Review: “Last Days of Knight” is flawed but essential

Cross-posting at  ESPN is gambling these days. The new “30 for 30” documentary, Last Days of Knight, gambles on three levels: It’s being shown exclusively on ESPN+, the company’s new pay service, a good way to draw attention to it but not the best way to get this film the wide audience that many previous 30 for 30 entries have found. It tells the story of a journalist, CNN’s Robert Abbott, who pursued the story for months. As an Awful Announcing review says, the film attempts to tell Abbott’s story and Knight’s, and it sometimes falls between the two stools. A lot … Continue reading Review: “Last Days of Knight” is flawed but essential

Number Crunching And Ascertaining Tournament: Breaking down the bracket

I’ve been trying to learn data science, and inspired by a contest at Kaggle that is waaaay beyond my level of understanding, I’m doing some number-crunching to do a bracket. Here’s what I did — you can see the full data set at the end. First: In Google Sheets, I imported several data sets from ESPN, starting with their basic rankings pages listing BPI (their own numbers), strength of schedule (their computation), “strength of record” (which I don’t fully understand) and the official NCAA RPI. I also imported the seven-day ranking change and each team’s seeds. All that importing put a … Continue reading Number Crunching And Ascertaining Tournament: Breaking down the bracket

Women’s soccer, pro/rel, UConn hoops and taking things for granted

If there’s war between the sexes, then there’ll be no people left — Joe Jackson. (Tori Amos did a terrific cover version.) I’ve spent too much time on Twitter this week grabbing the third rail. I’ve been in conversations on promotion/relegation, women’s soccer equity, and UConn women’s basketball. Let’s dispense with the last one first. The “Connecticut is too dominant” issue has reached The Guardian this week, but it’s being fanned by ESPN. You know — the colossus based in Bristol, Conn., founded by people who wanted to watch Connecticut sports. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to point to … Continue reading Women’s soccer, pro/rel, UConn hoops and taking things for granted

Single-Digit Soccer: The lessons of basketball

The general consensus says playing multiple sports is a good thing for kids. They get a broader range of physical activity, they avoid overuse injuries, and they may find some skills in a secondary sport that transfer to their primary. Also … they’re kids. The overwhelming majority of them are just looking for fun things to do with their friends. And later in life, they may have more social options if they’re comfortable playing pickup basketball as readily as they play soccer. So as I spend parts of my winter sitting on a gym floor watching 7- and 8-year-olds heave a … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The lessons of basketball

NBA dumping divisions? Why not add promotion and relegation?

I’ve long figured the NBA was the U.S. pro sport best suited to a promotion/relegation system. It’s not hard to find a half-decent arena, the college system produces hundreds of noteworthy players who don’t make NBA rosters, several franchises sit in moribund mediocrity each year, and switching things up wouldn’t trample on history as it would in baseball, football or hockey. Today, the NBA is struggling with the imbalance in its regional divisions and conferences. The playoffs could easily have some rotten teams. The suggested solutions are creative. And all this is happening in a year in which teams are … Continue reading NBA dumping divisions? Why not add promotion and relegation?

At Magnus Carlsen, hoops freshmen, curling

If you haven’t checked out yet, please do. It’s a terrific site capturing the next wave of what’s important, what’s interesting and what’s cool. And I’m not just saying that because they’ve given me the opportunity to write three terrific pieces: – Magnus Carlsen, the new face of chess (written before he won the world title) – College basketball’s big freshmen: Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins – Curling: From the Olympics to Arizona, it’s catching on. Can the USA harness that interest and build better teams? The medal projections here at SportsMyriad are ongoing. Freestyle skiing just takes … Continue reading At Magnus Carlsen, hoops freshmen, curling

No, you didn’t have to win by 105 points

It’s astounding that whenever one of these high school basketball blowouts like this week’s 107-2 thriller in Indiana pops up, some dudes always pop up to say, “Oh yeah, well, you wouldn’t want the other team to just stop playing. My Southwest Birdpatch County team beat a team 198-1 one time, and that was after the coach put in the fourth-grade JV players and told them to pass the ball five times before shooting.” Let’s do some basic math, shall we? High school basketball games are typically 32 minutes — 8 minutes per quarter. Let’s say you slow down a … Continue reading No, you didn’t have to win by 105 points

Olympic basketball: We got next! Yeah! The three of us!

Neat event starting tomorrow — the 3-on-3 basketball world championships. It might be over 100 degrees on the outdoor court, but the venue is cool. For the USA, Skylar Diggins will be there. And we can’t wait for the opening matchup of Slovenia and Nepal. Should be tons of fun. And organizers are hoping the 3-person version of the sport will be … in the Olympics? Could be worse. It could be the And1 streetball tour. This isn’t the only variant of an existing sport being pushed for the Games. Futsal, the indoor soccer game without walls, had a bit … Continue reading Olympic basketball: We got next! Yeah! The three of us!

2012 medal projection update: Ball sports

See the original post for projections from 16 months ago; read on for the latest (which may not have changed much):


The only major international event played since the last World Championships were the men’s and women’s European tournaments. The top four men: Spain, France, Russia, Macedonia. Women: Russia, Turkey, France, Czech Republic.

FIBA also compiles rankings that reflect all the various zonal tournaments. Top men: USA, Spain, Argentina, Greece, Lithuania, big gap. Top women: USA (by a mile), Australia/Russia (tie), giant gap, Czech Republic, Spain.

Men: The USA and Spain are clearly the front-runners. After that, the picks are more difficult. France has Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and two other NBA-affiliated players, though Joakim Noah is out injured. Great Britain has two players who passed briefly through Duke — Luol Deng and Eric Boateng. But you can’t always judge by the number of NBA or former college players. Lithuania has a lot of Euroleague experience (as well as some players U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski will know from ACC play), and Russia is built around several players from perennial power CSKA Moscow.

France (ranked 12th) may be underrated, especially when you consider that France qualified for the Olympics ahead of fourth-ranked Greece. Then Nigeria knocked out Greece in the last-chance Olympic tournament, qualifying along with Russia and Lithuania.

Brazil (#13) is certainly underrated. They finished second at the Americas qualifying tournament behind host Argentina (the USA did not participate), and they usually give the USA a tough game. Argentina beat Brazil in the neutral setting of the 2010 Worlds. But on paper, Brazil’s roster is stronger, and the history is solid.

So we’re not changing. USA, Spain, Brazil

Women: A U.S. loss would be a shocker. Australia has three straight silver medals, and the Opals return roughly half of their 2008 squad, including world-class star Lauren Jackson, though several WNBA players have moved on.

Russia was far from unbeatable in the European qualifying tournament last year, barely getting past Slovakia in the opener and losing a group-stage game to Lithuania. Belarus beat them in the next round, and Britain got within three points. They woke up and stomped everyone in the knockout stages, and no one else has given any reason to doubt the rankings, the original projection or the 2008 finish. USA, Australia, Russia

Read on …

Continue reading “2012 medal projection update: Ball sports”