Thursday, May 14, 2009

24 comments Simmons and Gladwell Exchange (Bad) Ideas

I knew that Malcolm Gladwell, writer of interesting books, and Bill Simmons, writer of interesting/annoying Internet columns, were on good terms before I read their conversation because Gladwell wrote the foreword to Bill's new book coming out in October. I never knew that they liked each other so much. I expected a back and forth debate on topics, but instead we got a situation where one person threw out an idea and the other person pretty much drooled over how much they liked that idea. It's all very lovey-dovey for my tastes. It shouldn't shock me really. Bill put up a video from Casey Wilson (maybe 10% of the world knows who she is) on his Twitter about negative comments on the Internet saying how much he liked her view mocking them, so I would not expect him to actually have an email exchange with someone who will challenge his ideas. Bill doesn't allow comments on his columns, blog, or any other type of feedback because he doesn't want negative comments about his ideas.

For those that don't understand what the big deal about this is, imagine if you read this blog everyday and I spouted off ideas that were blatantly incorrect or that you thought were stupid, but I did not allow comments so you could never give your opinion or try to correct me. Jeremy could never give his opinion on Kyle Lowry, Rulebook couldn't correct any wrong facts I put out there, and most of all we could never publicly accuse Mike Schmidt of using steroids. It's fucking frustrating. Not that Bill would ever read the comments below his articles, it would probably cause him to rupture an artery with anger. I digress...but there are three parts to this conversation and I am going to list an idea these two had and tell why I disagree with it.

This is a loooooooooooong column so if I miss something you think is a good/bad idea, I just probably decided to skip over it. Basically I will have to dispense with the smart ass comments at Bill and just cover the ideas these two had. This is a freaking love-fest. They like each other.


Malcolm, thanks for agreeing to exchange e-mails with me even though "Outliers" topped The New York Times best-seller list for five straight months (and counting) and earned you enough money to purchase the Grizzlies with your March residuals. (Just remember to hire me as your GM. Don't forget me. DON'T FORGET ME!!!!!!)

I would normally complain Bill just needs to let this drop because it is not happening, the joke isn't funny anymore, and I am still not buying the whole "what do we have to lose?" principle that seems to guide the reasoning behind this and many of the other ideas in this conversation. But, I won't say that...

I thoroughly enjoyed the book even if you totally missed an obvious chapter: How the dawn of the Internet made Anna Kournikova about three times as wealthy as she would have been had she broken onto the tennis scene 10 years earlier. Does she bank $50 million in endorsements without horny teenagers Googling her? No way.

Here is the first idea that I think is incomplete. Bill's idea for a new chapter in Malcolm's book about Kournikova could go for nearly every attractive female athlete/non-athlete since the Internet age. Ask Erin Andrews and Allison Stokke how this goes. Any mention of Andrews gets more hits for a site and she even appears in the new Madden 2010. Stokke became an Internet sensation just based on pictures that her father would probably slap everyone across the face with a hammer for ogling. If it is not for the Internet, no one has a clue who she is and now she is appearing on some show for SpikeTV.

I know Bill was one of the first to write about how Kournikova was underage, and kudos to him, but would Maria Sharapova and every other attractive athletic female make nearly as much in endorsements without the Internet and horny teenagers? I don't think so. And yes, Kournikova sucked at tennis so she made more in endorsements just because she was attractive, but Sharapova doesn't exactly light up the tennis courts anymore and she is still doing camera and modeling. Horny teenagers have helped a lot of women become more popular, not just Kournikova.

Take Dave Roberts, a speed/defense/intangibles guy whose career spanned from 1999-2008 (the heart of the steroids era). He retired right when it became illegal to show up for spring training carrying 35 pounds of extra muscle and a bigger head. Five years ago, Roberts was a fringe starter; today, he'd be a hot commodity with savvier teams gravitating toward speed and defense. You have to create runs from scratch in 2009, which means you need guys like Dave Roberts.

I know what Bill is talking about here, yet I have no idea what Bill is talking about here. Quintin McCracken is all over Roberts' Baseball Reference comparables and his career OBP is around .342. Not that much has changed really in baseball since Dave Roberts retired last year and I don't think he would now be a desperately wanted baseball player. Look at Juan Pierre's numbers and how they compared to Dave Robert's career numbers. They are quite similar and we all know what the world seems to think of Juan Pierre. I think Bill is just making shit up about Dave Roberts because he played for the Red Sox and is a hero for the team. Roberts would not be in any higher demand today than he was one year ago because I don't think baseball has changed all that much really. Speed and defense was always important for least the good ones.


In fairness, Gladwell does disagree with a point Bill made about Larry Holmes I did not print. He did it very nicely though. I want a smackdown.

OK, so imagine we throw 1973 Larry Holmes in a time machine and transport him forward 15 years. He wins a few fights, knocks out "Quick" Tillis and replaces Buster Douglas in the token no-name spot in the Japan fight against Tyson, becoming an instant mega-celebrity after his "shocking" knockout of Iron Mike.

