The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for March, 2007

Strippers and playoffs

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 March 2007

The Cavs lost to the Knicks Thursday night. If this were 1997 that wouldn’t be a shock. But it’s 2007 and the Knicks are pretty terrible and the Cavs are supposed to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, a team striving for the #1 seed while battling Chicago for the #2 seed and trying desperately not to fall to the #4 seed. James has made it known to his teammates that this current road trip is incredibly important, finally adopting that leadership role many have been hoping he would adopt for quite some time.

So it’s good to see that after Thursday’s game James took 15 friends out to Scores, the legendary strip club in NYC. He stayed out until 4am, presumably working on his free throws. And by free throws I mean….well, never mind.

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Posted in Cleveland Cavaliers | 2 Comments »

OSU-Georgetown Preview

Posted by disappointmentzone on 30 March 2007

This is it, folks. We are just over 24 hours away from the biggest basketball game this century for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Of all the teams in the country, the Buckeyes are going up against the one team that both has an answer to Oden and tourney experience against the Buckeyes. Roy Hibbert — last seen a year ago wrecking havoc against OSU’s interior defense before walking off into the next round of the tourney with OSU in his wake — is the other beast of a center in college basketball. He’s taller than Oden and has a year’s more experience. He plays the same sort of game as Oden, too. Both are big threats within 10 feet but limited outside of that range and both are monsters on the boards. Many people are putting the fate of their respective teams on the shoulders of these two players, which is not totally unfair given how dominating both players can be and how much of an influence either player has just by being on the court. To put this last point in explicit terms, during the tourney so far OSU is +37.4 points per 100 possessions when Oden is on the court and -20.5 points per 100 possessions when Oden is on the bench. That’s a huge difference in production. A huge difference. OSU is just not the same team when Oden is on the bench, and even though Oden has not statistically had a dominating tourney so far, individual statistics can’t adequately capture Oden’s defensive impact or even his offensive impact (how he opens up driving lanes and forces defenses to collapse, thus leaving space for the guards to have better looks at three pointers). A 57.9 point swing in production says it all.

Assuming that neither Hibbert or Oden totally outplays the other — nor that one is in foul trouble while the other is not — the teams break down similarly. So far in this tournament each team’s efficiency factors are remarkably close. Georgetown is the most efficient offensive team in the country, but they are also more turnover-prone that OSU. For the game Georgetown will probably shoot a higher percentage from the field than OSU, but that higher shooting percentage can easily be mitigated by turnovers. Of course, OSU ranks fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency, which means that the gap between the two teams on offense — something that might get played up by the media, about how Georgetown is good at forcing their tempo, etc, etc — is not that great and can be overcome by turnovers and rebounding. On the defensive end, OSU (14) ranks four places higher than Georgetown (18) in defensive efficiency. So Georgetown is better than OSU on offense by a margin roughly equal to the difference between OSU and Georgetown on defense. The two teams are so close, in fact, that Ken Pomeroy’s Log5 odds gives OSU the slightest of slight edges over Georgetown, 50.1% vs. 49.9% (Log5 odds are a statistical measure of the likelihood of a team winning a game). Essentially, the two teams are dead even.

The Ken Pomeroy’s stats provide an overview of the teams for the entire season. Hack the Bracket has provided statistics based on the four games each team has played in the NCAAs. These statistics have OSU as a slightly better offensive team than Georgetown and a slightly worse defensive team than Georgetown, with the overall efficiency for OSU at .9818 and for Georgetown at .9842 (a higher number is better). These numbers are not too hard to believe, and given how OSU has played it should be no surprised that based on the last four games Georgetown is a statistical favorite. Nevertheless, if the last game for each time is any indication, OSU is coming into the tourney playing slightly better basketball than Georgetown, albeit over a one game sample.

So, what will be the deciding factors?

If Oden is in foul trouble and Hibbert isn’t in foul trouble, OSU will not be able to win. The converse is true for Georgetown. OSU has an advantage if both big men are in foul trouble, however, since OSU relies heavily on players other than Oden to score whereas Hibbert carries a large scoring burden for Georgetown. OSU without Oden can still be productive on offense. Georgetown without Hibbert is hindered a bit. Another point worth considering — and its a point Hack the Bracket makes in its preview — is that to the extent that Oden has a factor on the game through blocked and altered shots, those blocked and altered shots figure to be taken by Georgetown’s two best scorers: Hibbert and Jeff Green. This is why Oden staying in the game will be so crucial. Oden’s defense is perfectly targeted at Georgetown’s strengths (unlike in the Tennessee game where Oden’s defense was targeted at Tennessee’s weakness). It’s also why rebounding will be a critical factor as well. Georgetown has a rebounding advantage over OSU. If Oden is able to alter and block shots, it’s very important that those misses are the ends of Georgetown’s possessions. This may sound like an old coaching cliché — and it is — but given how college basketball is being called by the refs, it’s fair to assume that Oden will only have so many opportunities to block or alter shots before he gets into foul trouble. Put it this way: it’s easier for Oden to be on the court for 55 defensive possessions than it is for him to be on the court for 88 defensive possessions. Every time Georgetown misses and OSU doesn’t come away with the ball is one more possession during which Oden could be called for a foul. Oden is far less likely to be called for offensive fouls against Georgetown than he’s been in the other games of the tourney since Georgetown plays with players close to Oden’s size. If Oden gets in foul trouble it’ll probably be because he’s picking up fouls on defense.

