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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WNBA “20”16: 10-Week Progress Report



Heading into the WNBA’s most recent Olympic sabbatical four seasons ago, Dan Hughes’s San Antonio (then-Silver) Stars were playing the bestball in the league. Alas, the Becky Hammon Bunch never recaptured their mojo, were summarily eliminated from the 2012 playoffs by LA, and seem to have been struggling ever since.

This time around, it is the Olympian-rich Minnesota Lynx who enter the moratorium at the top of their game, having outplayed their last six opponents by an astounding 9.5 possessions per game.

Similarly, the Indiana Fever righted their ship and closed strong (7-3) after a shaky start in their attempt to send off retiring superstar Tamika Catchings and relocating head coach Stephanie White in style. Ironically, it was the opportunistic Fever who got on a roll and stole the ’12 title from the defending champion Lynx.

Of course, with but 12 teams, the “W” is so laden with talent that all teams, except perhaps for the snake-bitten Stars, have good cause for optimism, the belief that a well-timed visit to that elusive “Zone” can lead to a championship.

While the quadrennial TV extravaganza that is the Olympic Games provides a rare and welcome peek at international women’s ball – I’m particularly anxious to see Australia’s Liz Cambage again – I’ll be counting the days till the WNBA's return on Aug. 26.



The following data reflects play through Friday, July 22.

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 and 8-Weeks are also available.

(The criteria is explained below.)


No. 1 Los Angeles Sparks, 21-3 (11)
[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:  +9; (10 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 1 overall
Flow:  +4.08; (41.92 stops OF opp [No.5] – 37.83 stops BY opp [No.1] / No.2 overall
Striping:  +0.71; (+1.08) conversions [No. 5] – (+0.38) opp conversions [No. 4] / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  +39; (582 [No. 3] – 543 [No. 4]) / No. 4 overall

Abacus Revelation: Over the last 8 weeks, the Sparks have shot over 50% (.502) from the field.

No. 2 Minnesota Lynx, 21-4 (14)
[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:  +8; (10 Road Wins – 2 Home Loss) / No. 2 overall
Flow:  +6.28; (46.24 stops OF opp [No.1] – 39.96 stops BY opp [No.2] / No.1 overall
Striping:  -0.70; (+0.26) conversions [No. 9] – (+0.96) opp conversions [No.10] / No. 10 overall
SPOR-t:  +144; (605 [No. 1] – 461 [No. 1]) / No. 1 overall

Abacus Revelation: On the heels of a rare stretch of mediocre play, the Lynx have run off six consecutive victories by an average of 17.5 points..

No. 3 New York Liberty, 18-8 (19)
[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:  +5; (10 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 3 overall
Flow:  +2.31; (44.35 stops OF opp [No.2] – 42.04 stops BY opp [No.7] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  -1.02; (-0.19) conversions [No. 11] – (+0.83) opp conversions [No. 7] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  +83; (581 [No. 4] – 498 [No. 2]) / No. 2 overall

Abacus Revelation: On the season, the Liberty are 5-0 in games decided by five points or fewer.



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%: Los Angeles, Minnesota

SPOR-t: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York



No. 4 Chicago Sky, 11-13 (21)
[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:  -1; (5 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall
Flow:  +1.00; (41.67 stops OF opp [No.6] – 40.67 stops BY opp [No.3] / No.4 overall
Striping:  -0.42; (+0.69) conversions [No. 7] – (+1.10) opp conversions [No. 11] / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  +60; (600 [No. 2] – 540 [No. 3]) / No. 3 overall

Abacus Revelation: The league’s second best three-point shooters (.387) sport the lowest usage rate (.158). Cause & Effect, or a strategic flaw?

No. 5 Indiana Fever, 12-12 (21.5)
[8-week Abacus rating: 4
6-week Abacus rating: 9
4-week Abacus rating: 7
-week Abacus rating: 5
2015 Abacus rating: 4]

KK:  +1; (7 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
Flow:  -1.37; (40.04 stops OF opp [No.8] – 41.42 stops BY opp [No.5] / No.7 overall
Striping:  +0.94; (+1.04) conversions [No. 6] – (+0.10) conversions [No. 3] / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  -11; (540 [No. 8] – 551 [No. 6]) / No. 7 overall

Abacus Revelation: Through 10 weeks, the Fever are the best defensive rebounding team(.808) in the “W”.



ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Pace, Weeks 9 & 10 (32 games)

100+ points: 1  [11 overall – 3.8%]

90-99 points: 14  [64 overall – 21.9%]

80-89 points: 20  [90 overall – 30.8%]

70-79 points: 17  [92 overall – 31.5%]

60-69 points: 9  [31 overall – 10.6%]

<60 points: 3  [4 overall – 1.4%]



No. 6 Atlanta Dream, 13-12 (26.5)
[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:  +1; (5 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall) (tied)
Flow:  +0.80; (43.20 stops OF opp [No.3] – 42.40 stops BY opp [No.8] / No.5 overall
Striping:  -1.38; (-1.60) conversions [No. 12] – (-0.22) conversions [No. 1] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +7; (561 [No. 5] – 554 [No. 7]) / No. 5 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Dream have attempted 106 more FT’s then their opponents, the largest differential in the league.

No. 7 Dallas Wings, 9-16 (29.5)
[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:  -3; (4 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -3.68; (39.96 stops OF opp [No.10] – 43.64 stops BY opp [No.11] / No.12 overall
Striping:  +1.36; (+1.24) conversions [No. 3] – (-0.12) conversions [No. 2] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  -48; (557 [No. 6] – 605 [No. 12]) / No. 8 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Wings were atypically outrebounded by 14 per game in their last five outings.



ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Differential, Weeks 9 & 10 (32 games)

1-5 points: 8  [41 overall – 28.1%]

6-10 points: 9  [52 overall – 35.6%]

11-15 points: 5  [23 overall – 15.8%]

16-20 points: 5  [13 overall – 8.9%]

>20: 5  [17 overall – 11.6%]



No. 8 Phoenix Mercury, 10-14 (30.5)
[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:  -3; (3 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  +0.29; (42.00 stops OF opp [No.4] – 41.71 stops BY opp [No.6] / No.6 overall
Striping:  -0.25; (+1.13 conversions [No. 4] – (+1.38) opp conversions [No. 12] / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  -68; (505 [No. 10] – 573 [No. 10]) / No. 10 overall

Abacus Revelation: During Weeks 9 & 10, the Merc and their opposition combined to drain 57 of 127 treys, a sizzling .449 clip.

No. 9 Connecticut Sun, 8-16 (32.5)
[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. 7 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -2.50; (41.63 stops OF opp [No.7] – 44.13 stops BY opp [No.12] / No.9 overall
Striping:  -0.44; (+0.13) conversions [No. 10] – (+0.56) conversions [No. 5] / No. 9 overall
SPOR-t:  +2; (549 [No. 7] – 547 [No. 5]) / No. 6 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Sun played the third best FG defense (.430) in the league during Weeks 9 & 10.

No. 9 Washington Mystics, 9-15 (32.5)
[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:  -3; (5 Road Wins – 8 Home Losses) / No. 7 overall (tied)-4
Flow:  -2.87; (40.04 stops OF opp [No.8] – 42.92 stops BY opp [No.9] / No.10 overall
Striping:  +0.54; (+1.40) conversions [No. 2] – (+0.85) opp conversions [No. 8] / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  -65; (507 [No. 9] – 572 [No.9]) / No. 9 overall

Abacus Revelation: While dropping their last five games, the Mystics yielded .485 FG shooting (.425 on threes).



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, San Antonio

PPG: N/A

OR%: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle

TO%: New York, Phoenix

SPOR-t: Phoenix, Seattle, Washington



No. 11 Seattle Storm, 9-15 (33)
[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:  -4; (3 Road Wins – 7 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall
Flow:  -1.46; (39.71 stops OF opp [No.12] – 41.17 stops BY opp [No.4] / No.8 overall
Striping:  +1.02; (+1.88) conversions [No. 1] - (+0.85) opp conversions [No. 8] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -109; (487 [No. 12] – 596 [No. 11]) / No. 12 overall

Abacus Revelation: Nearly one of every three (32.6%) Seattle shots is a three-pointer, the highest usage rate in the league.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars, 5-18 (41)
[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:  -6; (1 Road Win – 7 Home Losses) / No. 12 overall
Flow:  -3.35; (39.87 stops OF opp [No.11] – 43.22 stops BY opp [No.10] / No.11 overall
Striping:  -0.26; (+0.35) conversions [No. 8] – (+0.61) opp conversions [No. 6] / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  -74; (492 [No. 11] – 566 [No.8]) / No. 11 overall 

Abacus Revelation: The Stars’ offense struggled to 63.8 points per game on .391 FG shooting during Weeks 9 & 10.


