Sunday, August 31, 2008

2008/29 - Fever 87, Dream 72

The Dream were even willing to try faith healing against the Fever. Picture provided by

On Saturday, the Dream played the second of two back to back games. The Dream lost for the second night in a row, this time 87-72. It is the Dream's seventh straight loss.

It was one of the rare times that I didn't get to see a game. I was at DragonCon with my visiting friends, and since they only get a chance to visit once a year, I didn't think it was right to prioritize a radio broadcast over seeing them. This leaves me with only three places to get information about what happened.

1) Message boards, in this case both the Atlanta Dream Message Board and Rebkell. In both cases, information was scant. Fever-Dream draws little interest, it seems.

2) The news. There was about as much interest in the news as there was in the message boards. From an article in the Indianapolis Star, I learned that Betty Lennox scored 21 of her 27 points in the second half and that at one point, the Dream closed to within eight points, 70-62, with 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was as close as the Dream could get.

3) The boxscore. We'll look at the traditional indicators.

Shooting percentage: The Dream won here, 52 percent to 48 percent. Usually, field goal percentage is the decisive key. But not here.
Offensive rebounding: The Fever whipped the Dream on the offensive boards. The Fever got 13 offensive rebounds, but the Dream was limited to only three. Furthermore, the Fever outrebounded the Dream 35-22. The number of the Fever's defensive rebounds was 22; the number of the Dream's total rebounds was 22.

Ebony Hoffman picked up 14 rebounds by herself. She had seven offensive rebounds. Ebony Hoffman and the Dream's inability to stop her was probably the major key to Indiana's victory.

Turnovers: Almost even. The Dream turned the ball over 20 times; the Fever turned it over 18 times.
Free throw attempts: The Dream sent the Fever to the free throw line 29 times compared to the Dream's 19 visits. Once again, the Dream have outfouled their opponents. Erika De Souza would foul out with 39 seconds left in the game.

(* * *)

Next, we'll look at shooting efficiency:

Lennox: Had a good shooting game. 27 points, 21 shots.
De Souza: 15 points, 16 shots. However, her two rebounds are atypically low.
Castro Marques: 11 points, 9 rebounds. Another good game.

The problem is that no other member of the Dream scored more than four points. Latta only scored four.

Catchings: 23 points with 18 shots. A good shooting game.
Douglas: 21 points, 21 shots.
Sutton-Brown: 21 points, 21 shots.
Hoffman: 9 points, 13 shots. Not very good, but her rebounding made up for her poor shooting.
Bevilaqua: 5 points, 6 rebounds.

Flow of the game: The Fever got out in front of the first quarter. The Dream once again found themselves behind the eight ball early on and never got out from behind it. The final three quarters were won by the Dream, 61-60. The first quarter did them in.

Minutes played: If you look at the Indiana starters minutes, each starter of the Fever played 30 minutes. The starters stayed in and they carried the Fever on their backs.

The only member of the Dream to play thirty minutes was Betty Lennox. As for "disappearing players" - players with over twenty minutes played and scoring under five points - the Fever had only one such player. The Dream had three.

So what did I conclude?

I'm concluding that the Dream are getting better at shooting. They're getting better at shooting most likely because they've become a lot more aggressive...or desperate. They work their way close to the basket and take shots at a higher percentage. It might explain Latta's dropoff in production over the last two games - the Dream is no longer shooting from long range. Latta becomes a worse shooter the closer she gets to the basket.

They are also more aggressive at defense. But too aggressive. Having no way to stop their opponents, they're overfouling and sending teams to the line time after time after time. Kasha Terry didn't play at all, but everyone made up in her absense.

A sign of their ineffective defense is that they've given up two games when they've let their opponents have hot shooting games. Once can be explained by luck; twice is harder to explain. The Fever shot 48 percent, a bit astonishing for a defense-minded team.

We've solved our offensive problems. Defensively, we're a joke. We still can't win games.

(* * *)

This leaves the Dream with five games left to play.

September 2: Seattle
September 5: at New York
September 8: Indiana
September 11: at Los Angeles
September 12: at Seattle

The Dream might win one of the games against Seattle - Betty Lennox probably hates Brian Agler with a passion and might drop 30 on the storm - but the best chance for a win in the remaining five games is the follow up game against Indiana. It is also the Dream's last home game and the Dream would want to make a statement.

Let's suppose that the Dream fail to win any of their last five games. It would put the Dream at 3-31 for the year. This would be a 0.088 winning percentage.

If the Dream fail to win one more game, they would be a real candidate for the all-time worst season for any professional franchise.

Worse than the 9-73 of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76-ers.
Worse than any of the ABA teams of the 1970s.
Worse than any team of the old Women's Pro Basketball League of the late 70s.
Worse than any team of the WNBA's old competitor, the American Basketball League.

Worse than any NHL team.
Worse than any baseball team, even the old 1899 Cleveland Spiders.
Worse than any of NASL franchise, or any MLS franchise.

Coaches get fired when they have seasons this bad. If Marynell Meadors can't win one of these last five games, I can't see her keeping her job.

Furthermore, I've heard rumors that Betty Lennox had not given her best effort in some of the games before the break - her demotivation and relationship with Meadors affected her play. Latta seems to be in Meadors's doghouse.

You remember the old joke about the CEO that was forced to leave his company. He told the incoming CEO that there were three envelopes in the desk, numbered #1, #2 and #3. "Use the information inside the envelopes in times of crisis. Don't open them until you're ready to do whatever the envelope says without even opening it."

The first year was horrible. The company bled money. The new CEO opened envelope #1. It said "Blame your predecessor."

(Marynell Meadors has no predecessor.)

So the new CEO blamed the old one for the company's bad shape. The explanation was accepted. Sales began to turn around.

The second year, there were serious defects in the company's merchandise. The new CEO was taking heat from the press. In desperation, he opened the #2 envelope.

"Reorganize," it said.

(Meadors has tried multiple lineups. She's shipped out all the Milos. She's traded for new players of all shapes and sizes, all ages and experiences.)

Things turned around. Then the company had three straight negative quarters. The stockholders were getting ready to hold a new meeting to discuss problems with the company. The new CEO would be the topic of discussion. Wanting to head things off at the pass, the CEO opened the #3 envelope.

He read the advice.

"Prepare three envelopes," was all the messsage said.

We need a win. And Meadors needs a win most of all, to dodge a bullet. But will this team play for her?

2008/28 - Sun 98, Dream 72

It was time for the Dream to come back to Philips Arena. God knows, I'd waited long enough. Hearing that I-85 would be blocked by road construction, I schemed to find an alternate route to the Arena. And of course, with every new shortcut, there are...glitches. Glitches that must have literally taken me ten miles out of my way, glitches that would have made me better off taking I-85 south as I had originally planned.

It was a bitter sweet homecoming. Of course, we'd play the best team in the East and of course, we'd get flattened. Here are my thoughts regarding the game:

1) I had been told that the Atlanta Dream would be wearing pink jerseys. The pink jerseys were to be in honor of breast cancer survival. The Dream players would wear pink T-shirts in warmups, but I never saw any pink jerseys - and if those jerseys were pink, I need to get my eyes examined. That pink looked suspiciously like "home team white".

2) The sellout crowd was serenaded by the Shades of Pink Breast Cancer Survivors Mass Choir who sang the National Anthem. Breast cancer survivors would be honored several times tonight.

3) We were also treated to "Olympic Gold Medalist" Mike Thibault (as he was announced). I mean, okay, I'm sure he worked for that gold medal, but I think that Anne Donovan and an all-star team of players had more to do with gold than Thibault did.

4) There would be no Nikki Teasley. We would later learn that Teasley is still five-ten pounds above her playing weight. As it turned out, she wouldn't play the next game, either. It might be a chimeric hope to see Nikki Teasley in a Dream uniform during the 2008 season.

5) TIPOFF. Once again, we had another lineup. Bales, Castro Marques, De Souza, Latta and Lennox. This lineup seemed to work pretty nicely -- at first, anyway. Izi and Erika connected for inside shots so smoothly that I actually hoped that we would win this one. We led! Six to two!

6) Then, reality sat in. Asjha Jones began to turn on the power and the Sun scored the next fifteen points. From 6-2 to 17-6. And once again, it would be Coach Meadors calling the first timeout.

7) Both sides looked like they wanted to make an impression in that first quarter. The basketball was pretty damn good.

However, there were a few glitches here and there. Latta was fouled early on, and she made such a big deal that Ivory will be playing Ophelia in a Broadway revival of "Hamlet". Sun token cute girl Erin Phillips turned and collided with Sandrine Gruda.

The following table is included.

8) At the end of one, we were down 26-21. We looked really good. And then...Kasha Terry was unleashed.

A low rumble was heard from miles away. This was Atlanta Dream Message Board poster "jaye" swearing up a storm. Kasha did what Kasha does best, namely pick up personal fouls with no benefit incurred. Forty-two seconds in, she had two personal fouls.

I swear, we have to get rid of Kasha Terry in the off-season.

9) Everyone gave it their all in the first quarter, and both sides got tired. The referees lept in. Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Thibault earned a gold-medal technical arguing over a Barbara Turner offensive foul.

10) With an inexplicable Full Media Time Out, a microphone was given to a breast cancer survivor. She tended to ramble on a bit, but hey, if you have breast cancer you have to right to say whatever the hell you want to in a microphone.

11) Why didn't Latta start the second quarter? I'd like to know the answer to that one.

