Tuesday, June 13, 2017

WNBA 2017: 4-Week Progress Report


During the prime of his Hall of Fame career, there was no defender who could disrupt Larry Bird’s game more than the Lakers’ Michael Cooper.

No surprise, then, to see Coach Cooper’s current Atlanta squad, while struggling mightily to score in the absence of their sabbatical-ing Angel, ranking among the league leaders in a variety of defensive categories. The Dreamgirls are No. 1 in “stops” per game; No. 2 in FG%, 3FG%, Points per Game, Points per Possession and Conversion Rate; and No.3 in TO%.

I notice that Cooper’s 23-year-old son is an assistant with the team – always a curious dynamic. Paul Silas, one of my all-time favorite players, coached with his son through some trying times in Charlotte several years ago – and hasn’t worked since, to my knowledge.

The “Mean” Performance (or should that be median?)

Through four weeks and 48 games, here’s what an average 2017 WNBA game looks like, numerically.

Possessions: 76.7
Points: 80.9  [PPP: 1.055]
FG: 28.7 – 65.7, .437
3FG: 5.53 – 16.84, .328
3PAr/Usage rate: .256
FT: 17.9 – 21.9, .818
(Off – Tot) Reb: 9.18 – 33.8  [OR% .272]
TO: 13.0  [TO% .147]

The following rankings reflect play through Friday, June 9. An explanation of the criteria is available here.


No. 1 Minnesota Lynx, 8-0 (8)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 1]

KK:  +5; (5 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 1 overall
Flow:  +6.25; (45.6 stops OF opp [No. 3] – 39.4 stops BY opp [No. 3] / No. 1 overall
Striping:  +0.20; (+1.00) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.75) opp conversions [No. 7] / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  +160; (649 [No. 1] – 489 [No. 1]) / No. 2 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Lynx rank No. 1 in Conv. Rate (.518) AND opp. Conv. Rate (.437). What’s gonna happen when Ms. Moore starts making shots?

No. 2 Phoenix Mercury, 5-3 (12.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 7]

KK:  +1; (3 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +3.88; (46.0 stops OF opp [No. 2] – 42.1 stops BY opp [No. 7] / No. 2 overall
Striping:  +1.06; (+0.75) conversions [No. 5] – (-0.31) opp conversions [No. 2] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  +17; (506 [No. 11] – 489 [No. 1]) / No. 6 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Mercury went from worst (72.0) to first (94.0) in per-game scoring during Weeks 3 & 4.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 1)

Which teams are performing the rudimentary skills of the game most proficiently at both ends of the floor? Let’s consider six elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, Points per Game, Offensive Rebounding, the matter of turnovers and the SPOR-t score of our ratings. These teams hold a Top Four rank offensively and defensively:

FG%: NONE
3FG%: NONE
PPG: Minnesota
OR%: Connecticut, Minnesota
TO%: Atlanta, Los Angeles
SPOR-t: Minnesota


No. 3 Washington Mystics, 6-3 (14.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 2]

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +2.00; (41.9 stops OF opp [No. 6] – 39.9 stops BY opp [No. 4] / No. 4 overall
Striping:  +0.39; (+2.33) conversions [No. 1] – (+1.94) opp conversions [No. 12] / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  +41; (603 [No. 2] – 562 [No. 6]) / No. 4 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Mystics lead the league in Points per Possession at 1.119.

No. 4 Atlanta Dream, 4-3 (23.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 4]

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +3.29; (46.6 stops OF opp [No. 1] – 43.3 stops BY opp [No. 9] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  -1.57; [-1.71) conversions [No. 12] – (-0.14) conversions [No. 1] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +29; (528 [No. 9] – 499 [No. 3]) / No. 5 overall
Abacus Revelation: During Weeks 3 & 4, the Dream played the league’s best 3FG defense even though their opponents ranked second in usage.


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Pace 24 games [48 overall]

100+ points: 3 games [3 overall]
90-99 points: 12 games [18 overall]
80-89 points: 10 games [28 overall]
70-79 points: 19 games [33 overall]
60-69 points: 4 games [13 overall]
<60 points: 0 games  [1 overall]


No. 5 Seattle Storm, 5-3 (25)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 9]

KK:  0; (1 Road Win – 1 Home Loss) / No. 6 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +1.88; (40.1 stops OF opp [No. 9] – 38.3 stops BY opp [No. 1] / No. 5 overall
Striping:  +0.31; (+2.06) conversions [No. 2] - (+1.75) opp conversions [No. 11] / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  -68; (543 [No. 8] – 611 [No. 10]) / No. 9 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Storm top the league in FG accuracy at .488.

No. 5 Los Angeles Sparks, 4-3 (25)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 8]

KK:  +1; (1 Road Win – 0 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +1.00; (40.1 stops OF opp [No. 10] – 39.1 stops BY opp [No. 2] / No. 6 overall
Striping:  -0.07; (+1.07) conversions [No. 3] – (+1.14) opp conversions [No. 9]) / No. 7 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  -15; (568 [No. 5] – 583 [No. 7]) / No. 8 overall
Abacus Revelation: The pesky Sparks’ “D” creates TO’s at the league’s highest rate (.178).


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Differential

1-5 points: 4 games [11 overall]
6-10 points: 9 games [20 overall]
11-15 points: 4 games [8 overall]
16-20 points:  2 games [3 overall]
>20: 5 games [6 overall]


No. 7 Connecticut Sun 2-5, (26.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 11]

KK:  0; (2 Road Wins - 2 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)*
Flow:  -2.71; (42.1 stops OF opp [No. 5] – 44.9 stops BY opp [No. 11] / No. 9 overall
Striping:  -0.07; (+0.71) conversions [No. 6] – (+0.79) conversions [No. 8] / No. 7 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +52; (569 [No. 4] – 517 [No. 5]) / No. 3 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sun cut their TO’s from 15 to 9 per game over Weeks 3 & 4.

