January 8, 2013
A-10, Atlantic 10 Conference, CAA, Colonial Athletic Association, Ken Pomeroy
RICHMOND, Va. – It was 17 years ago, on Jan. 4, 1996 in Williamsburg, that VCU defeated William & Mary 70-47 in the Rams’ first Colonial Athletic Association contest in front of 2,868 brave souls. In the years since, the tales of that night have been retold countless times fawned over by…nobody. Six days later, when the Rams hosted George Mason in the school’s first CAA home game, 2,911 enthusiastically “packed” the Richmond Coliseum.
It’s different this time around for VCU.
On Jan. 9, VCU will host Dayton in the first Atlantic 10 Conference game in school history. It’s a game against one of the league’s better teams, but in reality, it’s more than just one game. It’s an event. It signifies a new direction for the VCU Basketball program. When was the last time a conference-opener meant so much to so many VCU people? Maybe the Rams’ first Sun Belt game in 1979, but I doubt it.
January 4, 2013
Ken Pomeroy, Moneyball
VCU (11-3) has won eight straight games and is knocking on the door of the top 25.
Mark Twain is credited with popularizing the quote, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” With all due respect to the late Samuel Clemens, he never had the benefit of effective field goal percentage at his disposal.
Bill James has been preaching the gospel of statistical analysis of sports for more than 30 years, but it took Moneyball, Michael Lewis’ 2003 account of the Oakland Athletics’ and General Manager Billy Beane’s use of advanced statistics, to bring that conversation to the forefront.
The book divided baseball observers into two camps: The “old school” that relied heavily on feel, instincts and traditional measurables like batting average – they hated it – and those that embraced the fresh perspective and viewed the system as the natural evolution of statistical evaluation.
Despite its detractors, advanced metrics have begun to creep their way into other sports, like basketball. ESPN.com now lists PER, short for player efficiency rating, on its NBA player pages.
There’s no need to be afraid. Statistics aren’t here to overwhelm you, they’re here to help us understand the game better. Holding Florida to 50 points and holding Old Dominion to 50 points can be two completely different things because at least one of those teams is going to play deliberately, walk the ball up the floor and run 25-second sets.