12) Atlanta was a tuna can, and the Sun were an electric can opener. They opened us up pretty good. They extended the lead to a 52-31 lead and there was a real danger of a blowout. The problem was that no matter how well we were shooting, the Sun was shooting better. We were shooting 43 percent but the Sun were shooting almost sixty. This game could in no way, shape or form be called a "defensive struggle".

13) By halftime, Tamika Whitmore had 16 points. Lindsay Whalen didn't have any points but she had four assists. The Sun was shooting 59.5 percent. Problem: We had sent the Sun to the free throw line 11 times. Furtermore, the Sun had 15 assists at halftime to our four.

13a) Assists by Izi Castro Marques at halftime: four.
Assists by rest of Dream: zero.

14) R & B sensation Jarvis performed at halftime. He sang "Pretty Girl" at a decibel level so high it deafened Canadian geese at 40,000 feet.

15) The breast cancer survivors were announced individually during halftime. I thought that was a class act on account of the Dream.

16) NOW I figured out where the pink jersey went. WNBA President Donna Orender got it!

Interesting trivia. I didn't know that Donna Orender actually played pro basketball herself.

This is when Donna (Geils) Orender played for the New Jersey Gems of the Women's Pro Basketball League. She was one of twenty players to play all three seasons of the WPBL. She was a guard.

Bill Bolen, president of the Atlanta Dream, presented her with the jersey. I suspect that this plan was to sign Orender to a contract. Hey, the Shock signed Lady Magic, and how much worse off could we be with Donna O? We'd get every refs call you could think of. Unfortunately, Donna turned him down.

17) The person in the audience we should have signed was this guy.

Yeah. Dr. J. He was there. The crowd went nuts. (Can you imagine Alison Bales, Kit Feenstra, Erika De Souza, Tamera Young and Julius Erving on the court?)

18) The third quarter was the Asjha Jones show. It's pronounced "ASIA". I know it's pronounced Asia because the announcer pronounced her name shot after shot after shot. The Dream would score 16 points in the third quarter, whereas Asjha "ASIA" Jones would score 12 points against us all by herself.

19) Finally, with no one else to turn to, Coach Meadors put in Katie Feenstra. Feenstra kept the crowd from losing interest in the bottom of the third quarter all by herself. She looked pretty good out there. (She'd score 13 points in this game, second only to Betty Lennox in points tonight.)

20) Kristin Haynie was called for a foul, and Coach Meadors exchanged a few words with one of the refs. I thought she was going to rack up a technical, fer sure.

21) That didn't happen, but Meadors must have rubbed a raw nerve. As the fourth started off, Tamika Whitmore was called for a technical foul. She must have called the ref something pretty nasty, because I didn't even hear them exchange words. She must have called the ref the magic baseball word, the one that begins with "m", ends with "r", is twelve letters long and ends with an instant ejection.

22) Ivory Latta was named Favorite Dream Player during a promotion where those in attendance could text the name of their favorite players. Latta and a lucky fan won a Pink Blackberry Curve.

23) I assume WNBA fans lean to the left in general. One of the breast cancer survivors was wearing an Obama T-shirt. I've seen all kinds of Obama wear, but I haven't seen a sign of a McCain logo. Tell The Maverick to show up at a Dream game. It would probably get him a few votes; WNBA fans are very forgiving.

24) SCARY MOMENT: Lindsay Whalen went down to the floor in the fourth quarter and stayed there. As they dragged her back to the bench, a fan stood up behind the Connecticut bench. She was wearing a Whalen jersey and a colored Afro wig. After the game, I bumped into the woman and asked if anything was wrong. "I hope not," was her answer. (It turned out Whalen suffered an ankle sprain.)

25) Near the end of the game, with 1:16 left and the score 97-72 Sun, Kasha Terry was substituted for Jennifer Lacy.

With 1:08 left, Terry picked up her fourth foul. (I heard someone swearing off in the distance.)

(* * *)

Okay, what do we say? It seemed that no matter what we did, the Sun could do more of it and better. Let's look at the boxscore:

Shooting percentage: We broke 40 percent. Usually, we win or have a good shot at winning when we break forty percent. The problem was that the Sun was shooting 54 percent.
Offensive rebounds: Looking good. Both teams had nine rebounds. We solved our offensive rebounding problems, at least for this game.
Turnovers: Fifteen on both sides. Dead even.
Free throw trips: We sent the Sun to the free throw line 31 times. The Sun only sent us 10 times. That was one of the keys to the Sun victory.

Flow of game: The Sun were dominant during every quarter, except the last one. And the Dream only outscored the Sun by one point in the fourth.

Shooting efficiency:

Lennox: Not great. 19 points on 25 shots. This is where the box score can mislead you. Lennox actually had a sub-par game.
Feenstra: 13 points on 10 points. It was a great game for Kit, and she had six rebounds.
De Souza: 11 points on 9 shots. Six rebounds. Also a great game for Erika.
Lacy: 8 points, 7 shots. Good game for Jen.
Latta: 7 points on 10 attempts. Only made one of five 3-point attempts. Lousy game for Latta.

Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: The Sun reserves. Jamie Carey, Barbara Turner and Tamika Raymond combined for seven points in 51 minutes and 52 seconds.
Honorable Mention: Kasha Terry. Only 2:45 played, no shots taken, one rebound, and four personal fouls.

(* * *)

Our players generally had good games (well, Haynie only scored two points in 22 minutes, so there are exceptions.) Would the Indiana Fever the following night prove a different story? Find out...when I get around to writing it!

Prose and Cons

Just got back from a visit to DragonCon, Atlanta's science-fiction convention. Some old friends are visiting from Tennessee - they visit each year - and this is one of my rare chances to see them.

I have walked so much that I am sore all over. I was forced to forego listening to the Dream on the radio when they played the Fever. Then again, seeing as how that game ended, that was probably a good thing.

I attended the Friday night game in person. You'll get writeups and comments on both games tomorrow evening.

God, I am so tired. Did I tell you how physically sore I am? I could write an entire article about the convention itself. Maybe we need DreamCon, a convention devoted entirely to love of the Dream. (Did I tell you how sore I am? Or how much my feet hurt? Did I?)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Did Ivory Latta Bring Ludacris to the ATL?


[Ludacris], being a UNC alumni and Dream point guard Ivory Latta fan told sources “I have been a long time fan and supporter of Ivory Latta since she was at North Carolina,” continuing “She is a little sister and family to me. It is even greater that she plays for an Atlanta team. I want to be there to show my love and support for the Atlanta Dream, Ivory Latta, the city of Atlanta and my artist Jarvis.”

Well, Ivory, now that your Big Brother is here, you're going to have to show off for him while playing against the Sun. Maybe you can give us 30 points tonight.

Why the Dream Draw Such Huge Crowds

This article in the Washington Post talks about two teams that are in the top five in (announced) attendance despite the fact that both teams are doing quite poorly on the court.

The first team is the Washington Mystics. (Hey, it's a Washington post article.) The second is the Atlanta Dream.

Which is really amazing, considering a) that we're so poor on the court, and b) the fact that Atlanta hasn't historically supported winning teams, let alone losing teams. Atlanta is just a crappy sports town. So why do we love our Dream so much?

Here are some of my theories:

a) We're an urban team. Philips Arena is located in Downtown Atlanta. It's right off MARTA. This allows the audience to come right off the train and watch the game. Whereas if you want to watch the Atlanta Braves, it's a pain in the ass to take MARTA. You have to get off at Five Points and take some bus.

The fact that the Braves have something called the "Lexus Parking Lot" indicates exactly who they're catering to. It's not the fan who has $10 in his pocket who is looking for something to do. Hell, it costs $10 just to friggin park at a Braves game.

The crowd is mostly black and lesbian, it seems. It's a hip, happening crowd with a particular vibe. You have people dancing in the seats. It's not the sea of white faces you'd find at Turner Field.

b) The venue. I hate to admit it, but Philips Arena is pretty sweet. The staff there are friendly. The upper bowl of Philips is closed off by big black curtains, which give the illusion that the venue is only the smaller bowl. The lighting is warm and intimate. It's almost like you're watching the Dream in your living room.

c) The fans. Without going into the volunteer sales force, and how they've managed to drum up support for the Dream, let me write that the Dream fans are...well, they're frigging maniacs. Atlanta had very high, if not the highest ratings for WNBA games when we didn't have a team. The fans are very dedicated. A friend of mine has offered me some season tickets on nights when she can't use hers. I suspect that the season ticket holders in Atlanta do not show up as empty seats. If you don't show up, a friend takes your tickets.

This gives the impression to casual Dream ticket holders that, "Hey, there are an awful lot of people here tonight. This is a happening place to be. I need to show up here more often."

d) Novelty. Hey, we're a new team. Novelty will fade away.

e) Rap. Every now and then, you'll see a rap star sitting in the crowd. Atlanta has a vibrant rap music scene. We have a rap singer performing the halftime show tonight. Ludacris will be in attendance during this game.

f) Community. Atlanta's management seems to not take the audience for granted. Ivory Latta was at a mall recently drumming up support. Ann Strother and Betty Lennox were at local Krogers. When you're smaller, you're hungrier. The players in Atlanta aren't so "big" that they would disdain promotional projects such as these.

g) The Dirty South. We're the only southern WNBA team, so for long road trips, people from the surrounding states will come to Atlanta to see the Dream. You'd think this would make for a small crowd, but remember that we have powerhouse Tennessee one state away...and those Vol fans have to do something for their fix when the Volunteers aren't playing.

Anyway, those are my theories. What are yours?

Think Pink

According to the Dream Diary, tonight is Dream Pink Night, for breast cancer awareness. The Dream will be wearing PINK JERSEYS tonight. These jerseys will be auctioned off on line, with proceeds going to an Atlanta charity.