No. 8 New York Liberty, 5-3 (27.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 5]

KK:  -1; (1 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  +0.88; (43.0 stops OF opp [No. 4] – 42.1 stops BY opp [No. 7] / No. 7 overall
Striping:  -0.19; (0.00) conversions [No. 10] – (+0.19) opp conversions [No. 5] / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  +57; (557 [No. 6] – 500 [No. 4]) / No. 2 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Libs protect their defensive backboard better than anyone else (.762).


No.9 Dallas Wings, 4-5 (32)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 3]

KK:  0; (2 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  -1.78; (40.3 stops OF opp [No. 8] – 42.1 stops BY opp [No. 6] / No. 8 overall
Striping:  -0.39; (+0.17) conversions [No. 9] – (+0.56) conversions [No. 6] / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  -10; (580 [No. 3] – 590 [No. 8]) / No. 7 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Wings’ .300 OR% ranks third in the league, Glory Be!


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 2)

Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Four offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t.

FG%: NONE
3FG%: Indiana
PPG: Chicago, San Antonio
OR%: Los Angeles, Seattle
TO%: Chicago, San Antonio
SPOR-t: Chicago, San Antonio


No. 10 Chicago Sky, 1-7 (37)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 11]

KK:  -3; (1 Road Win – 4 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall
Flow:  -6.00; (41.4 stops OF opp [No. 7] – 47.4 stops BY opp [No. 12] / No. 12 overall
Striping:  +0.69; (+0.31) conversions [No. 8] – (-0.37) opp conversions [No. 3] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -98; (496 [No. 12] – 594 [No. 9]) / No. 12 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sky take care of the ball better than just two other teams and shoot better than but one.

No. 11 San Antonio Stars, 0-8 (40)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 12]

KK:  -4; (0 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 12 overall
Flow:  -5.00; (39.3 stops OF opp [No. 11] – 44.3 stops BY opp [No. 10] / No. 11 overall
Striping:  +0.13; (-0.25) conversions [No. 11] – (-0.37) opp conversions [No. 3] / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  -89; (525 [No. 10] – 614 [No. 11]) / No. 11 overall
Abacus Revelation: The out-gunned but spunky Stars rank No. 6 in offensive rebounding.

No. 12 Indiana Fever, 4-5 (40.5)
[2-week Abacus Rank: No. 6]

KK:  -1; (0 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -3.11; (37.0 stops OF opp [No. 12] – 40.1 stops BY opp [No. 5] / No. 10 overall
Striping:  -0.67; (+0.61) conversions [No. 7] – (+1.28) conversions [No. 10] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  -75; (545 [No. 7] – 620 [No. 12]) / No. 10 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Fever defense allows opponents a league-worst 1.153 points per possession.


Abacus Revelation for the Road / Random Ranking – 3PAr (usage rate for 3FG’s)

Washington .321 [196 3FGA’s in 610 FGA’s]
Phoenix .310 [161 3FGA’s in 519 FGA’s]
Seattle .310 [146 3FGA’s in 471 FGA’s]
Dallas .262 [160 3FGA’s in 610 FGA’s]
Minnesota .260 [143 3FGA’s in 550 FGA’s]
New York .250 [132 3FGA’s in 529 FGA’s]
Atlanta .235 [116 3FGA’s in 494 FGA’s]
Los Angeles .233 [106 3FGA’s in 454 FGA’s]
Chicago .225 [126 3FGA’s in 560 FGA’s]
Connecticut .208 [107 3FGA’s in 515 FGA’s]
Indiana .205 [118 3FGA’s in 576 FGA’s]
San Antonio .203 [106 3FGA’s in 521 FGA’s]

Monday, May 29, 2017

WNBA 2017: 2-Week Progress Report


The opening fortnight of WNBA play (May 12 – 25) offered a slate of 24 games. An average team performance during this span featured 28 for 66 shooting (about 42%) and included five or six successful three-pointers in 17 tries. About 17 of 21 free throws fell, while teams were snatching 33 or 34 rebounds (of which roughly nine came off the offensive glass) and turning the ball over a perhaps unlucky 13 times in 77 possessions.

The “flagship” Minnesota Lynx have wrapped up 15% of their schedule unblemished in their quest to regain a title they’ve understandably grown to think of as their own. But early returns can be deceiving in chaotic and at times nomadic world of elite women’s basketball.
And even with its imperfections, women’s basketball doesn’t get any more elite than Ms. Borders’s North American summer league.

Here’s how the teams rank at this early stage. Will the Delle Donne / Thibault tag team ride their early flair to post-season success?

The Grading Scale

“Flow”: this calculation puts a number to a team’s unsuccessful possessions (i.e. the other guys’ “stops”). Just take their missed field goals (attempts minus makes), subtract the offensive rebounds, and then add the turnovers. The “scores” represent per-game performance.

“Striping”: this calculation measures the impact of missed free throws and made treys. By subtracting the former from the latter [3’s minus missed FT’s], we identify a team’s gain or loss in points through “specialty shooting.” Again the “scores” are per-game. (A further division by two converts “points” to “conversions” – thus they can be combined with the “Flow” score.)

KK: Karl Kount – named for George Karl – is a way to measure a team’s grit and savvy through its ability to defend its home court and win on the road, a simple calculation for generally reliable info.

