crawford, himself, is not surprised at the loyalty NBA fans are showing him by asking for their money back since it only supports what he has known for so long. "All my career I've known fans are coming to the game to watch me," Crawford said. "And I have made sure to referee accordingly, trying with all my ability to determine the outcome of games and overshadow any supposed player stars the league has. As my suspension shows, I have succeeded. Obviously Stern was just a hater of how brightly my star was shining."

Although Stern has expressed concern that he will lose some fans due to Crawford's imposed vacation, he is certain that Bennett Salvatore and Violet Palmer will provide some reason for fans to still watch NBA games.