We play the Sun, who played the Indiana Fever last night in Indianapolis. My hope was that the Fever would hold the Sun back and wear them out. No dice. The Sun whipped the Fever, sending the Fever to their biggest home loss in history. Indiana's supposed to know how to play good defense. The Sun shot 57 percent from the field against that defense.

My hope: that the pink is so brilliant that the new jerseys blind the Connecticut players, and we win by fifty points.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's On Wikipedia, So You Know It's True

Less than 12 hours until the first WNBA game post-break. And tomorrow, the first Dream game in over a couple of fortnights. I'm psyched, I'm psyched.

Until them, I've been fooling around with Wikipedia. You can check on my most recent work here:

Atlanta Dream -- This article isn't entirely my own work, but I substantially expanded on it.
Ron Terwilliger
Marynell Meadors

Hopefully, either Mr. Terwilliger or Coach Meadors won't go to those articles and say, "That rat bastard petrel! He got everything wrong!" Hey, I did the best I could do with what I had to work with.

(Now, to get to that Chioma Nnamaka article....)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ivory Latta: Picking Up One Fan at a Time

Ivory Latta at the Mall of Georgia (warning: giant pic.)

There's Ivory, full of energy and always smiling. (From this blog.)

Free Agent With Every Box of Cornflakes

Some recent free agent pickups:

a) The Connecticut Sun pick up Svetlana Abrosimova.
b) The Los Angeles Sparks pick up Margo Dydek.

Abrosimova can only add to the Sun. As for Dydek, I'm glad to know that the Dream don't have the monopoly on tall, clumsy centers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Air Taurasi

A great article from Slam Online. To paraphrase the rap song, "Damn, it's hard to be a women's b-baller."

Also, if you've never seen them before, the Diana Taurasi shoes. "Air Taurasi?"

The Rest of the Year in One Sentence

What are the goals of each of the teams coming out of the break? We can make this easy.

1. Atlanta Dream - "Survive." For the Dream, the only goals left are personal goals. Betty Lennox and Ivory Latta will have the goal of avoiding injury. For other players, like Ann Strother or Kasha Terry, the goal will be to do enough to convince Marynell Meadors to keep them on for 2009. For players after their second year in the WBNA, salaries go from the $30,000 range to the $50,000 range - and if players haven't excelled in two years, they might be gone for good.

2. Chicago Sky - "Let Loose Big Syl.". Sylvia Fowles was supposed to be the anchor that would turn the Sky around, but Fowles went down with an injury. We've seen Fowles's great play in the Olympics, and it's time for Fowles to put an exclamation point at the end of the season. Chicago has to turn those turnstiles.

3. Washington Mystics - "Show You Care." The Washington Mystics fanbase is up in arms after another lousy Mystics season. Playoffs or no playoffs, the Mystics organization has to show that winning is an attitude and is not to be perpetually postponed. Coach Jessie Kenlaw has to motivate the team, and Tasha Humphrey has to shine with her new team - the second will have a lot to do with the first.

4. Phoenix Mercury - "Get The Lead Out." Who would have thought that the Phoenix Mercury would be in last place? Coming in late to training camp due to overseas play and a new coach has changed things more than one would have expected. Diana Taurasi was praised for her sparkplug attitude at the Olympics; the Mercury had better spark or they won't make the playoffs.

5. Indiana Fever - "Hang On to the Ball". The Fever play great defense. Offensively...not so much. Turnovers have been a big problem for the Fever, and the Fever have got to iron out a multitude of offensive problems if they're going to contend. Tully Bevilaqua will have no time to rest as the Fever might get the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference entirely by default. Closing games is a problem for this team.

6. Minnesota Lynx - "Finish Over .500". The Lynx have at times clutched at adequacy - 18 wins was enough to get into the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, but it might not be enough to sneak into a playoff spot in a tough Western Conference. However, every time the Lynx have finished over .500, they've been to the playoffs (losing in the first round each time). If the Lynx could go 6-2, they'd become the best Lynx team ever - a major accomplishment for such a young team.

7. Houston Comets - "Grab Their Attention". With the Comets up for sale, the future of the team in Houston is in jeopardy. The Comets find themselves in contention for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference. If they can sneak in - and better yet, if Los Angeles doesn't make it in - WNBA watchers and casual lookers will be forced to pay attention to the Comets, and maybe, just maybe, one of those watchers will be the Comets' future HOUSTON owner.

8. Los Angeles Sparks - "Get The Backcourt Working." Despite having Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker, the Sparks need five players to contend. The Sparks have been desperately looking for guard help, and the window of opportunity has already closed. Los Angeles's backcourt needs to put the pieces together fast, for if they don't, it will be a disappointing end to a season that started with such promise.

9. Sacramento Monarchs - "Win on the Road". Three games left at home. Four on the road. However, the Monarchs are awful on the road, with a 5-8 record. (The only worse contender in the West on the road is Seattle.) The Monarchs have nothing but Western Conference teams left, and have to play Houston - which is fighting for survival of a different sort - twice.

10. Detroit Shock - "Kick in the Door". That's how Detroit always does it - kick in the door. With Cheryl Ford injured, Trader Bill Laimbeer picked up Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who made an escape from Washington. Taj will have to do the heavy share of the door-kicking for Detroit, to make the final push for the playoffs.

11. New York Liberty - "Go Ninja-Style". The Libs might be the most overlooked of teams, and I'm sure Coach Pat Coyle can deal with that. They've been glaringly inconsistent at times, but have magically managed to escape the radar of most of the East, and their upcoming home schedule is a "Dream" with one game against Atlanta and two against Chicago. New York might have the last laugh in 2008 after all.

12. Connecticut Sun - "Let Youth Rule". It's likely Mike Thibault never thought he'd be able to bring the Sun this far. The problem is, can they stay there? They might have the toughest post-break schedule of all teams, with two games against San Antonio and one against the Storm. It's good to have Asjha Jones's contract locked up, but youth has to put it all together for the Sun to make a drive to the title.

13. Seattle Storm - "Keep it Together". The collection of great - but old - players in Seattle is facing disaster. Lauren Jackson is out for the season. Swin Cash needs back surgery. At the most critical part of the year in the toughest conference, the Storm find themselves shorthanded in the worst way. Brian Agler has to find some bailing wire with two games against the Dream coming up, and Betty Lennox wanting to prove a point to Agler about why the Storm never kept her.

14. San Antonio Silver Stars - "Relax". The Official Becky Hammon Olympic Sideshow is over. Now with the media going elsewhere, San Antonio has the best chance to free itself from distractions and prepare for the playoffs. The Silver Stars have four road games coming up, and some road wins would be nice - the Silver Stars are only 6-7 on the road.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Frozen Tundra of the WNBA

Recently posted on RebKell. From Slam Sports in Canada:

"The prospects are better than 50%,'' Freedman said. "The WNBA is quite positive, and so am I, that a team in Toronto will do well.

"There's a large affluent female population and the promotional and marketing opportunities are there."

Freedman, who years ago arranged for the Detroit Pistons to play pre-season games in Toronto and Hamilton, says a prominent Toronto family is looking to add some partners.

Freedman is hopeful the franchise will begin play in May 2009.

I've heard that Toronto was interested in the WNBA, but this is the first time I have a nice link. Granted, this link was from March 2008 but we don't know what's happening.

Of course, a team in Toronto will be a little tricky. Will players be paid in US or Canadian currency? (This was a sticking point in Toronto and Montreal for Major League Baseball.) Will players put their feet down and say, "I refuse to go to Toronto>" (Doubtful. Most WNBA players are foreign travellers and are reconciled to new cities.)

And finally, how does this figure with what's going on in Houston? The Toronto Comets. Myself, I think Toronto would be a great place for a WNBA team. But that's just intuition; I have no facts to back it up.

Dead Ball Foul

Atlanta's team sport before the Dream came along.

From now until Labor Day, my schedule reaches a serious crunch.

* Work is going to be very tough over the next week.

* This weekend I go to see my godson and other friends in North Carolina. I doubt I'll have the on-line hook-up.

* The weekend after this weekend is an event called DragonCon. It's a science-fiction and fantasy convention in Atlanta. I suppose with a job and marriage and perpetual moving across the country my geek roots withered up somewhere along the way, but some old friends come down at the house to stay for a four day weekend. (Well, actually, they don't stay. They sort of sleep here, but spend all their time at the convention.)

If any Dream fans in Atlanta are reading this, I suggest you at least watch the Parade on Saturday. That's a public event, and you'll see some...well, you'll see some pretty crazy shit, I can assure you. If science-fiction fans are people who "live in their mother's basement", well this is what you get when you expose them to daylight.

I'm going to spend as much time with my old friends as a I can. But miss the Dream game on Friday? NEVER! My friends know I have priorities....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All In Good Humor...I Think

The Women's Hoops Blog points to a link from USA Today about the joshing that comes when players from opposing teams come together on the National Team. Naturally, some one-upsmanship is expected....

"Let's talk championships," [Tina Thompson] demands.

"USC doesn't equate to anything," Taurasi scoffs. "What, Elite Eight?"

"Let's talk championships at the next level," Thompson says, leaning in for full effect. (She has four WNBA rings with the Houston Comets from 1997 to 2000.)

"We got rings," chimes in Sue Bird, the other UConn grad.

(Bird won hers with the Seattle Storm in 2004, Taurasi hers with the Phoenix Mercury last year.)

"Not four you don't," Thompson counters.

"Doesn't count when there's only four teams in the league," Taurasi razzes. "Hah! Whooh!"