 “SPOR-t”: SPOR-t stands for “Shooting Plus Offensive Rebounds minus turnovers.” Add a team’s FG percentage and its offensive rebounding percentage (o. boards divided by the sum of those o. boards and the opposition's d. boards). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, offensive rebounds at a rate of .199, and commits a turnover on .143 of its possessions. So its SPOR-t is (488+199-143) or 544. Once again, our measurement will be the difference between the SPOR-t scores of a team and its opposition.
                                                                                                                                                                                           
We’ll rank the teams from 1 to 12 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings. Low score wins, naturally.
No. 1 Minnesota Lynx, 5-0 (10.5)

KK:  +3; (3 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 1 overall
Flow:  +4.00; (46.6 stops OF opp [No. 3] – 42.6 stops BY opp [No. 6] / No. 2 overall
Striping:  +0.20; (+0.50) conversions [No. 6] – (+0.30) opp conversions [No. 6] / No. 5 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +95; (588 [No. 3] – 493 [No. 3]) / No. 2 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Lynx 9.2 point per game differential tops the “W” handily.

No. 2 Washington Mystics, 3-2 (12.5)

KK:  +1; (1 Road Win – 0 Home Losses) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +3.40; (42.2 stops OF opp [No. 6] – 38.8 stops BY opp [No. 3] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  +0.20; (+2.60) conversions [No. 2] – (+2.40) opp conversions [No. 10] / No. 5 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +140; (640 [No. 1] – 500 [No. 4]) / No. 1 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Mystics are the league’s best defensive rebounding team.

No. 3 Dallas Wings, 2-1 (20)

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +1.33; (42.3 stops OF opp [No. 5] – 41.0 stops BY opp [No. 5] / No. 6 overall
Striping:  -0.33; (-0.50) conversions [No. 9] – (-0.17) conversions [No. 3] / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  +81; (627 [No. 2] – 546 [No. 7]) / No. 3 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Wings rank third in overall shooting (.449) but last (.214) from behind the arc.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 1)

Which teams are performing the rudimentary skills of the game most proficiently at both ends of the floor? Let’s consider six elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, Points per Game, Offensive Rebounding, the matter of turnovers and the SPOR-t score of our ratings. These teams hold a Top Four rank offensively and defensively:

FG%: NONE
3FG%: NONE
PPG: Dallas, Minnesota
OR%: Washington
TO%: Indiana, Los Angeles
SPOR-t: Minnesota, Washington

No. 4 Atlanta Dream, 2-1 (21)

KK:  +1; (2 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +6.67; (50.0 stops OF opp [No. 1] – 43.3 stops BY opp [No. 8] / No. 1 overall
Striping:  -1.33; [-0.83) conversions [No. 11] – (+0.50) conversions [No. 7] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +8; (500 [No. 10] – 492 [No. 2]) / No. 5 overall
Abacus Revelation: The aggressive Atlanta defense creates a league-best 50 “stops” per game.

No. 5 New York Liberty, 2-2 (23)

KK:  0; (1 Road Win – 1 Home Loss) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -2.50; (41.3 stops OF opp [No. 8] – 43.8 stops BY opp [No. 9] / No. 9 overall
Striping:  +0.50; (+0.50) conversions [No. 6] – (0.00) opp conversions [No. 4] / No. 3 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +22; (522 [No. 8] – 500 [No. 4]) / No. 4 overall
Abacus Revelation: The grind-it-out Liberty are one of only two squads to both score and yield fewer than 80 points per game.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Pace

100+ points: 0 games
90-99 points: 6 games
80-89 points: 18 games
70-79 points: 14 games
60-69 points: 9 games
<60 points: 1 game

No. 6 Indiana Fever, 2-2 (25.5)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -1.50; (37.3 stops OF opp [No. 12] – 38.8 stops BY opp [No. 2] / No. 8 overall
Striping:  +0.88; (+1.62) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.75) conversions [No. 8] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  -68; (580 [No. 4] – 648 [No. 12]) / No. 10 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Fever defense allows opponents a league-worst 53% conversion rate.

No. 7 Phoenix Mercury, 2-2 (26.5)

KK:  -1; (1 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  +3.25; (47.0 stops OF opp [No. 2] – 43.8 stops BY opp [No. 9] / No. 4 overall (tied)
Striping:  +0.50; (-0.50) conversions [No. 9] – (-1.00) opp conversions [No. 1] / No. 3 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  -67; (413 [No. 12] – 480 [No. 1]) / No. 9 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Merc’s top-ranked defense allows a conversion on but 43% of opponent possessions.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Scoring Differential
1-5 points: 7 games
6-10 points: 11 games
11-15 points: 4 games
16-20 points: 1 game
>20: 1 game

No. 8 Los Angeles Sparks, 2-1 (28.5)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +0.33; (37.7 stops OF opp [No. 11] – 37.3 stops BY opp [No. 1] / No. 7 overall
Striping:  -0.50; (+2.67) conversions [No. 1] – (+3.17) opp conversions [No. 12]) / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  +4; (568 [No. 5] – 564 [No. 8]) / No. 6 overall
Abacus Revelation: The defending champs are the league’s most accurate FG shooters (.515) in the early going.

No. 9 Seattle Storm, 3-1 (30)

KK:  0; (0 Road Wins – 0 Home Losses) / No. 5 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +3.25; (43.0 stops OF opp [No. 4] – 39.8 stops BY opp [No. 4] / No. 4 overall (tied)
Striping:  -0.75; (+2.13) conversions [No. 3] - (+2.88) opp conversions [No. 11] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  -41; (534 [No. 6] – 575 [No. 9]) / No. 8 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Storm take 8.25 more free throws per game than the opposition, the largest differential in the league.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL
Masters of the Craft (Part 2)

Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Four offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t.