Whereas Oden will be poised to lessen Georgetown’s two best scoring threats, Georgetown cannot boast the same thing about OSU. Georgetown may run a more complex and effective offense, but OSU matches up better against Georgetown on defense than Georgetown matches up against OSU when OSU is on offense. If Lewis and Butler start knocking down shots early Georgetown is going to have to extend itself on defense by not collapsing on Oden when he has the ball. And just as Oden is more likely to pick up a foul while on defense than on offense, the same is true of Hibbert. The more Butler and Lewis are making shots, the more Hibbert will become foul prone.

Which is ultimately why I think the guard play for OSU will determine the outcome of the game. Conely has been given a lot of ink and deservedly so, but he’s never been much of a threat on the perimeter. The perimeter is where this game will be decided for OSU. If Connelly and Oden are able to create the space needed so that Lewis and Butler can knock down shots, OSU is going to win. Georgetown is too good a team on offense for OSU not to score with regularity, and OSU has not proven that they can score with regularity without relying on perimeter scoring (with the hedge that maybe this happened in the last 10 minutes against Memphis). While attention will be given to the Oden-Hibbert match-up — and rightly so; it could be one for the ages — look to Lewis and Butler to see how OSU is doing.

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Posted in Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »

Trent Green in Brown and Orange?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 29 March 2007

As I mentioned a few days ago in my post about the Phil Savage interview that the Plain Dealer published, what you hear from Savage regarding the upcoming draft can never be taken at face value. In the PD article Tony Grossi wrote:

The Browns general manager flatly stated on Monday the team is not interested in adding an experienced quarterback to the roster. But he did not rule out drafting a quarterback – in later rounds, if not the first.

So you can forget about Trent Green, David Carr, Daunte Culpepper, Anthony Wright or any other veteran quarterback coming to Cleveland.

You heard it there first, folks. Straight from the mouthpiece for the horse’s mouth. The Browns are not interested in adding an experienced quarterback to the roster. You can forget about Trent Green coming to Cleveland. Savage’s position on this matter is unequivocal. It’s Frye, Anderson, or a rookie QB to be named later.

With that in mind you should probably ignore this article from today’s Sun Sentinel, titled “Brows reportedly courting Chiefs QB Green.”

Chiefs President/General Manager Carl Peterson told the Kansas City Star on Wednesday that he was approached by the Cleveland Browns about potentially acquiring Green, who is on the trading block.

“We agreed to talk some more later this week or the first of next week,” Peterson said. “[Savage] said he wants to talk some more with his head coach and offensive coordinator. But he did ask whether this thing was over with. [DZ: “this thing” is Green being dealt to the Dolphins.] I said, ‘No, not at all.'”

Perhaps Savage changed his mind between Monday and Wednesday, going from Absolutely No Experienced Quarterbacks to Hey, Trent! More likely, though, this is just another example of how you cannot believe anything any general manager says ever.

Which raises the conundrum: If you can’t believe anything a general manager says, then what are you to make of the Chiefs’ general manager saying the Browns are interested in Trent Green?

Perhaps the rule should be: You can’t believe anything a general manager says ever about what he’s going to do in the NFL draft.

Thanks to Rebuilding Year for the heads up.

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Posted in Cleveland Browns, Trade Rumors | 3 Comments »

Subscribe to the Disappointment Zone

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 March 2007

These subscription features have been available for a short while now, but I thought I would go ahead and point everyone’s attention in their direction. In addition to the links in the sidebar to the right, there is now a permanent page for subscribing to The Disappointment Zone, wherein RSS is briefly explained for those unfamiliar with this tool (it’s really fantastic) and where you can sign up to have all of the posts emailed to you should you want to go that route.

If you enjoy what goes on here please subscribe — and feel free to tell your friends and family. Because nothing brings people closer together than watching the Indians slip out of contention or moaning over the most recent Browns injury, or watching the Cavs defy their Cleveland roots by being one of the best teams in the league. I mean really, how much longer can the Cavs stay poised to take over the NBA before someone reminds everyone that this is Cleveland?