Life is Good

Becky Hammon and the Russians are playing the WNBA live right now.

The WNBA season starts up a week from now.

The Atlanta Dream take the court eight days from now at home against Connecticut, which will have already played a game in Indiana the night before.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do Attendance Figures Mean Anything?

I'm sure a lot of detractors both on Rebkell (and detractors of the WNBA in general) might think that the title should be "Do WNBA attendance figures mean anything?"

Those people would be wrong.

On the Rebkell message boards, a thread is kept detailing WNBA attendance on a week-per-week basis. Generally, these figures look pretty good. Attendance appears to be up from the year before, based on numbers.

Then, someone chimes in. "Those attendance figures are just wrong! If we had 8,000 in our last game, I sure didn't see them! The WNBA is in severe financial trouble!" Prophesies of imminent doom follow.

In an earlier thread, I had asked whether or not WNBA teams should move to the financial model of community-owned teams, like that of the Green Bay Packers. Experts on the issue informed me that that could never happen in modern sports, because if a WNBA team was community-owned, it would be acting as a corporation and be forced to open its financial books to the community public No other WNBA team would want that to happen. This is why you don't see community-based ownership in Major League Baseball, the NBA, or the NFL. (The exception is Green Bay, which is grandfathered in and is the only exception.) It's actually forbidden in the league constitution.

The point is that if a team doesn't have to open its books to the public, it can claim whatever attendance it wants to. If my hypothesis was true - if WNBA teams were truly cooking the books - I wanted to see if this was just limited to the WNBA, or if other leagues did the same. I remember going to Florida Marlins games a few years ago and hearing attendance figures announced that were -- dubious, to say the least.

I found a few articles detailing the problem, but sadly, they are in cached form. The linked article is from the Los Angeles Times.

It appears that every single league is known to "cook the books" when it comes to attendance. I've even read threads of Major League Soccer teams cooking the books.

What do I mean by "cooking the books"? I mean that teams count season tickets, number of tickets distruted, complementary tickets, and all sorts of categories where a ticket might be sold, but not used. Sometimes luxury suites which sit empty are counted into the measure.

At one time, the National League actually measured attendance by turnstile, but once they gave up their independent league office and both leagues shared the same office, they went by attendance by ticket distributed -- because that's what the American League was doing and because revenue sharing would be contingent on this number.

The example the article gave had at worst 40 percent of attendance to one baseball game be the kind of attendance disguised as empty seats. In my personal opinion, this makes baseball attendance pretty figures pretty much wishful thinking. I remember a virtually empty Marlins-Nationals game last year that had over 10,000 in announced attendance. (I also remember a joke about a horrid Cleveland Indians team in the 1980s - "if the fans in attendance ran out onto the field," said one player, "I give us a good chance of defending ourselves.")

So what is the true attendance at WNBA games? Who knows what it is? I go to Atlanta Dream games and the attendance seems pretty good. I watch Washington Mystics games on TV and see masses of empty seats and figure, "Washington's attendance figures can't be right." Your guess is as good as mine.

Until fans do something like the National Park Service used to do in estimating attendance for Million Man Marches and such - until we actually sit down and count heads - WNBA attendance figures will remain a mystery.

However, they won't be the only league with attendance figures based more on imagination than attendance. So when someone talks about the fact that (insert league name) here is better than the WNBA, and uses attendance figures as a crutch, you can kick the crutches out from beneath him.

Get to Know Your Dream

The Official Blog of the Atlanta Dream, Dream Diary, has updated with a ton of stuff.

First, the blog points to a multimedia page. There are five complete Dream games on tap that can be viewed from beginning to end. And for many of the other games, there are game highlight clips. No excuse in missing your favorite Dream moments.

Second, we now have a "Get to Know" page, which is packed full of player profiles (for detailed background) and "get to know" features (for fun stuff). Pages exist on all of the Dream players excepting Alison Bales (for some unknown reason).

In order to get you to drop by, I'm forced to whet your whistle. Here's a list of ten questions that can only be answered by going to the page.

1. One of the Dream players recently purchased her "dream car" - a Mercedes CL 500. Name the player.
2. Which player wants to work in law enforcement after her career is over?
3. Whose favorite movie is "The ATL"?
4. Whose favorite TV show is "Lost"?
5. Whose favorite TV show is "Martin"?
6. Whose favorite book is "The Da Vinci Code"?
7. Two players mention family members who wore #44. Who are those two players?
8. Who has been "tearing up some Waffle House" since she got to Atlanta?
9. Whose favorite player growing up was her father?
10. Whose favorite player growing up was Joe Dumars?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"An Open Letter to Houston"

Whenever there's a great comedy bit - in this case, one written by Scott Gilmour of Sports Column - I can't help but steal it. I've taken Gilmour's idea, in some cases recopying entire sections of it. Just wanted to know that what comes below isn't exactly my creation. (If you hate it, I suggest you blame Scott!)

(* * *)

Dear Houston,

First off, we would like to officially welcome you to our hell. Our cities are charter members of that small fraternity of places that know what it's like to lose their team. Actually, let us rephrase that: that know what it's like to have our teams either folded underneath us or carpetbagged away. We feel that we should have a talk with you, you know, one of those "just girls" talks.

Face it, we've all been through horrible breakups before. One party wants to make things work, and the other desperately seeks greener pastures. Some of us have had the grief of having the departing party leap into another, more successful relationship. We hope that we can find a hook-up somewhere, but it looks like all of the available men (or women) hook up with more glamorous partners wearing the most expensive clothes and perfume. You think that you'll never shower enough to clean the "dumped" off. Having lived through these disasters, we will share our relationships with you Comets fans.

Suppose you have a partnership with someone. We'll assume it's a guy, but hey, this is the WNBA and we know all about "don't ask, don't tell". Suppose your partner hooks up with someone new.

In Scenario One, the new person is 23 years old, has a hot body, is a part-time lead singer in a rock band and successful puppy doctor who speaks five languages and is a cordon bleu chef. You'll still be upset, but you can understand why your partner left. He or she is probably better off.

In Scenario Two, your partner tells you that they are leaving. Because they've turned gay (or straight). Or is joining a monestary. Or the French Foreign Legion. Or wants to be chemically neutered. Or doesn't even bother telling you they're leaving at all and are just...gone the next day without so much as a "wham-bam-thank-you-Ma'am".

As survivors of the second scenario (don't even get Charlotte started) ,you see, no matter how many time you tell yourself "it's not your fault", you get the overwhelming impression that it was something you did to hasten the decision. Because you didn't love them enough.

What's worse is when everyone is telling you - your parents, your friends, other human beings, Norman Chad - that you made a bad decision and you put your love in the wrong place. That everyone around you knew that your lover was a jerk who could never make a living, that everyone had bet that your love would only last a few years, and that love is just a stupid idea for idealistic losers anyway. (And by the way, your naysayers are married to some jerk who has nothing but contempt for them.)

You've gone through the Five Stages of Break-Up exactly the same we have. First, there's denial. Then, there's anger. Then, there's bargaining. And then, there's depression. WHOA IS THERE DEPRESSION. However bad these four stages may be, for ninety percent of us there will be the final stage: acceptance. When you realize that there was probably nothing you could do who could make him stay. (The other ten percent of us still stick pins in our voodoo dolls.)

Our advice: a lot of mimosas. Seriously. Until you can get to that place called acceptance, there's a hell of a big hump to get over.

There are some things that are out of the question. One of them is stalking. Trust me, when you see him (or her) wearing those new clothes and kissing someone else, your blood will boil. Maybe the league will decide to throw a party in your old city - bring an All-Star Game or some other fundraiser. Do not go there. All of the memories of the good times will just come flooding back. If you make a break, it should be a clean break. At least, a clean break until ten years from now when you get a new WNBA team and your two-timing ex comes to town. In which case, anyone wearing a Comets jersey in your arena will be burned at the stake.

Be prepared for the rumor mongers. If any two-bit WNBA franchise even hints at leaving their arena, Houston will inevitably be mentioned as a possible landing zone. This is the sports equivalent of running into your ex at the bar - it rarely goes anywhere and refreshes old wounds.

I also want to warn you about jumping into another relationship. Atlanta and Chicago might look teh sex-ay, but you don't have the history and you'd be limited to awkward small talk. Take stock of what your ex did to you - he bailed out of the relationship; you woke up one morning and found an empty spot on the bed, his stuff gone and a mailbox full of unpaid bills. Relationships on the rebound are always bad ideas.

It's going to take a long time to learn how to care again. There will be brief Tourettes-like outbursts of inexplicable anger that will confuse many others. But there are other fish in the sea. There's that New Yorker who seems so confident. There's someone in Los Angeles who looks like they have a car and a job. Even that bitch from San Antonio is starting to look really attractive.

After a while, you'll fall in love again. We understand. As for the Comets...well, if it wasn't meant to be it wasn't meant to be and you're probably better off without them. I hear that drinking makes the pain go away faster.

We hope you can get it back together and that your relationship works out. But if it doesn't, give us a call.


Salt Lake City

Tres Sportiv


Approximately 83 percent of teenage girls play sports, with basketball as the top choice, according to a survey sponsored by Seventeen magazine and the WNBA.

Very cool. Now if these young women begin supporting the W with their earning power....

Recruiting vs. NCAA Tournament Success - The McDonald's All Americans

Time to answer the question: what do Ivory Latta, Kasha Terry, Alison Bales, Camille Little and Ann Strother all have in common?

Answer: all of them were McDonald's All-Americans.