FG%: Dallas
3FG%: NONE
PPG: Chicago, San Antonio
OR%: NONE
TO%: Seattle
SPOR-t: Chicago

No. 10 Connecticut Sun, 0-4 (31.5)

KK:  -2; (0 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
Flow:  -6.25; (40.5 stops OF opp [No. 9] – 46.8 stops BY opp [No. 11] / No. 11 overall
Striping:  +0.75; (+1.62) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.88) conversions [No. 9] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -19; (513 [No. 9] – 532 [No. 6]) / No. 7 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sun stand No. 2 in three-point shooting (.403).

No. 11 Chicago Sky, 1-4 (40.5)

KK:  -1; (1 Road Win – 2 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -6.60; (42.2 stops OF opp [No. 6] – 48.8 stops BY opp [No. 12] / No. 12 overall
Striping:  -0.10; (0.00) conversions [No. 8] – (+0.10) opp conversions [No. 5] / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  -98; (487 [No. 11] – 585 [No. 10]) / No. 12 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sky rank dead last so far in 3-point usage.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars, 0-4 (42.5)

KK:  -2; (0 Road Wins – 2 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall (tied)
Flow:  -3.50; (39.8 stops OF opp [No. 10] – 43.3 stops BY opp [No. 7] / No. 10 overall
Striping:  -0.62; (-1.00) conversions [No. 12] – (-0.37) opp conversions [No. 2] / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  -79; (532 [No. 7] – 611 [No. 11]) / No. 11 overall
Abacus Revelation: The scrappy Stars rank No. 4 in defending the three-ball.

Abacus Revelation for the Road / Random Ranking (per-game missed free throws)

Washington 2.40
Indiana 2.75
Seattle 3.00
Los Angeles 3.33
Connecticut 3.50
Dallas 4.00
Chicago 4.40
New York 4.50
Minnesota 5.00
Phoenix 5.25
San Antonio 5.50
Atlanta 6.67

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Legacy of the Detroit Destroyer


I’m not quite sure which particular manner of 12-yeay-old nagging proved successful, but I somehow “whined” my way to Fenway Park the last Saturday evening of June in 1969.

Mom and Dad had already set up residence in the small cottage they’d over a decade earlier purchased/mortgaged – on “deeded” rather than leased land, as Pop liked to boast – along the short stretch of coastline claimed by the state of New Hampshire.

Maybe Dad’s work schedule “fit,” perhaps Mom wanted a break from the beach ahead of the looming Fourth of July drop-ins and such.

Somehow I found my way to Tom Yawkey’s old ball yard … but it was punches – along with a few chairs – rather than pitches that were being thrown. The crown jewel of the diamond that night was a ring.

Long before Vince McMahon invented Wrestlemania …

Well before the ambitious Mr. McMahon bought out his Dad and “barnstormed” the Territories in a whole new way …

Even before Vince and Linda were “promoting” Maine and booking Blue Oyster Cult concerts at the Cape Cod Coliseum …

The Red Auerbach of the Boston Professional Wrestling scene, Abe Ford, conjured up a collection of titanic clashes and special attractions that was just too big for the Gahden … midgets, ladies, a Battle Royal, a wild-man heel vs. wild-man heel Steel Cage Spectacular. The headliner for the evening was a Stretcher Match for WWWF supremacy.

An “undefeated” Young Lion of that day, Victor Rivera, was pitted against a returning tough guy nicknamed the Detroit Destroyer. I guess the match was “lower mid-card” and didn’t require a lot of time. The one-sided beat-down featuring the blatant – to all eyes but the referee’s, of course – use of a foreign object served to springboard this Michigan marauder to a July title opportunity.

That inconclusive donnybrook led to an August Tag Team Grudge Match where the Destroyer was partnered with the “Killer” who’d come up short in the Fenway main event. Naturally, these two wild-man heels were soon at odds and ultimately settled their score inside a steel cage in early November. In the run-up to that match, Walter “Killer” Kowalski offered these perhaps prophetic thoughts:
When I’m through with him he won’t ever be known as the ‘Animal’ or the ‘Detroit Destroyer.’ He’ll be known as the cute little puppy dog.
Kowalski emerged victorious and continued challenging newly-minted ruffians like Ernie Ladd on future Garden cards.

His vanquished challenger would not be seen again in Boston for nearly a year. Again a one-sided win – this time over cagy old veteran Red Bastien – evoked a title shot. The Destroyer’s clean loss to the long-standing champion dropped him down the August card, facing a local kid who called himself John L. Sullivan and would later package his skills and persona as Luscious Johnny Valiant.

Then he vanished once more. This time the “Animal” was absent for two years, until July of 1972, and was in the main event against the new champ come the Dog Days of August.


Back in 1967, during the year he turned 30, an aspiring high school teacher and coach from Madison Heights, Michigan named Jim Myers latched on with a pro wrestling promotion based in Pittsburgh. Coach Myers would earn his way into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame and see his alma mater’s football field renamed in his honor in 2012.

When school was not in session, Jim morphed into the villainous George Steele, appearing regularly in the Northeast/WWWF area overseen by Vince McMahon, Sr. and Willie Gilzenberg, and promoted by guys like Abe Ford.

I don’t know what kind of money Jim as George was commanding in those days … no doubt a good bit better than a summer teaching gig would have paid.

Steele’s in-ring game was pretty much straight-forward brawler, shortcuts (like a foreign object) a specialty. His finisher was the Flying Hammerlock, in which the only thing that left the ground was the hapless victim – and a hold which an aging George seemed to have more and more difficulty applying safely.

The landscape of professional wrestling was already beginning to change in 1972. Abe Ford was an old-school, grass-roots style promoter. When ex-champ Bruno Sammartino unexpectedly missed a main-event match due to injury, Ford not only “juiced up” the card on the fly, but offered a full refund to anybody who so chose.

