Friday, December 5, 2014

NorCal Juco Player's of the Month honors via Signal The Light

John Bynum of Signal The Light Basketball has posted a very detailed list of honorees for the month of November for Northern California Men's Juco Basketball.

Heading the list is Player of the Month, Elijah White, of Skyline College.  For full details click here

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coach Popovich preaches some more

Gregg Popovich
Great article and quotes from San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich on why he doesn't watch film on opposing teams.   
“I don’t see any reason to watch film. When my team has a game and [they] have zero turnovers and shoot 60 percent, and the other team scores 40, then I’ll start worrying about the other teams. But until that happens, I’ve got enough to correct and teach on my team, and that’s how I spend my time.”

American Kids Flunking Basketball 101

In 2009 the Wall Street Journal published a very interesting piece on the decline of American basketball, and the influence of AAU.   This article is a bit old, but five years later it may apply more today than ever.   I still think that America has the best athletes in the world, as far as natural athletic ability (running, jumping, etc).   But unlike other sports such as football, basketball requires more than this raw athleticism.   With AAU taking over the summer basketball circuit the American game of basketball is changing, and not necessarily for the better.   This article was written 5 years prior to the San Antonio Spurs completely dismantling the star-studded Miami Heat with their fundamental team play (and predominate foreign roster).  Some very good points from coaches and NBA players alike who have experienced the effects of AAU basketball.

Excerpts from the Article:
“It’s a bad system for developing players,” says Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “They aren’t learning to handle the ball, they aren’t learning to make plays against pressure. The emphasis with our high-school players is to get exposure and play as many games as you can and show everybody how great you are. If I can win the 11-and-12 year old league and tell all my friends about it, that is a whole lot more important than if my kids actually get any better or learn anything about the game.”In Europe, Mr. Van Gundy says, “those guys are doing five or six practices for every game. They are spending a lot of time in the gym working on individual skills. It’s reversed here.”

By the middle of the last NBA season, as concerns build about his dwindling playing time and rough transition to the NBA, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat, finally conceded a fundamental flaw: No one, at any level in his basketball career, had asked him to play defense. And especially not in AAU. “If you’re playing defense in AAU, you don’t need to be playing,” he says. “I’ve honestly never seen anyone play defense in AAU.”

 Personally, I hope that another trend will soon take flight in American basketball, as players realize their is more to the game than high flying acrobatic dunks and mix-tapes.

Coach K's NorCal JC Rankings (Week 4)

*Thanks to the coaches poll last week I was able to take the week off (Nice excuse).  After another eventful week my rankings have been shaken up.   Some teams have played over twice as many games as other teams, so it's still a skewed sample size for the moment and many teams can make huge jumps over the coming weeks.    Please remember, this is a blog and these are only my opinions based on limited information and hearsay.  My rankings have no affiliation or involvement whatsoever in the California Community College Athletic Association.

*My previous ranking will be posted next to season record

1 - Skyline (8-0)  (#11)
Jumps up 10 spots in my rankings after running off 8 straight victories to start the season undefeated and taking down the previous #1 ranked team, Lassen College.   So my rationale here is that Skyline beat Lassen, who beat Merritt, who beat San Jose City.  So I figure it isn't right to have either of those three teams ranked higher than Skyline, especially since they remain unbeaten.  Their strength of schedule remains a concern at this point and could come back to haunt them as more teams play in tougher tournaments in the coming weeks.
Skyline is led by sophomore standout Elijah White, but also has a solid cast of other weapons at their disposal.   The Coast-North Conference will be an all out battle this year as top to bottom it is looking to be the toughest conference in the State!

2 - Merritt (8-1)  (#3)
Moves up a spot as Chabot falls in the rannkings.   Merritt has won two tournaments in a row to pull out a 6 game winning streak since their loss to Lassen in the opening weekend of the season.  Denzell Bellott is leading a team that is a mix of well known prospects and emerging talents.  Sophomore shooting guard Leo Smith and center Travon King provide depth to a team that is showcasing the emerging freshman standouts Rodney Pope, Jovantae Carlton and DJ Kennedy.  Merritt is looking to end Yuba's reign in the Bay Valley Conference this year.