Bill absolutely loves "what if" scenarios. "What if" no one ever read Bill's column online and ESPN did not give him a shot? Would he be an annoying bartender in Boston, calling himself The Boston Sports Guy (his ego would force him to keep that name) and be married to a woman who he calls the Sports Gal? See, I can't even do a creative "what if" scenario because they annoy me so much.


Nick Faldo. Think about it. He wins six majors. He's the dominant golfer of the late 1980s and early 1990s. But we don't mention him in the same breath as, say, Arnold Palmer, even though Palmer only won one more major than Faldo. And why? Because Palmer had Nicklaus and Faldo had, well, Scott Hoch, Mark McNulty and John Cook. Now imagine he comes along in the late '90s and goes toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods from the beginning. All of a sudden Faldo gets immeasurably magnified by the comparison.

I absolutely agree about this. Nick Faldo is, in my opinion, the best golfer of the past 20 years that very few people actually consider to be a great golfer. He is not considered one of the great for some reason. I hated him because he was so good.

I think Faldo could have been the Mickelson to Woods if he had come along later.

and Faldo in his prime was terrifying. He was surly and tough and charismatic and emotionally and psychologically bulletproof, and I feel like he'd do a better job of getting under Tiger's skin than anyone out there right now.

I disagree with this. I don't think Tiger would have had any major psychological problems competing with Faldo at all because Woods is a machine. He doesn't get psychological problems or affected in any fashion. Faldo would have competed with Tiger on the golf course, but that is about it I believe. I think the only reason Faldo was so terrifying is that he played against a group of golfers he was superior to and even when he went one-on-one with Greg Norman, Norman would fall apart under the stress at crucial when he stepped on the golf course before the final round or ate breakfast and thought about having to make an important putt. Faldo was great but his mental bulletproof aura I believe was a result of playing lesser and less mentally tough golfers.


In my book, I make the point that we spent so many years searching for an archrival for Jordan -- the Frazier to his Ali, someone who'd bring the best out of him -- when really, that player was Lenny Bias, and one cocaine binge ruined what should have been a fierce rivalry. Of the incoming NBA stars from 1984-90, only Bias possessed the talent and swagger to stand up to MJ in his prime.

I am just incredibly fucking shocked that Bill thinks a Boston Celtic could have been able to stand up to Michael Jordan in his prime. Gosh, I thought he would name someone from another team. I guess we can see his basketball book will be Boston-centric as well. The best part for Bill is that there is no fucking way we can disprove his argument here because NOBODY FUCKING KNOWS what would have happened. This is why Bill likes "what if" arguments, because you can't prove him wrong. It's not facts, its not basketball history, but just pure speculation. Bill loves that.

Len Bias was great in college but because he did not play one freaking minute in the NBA we have no way of knowing if he was going to be a massive bust because of drugs or the next great player. If we had to guess, drugs would have probably ruined his career and he never would have reached his potential. What was his potential? We have no idea but just because he was good in college doesn't mean he would have been absolutely great in the pros. Knowing Bias did drugs at least once there are probably 8 different paths his career could have taken, but Bill chooses the one that makes him as great as Michael Jordan...and he just happened to be drafted by the Celtics. We can't even argue this point though, because we have no idea, which is why Bill makes the argument so strongly. He can't be wrong!

I am going to hate Bill's book.


You're right. I am a bit obsessed with the full-court press at the moment. I just did a story for The New Yorker about how underdogs beat favorites, which had a lot about basketball in it.

Basically Gladwell said a lesser team should always press a better team because it gives them a better chance to win. It's a typical "I know very little about sports but I will make an observation that seems smart until others think about it" comment.

There are two other things here that fascinate me. After my piece ran in The New Yorker, one of the most common responses I got was people saying, well, the reason more people don't use the press is that it can be beaten with a well-coached team and a good point guard. That is (A) absolutely true and (B) beside the point. The press doesn't guarantee victory. It simply represents the underdog's best chance of victory.

Does it? Pressing at certain points in the game might work well but a better team is going to to be able to beat the press and it will lead to easier baskets. Not to mention to set up a press effectively you have to score a basket, which is not always easy to do against a great team. I am not going to say pressing a lot is a bad strategy, but I will say it is risky at best and there is no real evidence I have seen (unless you want to count one game, which is one game and not really a ton of evidence) it would work.

Others criticized this better than me. Here. Here. Here.

Here is a quote that proves Malcolm is not quite understanding what an underdog is:

Then, of course, Pitino takes one of his first Louisville teams to the Final Four in 2006 and this season's team to the Elite Eight, and no one's going to argue that either of those teams were filled with future Hall of Famers.

