ACC Player of the Year is Clear – TJ Warren

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in ACC, Basketball, NCSU

I’ve no doubt watched as much #ACC Basketball as most of the voters for player of the year. Keep in mind that while they were covering a game at a time, I was watching the next two. I was Little Deac of the Week before some of the voters were born. I’ve been to Seven World’s Fairs, six sheep shearings, and a handful of Hillsborough hikes that included Sadlack’s. I’ve pulled for Duke in the Dean Dome after camping for tickets there in the cold. I’ve pulled for the Tarheels every time they’ve played Russia. I’ve been on Franklin Street after a National Championship. I am most certainly biased. If you’ve watched this much college basketball and you aren’t passionate enough to have strong opinions about the schools, the colors, the uniforms, the cheerleaders, the fans, the arenas, the coaches and your league – well, you are probably a terrible lover and a horrible person. You also shouldn’t be voting for player of the year in the ACC. But if you are…
TJ Warren
If you have watched all these years, then you know that the ACC Player of the Year has been awarded to the likes of Ralph Sampson, Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Tyler Hansbrough, Rodney Rogers, Tim Duncan, Len Bias, David Thompson, Elton Brand, JJ Redick, and Michael Jordan. It’s also been awarded to less household names over the years too. But…
You may not realize that it has NEVER, in the history of the league been awarded to a freshman. Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA during a time where NBA point guards are absolutely elite. He did not win the award as a freshman. (and therefore ever actually) The best player to ever play the game – a skinny kid named Michael Jordan was a Junior when he won the award.
Hopefully you are saying to yourself right now – that was then, it has nothing to do with this year! I agree.
So now that we’ve cleared the context up. TJ Warren is the #ACC Player of the Year. I’ve watched all year, waiting for him to waiver. He hasn’t. He’s thrown a team on his back that has overachieved because of his leadership, his hustle, his insane ability to put himself in the right position time after time, and a mind boggling lost art mid-range shot that we’ve almost written off in college basketball. He’s done it quietly, unforced, within the flow of the game. He’s done it with every brilliant ACC Coach devising new ways to stop him, and largely him alone. Coaches prepared for him with no other pre-season All-ACC selections and potential ACC POY candidates sharing the pre-game concerns. No McAdoo. No Hood. No Fair.
I love (the game of) Jabari Parker. He is nearly unstoppable too and he is going to be an NBA star. Marcus Paige is insanely gifted and has become consistently dominant night after night. Ennis has been sensational and clutch for a team that was tops in the nation for much of the year. Virginia doesn’t win the regular season without Harris. Others could be mentioned too, really the list goes on from there. But none of them have been TJ Warren.
I am a numbers guy, no doubt. I wouldn’t leave home without them. Please take a look at them: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/statistics/player/_/stat/scoring-per-game/group/2 They speak for themselves this year. But regardless of the numbers – I love the game and I watch the game first. I watch both ends of the court. I watch facial expressions. I watch on the ball and off the ball. I watch body language. I watch players interact with teammates. No statistics yet invented (although we are getting damn close in the NBA) tell the full story of the contributions of players like TJ Warren.
What I’ve seen for 2014 POY is clear.
TJ Warren is the ACC Player of the Year.

NBA Moneyball

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Basketball, Data Analysis, NBA, Tableau

Sports. Data. If you are here, you probably know that these are a few of my favorite things. This is a Sample NBA dashboard that I built using Tableau and a host of data sources that I pulled together. The About page has some of the components / notables. There are a couple of imperfect pixels that got introduced in Tableau Public. (they weren’t there on my desktop) I will reach out to my Tableau friends and work with them once I have a chance to investigate a bit more.

Coaching Youth Basketball – Herding Cats

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Basketball, North Carolina

They say that coaching youth basketball is like herding cats. They are correct. Coaxing kittens out from under a carousel even. The movie Hoosiers teaches coaches that the best game plan is to search for Jimmy Chitwood, hence the visual reference. No doubt. The best defense is a good… assistant coach with a big, strong, fast, athletic second child. The reality though is that you probably are coaching kids that more closely resemble Ollie. You know, the kids that would rather smack each other in the Willie and tell poop jokes while taking water breaks. Sometimes that prankster is your kid too, regardless of how much you’ve cajoled, begged, or threatened him on the rides to practice. The variance in skills, knowledge, athleticism, and interest from one player to the next makes the experience of coaching kids one of the more fascinating social engineering experiments you will ever participate in. Did I mention the sheer joy of working with parents who knew nothing about basketball when it was time to sign up to coach yet amazingly developed into John Wooden by the first game day? Did I mention the rule changes from one age group to the next that keep you and the refs guessing? It is an amazingly rewarding experience when your effort works out. All it really takes in those first years is your kids learning to love the game – even if it makes you have to go to work for stress relief. One tip, trick, play or example of teamwork that you know translated directly from your clipboard to on court success is an amazing motivator. An assist thrown from the normal ball hog to the kid who hasn’t scored is like a crappy day of golf with a birdie on 18. You’ll be back – there is a glimmer of hope. If this is your first year, welcome to coaching, welcome to herding cats. Take my word for it, you aren’t the only one waking up in the middle of the night thinking about how to break down a defense of swarming germ droppers. Coaching Youth Basketball
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