3 - San Jose City (7-1)  (#4)
Moves up a spot in the rankings as they capitalize on Chabot moving out of the Top 2 spot.   Only loss of the year is to Merritt, and also is on a 6 game winning streak after taking home the DVC Tournament Championship with a 2 OT victory over the host team.    Could have another shot at Merritt in the San Jose City College Classic Tournament held Dec 11-13 if both teams can make the Championship game.     Speed City is living up to the name this year with a very deep roster with numerous talents that can make it very difficult to match up for 40 minutes.  Is the favorite in the Coast-South Conference this year.

4 - Marin (3-1) (#5)
I cannot punish Marin for only having played 4 games.  They come from a conference that has so many teams it limits their pre-season contests.  They still have the 20 point victory over CCSF, and a win over San Diego City to make the Championship of the CCSF Tournament. Their only loss is to the State's #1 team, Mt San Antonio.  Looking forward to this Thursdays game vs. Santa Rosa as this can be a statement for either team.

5 - San Francisco (7-2)  (#6)
Looks to be improving from the opening weekend where they had to go to the consolation bracket of their own tournament.  In their last 3 games they had to play 3 teams from the Coast-South Conference to fulfill their duties as a Coast Conference member.  Unfortunately, this season they drew Gavilan, Hartnell and De Anza, who have a combined record of 3-14 on the year.  So this isn't doing much to help CCSF in the power rankings, but they will have a chance to boost their competition as they head to the Mt San Antonio Tournament in Southern California this weekend.

6 - Fresno (7-2)  (#7)
The Rams are on a 5 game winning streak after being forced into the consolation bracket of their own tournament.  Most recently they traveled to Southern California and took home the Championship in the El Camino Tournament.  The Rams have a tough road ahead as they head to the Mt San Antonio tournament in Southern California and then open up the 16 team Modesto Tournament that is loaded with some of the State's Top teams....and they aren't in Modesto's bracket so you know they are in the stacked bracket this year.   Coach Madec is wise to play as much talent as possible in pre-conference, since the Central Valley Conference is looking dismal, once again.

7 - Lassen (10-2)   (#1)
Falls from my top spot after suffering 2 losses in 3 games.  In their last 3 games they lost to Skyline, escaped Columbia by 2 points, and lost at Cabrillo.    If the Cougars needed to be humbled, they certainly have.  With a very talented group they are sure to bounce back up in the Top rankings this year.   They have over a week to prepare for their home game against Chabot to see if they can turn the tide.

8 - Chabot (3-2)  (#2)
The Gladiators lost at the buzzer to a tough Monterey Peninsula team which has caused them to fall 6 spots in my rankings.  The only bright spot is that I noticed Chris Patterson is active for the Gladiators which should make an impact for Chabot who has an impressive roster, particularly at the forward spots.  Chabot has only played 5 games this year, so they have plenty of time to turn things around as they head to the Cosumnes River Tournament this weekend before heading up to Susanville for another father-son match.

9 - Canada (6-1)  (#9)
Has won 2 in a row after suffering their first loss of the season to SJCC.    Canada looks loaded with offensive talent will contribute to the Coast-North Conference being an all out war this year.   Their next action is at the Monterey Tournament this weekend.

10 - Santa Rosa (3-3)  (#8)
Falls 2 spots in my rankings due to inactivity and success of other programs.  Has had the unfortunate luck of landing Mt San Antonio twice on their schedule so far, but playing the #1 team in the State multiple times seemed to work out pretty well for the Bear Cubs last year.   Do not count Santa Rosa out by any means, as they have the typical well balanced and well coached squad.  They are a definite favorite in the Big 8, which is looking down so far this year.    SRJC is scheduled to take on another tough opponent this week on Thursday, as they travel to face Marin.

