Thursday, August 21, 2014

Two Idle WNBA Thoughts While the Lynx and Mercury Tune-Up the Band

As the WNBA’s 2014 Post-Season Sprint to its Championship embarks, Abacus will presume to offer a couple of thoughts/observations about the league and sport in general.

[Not to imply that either notion is some sort of elixir, nor that these are my only “notions” on the matter – for example, I’m among the few who view last year’s adoption of the “ten-second” rule not as an “About Time” up-grade, but rather as the removal of an element of the women’s game that made it distinctive, both aesthetically and strategically … like that funky trapezoidal three-second lane they used for international/Olympic ball back-in-the-day. End of digression!]

Creative Convolution the First: The WNBA should outlaw the dunk. Let the players have their fun and entertain the fans during warm-ups. But if a player chooses to attempt to dunk during a game and succeeds, the basket should be dis-allowed.

In reality, such a change in policy would impact one and only one player – similar to the manner in which the imposition of such a rule in men’s college ball about half a century ago was aimed in the direction of a particular player. And doesn’t being “that player” add to the legend and legacy of such an icon?

I expect Brittney Griner to have as much impact on her game as Abdul-Jabber, Chamberlain and Bill Russell had on theirs – have felt that way for some time and for a variety of reasons. Here’s a way to let “talk media” help sell the product by inviting these kinds of comparisons.

Besides, it’ll minimize those “Sports Follies” videos like the widely-circulated “lob” pass from this summer’s otherwise wildly-entertaining All-Star Game.

Creative Convolution the Second: The league needs to stop scheduling teams to play on consecutive nights. Whether due to the un-relenting year-round grind of the lifestyle, whether due to the in-season travel arrangements and accommodations … whatever the cause. Catching a team on the tail end of a back-to-back…can you spell “easy pickin’s”?

During the just-completed 2014 Regular Season, an even 30 of the 204 games matched a team on “tired legs” (i.e. played the day before) against a team on “fresh legs” (i.e. didn’t play the day before). The Fresh Legs prevailed exactly 70 percent of the time (14-for-20 at home, 7-for-10 away).

As a means of comparison, home-court advantage for 2014 checked in at 57.8 percent (118-86), down slightly from 2013’s 60.8 percent. In 2013, Fresh Legs defeated Tired Legs twelve times in 14 opportunities, nearly 85 percent. (Let the record show that an additional ten of the last 408 games involved teams who had both competed the previous day.)

Is not one of the primary rules of marketing, at least the sincere variety, to safeguard the quality of one’s product at all times and above all else? (I hope that’s a rhetorical question.)