I’d purchased a program – for a whole 50 cents – the first time I went to see the matches. Therein was an offer to receive a free program through the mail for all Garden shows in perpetuity – which turned out to be three years, ironically through George Steele’s challenge for Pedro Morales’s WWWF championship on August 12, 1972.

My final piece of correspondence from Mr. Ford was a post card advertising a December card – also teasing the sale of a 16-page souvenir booklet on sale at the event.

Around the same time, familiar faces, voices and venues for the weekend TV matches and promotional interviews were being replaced – quite often by the tuxedoed, pompadoured presence of a very baby-face Vince McMahon, Jr.

Abe Ford and Pittsburgh play-by-play man Bill Cardille were among the first victims in Vinnie Mac’s not-so-baby-face, empire-building takeover of the territories. The Michigan football and amateur wrestling coach fared better in this budding world of Sports Entertainment as a green-tongued simpleton smitten with Miss Elizabeth and turn-buckle “dressing.”

And while George was running amok in McMahon Land to the extent that his scholastic responsibilities allowed, Jim Myers was raising three children with his wife of SIXTY years and serving in loco parentis to a village.

Here’s to “The Animal” in all of us – and RIP William James Myers.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

“Snoot” Suit Required for Puttin’ on the Ritz?



“We’re all alone, no chaperone
Can get our number
The World’s in slumber
Let’s Misbehave!” 

Steve Perry’s zany Cherry Poppin’ Daddies resurrected that wonderful Cole Porter tune – along with 13 other show tunes from the Roarin’ Twenties and Depression Era – about a year or so ago for a release they cleverly entitled Boop-a-doo.

The “De-Lovely” Mr. Porter covers a lot of ground in his lyrical celebration of surrender to one’s carnal instincts, un peu d’amour from the Garden of Eden to the (love)birds and bees.

“They say that bears have love affairs
And even camels
We’re merely mammals
Let’s Misbehave!”

On another Boop-a-doo track, Perry and his Politically Imperfect Parents ponder a different sort of surrender:

“Oh who treats his sweetie to
High-brow drinks and oyster stew
Though he knows quite well his stash
Eats six days of warmed-up hash
High spots tonight they’ll borrow
Dry spots will come tomorrow
But nobody cares
For now they’re all millionaires.”

Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle didn’t quite make it to that part of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” during their classic “Young Frankenstein” song-and-dance number.

Nor did an outfit named Taco, who enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame during MTV’s infancy via a clever video rife with tuxedos, tails – not to mention a couple of performers sporting black face paint whose presence was deemed unsuitable for a 1980s audience and promptly edited out.

Taco’s excessive (?) seasoning aside, there didn’t seem much that was controversial or offensive about this little ditty – a happy song about the minor, all-too-human vice of some occasional self-indulgence, overspending for a big night on the town.

The experience is presented as a communal activity – come let’s “mix” where the Rockefellers go to live it up. Everybody’s doin’ it! Don’t get left out of the fun.

But as originally conceived, composed and performed (in a 1930 film of the same name), Puttin’ on the Ritz was more spectator sport than block party – and was infused with the racial overtones that were common for that time.

Maybe the poetic license being exercised in Taco’s video was not merely gratuitous.

For example, the original setting for this “romp” was not Park Avenue “where fashion sits,” but rather Lennox Avenue “where Harlem flits.”

And just how pray tell does Harlem "flit," and who exactly is “Harlem”?

“Spangled gowns upon the bevy
Of high browns from down the levee
All misfits.”

(Did they get bored “shufflin’ along” waitin’ for the Robert E. Lee?)

“That’s where each and every Lulu-Belle goes
Every Thursday evening with her swell beaus
Rubbin’ elbows.”

It should be noted that Berlin’s “representative name” for a member of this apparently transplanted population is not without significance. Around the time that ol’ Irv was scribing this little morsel of lyric poetry, one of the more popular plays on the New York stage (it was made into a movie in the late ‘40’s) was named “Lulu Belle,” whose protagonist was – you guessed it – a prostitute. Perhaps that accounts for the plural noun “beaus” in the subsequent line.

A clever guy like Berlin could have easily re-phrased the previous line so as to require the verb form “go,” huh? ("That's where all the flashy Lulu-Belles go"?)

(A weird irony here is that the original stage version of Lulu Belle was among the first major New York theater productions to feature an integrated cast.)

“Come with me and we’ll attend
Their jubilee and watch them spend
Their last two bits.”

So, in its original form, “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was not about diverse revelry at all, but rather privileged derision … the proof lies in the pronouns, the “us” and “them” has no overlap.

I’ve long admired the “brass” of the CPD; Mr. Perry and the boys tell it like it is.



(Full disclosure: I’m not sure Irving Berlin deserves credit for the “Sweetie / High spots, dry spots” verse of the song. I’ve seen/heard it nowhere else.
British crooner Robbie Williams also uses the original lyric in another recent (2013) version, but forgoes the oyster stew.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Squirrel Nut Zippers: Inevitable, Perennial, Timeless Bedlam


“Ain’t a man alive can shuck and jive better than Grandad can!”

Unless, of course, we include Jimbo Mathus and his merry mix of Squirrel Nut Zippers, who were kind enough to visit Houston a week or so ago.

This here Grandad may not know a chord of music from a cord of wood – that has something to do with sixth grade, Sister Perpetua and a pitch pipe.

But he does notice when his toe starts to tappin’. That discerning digit first happened upon the SNZ sound nearly 20 years ago on the small slice of commercial radio that still housed jazz, jump blues and the Great American Songbook.

The random radio offerings – from old-school DJ’s such as Paul Berlin and Scott Arthur – introduced bands like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Brian Setzer Orchestra, spurring the never-ending discovery of numerous others, from the Jive Aces and Bellevue Cadillac all the way to Straight No Chaser and Zazu Zazz.