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.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

MLB Pitching 2016: The “Heavy-Duty” Contingent

Entering the 2016 All-Star Break, the St. Louis Cardinals had used five starting pitchers … the same five, over and over again, for 88 games.

Can you believe it?

The rest of MLB has trotted out a whopping 243 dudes – and three of them have suited up for two separate teams.

A shade shy of 30% of those starting pitchers – 72 non-Cardinals – started 17 or more games for his team(s), the minimal workload for full-timers at this point of the season.


5 Full-timers: Cardinals (5 total starters)

4 Full-timers: Cubs (6), Giants (6), Blue Jays (7), Rays (7), Marlins (8)

3 Full-timers: Mets (6), Astros (7), Nationals (7), Phillies (7), Royals (7), D’backs (8), Red Sox (9), Angels (10), Pirates (11)

2 Full-timers: Orioles (7), Yankees (7(, Brewers (8), Indians (8), Tigers (8), White Sox (8), Rangers (10), Braves (12), Dodgers (12)

1 Full-timer: Mariners (9), Rockies (9), Twins (9), Padres (10), A’s (11), Reds (12)

NOTE: James Shields has split his 18 starting assignments between the Padres and White Sox.


A hundred years ago, it was rare for a starting pitcher worth his salt NOT to work a complete game. In more recent times, crusty competitors like a Roger Clemens, Jack Morris  or Bob Gibson would take umbrage at their removal from any game.

But times do change. A reliable “closer” has been a necessity in MLB for a quarter-century or more. The Bullpen – for decades merely a receptacle for pitchers not capable enough to break into the starting rotation – has become a multi-headed everyday player.

Complete-game performances have been dwindling for years – a mere 43 so far this season, about three per week. Unless the pace quickens, 2016 will be the first time MLB hurlers do not deliver at least 100.

In the structure of today’s game – and on the heels of back-to-back World Series heroics from an old-fashioned Iron Man and a new-fangled bevy of relief specialists – the starting pitcher’s standard for notable performance has become the Seven-Inning Start. (ESPN baseball blogger deluxe David Schoenfield invented an accolade he calls a “Felix,” earned for 7+ innings of work with minimal damage.)

Through 1,331 games, an MLB starting pitcher has induced 21 (or more) opponent outs on 639 occasions – just under one Long Start (LS) for every two games played, seven such outings (on average) on any given day with a full slate of games. Team totals for LS’s range from a low of 13 (3 pitching staffs, including the defending champs) to the 37 each accrued by the 2014 champions and Canada’s team. Six staffs total 30 or more LS’s, another ten have a minimum of 20.

Just for fun, what say we combine the dependability of the guy who has missed no starting assignments with the durability of the guy who can take his game into the late innings on a regular basis? What do you suppose we’ll get?

A list of fourteen pitchers is what we end up with – players who have yet to miss a turn in the rotation, and who have logged seven or more innings of work in at least half their outings.

It’s quite a collection of talent, despite the exclusion of studs Clayton Kershaw and Steven Strasburg, each of whom has insufficient starts at this “midpoint.” The group of arms, which includes five Cy Young recipients, has amassed nearly a quarter (144) of this season’s LS’s and over a third (16) of its CG’s. This 14-headed collective accounts for 254 games started and has posted a record of 127-64; the pitcher’s team holds a 156-98 record in this set of games overall.

Allow me and my abacus, if you will, to perform a little mathematical manipulation on these “statistics.” Let’s award a credit for each LS and additionally for each CG – 144 + 16 = 160 credits. Then we’ll charge a demerit for each Team Loss and additionally for each Losing Decision – 98 + 64 = 162 demerits. Finally subtract the demerits from the credits and divide by the total number of starting assignments – (160 – 162) / 254 = (-2) / 254 = -0.008. [A full discussion of this standard of measure can be found here.]