Posted in Cleveland Sports | Leave a Comment »

CC Sabathia injured this afternoon

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 March 2007

CC Sabathia left this afternoon’s spring training contest against the Toronto Blue Jays after the first batter, Reed Johnson, drilled a line drive Sabathia’s forearm just above his pitching hand. No word yet on how serious the injury is.

Never good to start the season with two pitchers on the DL. Perhaps this means Tribe fans will see Adam Miller the first week of the season. Talk about being thrown into the fire.

UPDATE: MLB.com now has a brief report.

UPDATE 2: Sabathia was last seen racing off to the hospital with a member of the training staff and a compression pack on his forearm.

UPDATE 3: The x-rays were negative. Sabathia is listed as day-to-day.

Posted in Cleveland Indians | Leave a Comment »

$1.5M reasons why Bentley is staying

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 March 2007

The string of sources that has brought this rumor/unconfirmed report to my attention is long, but it appears that the Browns have paid injured center LeCharles Bentley a $1.5 million option bonus. This is the same Bentley who will undergo more surgery later this year for the ruptured patellar tendon he suffered on the first play of camp last summer, causing him to miss last season. The second surgery means Bentley will miss the 2007 season as well, and the injury is serious enough that Bentley might never play again. So the team is paying him $1.5 million on the hope that his catastrophic knee injury is somehow fixable to the point that Bentley will be worth his $36 million contract, or at least the $12.5 million that is guaranteed. Nothing is more critical to linemen than knees, so at least Bentley’s injury wasn’t a knee injury. Oh wait. It was.

I believe the phrase for this is throwing good money after bad.

Anyway, so everyone gets their props, the Bentley story (from what I can tell) was broken by Adam Schefter of the NFL Network, picked up by profootballtalk.com, noted by rotoworld.com and The Browns Locker, and then came to me through Haveballs.net.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | Leave a Comment »

New links

Posted by disappointmentzone on 28 March 2007

Time to add a few of the new blogs/websites I have checked out recently to the old blogroll on the sidebar to the right.

Real Cavs Fans. (also known as one of the fourteen sites that runs Ben’s columns.)

Lake Erie Hope.

Red Right 88.

If you know of any other good Cleveland sports blog/website, feel free to let me know in the comments section.

Posted in Blogroll | 1 Comment »

What’s the point?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 27 March 2007

The Plain Dealer ran an interview with Browns GM Phil Savage today, under the headline “Draft outlook remains blurry.” It’s a suitable headline. There are a lot of quotes in the article, as you would expect from an interview piece. But for as much space as Savage is given, he reveals practically nothing. Which is not a surprise. There is absolutely no way that Savage would divulge any important draft information in a newspaper interview. Doing so would be grounds for dismissal.

I’m not going to ask the purpose of running such an article, but it would be nice if Savage were able to speak openly at least for a moment, if only so that he could say, “Look, I know you want me to talk about what the Browns are going to do in the draft. But there is no way I’m giving you a straightforward answer and I may very well try to purposefully mislead you. Ask all the questions you want but know those are the terms of the interview. It’s nothing personal. I’m just doing my job. If you care about the Browns, you’ll understand why I can’t speak honestly. It’s just the way it is”

Of course Savage cannot say those things — it would smack of arrogance, for one — but it would be nice to see the PD run a disclaimer at the beginning of the article to let the layperson know what they are reading. Any football fan knows that the GM isn’t giving up information a month before the draft. People who know and care about football know that Savage cannot — should not — answer the questions asked, at least not fully and/or truthfully. They’d only be reading the article to see if Savage screwed up in his duties to be obtuse. The layperson, however, might not know how these things work and might instead take Savage as speaking candidly. And if this were Savage speaking candidly then the whole enterprise of interviewing him would pretty much be shot and he’d looking incompetent. So why not take this opportunity to teach those laypeople something about football (and all sports, really). Namely, why general managers cannot speak candidly prior to the draft on matters concerning the team’s possible draft options. Instead of running an article that’s pretty much worthless to football fans and confusing/frustrating to non football fans — straddling the fence and satisfying no one — the PD ought to hope down on one side and do its readership (or part of its readership) a service.

That said, why am I fretting about Grossi’s reading of Savage when Grossi writes that Savage gave the impression that he is higher on Peterson than he is on Thomas? Thomas before Peterson. Thomas before Peterson. Thomas before Peterson.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | Leave a Comment »

Disappointment Zone power rankings

Posted by disappointmentzone on 25 March 2007

The DZ power rankings took a ten week vacation, but are back. During the break they were revamped and I can now promise that these rankings are 400% more scientifically valid than their predecessors. Sheldon Ocker should find solace in this fact. These power rankings certainly aren’t as flimsy as those silly Sports Illustrated power rankings. Whereas SI has to cover all those baseball teams — and there sure are a lot of them, at least 17 — the Disappointment Zone is dedicated to just six teams, certainly a much more manageable quantity. Herewith, then, are the rankings for Sunday, March 25th.