This season's team was the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. They were the consensus best team in the country coming into the NCAA Tournament after playing in the toughest conference, which is the Big East. Then the press got killed by Michigan State who was the #2 seed. Basically, the press allowed a lesser team to beat the better team. Also, both Louisville teams were loaded. 2006. 2008.

If you are going to think of ideas at least pretend you know what the hell you are talking about. Louisville recruits well and those players they recruit are by no means scrubs who can't play. When Louisville presses it is often the case of the better team pressing the inferior team.

When we were talking, Pitino called over Samardo Samuels, who is, of course, Jamaican -- his point being that this was his ideal kind of player, someone who substituted for a lack of experience with a lot of hunger. There is something weird, isn't there -- and also strangely beautiful -- about a coach who deliberately seeks out players who aren't the most talented?

Samuels is the untalented #2 ranked PF in the 2008 recruiting class and the #9 recruit overall. If that is not the most talented, then I want a team of not talented players. It's called research Malcolm.

Of course, Bill loves the idea of a press.


If Pitino had just kept that nucleus -- Walker, Billups, Mercer, Barros, Brown, McCarty, Bowen, Knight and DeClercq -- been patient and allowed his young guys to take their lumps, we would have had something (and remember, Pierce was coming in the '98 draft).

I watched those games as well and I want to that would have been a long wait for several of those players. They did have some talent but it took a few years for Bowen, Billups and McCarty to develop. Some never really did. I am talking about DeClercq, Knight, and Mercer.

With a 12-man roster, you'd only need to train five or six guys to pull off that press. Let's say next season's Bulls trained the following five: Joakim Noah, Ty Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, Lindsey Hunter and Generic Athletic/Hungry Swingman X. They practice and practice until they become a well-oiled pressing machine. For the first five minutes of every second and fourth quarter, they unleash that killer press on their opponents … who, by the way, would be playing backups during that time, making it even more effective.

What if the other coach plays his starters at this point in anticipation that the Bulls are going to press? What if one of those guys that presses gets hurt or becomes ineffective during the year? I am not saying it would not work, I am saying to take five/six guys and teach them to press is a great idea in theory, but I don't know how well it would work in real life.

In this scenario, the Bulls wouldn't press with Rose, Deng, Brad Miller, Ben Gordon or even John Salmons if they could help it.

This would also happen to be (and yes I am ready for magical 36 minute statistics proving me wrong), a not very good defensive squad that would either play against the other team's starters or backups. I would like to see this to see how it works, but I am not very encouraged it could. Also, the Bulls have to resign Ben Gordon before he can play for them again.

Couldn't they have pressed for 10 minutes a game with Al Thornton, Mike Taylor, DeAndre Jordan, Fred Jones and Mardy Collins? Why the hell not? Oh, wait, I forgot … they have a dunce as a coach.

Again, I want to point this fact out. To press effectively it has to come after a made basket. If you have a team consisting of players who aren't your best offensive players, you may not get a chance to press. I just want this to be taken into account when the discussion about pressing in the comments invariably comes. It's not like this group of individuals can just automatically press the opposing team. They have to make a basket, then they can press.


Why wouldn't you have a special squad of trained pressers come in for five minutes a half and press Kobe and Fisher? Worst-case scenario is that you exhaust Kobe, and make him a bit more vulnerable down the stretch. Best case is that you rattle the Lakers and force a half-dozen extra turnovers that turn out to be crucial. And if you lose, so what? You were going to lose anyway.

Worst case scenario is that the Lakers beat the press consistently and it doesn't matter that Kobe is vulnerable down the stretch because he is on the bench looking at the women in the crowd during the 4th quarter because the game is a blowout. I guess I just have a problem overall with the "we are going to lose anyway" strategies that are being thought of here. I think pressing can be great if done in moderation, but at the NBA level I don't feel like it would be as effective as at the college level. Not to mention if you press the Lakers, they have two guys, Gasol and Odom both of whom can handle the ball and serve as the press buster in the middle of the court. I don't think Gladwell took this into account before he started typing.

And -- since I know you love lists -- who would be your all-time full-court press team? One rule: you can't pick people who would otherwise be considered all-time greats. So no Jordan or Pippen.


I'll give you two different teams. If you went with superstars or All-Stars, you'd go with 1993-94 David Robinson, '88-89 Dennis Rodman, '91-92 Scottie Pippen, 2008-09 LeBron and 1991-92 Jordan.

Bill must have gotten an F in Listening Skills in Kindergarten.


I feel the same way about the attitude of professional football teams toward the no-huddle offense. Right now, great teams (such as the Colts and Patriots) use the no-huddle selectively, as a way to maximize their dominance. But why don't bad teams use it? If you were the Lions, why not run the no-huddle this season? Why not put together a lighter, better-conditioned offensive line and a radically simplified playbook and see what happens? It's not as if you are risking a Super Bowl if it backfires. Your offensive line is lousy anyway, so there's no harm in tearing it down, and your fans aren't going to turn on you if you get killed while you work out the kinks.