11 - Ohlone (5-2)  (#13)

The Renegades are off to a solid start, considering they are playing for a first year coach with only a few returning sophomores.  Plenty of time to grow and develop chemistry.   The Renegades host San Jose City College this Friday to see if they can make a statement and work themselves up in the rankings.

12 - Feather River (7-2)  (#10)
Took home the consolation at the DVC Tournament over the holiday weekend.  Is headed to the Cosumnes River Tournament as they have a chance for a possible rematch against Chabot in the 2nd round.   Feather River has mastered 'small ball' as they run and shoot and scrap for 40 minutes.  They also have a potential star in Jarrell Tate who is a match-up nightmare for the opposition.

13 - American River (4-1)  (#14)
Has some solid wins against both Yuba and DVC.  Not bad for only 5 games into the season.  Up next they face another tough opponent, as they travel to play a hot Monterey Peninsula squad.

14 - Butte (5-2)  (#15)
Moves up one spot as they evened the score against Columbia with a victory in the Cabrillo Tournament.  Has the week off before heading to the Foothill Tournament.

15 - TIE

15 - Monterey (4-4)   (#15)
Has played a solid schedule so far, and with the win at Chabot they deserve to stay in the Top 15.  Devin Koeplin still has yet to play, so watch out for MPC.

15 - Delta (4-1)   (NR)
Decent record, but their wins are over teams that are a combined 5-16.  Lost to the only team on their schedule with a winning record.   Has lots to prove still.

Others to consider:
Columbia (4-3)
Foothill (4-4)
Las Positas (5-4)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

California JC State Coaches Poll is out for 11/24

The State Coaches Poll is out this week, making my job a little easier.  Although my rankings would be quite different, that is the beauty of the coaches poll as you get a combination of various opinions throughout the state. At this point, sample size is important, as teams who have played more games and proven themselves are garnering the most respect.
   After defeating Lassen in the Mendocino Tournament Championship game, Skyline has slid to the #1 spot as one of the only few undefeated teams in the State.  Columbia is a surprise at #5.  Merritt holds a solid #3 after winning the Shasta Tournament.  Fresno isn't getting much love after winning the El Camino Tournament, and is probably still hurting from their consolation performance in their own tournament.  Marin is still riding off their solid performance in the CCSF Tournament.  The Coast-North Conference has the #1 team, including 5 of the top 11 teams, Yikes!   Looks like Chabot needs to play more games to earn their stripes.  Delta earns a spot in the coaches poll.  Santa Rosa isn't earning much respect at the moment falling to #14.  Here is a link for all the details

Top 5
1) Skyline (7-0)
2) Lassen (9-1)
3) Merritt (5-1)
4) San Jose City (4-1)
5) Columbia (4-1)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

So what the heck are the Massey Ratings?!

So for those who were wondering, "What is this guy Massey on?"  

Now that basketball season is underway, most of us basketball junkies seem to be scouring the internet for all the information we can about our favorite leagues, divisions, etc.    One thing I'm noticing, especially in the California Community College basketball world, is that many people are having questions about the Massey Ratings.  These questions arise due to them omitting some current hot teams or rating teams very differently than what most would expect at this point in the season.   One can look at the current Massey Ratings and scratch their head wondering where these ratings are coming from.

To start things off, the Massey Ratings is strictly a highly complex mathematical calculation, taking into account many factors (and fun things like linear algebra, etc).  This formula will rate teams in order based on the criteria and information used.   This may be enough to answer most people's questions, because no human or group of people is involved in these ratings.   These ratings are used by just about every sport and many levels of competition.  Once the schedules and results are plugged in, this program runs and will update on a regular basis with the new information.
From wikipedia, "Computer rating systems can tend toward objectivity, without specific player, team, regional, or style bias. Ken Massey writes that an advantage of computer rating systems is that they can "objectively track all" 351 college basketball teams, while human polls "have limited value".[2] Computer ratings are verifiable and repeatable, and are comprehensive, requiring assessment of all selected criteria. By comparison, rating systems relying on human polls include inherent human subjectivity; this may or may not be an attractive property depending on system needs."