Ann Strother: 2002
Ivory Latta: 2003
Camille Little: 2003
Alison Bales: 2003
Kasha Terry: 2003

Some background about the McDonald's All-American team. Since 1977, McDonald's - the guys who make the Big Mac - have been naming high school All-Star teams. Being like everyone else in organized basketball, they didn't even notice the girls until 2002, when the first girl's McDonald's All-American team was named.

Sports America makes a list of 1200 girls, which is pared down to 150 players. The 150 players are then reviewed by a selection committee that shrinks the roster down to its final size. An "East" and "West" team are chosen, but more for balance than for geographical correctness.

These McDonald's All-Americans are considered to be the cream of the crop that the country has to offer, and as far as I know, all are seniors. These kids are heavily recruited by college programs, and most of the kids already know where they're going by the time the next college season rolls around.

If you look at some of these lists, they look like a WNBA roster. The 2004 McD All-Americans were pretty impressive. This list had Candace Parker, Crystal Langhorne, Nikki Anosike, Sylvia Fowles, Essence Carson, Alexis Hornbuckle, Tasha Humphrey, Candace Wiggins, and a couple of others that are on rosters today.

Of course, this doesn't mean that every McDonald's All-American will be a WNBA All-Star. Look at the Atlanta Dream, which has five McDonald's All-Americans on the roster, but only one of WNBA All-Star quality.

Once I learned about the McDonald's All-Americans, I asked myself, "how much does having a McDonald's All-American on one's college roster have to do with tournament success?" If I were, say, Coach Joe Blow from Wassamatta U., and I could recruit two McDonald's All-Americans , what would be my chances of success in the NCAA Tournament if I could get that far?

I first drew up lists of all of the All-Americans from 2002 to the present 2008 class. I looked up their college records. Some McD All-Americans, like Lindsay Richards (2002), got two years before injuries ended their career (Richards played at Iowa in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.) Others, like Brooke Smith (2002) would transfer after one year. Richards played for Duke from 2002-03, then transferred to Stanford. NCAA rules require that students transferring sit out one year. (Smith concluded her career at Stanford in 2007.)

Other students were medical redshirts, due to blown out knees and the like. Others couldn't cut the mustard academically (Erica Brown in 2005) or questioned their commitment to basketball (Elena Delle Donne in 2008).

The first All-Americans that made it through four years were the 2002 class, and it wasn't until 2006 that a college team could have a McDonald's All-American on their roster for four years. This gave me three NCAA tournaments to review - the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tournaments.

I accounted for three cases:

a) teams that went to the tournament and had an All-American on the roster,
b) teams that went to the tournament and did not have an All-American on the roster - these teams were the majority of teams, from the mid-majors and automatic byes, and
c) teams that had an All-American on the roster, but did not go to the tournament. Texas Tech had Erin Grant (2002), Brooke Baughman (2003) and Darrice Griffin (2004) but still couldn't make the tournament in 2006.

I wanted to look at games played in the NCAA tournament as opposed to games won. Looking at games played made more sense to me, as games played seemed to apply to all Division I teams, whereas games won restricted the group (in my mind) only to teams that made the tournament. A team that lost in the first round has one game played, a team that didn't make the tournament has zero games played.

We then restrict to teams that have McDonald's All-Americans.

The next step is to perform what is called a linear regression. Linear regression answers the question: "if the relationship between All-Americans and games played is linear - if having x All-Americans means you get to play y games in the NCAA Tournament - then what is the relationship?"

In real life, the relationship is not strictly linear, but we can statistically draw a "best fitting line" that best approximates the data.

Here are the "best fitting lines" for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tournaments.

Let "x" = # of McDonald's All-Americans on your team.
Let "y" = # of expected games played in the NCAA Tournament that year by your team.

2006: y = 0.630x - 0.237
2007: y = 0.705x - 0.004
2008: y = 1.116x - 0.910

Note that for each of the years, the slope of the line - the number next to x - increases year per year. For each successive year in the analysis, having a McDonald's All-American has more impact.

Why is this? My hypothesis is that the selection committee has gotten better over time. Remember that the 2006 tournament represents the very earliest McDonald's All-Americans whereas the 2008 tournament reflects a McDonald's All-American committee with more experience in picking players. 2008 represented the strongest correlation between roster and tournament success.

Here is the best fitting line representing three years of data:

all years: y = 0.798x - 0.337

If your team has zero All-Americans on it, you will play an "estimated" -0.337 games in the tournament. If you have two All-Americans, you will play an estimated 0.798 * 2 - 0.337 = 1.259 games. Two All-Americans on the roster might get you past the first round.

If this relationship is correct, or even close to correct, it explains why these girls are so highly recruited.
Note that

in 2006, you needed three McDonald's All-Americans to make the NCAA finals (Maryland)
in 2007, you needed five McDonald's All-Americans (Tennessee, Rutgers)
in 2008, you needed six McDonald's All-Americans (Tennessee, Stanford)

In all three years of the NCAA Tournament for which McDonald's All-Americans play a fact, only one team in each of those three years that made it to the Elite Eight had no All-Americans on it.

2006: Utah
2007: Mississippi
2008: Texas A&M

Neither Utah, Mississippi, or Texas A&M was able to make it to the final four. Three years isn't much of a sample, but recruiting success appears to be highly correlated with tournament success.

So which teams have the most McDonald's All-Americans on them now? Which teams are the ones to look out for in 2009?

As you can see, Tennessee and Pat Summitt have an amazing nine McD All-Americans on the roster:

Fuller, Cane, Baugh, Bjorklund, Gray, Johnson, Manning, Stricklen, Brewer

Up next is Rutgers with eight All-Americans:

Vaughn, Prince, Rushdan, Lee, Sykes, Dixon, Pope, Speed.

As a matter of fact, one could probably pass off the list above as a pre-season Top 25 list and the casual observer wouldn't give it a second glance. Except, of course, for the observers who live in Connecticut.

POSTSCRIPT: The third column of the graphic should indicate Tournament Games, not wins. Since I'm at work, I'll fix it when I get home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thou Art Not Forgotten

I regret to report that it is currently a dead zone out there, newswise. Unless you're following the saga of Elene Delle Donne. We know Nikki Teasley has signed with the Dream but we have no idea how's she getting along with everyone. We know Josh Bagriansky has an interview set up with Coach Meadors but we don't have an article just yet.

My next article will be another math post - all we got right now. What's it about? Hint: what do Ivory Latta, Kasha Terry, Alison Bales, Camille Little and Ann Strother have in common?

WNBA Salaries

ducky24 posted the following information on the Atlanta Dream Message Board. For the purposes of references, I'm reposting it here on the blog.

WNBA Salary Scale

Years of Service 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
0- 2 $34,500 $35,190 $35,880 $36,570 $37,260 $37,950
3+ $50,000 $51,000 $52,000 $53,000 $54,000 $55,000

* See Rookie Salary Scale below.


(a) For Player Contracts entered into between a Qualifying Veteran Free
Agent with six (6) or more Years of Service and her Prior Team (including, but not limited to,
Contracts entered into with a Qualifying Veteran Free Agent with six (6) or more Years of
Service who has been designated as a Core Player) and Extensions of Rookie Scale Contracts
with Draft Rookies shall be:
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
$97,500 $99,500 $101,500 $103,500 $105,500 $107,500

(b) For all other Player Contracts, the Maximum Player Salary shall be:
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
$95,000 $97,000 $99,000 $101,000 $103,000 $105,000

For rookie salary scale, see WNBA Collective Bargaining Agreement pages 255-260.

Team Salary Cap

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
$772,000 $803,000 $827,000 $852,000 $878,000 $913,000

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
$750,000 $772,000 $796,000 $819,000 $844,000 $869,000

WNBA Champion - $10,500 per player
Championship Runner-up - $5,250 per player
Eliminated in semifinals - $2,625 per player
Eliminated in quarterfinals - $1,050 per player

Most Valuable Player Award - $15,000
All-WNBA First Team Award - $10,000 per player
All-WNBA Second Team Award - $5,000 per player
Defensive Player Award - $5,000
Sportsmanship Award - $5,000
Rookie of the Year Award - $5,000
Most Improved Player Award - $5,000
All Star Game Participant - $2,500

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Senior Prospects Metric: An Update

(Note: the following post might be stat-heavy and dwell obsessively on number crunching. If you have no interest in such things, you might just want to skip past this one.)

Q of Rethinking Basketball asked me in a comment about a post I had written which used the first version of the Senior Prospects Metric (SPM) to go back in time to the 2008 WNBA Draft and attempt to predict that draft. Here are the results:

So how did the SPM match up with how the players performed? And how well did the actual draft match up? The actual draft matched up very well, just creeping into the -0.5 area of large correlation. Whereas the SPM did not even reach -0.3, the generally hypothesized level of medium correlation.

Q suggested that instead of using Wins Score, I should use a metric that was more of a rate than a sum. Wins Score isn't high for players that don't get a lot of minutes, whereas a rate would measure "production per minute" and would not penalize players that had potential but didn't get a lot of minutes.

Therefore, instead of using Wins Score, I would use a metric I was already using for something else, called WS333 - "Wins Score for 33 1/3 minutes". WS333 asked the question, "how much Wins Score does the player produce per 33 1/3 minutes of play?". It would shrink the scores of players who had a lot of minutes, and expand the scores of players who didn't.

The results were...well....

AAAGGGHHH! When using a per/minute based metric, the SPM did worse - it got closer to randomness. Whereas the actual draft order got closer to a direct relationship.