More "what do we have to lose?" strategies. It's easy to do this. Just get a lighter more well conditioned offensive line that can play the no-huddle offense, a quarterback that can make audibles at the line of scrimmage and has the skills to run the no-huddle offense, and make the playbook smaller! It's that easy.

What happens if the team doesn't want to run the no-huddle or the no-huddle is not working? They now have a lighter offensive line that has trouble running the ball. Running the no-huddle is a great idea at times but with an inexperienced or an average quarterback running the offense it has the potential to be a turnover problem for the offense when Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are not running the offense.

Basically, you just can't take any quarterback, especially one that plays for a bad team have the no-huddle work effectively for you.

Best teams pick first. How fun would that be? Every meaningless end-of-season game now becomes instantly meaningful. If you were the Minnesota Timberwolves, you would realize that unless you did something really drastic -- like hire some random sports writer as your GM, or bring in Pitino to design a special-press squad -- you would never climb out of the cellar again.

Peter King thought of this idea with the NFL and it will just turn into the rich getting richer. Do you really want to give the Cavaliers Blake Griffin and the Wizards Wayne Ellington? That's the best idea we have. How about the crappy teams just draft well and figure out what the hell they are doing? Wouldn't that be easier?


Now you're just lobbing me softballs. I am a fervent "Every lottery team should have the same odds" believer for two reasons: Not only would it eliminate any incentive to tank down the stretch for a "better" draft pick (really, better odds at a better draft pick), but the current setup penalizes potential franchise players by giving them too much responsibility for carrying inferior teams.

Ok, that is not really what Gladwell was talking about. I actually do like Bill's idea better honestly. Give every lottery team an equal chance for each pick in the draft. I hate Gladwell's idea of giving the best teams the best picks, but Bill's idea where every team has an equal chance to get every pick seems good to me. I would even take that idea out of just the lottery teams and give it to everyone, but I am not that crazy, so I will stick to the lottery teams.

I am currently paying for season tickets to the hopeless Clippers, who deliberately antagonize their fan base with decisions like, "We're going to bring Mike Dunleavy back for a seventh season even though he has the first-ever 0 percent NBA approval rate from our fans."

I think Bill believes he is being forced to buy these season tickets. Stop complaining and don't go if you don't want to pay for them.

That's why we can't keep rewarding lower classes at the expense of the elite franchises. And if this makes me an NBA Republican, so be it.

Not surprisingly Bill's favorite team is an elite franchise.


Or how about eliminating the draft altogether? I'm at least half-serious here. Think about it. Suppose we let every college player apply for and receive job offers in the same way that, oh, every other human being on the planet does. That doesn't mean that everyone goes to L.A. and New York, because you still have the constraints of the cap. It does mean, though, that both players and teams would have to make an affirmative case for each other's services.

That way we can have package deals and all the other shit I hate about college basketball happen. Teams will try to circumvent the cap and find ways to cheat this system. Ok, that is a minor concern I have, but I can only imagine the scandalous events that would occur.

Mostly, I just don't like this idea.


Also, if you eliminated the draft, then my annual draft diary would die, and Chad Ford's archives wouldn't be nearly as fun to read. I would miss the draft. Desperately. The easy fix, and the only fix, is to give every lottery team the same odds. Done and done. You also forget that every NBA player wants to live in either Southern California, New York, Phoenix or Florida. So unless you're prepared to put all 30 teams in those four regions, we can't dump the draft.

Not so much love-fest here but I have to say I agree with Bill. I like it when he talks sense.


I don't know if readers realize how this has gone. You e-mail me something. I fret and agonize and worry and send something back a day and a half later. Then half an hour passes and a 1,000-word e-mail pops up in my inbox, with the taunting subject line "Back at you." You are basically one of those Doug Moe Denver Nuggets teams from the 1970s, which would put up 85 points in the first half.

H writes 2 columns per week if the readers are lucky and it is his full time job. He writes a lot of words when he does write but when guys on AOL's sports page post a new column everyday, it doesn't seem as much like Bill is busting his ass. Of course, he also does the BS Report. I'm just saying it is his full time job to write. He has nothing else to do, I would expect him to write a lot.

Bands can go different ways just like successful basketball teams. McCartney and Lennon were two geniuses who ultimately needed one another (like Young Magic and Older Kareem, or Shaq and Young Kobe), whereas MJ and LeBron were more like Sting or Springsteen (someone who could carry the band by themselves).

I would just like to point out that both Sting and Springsteen never had a sidekick like Lennon/McCartney to rely on but both artists have had more success within the band setting. Springsteen was putting out double albums on the same day, doing acoustic albums on barely sold out tours, and writing movie soundtrack songs in the 90's until he got back with the E-Street Band and Sting had disappeared off my radar in the early 2000's until he got back with the Police this summer. I don't think they can carry a band by themselves and have the same success they had before. Similarly, MJ never got over the hump without Scottie Pippen. Basically they can carry a team/band so far but they need the supporting cast to be the best or better than many.

