The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

NBA Version of The Boots

Boot Up: Cleveland Cavaliers – Since it is already mid-December, it clearly means that I have not been dreaming for the last month and a half of the NBA season.  Yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently 20-3 and are a half-game back of the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference , and are a half game ahead of the LA Lakers in the West. The Cavaliers have made the the NBA a clear race between the top three in 2009, and are currently riding a franchise best eleven-game winning streak. This winning streak has already made history in several different ways (blowouts, Z and LeBron) and there are only four more months left in the regular season for the Cavaliers as they look to set all-time franchise records in wins and points (currently fourth in points scored and first in defense and “DIFF” per game according to ESPN).

I read a fantastic article recently by Dave Berri about the reason for the Cavaliers success recently. He pointed out that it is not really the acquisition of Maurice Williams, or the more inspired play of LeBron James that is leading to such blow-out victories. He argues that it is the more efficient rotation and healthy bench, resulting in more minutes for productive players like Anderson Varejao and Delonte West. He notes that using the rotation we have used thus far this season, and the production that is established for all of our personnel, we could have easily expected about 62 wins from this team in 2008-2009. 62 WINS! Who would have guessed earlier this year that this team ever would have been capable of winning this many games??? Not anyone, or at least certainly not anyone from pessimistic ol’ Northeast Ohio.

I had the Cavaliers down for about 48 wins in my mid-summer NBA predictions and they have exceeded all of my wildest expectations through 23 games this season. I can only hope and pray, as someone born and raised in the Northeast Ohio area, that this team does not let us down from here. Right now, the team must make the Eastern Conference finals this season or possibly face dire consequences from LeBron himself in the summer of 2010. From there, the Cavaliers desperately need to compete with the Boston Celtics like they did in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last season. Last year, however, I never truly imagined the Cavs could possibly beat the Celtics in that series, while in a similar matchup this season who knows who will have the edge. I just hope that April comes soon, and that in those first few days of the playoffs I still feel optimistic about the great potential for this team.

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December 12, 2008 Posted by | The Boots | , , , | 1 Comment

Dayton Basketball Game #9

Dayton Flyers (8-1) 59
Creighton Blue Jays
(6-2) 77
Wednesday, December 10
QWEST Center, Omaha, NE

It was bound to happen eventually, and this one was not pretty at all. The Dayton Flyers’ eight game winning streak came to a crashing halt Wednesday night in Omaha, Nebraska, where the preseason favorites for the Missouri Valley manhandled the Flyers by the score of 77 to 59. It was not as close as the final score indicated, as for the first time since the disappointing opener against Wofford, the Flyers lost the rebounding battle, and never were within 12 points in the second half. It was really bad, and in these incredibly tough road games it is important to keep perspective. Not too many teams beat Akron on the road, and certainly not too many beat Creighton in Omaha, and the Flyers learned that on this two-game road swing.

I am still convinced through these first nine games, that the Flyers have the potential to be the second or third best team in the Atlantic 10. I know that is contrary to what I said before the Chicago Invitational, when I guaranteed that if they pulled off the sweep in Chicago I would consider them solid competition for Xavier, but I think the Dayton Flyers  just aren’t that great this year. Remember, they only have senior in Charles Little, and it remains unlikely for Chris Wright to leave for the pros this season as a sophomore. Next year will be the high watermark of recent Flyers history, as Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry, London Warren, Kurt Huelsman, and Marcus Johnson will all be seniors. That is the one year where I can definitely see us being extremely competitive with Xavier, but until then we will take a back seat in the currently ranked 9th best conference in the nation.

Official Dayton Recap: “FLYERS’ EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED WITH 77-59 LOSS AT CREIGHTON
Official Creighton recap: Basketball Knocks Dayton From Unbeaten Ranks, 77-59″

Official ESPN recap: “Creighton 77, Dayton 59”

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December 11, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #8

Dayton Flyers (8-0) 54
Akron Zips (4-3 versus Division 1 opponents) 50
Saturday, December 4
James A. Rhodes Arena, Akron, OH

It was ugly, almost as ugly as the opener against Wofford, but the Flyers came away maintaining their perfect 8-0 record. A win at Akron has been very tough for anybody in the last five years, as I highlighted in my pre-game notes, and thus despite the score it is a very impressive first true road game of the season. There are so many things I could point about the bad stats on both sides of the court in this one, but most importantly I feel that there is a horrible trend occurring with the starting lineup that I must point out first.

In the last five games, the starting lineup has averaged 52.8 minutes in the first half. Due to foul trouble, typically by London Warren who has averaged only 7.6 minutes per first half in this stretch, the Flyers are hardly ever at full strength in the first 20 minutes of the game. I arrived at this game in Akron about 4 minutes into the first half, and I did not see Warren for the rest of the second half. I was texted friends to see what was going on, but it didn’t take me too long to just realize that he had obviously gotten two quick fouls and was on the bench for the rest of the half. If the Flyers do not improve these marks soon, it will definitely come back to hurt them soon.

Official Dayton recap: “DAYTON’S DEFENSE DELIVERS IN 54-50 WIN AT AKRON
Official Akron recap: “Men’s Basketball Gets Clipped By Flyers, 54-50”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 54, Akron 50”

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December 4, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 2 Comments

Dayton Basketball Game #7

Dayton Flyers (7-0) 87
Troy Trojans (3-5) 70
Tuesday, December 2
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

The Dayton Flyers remain on the cusp of being ranked in the top #25 in the nation as they defeated the Troy Trojans of Alabama by the final score of 87-70. It was a fast paced game throughout, and the Flyers put up their most impressive offensive performance in a first half thus far this season en route to the 17 point victory. One of the most surprising aspects of this game, was not the fact that it was the highest paced game and highest scoring game since last January (a streak of 15 games in terms of points, 18 in terms of possessions), but it was the fact that the Flyers did this without much help from Chris Wright. The sophomore out of Trotwood-Madison High School arguably had the worst game of his career, and his 13 minutes played were the least in the 21 of his career, besides the game against Rhode Island when he suffered an ankle injury last January.

This marked the second consecutive offensive outburst for the young Dayton Flyers this season, and this 87-pointer and the 89 mark against Marquette followed our worst shooting night of the year against Auburn. In the first five games this season, the Flyers averaged 63.27 points per 40 minutes, while shooting 43.6% from two-pointers and 30% from threes at an average pace of 66.23 possessions per 40 minutes. In these last two games against Marquette and Troy, they have averaged 88 points while shooting 60.5% from two-pointers and 37.8% from threes at an average pace of 75.6 possesions. There is a distinctly positive correlation between the recent up-tempo offense and the newfound efficiency of the Dayton offense.

Official Dayton recap: “LITTLE PLAYS LARGE AS FLYERS BEAT TROY, 87-70
Official Troy recap: “Trojans Fall to Flyers, 87-70”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 87, Troy 70”

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December 3, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 1 Comment