I even got to gush live and in person at Houston’s Toyota Center when the Royal Crown Revue’s incomparable horn section performed with Bette Midler during her aptly-billed “Kiss My Brass” tour along this path of mine to musical discovery.

Just followin’ my toe.

As I recall, it was SNZ’s “Put a Lid on It” that was deemed to exude enough sass and brass to fit the Classic Cool radio format … and the vocal stylings of Katherine Whalen certainly stand out in any crowd.

Over those many years, I’ve stumbled upon and procured most (perhaps all) of the band’s catalog. The “sound” features a variety of string-play (guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, you name it – current fiddle man Justin “Dr. Sick” Carr plays a saw on a couple of numbers) – accented nicely by set of horn players plenty able to swing when the occasion arises, for example “Got My Own Thing Now.”

Fittingly, the band’s irreverently clever lyrical wordplay might best be displayed in the title of a bouncy instrumental called “The Flight of the Passing Fancy.” And it certainly takes a little brass to revel in the notion that “The Suits Are Picking up the Bill.”

Despite some apparent squabbling among the group’s original members, Jimbo’s re-tooled unit – only he and percussion man Chris Phillips are originals – has deftly replicated the Zippers’ sound and feel. In particular Ingrid Lucia, who had the toughest pair of boots to fill  Ms. Whalen’s voice has been described somewhere as “Betty Boop Meets Billie Holliday.”

Ingrid’s got the Holliday end of that challenge covered quite nicely (e.g. “Good Morning, Mr. Afternoon), but the Boop-ing that fits so snugly into a tune like “Prince Nez” is unlike Lucia’s more subtle playfulness in the iconic “Mr. Zoot Suit” or her gentle irreverence in a standard like “I’d Rather Be in New Orleans and some others.

In some video from early in the project, Ms. Lucia seemed an artist still struggling with how best to allow her skill set to convey the spirit of the original – a raised eye-brow seemed to accompany some of the remarks in Comment sections.

Nonetheless, when a Houston date – a free show at an easily accessible venue, to boot – was announced a while back …

… well, Put a Lid on It!

I’d decided not to seek out any more video, current or old. Nor in the interim did I listen to any of the band’s music on CD.

I was gonna give my music-lovin’ toe an uninfluenced opportunity to experience the sound of what my mind had begun to think of as the “Zipper-trinos.”

Grandma, who at the last minute chose to tag along on the trip, seemed amused by Kevin Russell’s Shinyribs show which ventured from James Brown to David Bowie. But a tough week of third grade caught up with JJ during the opening act and he curled up, head in my lap.



Perhaps abetted by the pleasingly icy chill of a cherry snow cone on a muggy mid-September evening, Little Man perked up to the richer, bouncier tone of the swing music, quite fittingly initiated with “Good Enough for Grandad.” Ol’ Jimbo (or whoever laid out the playlist for what had been advertised as an all-ages show) even seemed to position the cartoon that accompanies the bands performing of “The Ghost of Stephen Foster” with the young-un’s in mind, as my re-focused, eight-year-old running buddy responded to it with a sincere “That was Cool!”

The virtuosity of Miss Ingrid, now comfortable with all this material written for another voice, really shone through, most enjoyably to my ear during her “Evening at LaFitte’s.”

As the nice lady from the Miller Outdoor Theater was reading her Zipper-intro, I turned to Jayden Michael, sitting between his grandparents and attending his first-ever concert, and said:

“Get ready, dude! One day a long time from now, when you take your own grandson to a concert, you’ll be able to tell him about the time your Grandma and Grandpa took you to see the craziest band you ever did see. This is gonna be good.” 

Our progeny just looked at me, but GG gave Popi a smile and a nod.

“All the good times that we had,
They were good enough for Grandad,
They’re good enough for me.”

Sunday, September 11, 2016

WNBA: “20”16 12-Week Progress Report


Here’s a head-scratcher for ya – in three fewer games played this season, Elena Della Donne has two more defensive rebounds than Brittney Griner. In an average 2016 game, a team will miss 36 or 37 field goal attempts. Griner is corralling just under five opponent misses per game – which has pretty much been the story of her WNBA career.

While a blocked shot can be intimidating, strong consistent defensive board work that leads to a string of one-and-done possessions will break a team’s spirit. Just imagine if BG were to get eight or 10 defensive rebounds in a regularly!

Curiously, while the league’s overall FG shooting slipped a bit -- .437, compared with .442 prior to the Olympic break – the ladies were more accurate (.369, up from .338) on long balls

On average through 175 games, a team scores 81.1 points, making 29.73 FG’s on 67.45 attempts (.441), 5.39 for 15.72 (.343) on treys, and converting 16.95 of 21.17 (.801) free throws. Teams snatch 35.74 rebounds, of which 9.07 come off the offensive glass, and commit 12.93 TO’s. A team endures 41.58 empty possessions each game and posts a SPOR-t score of 550

The following data reflects play through Tuesday, Sept.6.

[Clerical Note: The post-Olympic schedule covers 24 calendar days, so I’ve split this portion of the season into two 12-day, 29-game segments.]

We’ll rank the teams from 1 to 12 in all criteria and simply add up the rankings. Low score wins, naturally.

Progress Reports for 2-Weeks, 4-Weeks, 6-weeks, 8-Weeks and 10-Weeks are also available.

(The criteria is explained below.)