So, in my opinion, as long as we aware at what type of information we are analyzing, this system can be beneficial when rating a very large group of teams.  For instance, I do not rank the Southern California Juco teams in my weekly unofficial rankings, because I do not have the capability of watching these programs, nor do I have the time to research them.   I am sure this is true for most of the coaches as well, so these rankings can be beneficial in some ways in comparison to a standard coaches poll.   However, just like any other computer program, there are definitely room for flaws in the system.  (Here is an article I wrote last year with some major defects in the CCCAA Men's Basketball version of the Massey Ratings)

This early in the season, this type of rating system is almost pointless, other than spurring debate and for entertainment purposes.   California Community College Men's Basketball schedules are heavily filled with tournaments in pre-conference play.  The Massey Ratings take into account "Strength of Schedule" in their algebraic equations.  When looking at each teams' schedule in the Massey Ratings, you only see the first opponent listed, if any opponent is listed at all, during the dates of these tournaments.   The opponent you face on the first day of a tournament is out of your control, so if you are matched up with a team with a very weak Massey Rating it will greatly diminish your power rating and overall rating in the system (and have a domino effect on every team you have on your schedule as well). You may be in the bracket with some highly rated teams, but this system does not take this into account, until after you have played the tournament through.  For greater depth into  this system and the effect on CCCAA Men's Basketball please see my article above.

So for those that may have wondered, "What is this Massey guy on?"  Hopefully you have a better understanding that it's just a big algebraic formula without any bias towards the teams actual talent, tradition, momentum, coaching style, current injuries, or anything else in the human world that actually is important in sports.   So have fun with these ratings and enjoy the information, but don't take them too seriously, especially early on in the season.

For info directly from the source, here is a link to the Massey Ratings FAQ's..   I enjoyed his version of the layman's description..   not very 'layman' to me!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Coach K's Northern California Men's JC Basketball Rankings (Week 2)

*Week 2 only had two tournaments in Northern California, but it was not without it's big match-ups and eye opening victories.  Still very early so these rankings are based on very limited information and are only my opinion.  Mt San Antonio is not making things easy on me either, by coming up two weekends in a row from the South to win another big tournament in the North.   These rankings are unofficial and have no bearing on anything in CCCAA basketball, and is for information and entertainment only.   Enjoy

1)  Lassen (7-0) 
Holds down my #1 spot after another very successful run at the Chabot Tournament this past weekend.  Victories over West Valley 70-31, Los Medanos 104-65 and host Chabot 91-75.   Lassen is loaded with talent at the guard spot and has the length and athleticism to bother opponents at the rim and control the boards.  The Cougars are the 'Real Deal' this year.

2) Chabot (2-1)
Opened up the season hosting a 3 day round robin.  Had victories over Siskiyous 95-36, and Feather River 95-88 before falling to Lassen 75-91.   Had to ponder keeping them at #2 after losing at home.  However almost every other team that could be considered for this spot has at least one loss as well, and at least Chabot fell to my #1 ranked team.   Box score is omitting the names of Rae Jackson and Chris Patterson.  Not sure if it's due to an injury or something else.   Either way, Chabot still has the firepower and inside presence to be a top team this year.

3) Merritt (2-1)
Did not play this weekend.  But they did defeat #4 San Jose City and their only loss is also to Lassen.  So this moves them up a spot to #3 this week.  Is back in action this week as they face Shasta.

4) San Jose City (3-1)
Had a nice win over Canada 77-70 this week which will allows them to move up a spot in my rankings.  Only loss of the year is to Merritt, so had to keep them behind the Thunderbirds for now.