I realized that I was going to have to add the height caveats that Hollinger wrote about in his inital ESPN article if I was to get any closer to an actual draft projection. I therefore added the height qualifications to the SPM and tried the entire result all over again.

Here are the final results. The "New Predicted Order" is the order you'd get if you use the updated version of the SPM to predict the draft outcome.

Kimberly Beck falls from 3rd to 10th. The new SPM punishes her for being a short point guard who didn't rebound well in college. Quianna Chaney also takes a hit for rebounding. Poor players get pushed down and the better players move up to take their places. Candace Wiggins moves to 8th from 10th, and Alexis Hornbuck moves all the way from 15th to 9th.

We'll look at the new correlations now.

The newest version of the SPM still does poorly against WS333 - but it does better than the older version. However, when using Wins Score, the correlation between SPM and actual player results actually moves from small correlation to medium correlation.

Even more interesting (to me anyway) is that the new SPM predicted order moves closer in correlation to the order from the 2008 WNBA Draft. It's still a small correlation, but it moves more in the direction of what the GMS of the WNBA actually do.

(* * *)

When thinking about this project, there were two matters on my mind.

The first matter is whether or not correlation is the correct statistical measure to use. As it turns out, correlation can be very misleading whenever non-normal variables are used.

A "normal variable" is a bell-curve type distribution. This implies a lot of numbers clumped up in the middle and trailing on both ends. If WNBA talent were normally distributed, it would indicate that most WNBA players have roughly the same amount of talent, with a few players being rather crappy and another few players being excellent.

This assumption is not true in baseball. In baseball, it's more of an exponential curve, with a whole lot of really crappy players and a small number of good players. (Go to this link for the image of an exponential curve.) I suspect that talent curves are the same way in the WNBA and this adds problems when using correlation.

The other matter on my mind is that we might not be explaining the relationship in the right terms - it might not be that draft position predicts player performance, but that player performance might be dependent on draft position! It might be the case that higher draft choices get more coaching attention to improving the fine points of their game than lower, non-playing draft choices. In short, there might not be some sort of "inherent ability" that never changes, but rather the ability is more likely to be coaxed out at the professional level by coaches and staff members the lower one is picked in the draft.

After all, if you're a first round draft pick, there's more pressure on GMs and coaches to get a better result. More attention is lavished on one's major investment than one's minor ones.

That's pretty much it for the conclusions. I hope to have an updated SPM at the end of the 2008-09 college season, so we'll see which players did better than the most recently concluded year, and which did worse. If your favorite college player does worse in the coming year, don't worry - Hollinger says that this happens in men's college basketall, and it will probably happen in the women's game as well.

New Link

Gotta add Sue F's new blog to the blogroll. The name of the blog is simply, "They're Playing Basketball". My suggestion is that you take some time, click the link, and go over there and read it.

Also, a shoutout to the Women's Hoops Blog, not just for providing the link, but to linking one of my articles on their blog. You wouldn't believe how many hits I got!

Small Market Blues

A Kansas City sports blog laments the fact that not only can the owners of the Sprint Center in Kansas City not "land" an NBA or NHL team, it can't land a WNBA team either. The arena's owners have been chatting up a Kansas City franchise for years now, including the years 2006 (when Charlotte disbanded and the players were dispersed) and 2008, when the Dream got its team.

The lone commenter writes "no tennant (sic) in the sprint center is better than a wnba team". It looks like the lone commenter is going to get his wish.

Here's what I don't get about the small market blues. When Baltimore's mayor talked up the possibility of a WNBA franchises, there were many more comments than the ones on the blog I linked to in the first paragraph. A third of the comments were the crowd, who feared that some lesbian somewhere in Baltimore might be made happy by the arrival of a WNBA team. Another third focused on the perceived corruption of Baltimore's mayor.

The final third considered the arrival of a WNBA franchise as an insult. "Baltimore is a big league city," was the cry. They feared that the acceptance of a WNBA franchise would doom them to second-class status.

Here's one thing about dumbjocks and dumbjocksniffers - despite the fact that many of them are in sales, marketing, and the traditional "macho boy" kinds of business professions, when it comes to spots fandom they toss their business acumen right out the window. They forget about the necessity of networking.

First, take a look at all of the WNBA cities. They are all big league cities. In the entire history of the WNBA, there has been only one city that didn't have a corresponding NBA franchise - Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Mohegan Sun casino. (The other is Seattle, but it did have an NBA franchise at the beginning of 2008.)

Second, many of these cities still have NBA ownership or staff operations.

Third, just about every WNBA game is attended by someone who knows something in the NBA. Either actual NBA players are watching (whenever I attend Dream games, the Dream make sure to highlight them on the jumbotron), or arena owners, or local businessment with money and sports connections, or whatever.

You would think that people would come to the obvious conclusion - if you want an NBA franchise, the best way to draw the NBA's attention is to start a WNBA team. Claims of the dumbjocksniffers set aside, the WNBA is assisted financially by the NBA because David Stern sees it in the NBA's best interest to have the WNBA around. And what does it cost the NBA to prop up the W? About as much as it costs for a low-scoring point guard on the New York Knicks. It's a low-cost subsidy that yields high results. (My fear is that the next WNBA commissioner will not be as smart as Stern is.) Those little kids that go to WNBA games might grow up to be WNBA fans -- and NBA fans as well.

When you start a WNBA francise, you make friends with WNBA President Donna Orender. Donna is in David Stern's back pocket. If you know Donna, you know David Stern by extension. And the rule in business is that it's easier to do business with people with whom you have some sort of "in", some sort of social connection.

What you don't do is belly up to the bar and claim, "We're a big league city and we deserve consideration". One thing about big league cities - they don't brag about how big league they are. It's little league cities that have some point to make.

So if you're living in Baltimore, or Kansas City, or Tulsa, why don't you use your brains? Get that WNBA team. A few seasons of good attendance, and when those NBA owners want to bail out on their teams - and you know that's going to happen sooner or later - guess where David Stern and the ownership will be looking first?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Atlanta Dream Sign Nikki Teasley

I'm excerpting this right from RebKell:

-- Atlanta Signs Former University of North Carolina Star --

Atlanta, August 15, 2008— The Atlanta Dream announced today the signing of free agent point guard Nikki Teasley for the remainder of the season. Teasley spent the last two seasons with the Washington Mystics before parting ways with the team in March. She gave birth to her daughter in June and has missed all of the 2008 season to date.

“To have a 6-foot point guard is definitely an advantage,” said Dream Head Coach Marynell Meadors. “Nikki is a tremendous talent and excels at seeing the floor. She will be a huge plus for us and provides us with size at the point guard position.”

In her six year WNBA career, Teasley is averaging 8.7 points 3.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. She started 33 games for the Mystics last season, averaging 5.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Teasley was originally selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft and spent her first four seasons in the league with the Los Angeles Sparks, where she hit the game winning shot in the 2002 WNBA Championship. Teasley was also named the MVP of the 2003 WNBA All-Star game.

During her collegiate career at the University of North Carolina, Teasley averaged an Atlantic Coast Conference record 5.8 assists per game. She finished her career as the Tar Heels all-time leader in assists (728) and three-pointers (236). She was the first player in conference history to lead the ACC in assists all four years and was only the second player to record 1,500 points and 600 assists in her career.

This will be very interesting. Wonder why she didn't decide to return to the Mystics.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dream to Get Back to Work

We have a new post from Josh Bagriansky of Score Atlanta. It's about the Atlanta Dream players finally returning to practice.


“I would love to be here in Atlanta,” said Latta. “They just show so much love to women’s basketball. I love this crowd here. When we go to other places, we look at their crowd and we’re like, ‘man, we can’t wait to get back to Atlanta.’”


“I went to Orlando, had fun and relaxed,” [Lennox] said. “I got a lot off my mind. Overall, [the break] was great.”

I suggest that you go read the article in its entirety.

Best Performances by NCAA Coaches in the Post-Season

I'm going to replicate the work of an interesting blog called, "Yet Another Basketball Blog " and examine the success rates of women's basketball coaches. Like Dan Hanner, I'll look at the current leaders in appearances plus wins in the NCAA, but I'm changing the time frame to five years instead of ten years. The current school of each coach is listed, with annotations if the coach has changed schools

NCAA Appearances - Wins - Coach - School

5-24 Pat Summitt Tennessee
5-18 Geno Auriemma Connecticut
5-15 Tara VanDerveer Stanford
5-14 Gail Goestenkors (Duke 4/Texas 1) Texas
5-14 Sylvia Hatchell North Carolina
5-13 C. Vivian Stringer Rutgers
5-12 Brenda Frese Maryland
5-11 Kim Mulkey Baylor
5-10 Andy Landers Georgia
5-8 Melanie Balcomb Vanderbilt
5-7 Charli Turner Thorne Arizona State
5-6 Muffet McGraw Notre Dame
5-6 Sherri Coale Oklahoma
4-6 Pam Borton Minnesota
5-4 Doug Bruno DePaul (IL)
5-4 Jim Foster Ohio State
3-5 Kristy Curry (Purdue 3/Texas Tech 2) Texas Tech
5-3 Dawn Staley (Temple 5) South Carolina
5-2 Wendy Larry Old Dominion (VA)
3-4 Gary Blair Texas A&M
3-3 Sharon Versyp (Maine 3/Purdue 2) Purdue
3-3 Elaine Elliott Utah
4-2 Jeff Mittie TCU
4-2 Bill Fennelly Iowa State
5-1 Don Flanagan New Mexico
3-3 Deb Patterson Kansas State
4-1 Joanne Boyle (Richmond 2/Cal 3) California

We now want to develop an idea called "PASE", which is used both by Henner in the blog and by ESPN. PASE stands for "performance above seed expectations".