No. 1 Los Angeles Sparks, 24-6 (12)
[10-week Abacus rating: 1
8-week Abacus rating: 1
6-week Abacus rating: 1
4-week Abacus rating: 1
2-week Abacus rating: 1
2015 Abacus rating: 10]

KK:  +10; (12 Road Wins – 2 Home Loss) / No. 1 overall
Flow:  +3.73; (41.90 stops OF opp [No.5] – 38.17 stops BY opp [No.1] / No.2 overall
Striping:  +0.47; (+0.98) conversions [No. 6] – (+0.52) opp conversions [No. 5] / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  +28; (562 [No. 5] – 534 [No. 3]) / No. 4 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Sparks post-Olympic scoring has dropped to 76.2 points per game, down 9.6 from the league leading total after 10 weeks.

No. 2 Minnesota Lynx, 25-5 (14)
[10-week Abacus rating: 2
8-week Abacus rating: 2
6-week Abacus rating: 1
4-week Abacus rating: 2
2-week Abacus rating: 2
2015 Abacus rating: 2]

KK:  +9; (11 Road Wins – 2 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall
Flow:  +6.07; (45.33 stops OF opp [No.1] – 39.27 stops BY opp [No.2] / No.1 overall
Striping:  -0.80; (+0.08) conversions [No. 10] – (+0.88) opp conversions [No.9] / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  +139; (614 [No. 2] – 475 [No. 1]) / No. 1 overall

Abacus Revelation: Only the ninth-best three-point shooters after 10 weeks, the Lynx drained 38.2% of their August treys, best in the “W.”

No. 3 New York Liberty, 20-9 (19)
[10-week Abacus rating: 3
8-week Abacus rating: 3
6-week Abacus rating: 4
4-week Abacus rating: 4
2-week Abacus rating: 6
2015 Abacus rating: 1]

KK:  +6; (11 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 3 overall
Flow:  +2.34; (44.34 stops OF opp [No.2] – 42.00 stops BY opp [No.7] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  -1.17; (-0.22) conversions [No. 11] – (+0.95) opp conversions [No. 10] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  +79; (575 [No. 3] – 496 [No. 2]) / No. 2 overall

Abacus Revelation: New York’s three-point defense, among the league’s best pre-Olympics, fell to No. 10 (.377) since then.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Masters of the Craft (Part 1)

Which teams are performing the rudimentary skills of the game most proficiently at both ends of the floor? Let’s consider six elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, Points per Game, Offensive Rebounding, the matter of turnovers and the SPOR-t score of our ratings. These teams hold a Top Four rank offensively and defensively:

FG%: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota
3FG%: Los Angeles, New York
PPG: Los Angeles, Minnesota
OR%: Minnesota, New York
TO%: Minnesota
SPOR-t: Chicago, Minnesota, New York


No. 4 Chicago Sky, 15-13 (21)
[10-week Abacus rating: 4
8-week Abacus rating: 6
6-week Abacus rating: 3
4-week Abacus rating: 3
2-week Abacus rating: 6
2015 Abacus rating: 3]

KK:  0; (6 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +1.75; (41.57 stops OF opp [No.7] – 39.82 stops BY opp [No.3] / No.4 overall
Striping:  -0.48; (+0.63) conversions [No. 7] – (+1.11) opp conversions [No. 12] / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  +76; (617 [No. 1] – 541 [No. 4]) / No. 3 overall

Abacus Revelation: In Weeks 11 and 12, the Sky committed a turnover on just one of ten possessions (.094).

No. 5 Indiana Fever, 14-15 (24)
[10-week Abacus rating: 5
8-week Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 9
4-week Abacus rating: 7
-week Abacus rating: 5
2015 Abacus rating: 4]

KK:  0; (8 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  -2.07; (39.66 stops OF opp [No.10] – 41.72 stops BY opp [No.5] / No.9 overall
Striping:  +0.98; (+1.14) conversions [No. 4] – (+0.16) conversions [No. 3] / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  -11; (537 [No. 8] – 548 [No. 5]) / No. 7 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Fever’s respectable 45% FG shooting has tumbled to 41%, second-worst in the league, since the hiatus.


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Pace, Weeks 11 & 12 (29 games)

100+ points: 0  [11 overall – 3.1%]
90-99 points: 12  [76 overall – 21.7%]
80-89 points: 18  [108 overall – 30.9%]
70-79 points: 20  [112 overall – 32.0 %]
60-69 points: 8  [39 overall – 11.1%]
<60 points: 0  [4 overall – 1.1%]

No. 6 Phoenix Mercury, 13-17 (27.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 8
                                                          8-week Abacus rating: 10          
6-week Abacus rating: 10
4-week Abacus rating: 11
2-week Abacus rating: 12
2015 Abacus rating: 4]

KK:  -2; (4 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall (tied)
Flow:  +0.27; (42.07 stops OF opp [No.4] – 41.80 stops BY opp [No.6] / No.6 overall
Striping:  -0.12; (+1.13 conversions [No. 5] – (+1.02) opp conversions [No. 11] / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  -56; (509 [No. 10] – 565 [No. 8]) / No. 8 overall

Abacus Revelation: During Weeks 11 & 12, the sloppy Mercury committed a TO on one out of every five possessions.

No. 7 Atlanta Dream, 15-14 (28)
[10-week Abacus rating: 6
8-week Abacus rating: 7
6-week Abacus rating: 6
4-week Abacus rating: 4
2-week Abacus rating: 3
2015 Abacus rating: 8]

KK:  0; (5 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall) (tied)-3
Flow:  +0.79; (42.93 stops OF opp [No.3] – 42.14 stops BY opp [No.8] / No.5 overall
Striping:  -1.43; (-1.48) conversions [No. 12] – (-0.05) conversions [No. 1] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +4; (564 [No. 4] – 560 [No. 7]) / No. 6 overall

Abacus Revelation: The league’s worst three-point shooters stroked their long balls at an impressive 36% during Weeks 11 and 12.