I really have no idea what I am talking about right now. I feel high.


In your book, you talk about McHale's decision to keep playing the '87 playoffs with a broken foot, and how he was never really the same after that.

Anybody else get the feeling this book is going to be about Bill's boyhood memories of growing up as a Celtics fan and it will contain many stories about how great that team was, along with hyperbolic examples, like how Len Bias would have kept up with Michael Jordan?

They were so successful for so long that they grew overconfident and arrogant and complacent. The biggest obstacle to success is success.

That is kind of how I feel about Bill Simmons.

I think we will end on that. I tried to cut all the agreeing out of this, because that is no fun. So what we learned today is that Malcolm Gladwell may not watch sports and Bill Simmons' basketball book may cause a book burning that has not been seen since Germany in the 1940's.


KentAllard said...

I don't know that much about basketball, but I think if the lesser team automatically tries to press the better team, you'll get to see a lot of games where the better team stages a free-form dunking exhibition, while the other team jogs along behind them.

And on a shoddy research note, Bill doesn't realize that Chicago traded Generic Athletic/Hungry Swingman X for Stereotypical Stonefooted Power Forward, a decision that will come back to bite them in the ass.

On the other hand, I really want to see the 2009 Raiders run a full time no-huddle with JaMarcus Russell and a bunch of rookie and/or underachieving receivers. That would be a thing of beauty.

The Casey said...

I think you're wrong in questioning whether Len Bias could have kept up with Michael Jordan. Everybody knows the real question is how much earlier Jordan would have retired once Bias totally eclipsed him in every way possible. Also, I love the fact that one of Bill's favorite "what if" guys is named Bias. Talk about poetic justice.

Also, the full-court press, the box-and-one, the no-huddle, and the Wildcat all have huge weaknesses, which is why they are gimmicks that you throw out there for a few minutes to put the other team off balance. A good coaching staff and team (and remember, this was thrown out as a way for less-talented teams to compete with good teams) will make adjustments.

And specifically for the no-huddle, can you imagine how many points a game Detroit would have given up last year if they ran the no-huddle most or all of the time? You need to have a very deep defense to do that, because your offensive time of possession is going to suck.

I do kinda like the every team in the lottery having the same chance idea, too. I don't really like the "everyone's a free agent" deal. That's one thing that bugs me about MLB, that the draft is for American players, and foreign players are all free agents.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't think pressing altogether is a bad idea if you are the lesser team, but there is also a reason you are the lesser team. That reason most likely is that you don't have as much talent as the other team, so I would also assume the better talented squad would eventually break the press if it is being used all game and the dunking exhibition would begin.

Haha...I hate Stereotypical Stonefooted Power Forward, he is always brought in to help with rebounding and ends up sitting the bench.

I would actually move to Oakland and buy Raiders season tickets if the Raiders ran a full time no-huddle offense. I would love to see it. What do they have to lose?

I think MJ would have retired in 1987 after seeing what a badass Len Bias was. Bias may have ended up being a great player, who really knows. What we do know is that he wasn't even the #1 pick in the draft, not that it means anything but the Cavs probably could have used Bias and they decided for the Charmin-soft Brad Daugherty, who now commentates on NASCAR. I just find it interesting how Bill all of a sudden has Bias challenging MJ...of course we will never know if he is right or not, so he thinks he is.

Exactly, all of those things are very effective gimmick defenses that serve to supplement what a team is doing. Pressing all the time can really work for a team in certain situations. Look at the old Arkansas teams coached by Nolan Richardson, but the important thing is that those are teams that do have talent, they are not lesser teams. Even Richardson's teams could play defense straight up and succeeded. Basically good teams can beat the press.

I am going to go ahead and ask what the hell Gladwell was thinking when he talked about teams running the no-huddle all the time. Time of possession is vitally important in football. Actually, you are right it would incredibly stupid for the Lions or Raiders to do this against a team like the you really want to give Tom Brady more possessions? The Patriots would put up 100 points.

I like the lottery idea actually. I had never thought of it. Of all Bill's ideas, I think that may be one of my favorites. It makes sense to me because I do get tired of crappy teams staying crappy. The free agent thing would be an absolute mess. I understand what they were trying to say, but really you can't do that. Players would end up in select cities and the Grizzlies would somehow be worse than they are now.

ivn said...

yeah the painful irony in Gladwell's ideas is that for the most part teams with the talent are the ones that can afford to experiment like that. To the best of my recollection the Bills were the last team to run a no-huddle with any success, and their offense was loaded (and their D wasn't bad either). I mean, it's a lot easier to run a no-huddle with Brady, Moss, and Welker than it is with JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Johnnie Lee Higgins (or whoever the fuck the Raiders have). Also note that the Phoenix Suns could pull off SSOL mainly because they had Nash, Marion, and Stoudemire (could you imagine, oh, the Bucks or something trying to do that?).