There aren't many benchmarks we can use to compare college coaches. Win-loss record certainly won't do it. A team's win-loss record depends seemingly on two things:

a) strength of other teams in conference, and
b) strength of non-conference schedule.

However, since 1994, the women's NCAA tournament has had 64 teams, with teams receiving a rank from "1" to "16" dependent on subjective assessment of strength (and later, Sagarin RPI). What we can do is compare a team's performance based on their seed with the performance of all the other teams that had that same seed in past tournaments.

We come up with an "expected win" count per seed - looking back over performance, we can say that a "6" seed is expected to win 1.03 games. Your average six seed makes it to the second round. If you're a college coach and can take your sixth-seeded team into the Sweet Sixteen, that's a plus. If you lose your first round game, that's a minus.

First, here are the expected wins associated with NCAA seed in the women's tournament:

1 - 3.73
2 - 2.65
3 - 2.38
4 - 1.78
5 - 1.15
6 - 1.03
7 - 0.85
8 - 0.48
9 - 0.60
10 - 0.35
11 - 0.37
12 - 0.23
13 - 0.13
14 - 0
15 - 0
16 - 0.02

Why isn't the #1 seed worth more wins? Because if you make it to the Final Four, you'll probably bump against the other #1 seeds.

Note that the #8 seed has had particularly bad luck. History shows that the #9 seed does better than the #8 seed.

The #14 and #15 seeds have never won a first round game in the history of the 64-team tournament. As for #16 being 0.02, I refer you to March 14, 1998, a dark day in Stanford history as they became the only #1 seed - in women's or men's play - to lose to a #16 seed as Harvard beat a Stanford team with two injured leading scorers by the score of 71-67 in the first round.

So given their assigned seeds, which coaches have done the best? We will look over the last five years only and determine how well, per year, each coach does above the expected number of wins.

Best Coaches vs. PASE (minimum 3 appearances in five years)

Pat Summitt 1.29
Tara VanDerveer 0.60
C. Vivian Stringer 0.59
Geno Auriemma 0.57
Brenda Frese 0.38
Pam Borton 0.34
Andy Landers 0.27
Muffet McGraw 0.14
Kim Mulkey 0.13
Charli Turner Thorne 0.13

This is pretty much a list of the big names in women's college ball - the best coaches are the ones with longevity, and they have that longevity because they can keep coming to the NCAA tournament and performing beyond expectations. Pat Summitt has won a few championships recently. That helps, and we see that on the average Coach Summitt gets one game beyond where she's expected to finish.

Worst Coaches vs. PACE (minimum 3 appearances in five years)

Don Flanagan -0.16
Wendy Larry -0.24
Tom Collen -0.25
Gary Blair -0.29
Joanne Boyle -0.40
Deb Patterson -0.52
Kay Yow -0.53
Sylvia Hatchell -0.54
Sherri Coale -0.73
Jim Foster -1.24

Flanagan is a good coach at a weak school. Tom Collen wasn't so weak that Arkansas didn't run off and hire him, and the same case goes for Joanne Boyle at California. Surprisingly, Sylvia Hatchell of North Carolina and Jim Foster have had some lousy post-season results. I wonder how well Sherri Coale of Oklahoma will do once Courtney Paris leaves the Sooners.

My next goal is to examine the relationship between a team's success and the number of McDonald's All-Americans it is able to sign. That should be fun.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Got What Plants Crave

"Verve has become the official energy drink of the Phoenix Mercury."

Pardon me. Grammatical error. I'll try again.

"Verve! has become the official energy drink of the Phoenix Mercury."

Another WNBA Prospect....

...Coach Meadors, if we get her into practice for August do you think she could see some minutes? (Link is here.)

Nancy Lieberman Looks Back...Using Mannatech!

I'm almost ashamed to link this. From Part One of a two part interview of Nancy Lieberman by Slam Online:

Lieberman:, I’ve been taking this product since 1996. I swear by it. Anybody who knows me, I give the product to. You have to take this for 120 days because you won’t believe how you feel. Your recovery time, your stamina, your immune system and your overall health.

Players that have played for me or players I’ve trained have all at one point or another been on Mannatech. So, to be quite honest, that’s just a way of life for me. In my mind, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without having been on these products. Like I said, it’s not an experiment. I’ve been on them since 1996. I would never take on a challenge without that being a part of what I do. They’re the best. They’re simply the best.

I’m just telling you, try it for 120 days. These people do not pay me, okay? Usually I like to brag and people are paying me to brag about them, but these guys don’t pay me. I want them to pay me, but that’s what I’m telling you. I couldn’t imagine doing what I do, getting up in the morning and not having that be the first thing that I do.

Nancy! Don't you have any dignity?

Oh wait....

More Than One Change for the Mystics

Nakia Sanford of the Mystics recounts the following on the Pass The Ball blog:

Afterwards, I had to kick off my heels and rush back to practice. I felt like wonder woman doing a whirlwind change. I had to be a little late. I was already pumped from having to rush, but when I walked in the gym, I was soooo Hype!!!! We were scrimmaging against a group of men. It was a nice change. As Taj said “I am so glad I don’t have to practice against y’all today”. My sentiments exactly!! We have been killing each other in practice. The whole mood of the team is different. The energy. Coach J has us in check. Even in our scrimmage, every singe mistake was corrected. I missed a box out and got pulled immediately, and she let me know exactly why. I feel so good. This break gave me a chance to rest my body and my spirit (AND SHOOT FREE THROWS!!!!). The scrimmage was great because guys are so much quicker; we couldn’t do the things like make lazy passes or not box out. They would make us pay. But it was great seeing their faces when we took it to them. It was fun. After my exciting day, I came home and ate, and before I knew it I was knocked out sleep. Dog tired, the way it’s supposed to be

A few comments:

1) Little did Nakia know that she might not practice against Taj ever again.
2) Looks like Jessie Kenlaw is already doing as coach what Rollins never did.
3) Furthermore, it looks like Rollins never had the Mystics scrimmage against men - which is what every good college team is doing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2009 WNBA Prospects, Part II

I'm coming back to the Senior Prospects Metric (SPM) and I'm continuing to make small changes in it. I'll mention the changes I've made:

Height has now been built into the model. I've found the heights of all of the players and made the following assumpions:

Guard height. John Hollinger makes distinctions between short point guards and short shooting guards. Since it's hard to determine whether a guard is a point guard or a shooting guard just by statistics (he furthermore makes a distinction between "short" and "somewhat short" guards), I've simply penalized any guard who is 5'8" or less. These "short guards" get a penalty which is 3/4th of the penalites that follow. The reasoning Hollinger uses is that if a short guard is really good, the other parts of the metric will overcome the height penalty.

Forward/center height. If a forward center is shorter than 6'3", they will receive a penalty.

The 6'6" ers. We could call this the "Katie Feenstra" rule. Hollinger noticed that NBA prospects who were taller than 7 feet were generally a sorry lot. These big men had distorted statistics because their opponents were generally shorter than the players they'd face in the WNBA.

I've penalized any player that is taller than 6'6". Sylvia Fowles barely makes the cutoff at 6'6".

Guards who can't shoot from the perimeter. According to Hollinger, a guard should be able to make at least 25 3-pointers in a season, which is about 0.78-0.85 threes a game, depending on the length of the season. If a guard can't make that many threes, they get a penalty.

Bad rebounders. In order to make this one work, I had to drag in a formula from John Hollinger called "Rebound Rate". I am not going to drag out the formula, which depends on the player's minutes played, her rebounds, and her college team's rebounds and opponent rebounds. I'll just explain how it works.

Assume that during an average game against College Team's Average Opponent, both teams have 100 total rebounds (that's a lotta rebounds!) Rebound rate answers the question "how many rebounds would player X get out of those 100 rebounds?"

Of course, the Hollinger Rebound Rate he uses in the draft prospects article...isn't the same as the Rebound Rate formula that he uses everyone else. I had to depend on a converstion from Frisco del Rosario, for which I thank him.

The penalties assessed are for:
* guards with a rebound rate of less than 5.0
* guards between 5'11" and 6'1" with rebound rates of less than 7.5
* guards 6'2" or taller with rebound rates of less than 8
* forwards with rebound rates of less than 12
* centers with rebound rates of less than 13

With no further ado, here are the 2008-09 prospects reevaluated.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin Traded to Shock; Humphrey to Mystics

From this link, via Rebkell:

to Mystics

Tasha Humphrey (F)
Eshaya Murphy (F)
2009 WNBA Draft 2nd-round pick

to Shock

Taj McWilliams-Franklin (F)

I don't know if I would have made that trade. Very, very interesting....

Imminent Doom of WNBA Foretold

With the Houston Comets franchise in danger of either relocating or being folded, even WNBA fans are expressing some doubt about the WNBA's stability. Jock-ish sportswriters and perpetual detractors say that the WNBA can't work and that the financial troubles and franchise relocations are a sign that no one really gives a damn and that WNBA watchers need to turn their attentions to more serious and stable sports.

I think that to drive the point home, the WNBA should look at the following unstable sports franchises. If the names aren't known to you, you can go to Wikipedia or a sports encyclopedia - I don't expect readers to be experts on dead leagues.