Negative eight thousandths? Sounds like the evaluation of someone whose job performance is ever so slightly worse than totally incompetent, huh?

In actuality, it’s a score that would rank a starting pitcher among the Top Ten in MLB for either of the past two seasons.

So who, pray tell, are the Elite 14? The list includes four sets of teammates and represents only 10 teams, six of whom reside in the American league.



San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto, with 13 LS’s and an MLB-leading 4 CG’s in 18 starts, is posting an extraordinary score of 0.778. That score is more than double MLB’s best in either of the last two seasons.

More in line with the recent top dogs – Zack Greinke (0.313) and Adam Wainwright (0.324) – is the performance of Chris Sale (0.333) on Chicago’s South Side.

The season’s third-best showing – featuring no CG’s and a little help from the relief corps (10 No-Decisions, Yuck!) – has been provided by the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (0.111).

Toronto teammates J. A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez join 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta at 0.056, while fellow Cubbie John Lester presents an even (0.000) ledger.

[Of the 77 full-timers, the top tier of this “metric” is rounded out by Baltimore’s Chris Tillman (0.105), Greinke (0.059), Cole Hamels (0.056) of Texas and Giant ace Madison Bumgarner (0.053).]

This year’s other seven Iron Men, including the other four Cy-guys: David Price (CYA, 2012) and Max Scherzer (2013) at -0.105; Washington’s Tanner Roark at -0.111; Justin Verlander (2011) and Korey Kluber (2014) at -0.167; Jose Quintana of the White Sox at -0.444; and Atlanta’s Julio Teheran at -0.611.

The baseball dictionary has traditionally defined Momentum as “Tomorrow’s Starting Pitcher.”

Despite all the game’s growth, expansion and innovation, this enduring reality might be its most endearing quality. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

WNBA “20”16: 8-Week Progress Report

In a sport so predicated on snap decisions made in the course of fast-moving play, the combination of a sound, versatile skill set with exceptional court awareness is a valuable commodity. My paragon for this under-appreciated role on a successful team is Janeth Arcain of the original Houston Comets. The Coopers, Swoopes and Thompson got the accolades; Kim Perrot’s brave struggles inspired and touched our hearts. But a string of championships does not ensue without the contributions of the steady, heady 5’9” Brazilian.

Indiana Fever veteran Erlana Larkins has been performing that kind of role in recent seasons for a consistent contender.


Do you suppose the confidence and caginess of grizzled vets Jantel Lavender (I just love her interior passing skills!) and Alana Beard can complement the performance of the LA Sparks, a team that has been teasin greatness for several seasons.

Time will tell.

The following data reflects play through Friday, July 8.

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 Week 2, Week 4 and Week 6 are also available.

(The criteria is explained below.)

No. 1 Los Angeles Sparks, 17-1 (10.5)
[6-week Abacus rating: 1
4-week Abacus rating: 1
2-week Abacus rating: 1
2015 Abacus rating: 10]

KK:  +6; (7 Road Wins – 1 Home Loss) / No. 1 overall (tied)
Flow:  +4.94; (43.00 stops OF opp [No.4] – 38.06 stops BY opp [No.1] / No.2 overall
Striping:  +0.97; (+0.89) conversions [No. 5] – (-0.08) opp conversions [No. 1]) / No. 3 overall
SPOR-t:  +39; (568 [No. 5] – 529 [No. 3]) / No. 4 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Sparks rank No. 1 in both shooting (.391) and defending (.281) the three-ball.

No. 2 Minnesota Lynx, 15-4 (13)
[6-week Abacus rating: 1
4-week Abacus rating: 2
2-week Abacus rating: 2
2015 Abacus rating: 2]

KK:  +6; (8 Road Wins – 2 Home Loss) / No. 1 overall (tied)
Flow:  +5.26; (46.58 stops OF opp [No.1] – 41.32 stops BY opp [No.3] / No.1 overall
Striping:  -0.50; (+0.63) conversions [No. 6] – (+1.13) opp conversions [No.11] / No. 9 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +99; (570 [No. 4] – 471 [No. 1]) / No. 1 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Lynx’s generally reliable defense allowed their opposition to hit nearly 40% of their three-pointers during Weeks 7 & 8.