From what I can remember underdogs usually win in basketball and football (baseball is completely different and I've not watched not enough hockey to comment) by playing more conservative and shortening the number of possessions (because by definition the more possessions you give to a more talented team, the more chances you give them to score)--look at Nova/Georgetown, Rams/Patriots, or Giants/Patriots as three examples that just came to mind--as opposed to trying to go crazy and outwit the superior team because the superior team generally has a superior coach who can adjust. I suppose one example on the contrary would be Mavs/Warriors, which is exceptional because the Warriors played fucking crazy all season and Nellie was going up against the team he used to coach and the man he trained as his protege.

ivn said...

also, how do you feel about Greg Paulus playing quarterback at Syracuse next year?

Bengoodfella said...

Even in Bill's example it is the Chicago Bulls who would do the pressing. Well they are by no means an untalented team, so I don't think that really goes to prove the point that pressing all the time can beat a superior team. To beat a superior team in basketball, you do exactly what you said. Sure, pressing does help but I don't think an inferior team would have a lot of success pressing a superior team over the long haul. Maybe for a game or two. A great example I can think of this year is when Duke played Clemson in Death Valley this year in basketball, they pulled out this absolutely relentless press that absolutely destroyed Duke. Then they tried a similar tactic to the Tar Heels and it did not work in the least. Duke never (and may never again) caught up to what was going on until it was too late, while UNC was prepared for it and broke it with ease. Similarly, Duke prepared for the press after that and had very little trouble with teams who tried to press them after that. Good teams learn and the bad teams may have one chance to make this work for them. I am not saying Clemson was bad, I was just using an example where it fooled a team once but everyone else caught on.

I don't know how the press would work in the pros but I have a feeling it would not work as well as predicted.

Great teams can press and use the no-huddle offense effectively, while inferior teams don't always have that luxury. Gladwell's idea about pro football just seems like insanity to me. Inferior teams need to limit possessions the other team has, not make their defense play more. The Bills were a superior team with a superior offense so naturally they ran the no-huddle effectively because they could outscore a team or stop them defensively if they needed to.

Crazy things do happen, but I think you will find a team that is bad, like the Lions were last year, would have a horrible time running the no-huddle effectively against a superior opponent.

It's funny about Paulus because my friends and I were laughing about that the other day. Paulus was actually looking at my favorite college football team to play QB for (my uncle used to live in this state and he basically forced me to like them when he found out I had gotten into football in the early 90's) and I was joking around that I could not get away from Greg Paulus no matter how hard I tried. Nothing against him, but I needed a Paulus break. I am happy for him he picked Syracuse to play...though I don't know how successful he will be. When the Duke football team doesn't want you, that says a lot. Though they do like Thaddeus Lewis their current QB a lot, which may explain why they did not want him. Actually, I think Duke will be bowl eligible this year. Yes, I am predicting they will win 6 games.

KentAllard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KentAllard said...

A peek ahead to midseason, where the Raiders' no-huddle experiment is in full swing:

WR #1: Man, you have to have to put forth more effort to get to the ball.

WR #2: I wasn’t the primary receiver, you were.

WR #1: No way.

WR #2: Absolutely. When I’m primary, Jamarcus has to say the word discomfiture during the count.

WR #1: Oh, yeah. Maybe it was the tight end?

WR #2: Fucker never even cleared the line of scrimmage.

TE: It was a running play, you idiots. My assignment was to cut the defensive end.

WR #2: Really?

Jamarcus: I didn’t call a damn play! I was trying to get the attention of the hot cheerleader, and the fool center hiked the ball!

WR #1: Oh.

WR #2: Oh.

TE: Oh.

Center: Next time the middle linebacker blitzes, your ass is dead.

Bengoodfella said... joke about that but I can really see that being the end result of the no-huddle experiment in Oakland.

I like how the word discomfiture is the word that tells everyone who the primary receiver is. You forgot the part where the Oakland defense is on the field for an average 45 minutes per the game though and the entire defense attempts to murder the offense by mid-season.

KentAllard said...

Did you ever see the no huddle Walt Harris installed a few years ago at Pitt? The QB would rock his head from side to side while the receivers and backs ran into each other trying to find their place. They would get a half dozen delay of game penalties ever game trying to sort it out, which I thought was embarassing for a no huddle.

ivn said...

so for all the talk of Dwight Howard complaining about touches and SVG bending over to give them to him, a lot of people had (I think they're coming around) forgotten two things:
1) Dwight Howard is probably the most overrated player in the NBA, and can't even score consistently on Perkins and Davis (imagine if the Celtics had a healthy KG?)
2) no one on the Celtics can stop Rashard Lewis...he should be the one griping about touches if anything.

ivn said...

of course I say that and fucking Howard gets a 20-20. then again he only scored one point in the fourth quarter. if it weren't for Lewis the Celtics would have actually clinched this series by now.

don't mind me everybody.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't remember the no-huddle there at Pitt but was that when Tyler Palko was the QB there? If so, I can see how there was a lot of confusion based on that. He doesn't remind me of a guy who could run it incredibly effectively.