(* * *)

1876: Baseball's National League founded with eight teams.
1877: League loses franchises in New York and Philadelphia. League stumbles forward with six teams.
1878: League loses three franchises. Picks up three expansion franchises. Still a six-team league.
1879: League loses another two franchises. This time, picks up four franchises and is up to an eight-team league.
1880: League loses one franchise, picks up another franchise.
1881: League loses one franchise, picks up one franchise.
1882: For the first time, the league actually continues with the same group of franchises it had last year. However, there's competition from another league called the American Association.
1883: League loses another two franchises, but picks up two.
1884: Amazing! Once again, the league continues with the same franchises it had the year before!
1885: Still unstable. Loses a franchise, but picks another one up.
1886: Loses two more franchises, picks up another two. How can you tell who's in the league and who isn't in the league by this time?
1887: Drops two franchises, picks up two more. When is this crap going to end?

(* * *)

1920: National Football League starts out with 14 teams. One of them only plays one game. Scheduling left up to individual teams. No championship game.
1921: League blows up to 22 teams - however, five of the teams will fold after this year. Muncie and Cleveland will also fold after the season.
1922: It's going to be 18 teams this year, I think.
1923: League expands to 20 teams.
1924: That didn't work. Back to 18 teams. Chaotic scheduling. no championship game.
1925: Back to 20 teams this year. Championship, however, is a joke. We still can't figure out who the 1925 NFL Champion was.
1926: The NFL had 22 teams playing...well, at least part of an NFL season. Some folded. Some moved to rival leagues. College fans sit around and mock NFL, predict the league will be out of business in three years.
1927: It's time for radical cost-cutting measures. The weak sisters of the league are eliminated. This cuts the league down to 12 teams, its weakest ever. One team plays 13 games, another team plays five games, much laughter abounds.
1928: Down to 10 teams now. Two teams from the year before folded. College sports writer Norman Aloysious Chad predicts that league won't make it to end of year. In a column that showcases Aloysious's literary brilliance, he pens the well-known line "Who watches that crap, anyway?"
1929: Back up to 12 teams. One team decides to play a game under floodlights. Press claims that stunts like that can't save the NFL.
1930: Some teams move. Some teams drop out. League expands. We have 11 teams...I think.
1931: League has to cut down to 10 teams. Due to the Depression, one team folds in mid-season. Writers write 14th column of year on "NFL: An Experiment That Failed".

(* * *)

1946-47: Basketball Association of America starts out with uneven assortment of teams - six in one league, five in another.
1947-48: Four of the teams from the year before immediately collapse. They have to bring in another team from some other league to even out the teams.
1948-49: Looks promising. Four teams from the National Basketball League join the BAA. It's a twelve-team league!
1949-50: With both basketball leagues in bad shape, they join forces and become the National Basketball Association. They have 17 teams in three divisions.
1950-51: The 17 teams have to be contracted down to 11. Then one of the teams collapses in mid season.
1951-52: At last, some stability. One team relocates.
1952-53: For the first time, the teams from this year are the same teams from last year.
1953-54: So much for hope. The team in Indianapolis folds. That leaves the new NBA with nine teams.
1954-55: The franchise in Baltimore collapses in mid-season. With eight teams, the verdict is in: "pro basketball is a joke!"
1955-56: One of the teams ends up relocating in the tenth year of the league's existence.
1956-57: Thank god. More stability in an eight-team league with Minneapolis the westernmost team.
1957-58: Two relocations this time. It looks like the NBA is doomed to be an afterthought.

(* * *)

When looking back on these old failed leagues, the WNBA needs to learn some hard lessons. Either that, or they'll be a sports footnote, like those old failed leagues known as the National League, National Football League, and National Basketball Association.

Houston Comets Update

This is from Randy's Rants, written by a radio journalist in Houston.

We have some more info on the Houston Comets.

1. Hilton Koch will officially step down as Comets owner this morning in Houston during a press conference.
2. Jim McIngvale has declined interest in purchasing the franchise. McIngvale, known locally as "Mattress Mack", is in the furniture business and is a competitor of Hilton Koch. He had expressed interest in acquiring the Comets in years past.
3. If no new owner is found by November 2008 or January 2009, the Comets will either a) relocate, or b) fold, according to WNBA sources.

More news as it develops.

P. S. This is the 200th post of the Pleasant Dreams blog. Here's hoping that we can make it to 400!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Take a URL, Leave a URL

I've added a link to the Women's Elite Blog. The blog is run by BDA Sports Management, which represents several top-ranked WNBA players like Diana Taurasi and Seimone Augustus.

However, it is with great regret that I'm removing "The Libertine" from my blog roll. A fan blog dedicated to the New York Liberty, the blog has gone un-updated for almost two months and I fear that the site owner will no longer update. Which is very sad, because "The Libertine" was a inspiration to me - I told myself, "I hope my blog is as half as cool as 'The Libertine'."

The WNBA's "All-Sexy" Team?

According to MKRob at his Sports Blog, this team would be:

C: Lisa Leslie, Sparks
F: Candace Parker, Sparks
F: Swin Cash, Storm
G: Armintie Price, Sky
G: Deanna Nolan, Shock

Coach: Dawn Staley (ex-WNBA, now head coach at South Carolina)

I would replace Staley - who isn't even in the WNBA - with Jessie Kenlaw of the Washington Mystics. Now if we're going to open up the game to male coaches, well, that's a different ballgame. (I'll leave it up to you to figure out who the sexiest male coach is.)

Is such an article sexist? I don't think so. Baseball does this kind of stuff all the time. All-Handsome, All-Ugly, All-Ethnic, All-Tall, All-Blonde, All-Players With Long Names, etc. If the post stated that sexiness was the only value these players had, it would be sexist. However, I'd put these five players against any five in the WNBA in terms of talent.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Predicting" the 2008 WNBA Draft with the Senior Prospects Metric

One of my recent posts used a convoluted metric to try to predict who would be the best senior prospects for the 2009 WNBA Draft. One of my commenters suggested that the metric be applied to the 2008 WNBA draft class. This way, we could determine if the metric could isolate who would be the most successful players out of that group of college seniors (and in the case of Candace Parker, juniors.)

I limited my analysis to the first three rounds of the draft. This involves 43 players (Sacramento was given a bonus third round pick - 14 x 3 + 1 = 43). Here is who the Senior Prospects Metric (SPM?) predicted for the draft.

At least we have the top four draft picks - Parker, Fowles, Wiggins and Hornbuckle - in the first round. The metric also brings a lot of third round draft picks into the first round, including two - Lauren Ervin of Arkansas ans Marscilla Packer of Ohio State - who ended up not playing a minute of WNBA ball. Ervin's season ended in December or January of 2008 with an ACL tear if I'm correct, which would explain why no one has heard of her - her position in the metric is based on the 16 or so games she played with the Razorbacks.

Let's look at how these player ended up in the actual draft. Furthermore, let's see how well each of these players have done in the 2009 season so far.

The last sentence where we "see how well" players have done is a loaded one. By what standard are you going to decide that players did "well" and players did not do "well"? There are several metrics you could use to evaluate players. I decided to use the same metric that SPM uses, the Wins Score metric. I like Wins Score because I think it evaluates shooting better than Efficiency.

Furthermore, using Wins Score solves the problem of players like Ervin who for whatever reason never made it into the league. Since Wins Score is an additive metric as opposed to some sort of rate, I can give those players who never made it into the WNBA( a Wins Score = zero. It works for me. These players have no positive stats, and no negative stats. It all balances out and furthermore strokes my ego by telling me that I'm a better player than Matee Ajavon).

The new picture:

It looks like Candace Parker and Nicky Anosike were the big wins of the draft. Both the SPM and the actual draft put them in the same locations.

Now, we need to know how much "correlation" the SPM and the Draft have to eventual Wins Score. Correlation implies a linear relationship between two lists of numbers.

A "zero" in correlation implies that there is no relationship.
A "one" in correlation implies that there is a strict relationship in the positive direction. As one list of numbers gets larger, the other list gets larger.
A "minus one" in correlation implies that there is a strict relationship in the negative direction. As one list of numbers gets larger, the other list gets smaller.

What we're hoping for is a negative relationship between draft position and overall performance. As position increases (#1, #2, #3....) the Wins Score associated with these numbers should start big, then start to drop.

Here are the correlation results:

These meanings of correlation depend on a lot. Let's look at the first one: the correlation between the SPM Predicted Order and the Actual Draft Order. 0.1220 is a very weak correlation, fairly close to random. The relationship between what the metric predicts and the actual draft pick order have little to do with each other.

Looking at the correction between the SPM Predicted Order and the Wins Scores of the Draftees, we get -0.2528. This is at the border of a small and medium correlation, more on the small side. At least the correlation is negative, which is what we want -- if it were positive, we would know that the SPM had no value.

Now, let's see how the actual GMs of the WNBA do against Wins Score. We get a correlation of -0.5925, a medium-large correlation on the large side of the border. The negative correlation is expected - as draft position goes up, performance should drop.

On the other hand, the -0.5925 number could be misleading. Remember that the Wins Score metric is linear additive - it gives you points whenever you do something well and takes points away whenever you do something poorly. It's not a "rate", but a sum. If a player is more likely to produce points than have points removed, then Wins Score and time played will have a strong positive correlation.

It is definitely likely that early draft picks will get more playing time than late draft picks - the draft pick has to be justified, or the player has to "get experience" and is more likely to be left in despite a low rate of Wins Score point production than a lesser pick. In short, early draft picks get better chances to build their Wins Score, so some of that good correlation might simply be a function of playing time.

(* * *)

Am I happy? so far I am. My next goal is to build in all of the height caveats. Hollinger stated that players of certain heights should be able to do certain things, and have points removed for failure. However, Hollinger is working with male height, and working in a different kind of game. This little side project of mine, it seems, is ever expanding - but at least, it's fun for a number cruncher!