No. 3 New York Liberty, 14-6 (19)
[6-week Abacus rating: 4
4-week Abacus rating: 4
2-week Abacus rating: 6
2015 Abacus rating: 1]

KK:  +5; (9 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 3 overall
Flow:  +1.90; (44.95 stops OF opp [No.2] – 43.05 stops BY opp [No.11] / No. 3 overall
Striping:  -0.75; (-0.05) conversions [No. 11] – (+0.70) opp conversions [No. 9] / No. 11 overall
SPOR-t:  +78; (572 [No. 3] – 494 [No. 2]) / No. 2 overall

Abacus Revelation: While only one of six Liberty shots is a trey, they hit three of every eight of their tries (No. 2 in the league) 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%: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota

3FG%: New York, Los Angeles

PPG: Los Angeles, Minnesota

OR%: Chicago, New York

TO%: Los Angeles

SPOR-t: Minnesota, New York


No. 4 Dallas Wings, 9-11 (24)
[6-week Abacus rating: 5
4-week Abacus rating: 6
2-week Abacus rating: 4
2015 Abacus rating: 6]

KK:  -1; (4 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  -2.35; (40.65 stops OF opp [No.9] – 43.00 stops BY opp [No.10] / No.10 overall
Striping:  +1.08; (+1.13) conversions [No. 2] – (-0.05) conversions [No. 3] / No. 1 overall
SPOR-t:  +5; (580 [No. 2] – 575 [No. 10]) / No. 6 overall

Abacus Revelation: Little surprise that the league’s best offensive rebounding team (.336) includes savvy vets Courtney Paris and Plenette Pierson.

No. 4 Indiana Fever, 8-11 (24)
[6-week Abacus rating: 9
4-week Abacus rating: 7
-week Abacus rating: 5
2015 Abacus rating: 4]

KK:  0; (5 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall (tied)
Flow:  -1.95; (40.63 stops OF opp [No.10] – 42.58 stops BY opp [No.7] / No.8 overall (tied)
Striping:  +0.68; (+0.58) conversions [No. 7] – (-0.11) conversions [No. 2] / No. 4 overall
SPOR-t:  -8; (533 [No. 8] – 541 [No. 4]) / No. 7 overall

Abacus Revelation: By this standard of measurement (and despite a 3-2 record), the Fever were the “W’s” best team during Weeks 7 & 8..


ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Pace, Weeks 7 & 8 (31 games)

100+ points: 1  [10 overall – 4.4%]

90-99 points: 12  [50 overall – 21.9%]

80-89 points: 26  [70 overall – 30.7%]

70-79 points: 15  [75 overall – 32.9%]

60-69 points: 8  [22 overall – 9.6%]

<60 points: 0  [1 overall – 0.4%]


No. 6 Chicago Sky, 7-11 (24.5)
[6-week Abacus rating: 3
4-week Abacus rating: 3
2-week Abacus rating: 6
2015 Abacus rating: 3]

KK:  -1; (3 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  +0.72; (42.00 stops OF opp [No.5] – 41.28 stops BY opp [No.2] / No.5 overall
Striping:  -0.50; (+0.39) conversions [No. 9] – (+0.89) opp conversions [No. 10] / No. 9 overall (tied)
SPOR-t:  +48; (592 [No. 1] – 544 [No. 5]) / No. 3 overall

Abacus Revelation: On the season, opponents take 7.5 more FT’s per game than the Sky, the league’s largest deficit.


No. 7 Atlanta Dream, 10-9 (25.5)
[6-week Abacus rating: 6
4-week Abacus rating: 4
2-week Abacus rating: 3
2015 Abacus rating: 8]

KK:  0; (4 Road Wins – 4 Home Losses) / No. 4 overall) (tied)
Flow:  +1.53; (44.32 stops OF opp [No.3] – 42.79 stops BY opp [No.8] / No.4 overall
Striping:  -1.84; (-1.74) conversions [No. 12] – (+0.11) conversions [No. 3] / No. 12 overall
SPOR-t:  +12; (561 [No. 6] – 549 [No. 6]) / No. 5 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Dream have been the league’s worst three-point shooters (currently .255) for a month now.