Don't worry Ivn, I called out Garrett Anderson in the comments the other night and he responded with his best game of the year the next night. It happens. I think I am singlehandedly responsible for Javy Lopez's incredible 2003 season...well that and PED's but you know what I mean.

I don't know if I would call Howard overrated necessarily but I think he is very limited offensively. He is a great defensive player but I would like to see him develop on the offensive end a little bit more. Offensively, he is overrated.

You are correct in that no Celtic defender can guard Rashard Lewis, he needs more and more touches. Really, there is no reason he is not shooting 20 shots a game. He is a matchup nightmare for the Celtics.

ivn said...

to Howard's credit he is a great weakside/help defender (he's discouraged Allen, Pierce, and Rondo from attacking the basket this series, I mean the Celtics only shot 13 free throws today) but I don't think he's quite as good man-to-man, judging by the trouble Perkins has given him thus far.

and yeah Lewis has been giving me nightmares this series. the only guys the Celtics can really throw at him are Allen and Pierce (who are 4-5 inches shorter than him) or Baby and Scalabrine (who are the only two rotation guys in the current playoffs on any team with legitimate man-boobs). my first year at school out here in WA was Lewis's last year in Seattle, and the guy has such a good all-around offensive game. him, Nelson, and Lee are the only players on the Magic I actually like.

Martin said...

What they both seem to be missing is that the idea that the lesser talented team should press to give itself a better chance is useless when most GOOD teams press at the lower levels of the game anyway. The more athletic and talented teams, in my experience, almost always press, if not 100%, then a good chunk of time in each game. They maximize their advantage over lesser teams by doing so.

Only someone who really has had no exposure to basketball, or an self-impressed egotard, sort of like our two lads here, would think that full court pressing would be a revolutionary new concept that good teams never think of doing. It's not a tactic that "lesser" teams use to's one smaller and faster teams utilize. This kind of backslapping analysis is Joe Morganesque in it's absurdity.

Bengoodfella said...

I think Howard is like some other big guys in that the best thing you can do to neutralize him is to go straight at him in the post like Perkins has done. Either make him foul you or not be able to make the block. He is a wonderful weakside help defender, if I even see him in the paint, I assume he is going to make the block. There's something about Lewis I have never gotten that is I know he is a great player but I feel like he should be a little bit better than he is. I don't know why, but he creates such matchup problems for other players. I see him as the third best player on the Orlando Magic team when I think he should be ahead of Turkoglu.

Martin, you are right about good teams pressing more effectively. Traditionally, good teams are deeper and more talented and athletic than weaker teams, so they are able to press effectively. I just have a hard time buying the idea that a lesser team should press all the time because it seems like the better team would eventually beat the press.

Bill thought the Bulls should press more often, which could be possible, because they are a good team, but I think Malcolm Gladwell thinks other teams should press the Bulls if they have no chance of winning. I mean, what do they have to lose?

Dubs said...

I think this playoff run has shown Howard to have some very big limitations to his offensive game. Didn't Phil Jackson say he would take Howard number 1 overall to build a team around right now? Wonder if he is rethinking that one.

Just to give everyone ample warning, I predict that Bill's Papi deserves to be in the Hall of Fame gripes will be worse than anything he has ever done. So, let's all hope the internet explodes within the next 7 or 8 years....

Bengoodfella said...

I agree Dubs. I read a column by the Charley Rosen a few months ago about Dwight Howard and how he thought he had a little bit more growing on the offensive end to do. He is a great dunker and he definitely gets his points during the game. It is true though that he doesn't really have a go-to move in the post that works. I think it is a matter of expectations, where we think he should be better than he is.

I think any type of conversation about Big Papi being in the HoF is premature and I don't think he really has a great case. I don't know if Simmons could make a great case right now, but I could be wrong, and that won't stop him from trying to make case.

The Casey said...

You know, if nobody's accused you of anything, sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut. Doesn't this sound like another lame "I don't know how I got caught, I've never taken anything in my life" excuse?

WV: fishae

Bengoodfella said...

Smoltz needs to just be quiet. He annoyed me when he was with the Braves talking a lot then too.

"I can't even swallow pills and know nothing about supplements, there is no way I could use steroids!"

If he got caught, that would ruin my day...a lot. I don't even want to think about it.

Jeremy Conlin said...