5) Marin (2-1)
Had the week off, but is still riding on the success in the CCSF tournament.  They were victorious over CCSF, so I feel they have to be ranked ahead of the Rams for now.   Is back in action against West Valley this week.

6) City College of San Francisco (4-2)
Jumps up three spots in my rankings.  Had victories over West Hills 94-86 & Sierra 79-73 before falling to Mt San Antonio 64-77 in the Championship of the FCC Tournament.  They beat the team that beat FCC, so I had to move them ahead of Fresno for now.

7)  Fresno City College (4-2)
I'm curious if Coach Madec will put themselves against Sierra next year in the opening round of the Fresno City Tournament.  Two years in a row Sierra took out the Rams on their home court.  This put FCC into the consolation bracket, and put them out of the #3 spot in my rankings, falling all the way to #7.   I'm sure the Madec Regime will make some noise and earn their way back towards the top of the rankings, but for now this is where I feel they belong.  Still had victories last week over Merced 80-66 & West Hills 88-84 in OT to win the consolation bracket.

8) Santa Rosa (3-3)
Had wins over Merced 60-55 and Sierra 70-57 to get to the Championship game of the FCC Tournament before suffering to Mt San Antonio 64-77.  By making it to the Championship game in this loaded tournament, the Bear Cubs jump up four spots in my rankings.

9) Canada (4-1)
Had a win against De Anza 108-81 before suffering their first loss of the season to San Jose City 70-77.  Falls a few spots in the rankings due to the loss, but also the successes of other teams with better quality victories at this point in the season.  Canada is showing they are definitely a top 10 team this year, so far.

10) Feather River (5-1)
Had a solid weekend with wins over Los Medanos 85-58 and West Valley 77-65 before falling to Chabot 88-95.  They are an athletic team that can really shoot the ball, which poses some match up issues for the opposition.  They also own a solid victory over Sierra this season.

11) Skyline (4-0)
Had three more victories this week:  Columbia 77-68, Redwoods 72-55 & Solano 68-62.  Led by Elijah White, this years Skyline team is going to fight it's way for a playoff spot and relevance in the Coast-North Conference.

12) Columbia (3-1)
After taking home the Las Positas Tournament Championship the Claim Jumpers lost some momentum by falling to Skyline 68-77.  They still are looking like a solid team this year and we won't ostracize them too much for this one loss.  They do fall four spots in the rankings this week and are looking to recapture that momentum as they face William Jessup JV before facing Lassen in the Cabrillo College tournament on November 29th.

13) Ohlone (3-1)
Won a close one to Hartnell 74-68 in overtime.  It's still very early in the season, so we will see what the Renegades are made of as they head to the Shasta Tournament this weekend to face Cabrillo again.

14) American River (2-0)
After finishing the season 3-23 last year, the Beavers come out of nowhere to open eyes with wins over Shasta 77-50 and Yuba 84-80 in OT.   ARC will be a team to watch this year. Roster has some recognizable names, including 6'9 force Eugene Crockett.   My article featuring Crockett a year ago here

15) TIE ..... again
Too early to discount all these good teams...

*Contra Costa (2-1)
Roster has some names, still plenty of time to show what they can do this year.  Has talent to make some noise.

*Monterey Peninsula (2-2)
Had a nice win over a very solid Foothill team 67-65.  They have a lot of pieces this year, and Devin Koeplin is still out with an injury.

*Butte (3-1)
Only had one game and it was a win over Simpson JV 84-53 which doesn't help much in determining just how good Butte is this year.  But they have almost their entire team back from last years 10-0 GVC Conference Championship team, so watch out.

*Sierra (2-3)
Record looks bad, but they beat Fresno City again, at Fresno.  They have a talented group and have played a fairly tough schedule so far.  Could jump up in the rankings quick.

*Yuba (1-3)
Lots of hype, not a lot of wins.  But it's very early, so plenty of time for this young team to improve and turn things around.

*Thanks for reading.  Again, my rankings are unofficial and for information & entertainment purposes only.