1) Cleveland Indians

If you ignore the ramblings of the local curmudgeons who profess that by covering a team they are somehow more expert in matters pertaining to the team (see: Ocker) and instead focus on those national media dandies, all flash and no substance (see: Gammons), then the picture is clear: the Cleveland Indians are the team to beat this season. Hope springs eternal and right now the Indians are undefeated in 2007 and are poised to pick up a pennant and World Series championship. They are the undeniably most powerful team in the universe. They are the Platonic ideal of a baseball team.

2) Ohio State Basketball Buckeyes

We are hedging here by not considering the woman’s team (not that you were thinking of them, either, especially since they were bounced out of the NCAAs a while ago), but the men’s OSUBB are having a pretty nice run right now, what with 21 straight victories and a spot in the Final Four. Maybe they should be #1, but the Buckeyes can actually lose a chance to win the NCAA championship in a week whereas the Indians can’t lose a chance to win the World Series until at least May. That’s enough to keep them in check, at least for this week.

3) Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is now both awake and interested. Enough said.

4) Cleveland Browns

The Browns have the third pick in an incredibly talent-ridden draft, and yet somehow few people seem placated by the many positive possibilities open to the team. The obvious strategy is to stay put and draft Joe Thomas. It’s also the simplest strategy. It’s also the most fool-proof strategy. That said, it’s not the strategy I think the team will take, which puts me squarely in the camp of concerned Browns fans. Besides, half the team is going to develop a drug addiction when Jamal Lewis starts dealing coke during the bye week.

5) Ohio State Football Buckeyes

The team hasn’t disgraced Ohio football by losing to Florida in nearly three months, so that’s a plus. (Is anyone else concerned that Florida will beat OSU for the basketball championship as well?)

6)

Aston Villa

Aston Villa is dead to me. By far the worst Cleveland-related football team in the world.

Posted in Aston Villa/English Premier League, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Indians, flotsam and Jetsam, Ohio State Buckeyes | 5 Comments »

Oden: go to the pros; I know why OSU won

Posted by disappointmentzone on 23 March 2007

After watching the Tennessee game (more on this below) one thing became clear: the refs in college basketball are not prepared to deal with Greg Oden. Too often Oden finds himself on the bench for infractions that, were he 50 pounds lighter and six inches shorter, would not be infractions at all but something more along the line of incidental contact. But it’s not just that. When Oden posts up he is fouled about 66% of the time. When he gets the ball and is double teamed he’s fouled about 66% of the time. When he shoots the ball he’s fouled about 66% of the time. But the refs only blow their whistles about 20% of the time. The refs are prohibiting Oden from playing basketball in college so he ought to just go to the pros.

Now, I’m not one to take credit. I like to think of myself as more humble than that. But I think it’s worth letting everyone know that the reason OSU won tonight was that I stopped watching the game at halftime. Here’s how it went: I watched the entire first half, which was a downward spiral from moments after the tipoff. Angered and frustrated, I turned the game off at halftime and switched over to the Colbert Report. During commercial breaks I allowed myself to check out the score of the game, and the first time I flipped over lo! the Buckeyes had cut the lead to 9. Shocked, I started watching the game, only to see Chris Loften hit a three pointer about 20 seconds later. So I quickly switched back to Comedy Central, knowing that my watching the game was enabling Tennessee. A few minutes later I switched back and the Buckeyes were even closer (about four points). I stayed with the game for about two minutes before Tennessee started to pull away once again, at which point I switched the channel, 85% sure that I was somehow dictating the outcome of the game by not watching it. The last time I switched back to the game Terwilliger was on the free throw line putting the Buckeyes up by one. At this point I was faced with a tough decision. Do I stay with the game now that the Buckeyes have the lead or do I switch back knowing that by watching the game Chris Loften is about 16x more likely to make another three pointer while two defenders are thrusting their arms in his face? Since I’m a rational thinker, I analyzed the situation and came to the only logical conclusion: since I was watching the game when OSU got its first lead since three minutes into the game clearly there was some reverse-jinx action going on. Somehow the mojo got switched and now I was the reason OSU was winning. So I stuck it out for the final five minutes of regulation and the rest is history.

No need to thank me now. Let’s just relish the second consecutive luckyasswin for the Buckeyes in this stomach-churning tourney.

Posted in Cleveland Sports, Ohio State Buckeyes | Leave a Comment »