I think the point that Simmons is trying to make at least, is that pressing presents a better strategy for bad teams in the NBA specifically, not necessarily college, because nobody in the NBA presses. I have to agree that if good-not-great teams like the Bulls, 76ers, and Jazz pressed during certain stretches, and if they could do it effectively, they could make a leap to a legit title contender, or if bad teams that have good athletes, like Golden State, the zombie Sonics, the Clippers, or the Raptors started to use a press, they might be able to sneak into the playoffs. I remember that Celtics team that Simmons talked about, and they were a 22-win team masquerading as 36-win team because their press swung a lot of games and allowed them to win a bunch of games that they probably shouldn't have won.

Also, I absolutely, unequivocally, 100% agree about Dwight Howard. Simmons made a joke last night in his chat, "What coffee-table book would be shorter, "Dwight Howard's best low-post moves" or "Stan Van Gundy's nicest suits"?" I watched a lot of Dwight Howard during the season, plus more in the playoffs, and here's the entire list of his post moves that I compiled:

1. Run over defender like Mack Truck; Dunk
2. Running jump hook with left hand
3. Drop step into lane, brick jump hook
4. Spin baseline, get trapped, throw ball off someone's face
5. Running jump hook with right hand
6. Attempt drop step, get cut off, try to spin back baseline, get called for traveling

That's it. That's the entire list.

The one disagreement I would have is that I wouldn't say that he's a great defensive player. He's a great shot-blocker, which is something different. He isn't a very smart defensive player. He doesn't defend the pick-and-roll very well, he doesn't know how to use his body if you drive right at him, and if he's isolated at the top of the key against a guard, he isn't very good at forcing them towards the paint (for reference, Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing, and Shaq could put on clinics on how to do this). Also, when he blocks shots, 90% of the time he just swats the ball out of bounds, giving the other team the ball back. What good does that do? I'd much rather have him be like Tyson Chandler, or Marcus Camby, or Ben Wallace (when he was still alive), who are much better at tipping the ball either to themselves or a teammate. I thought the DPOY was undeserved, and it should have gone to LeBron. Then again, this is a league where Dirk Nowitzki makes the All-NBA 1st team and Chris Paul doesn't, not to mention Shaquille O'Neal making All-NBA 3rd team. I give up.

Bengoodfella said...

I think if NBA teams pressed for certain stretches of the game it would benefit them. I don't believe it would work like Malcolm Gladwell seems to think it would over a long stretch of the game if the team did it the hole time. Of all those teams you mentioned I could see the Warriors pressing pretty successfully, but I don't think it would work over the entire game. They have to use it as a measure to jump on or catch up during a game. Pressing has its advantages but I just don't believe it would work at the pro level quite as well as it does at the college level. Of course we won't know until someone tries it again.

I just want you to be careful, you actually agreed with something said here about Dwight Howard's offensive skill set. I still think he is a great player but he doesn't have a go-to move (other than a dunk) or a move that he has been forced to develop offensively. I blame the lack of quality centers in the Eastern Conference and his not going to college for this. I feel like a player like Hakeem Olajuwon, Ewing, and the others you mentioned had to get a move offensively to play against the other quality centers in the league. Howard has never really had to develop an offensive arsenal because he has gotten his points dunking. I don't think anyone can necessarily stop him but I also believe the book is out on him a little offensively.

That's a main reason I have a little bit of fear for Thabeet when he comes in the NBA, though he did go to college, he lacks offensive moves (as most young guys do...especially those who were so awkward his freshman year like he was), but he can make up for it with value on defense to an extent. I watched Thabeet this year and if a defensive player gave him any type of challenge in the lane, he kind of shied away from it. That's why Pitt was able to beat UConn with Little Charles Barkley (not really like him but he is probably almost as tall and rebounds as well) DeJuan Blair. Blair challenged Thabeet and made him bang away for his points, which Thabeet did not want to do. I realize Howard does not shy away from contact but they are both good shot blocking players who seem awkward on offense at times.

I think it was Martin who said Howard was a good help side defender and not necessarily a great defensive player, so I will actually agree with that as well. I hate it when players block a shot out of bounds. It is absolutely pointless. The other team gets the ball back and you have given them another possession. Ridiculous.

I say something similar to this about Howard in my post on Saturday that I have already written because I am fucking machine nowadays apparently.

Anonymous said...

BGF...Sorry to jump in so late here. All the sports talk has gotten me dizzy so let me just comment on the writers and their back n forth. What a farce...Each has an asinine idea and the other heartily agrees, for the most part. It degenerates into a back patting party for two of most overrated writers of a generation. I couldn't even get through "The Tipping Point" and throughout, I was amazed, at how self-involved Gladwell comes off in his writing.

More BSPN nonsense and right in your wheelhouse.

Bengoodfella said...

I actually was thinking about checking out a Malcolm Gladwell book from the library a few weeks ago because it seemed like he was interesting to read but after reading this I am not sure. Maybe sports is not his thing and he is better at other stuff. Based on your comments I think I may hold off on it.

My opinion here was that Bill came off as a little more knowledgeable about sports than Gladwell and just about the idea of sports in general when he was talking about the press and all. Things like that always scare me.