ABACUS INFOMERCIAL

Scoring Differential, Weeks 7 & 8 (31 games)

1-5 points: 15  [33 overall – 28.9%]

6-10 points: 8  [43 overall – 37.7%]

11-15 points: 4  [18 overall – 15.8%]

16-20 points: 2  [8 overall – 7.0%]

>20: 2  [12 overall – 10.5%]


No. 8 Washington Mystics, 9-10 (28)
[6-week Abacus rating: 7
4-week Abacus rating: 8
2-week Abacus rating: 9
2015 Abacus rating: 7]

KK:  -1; (5 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 6 overall (tied)-3
Flow:  -1.26; (41.16 stops OF opp [No.6] – 42.42 stops BY opp [No.6] / No.7 overall
Striping:  +0.45; (+1.05) conversions [No. 3] – (+0.61) opp conversions [No. 7] / No. 5 overall
SPOR-t:  -40; (518 [No. 9] – 558 [No.7]) / No. 9 overall

Abacus Revelation: During Weeks 7 & 8, the slick Mystics played the league’s most turnover-free ball (.117).

No. 9 Seattle Storm, 7-12 (32)
[6-week Abacus rating: 8
4-week Abacus rating: 8
2-week Abacus rating: 10
2015 Abacus rating: 11]

KK:  -2; (3 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  -1.95; (39.63 stops OF opp [No.12] – 41.58 stops BY opp [No.5] / No.8 overall (tied)
Striping:  +1.00; (+1.61) conversions [No. 1] - (0.61) opp conversions [No. 7] / No. 2 overall
SPOR-t:  -119; (484 [No. 12] – 603 [No. 12]) / No. 12 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Storm rest at the bottom of the barrel in both offensive (.208) and defensive (.688) rebounding.


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: Connecticut

OR%: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle

TO%: New York, Seattle

SPOR-t: Phoenix, San Antonio, Seattle 


No. 10 Phoenix Mercury, 8-12 (34.5)
[6-week Abacus rating: 10
4-week Abacus rating: 11
2-week Abacus rating: 12
2015 Abacus rating: 4]

KK:  -2; (3 Road Wins – 5 Home Losses) / No. 9 overall (tied)
Flow:  +0.20; (41.75 stops OF opp [No.7] – 41.55 stops BY opp [No.4] / No.6 overall
Striping:  -0.33; (+0.95 conversions [No. 4] – (+1.28) opp conversions [No. 12] / No. 8 overall
SPOR-t:  -71; (514 [No. 10] – 585 [No. 11]) / No. 11 overall

Abacus Revelation: First in points scored per game (86.4) while last in points allowed (87.5) says it all.

No. 11 Connecticut Sun, 5-13 (37)
[6-week Abacus rating: 12
4-week Abacus rating: 12
2-week Abacus rating: 8
2015 Abacus rating: 9]

KK:  -4; (2 Road Wins – 6 Home Losses) / No. 11 overall
Flow:  -4.61; (40.72 stops OF opp [No.8] – 45.33 stops BY opp [No.12] / No.12 overall
Striping:  -0.11; (+0.11) conversions [No. 10] – (+0.22) conversions [No. 5] / No. 6 overall
SPOR-t:  -20; (540 [No. 7] – 560 [No. 8]) / No. 8 overall

Abacus Revelation: Opponents took 10 more FT’s per game than the Sun during Weeks 7 & 8.

No. 12 San Antonio Stars, 5-14 (40)
[6-week Abacus rating: 11
4-week Abacus rating: 10
2-week Abacus rating: 10
2015 Abacus rating: 12]

KK:  -5; (1 Road Win – 6 Home Losses) / No. 12 overall
Flow:  -2.37; (40.42 stops OF opp [No.11] – 42.79 stops BY opp [No.8] / No.11 overall
Striping:  -0.13; (+0.39) conversions [No. 8] – (+0.53) opp conversions [No. 6] / No. 7 overall
SPOR-t:  -53; (510 [No. 11] – 563 [No. 9]) / No. 10 overall

Abacus Revelation: The Stars’ scrappy defense ranks third in points allowed per game (80.5).


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.