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Differential, Weeks 11 & 12 (29 games)

1-5 points: 7  [48 overall – 27.4%]
6-10 points: 9  [61 overall – 34.9%]
11-15 points: 7  [30 overall – 17.1%]
16-20 points: 0  [13 overall – 7.4%]
>20: 6  [23 overall – 13.1%]

No. 8 Seattle Storm, 12-17 (29.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 11
                                                           8-week Abacus rating: 9        
6-week Abacus rating: 8
4-week Abacus rating: 8
2-week Abacus rating: 10
2015 Abacus rating: 11]

KK:  -3; (4 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -1.07; (40.07 stops OF opp [No. 9] – 41.14 stops BY opp [No.4] / No.7 overall
Striping:  +1.19; (+1.91) conversions [No. 1] - (+0.72) opp conversions [No. 8] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  -90; (500 [No. 11] – 590 [No. 11]) / No. 12 overall

Abacus Revelation: The league’s worst rebounders have been showing some life, averaging nine OR;s during Weeks 11 and 12.

No. 9 Connecticut Sun, 11-18 (30.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 9
8-week Abacus rating: 11
6-week Abacus rating: 12
4-week Abacus rating: 12
2-week Abacus rating: 8
2015 Abacus rating: 9]

KK:  -3; (5 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -1.86; (41.66 stops OF opp [No.6] – 43.52 stops BY opp [No.11] / No.8 overall
Striping:  -0.34; (+0.10) conversions [No. 9] – (+0.45) conversions [No. 4] / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  +12; (561 [No. 6] – 549 [No. 5]) / No. 5 overall
Abacus Revelation: The Sun forced a TO on 21% of opponent possessions during Weeks 11 & 12.
No. 10 Washington Mystics, 11-17 (31)
[10-week Abacus rating: 9
8-week Abacus rating: 8
6-week Abacus rating: 7
4-week Abacus rating: 8
2-week Abacus rating: 9
2015 Abacus rating: 7]

KK:  -2; (7 Road Wins – 9 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall (tied)
Flow:  -2.14; (40.29 stops OF opp [No.8] – 42.43 stops BY opp [No.9] / No.10 overall
Striping:  +0.50; (+1.16) conversions [No. 3] – (+0.66) opp conversions [No. 7] / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  -58; (513 [No. 9] – 571 [No.10]) / No. 9 overall (tied)

Abacus Revelation: During Weeks 11 and 12, the Mystics were best in the league (.217) in defending the three-ball.

ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Masters of the Craft (Part 2)

Are not the exceptionally inept worthy of some recognition? Here are the teams that hold a Bottom Four offensive and defensive ranking in our key elements of play: FG shooting, three-point shooting, PPG, Offensive Rebounding, Turnovers and SPOR-t..

FG%: Dallas
3FG%: Connecticut, Indiana, San Antonio
PPG: N/A
OR%: San Antonio, Seattle
TO%: New York, Seattle
SPOR-t: San Antonio, Seattle, Washington

No. 11 Dallas Wings, 9-21 (34.5)
[10-week Abacus rating: 7
8-week Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 5
4-week Abacus rating: 6
2-week Abacus rating: 4
2015 Abacus rating: 6]

KK:  -6; (4 Road Wins – 10 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall
Flow:  -4.47; (39.57 stops OF opp [No.11] – 44.03 stops BY opp [No.12] / No.12 overall
Striping:  +1.12; (+1.18) conversions [No. 2] – (+0.07) conversions [No. 2] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -58; (546 [No. 7] – 604 [No. 12]) / No. 9 overall (tied)

Abacus Revelation: The Wings gave shot 38% from the field in their last ten outings.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars, 6-23 (41)
                                                         [10-week Abacus rating: 12           
                                                          8-week Abacus rating: 12             
6-week Abacus rating: 11
4-week Abacus rating: 10
2-week Abacus rating: 10
2015 Abacus rating: 12]

KK:  -8; (2 Road Wins – 10 Home Losses) / No. 12 overall
Flow:  -3.55; (39.48 stops OF opp [No.12] – 43.03 stops BY opp [No.10] / No.11 overall
Striping:  -0.17; (+0.36) conversions [No. 8] – (+0.53) opp conversions [No. 6] / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  -81; (487 [No. 11] – 568 [No.8]) / No. 11 overall

Abacus Revelation: In a statistical oddity, the Stars and their opponents have each attempted 1897 field goals in 29 games.


The Grading Scale
“Flow”: this calculation puts a number to a team’s unsuccessful possessions (i.e. the other guys’ “stops”). Just take their missed field goals (attempts minus makes), subtract the offensive rebounds, and then add the turnovers. The “scores” represent per-game performance.

“Striping”: this calculation measures the impact of missed free throws and made treys. By subtracting the former from the latter [3’s minus missed FT’s], we identify a team’s gain or loss in points through “specialty shooting.” Again the “scores” are per-game. (A further division by two converts “points” to “conversions” – thus they can be combined with the “Flow” score.)

KK: Karl Kount – named for George Karl – is a way to measure a team’s grit and savvy through its ability to defend its home court and win on the road, a simple calculation for generally reliable info.

 “SPOR-t”: SPOR-t stands for “Shooting Plus Offensive Rebounds minus turnovers.” Add a team’s FG percentage and its offensive rebounding percentage (o. boards divided by the sum of those o. boards and the opposition's d. boards). Then subtract the percentage of a team’s possessions lost to turnovers. For example, a team shoots field goals at a .488 clip, offensive rebounds at a rate of .199, and commits a turnover on .143 of its possessions. So its SPOR-t is (488+199-143) or 544. Once again, our measurement will be the difference between the SPOR-t scores of a team and its opposition.