Author Topic: And your best current sportswriter is ...  (Read 5626 times)

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Offline TheSportsPredictor

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And your best current sportswriter is ...
« on: May 13, 2009, 10:45:29 AM »
... Malcolm Gladwell?

Anothere brilliant article from the bestselling author: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=1

Who else can mix in a 13-year-old girls basketball team, Lawrence of Arabia, a Rick Pitino-coached Kentucky basketball team, George Washington, and a computer-simulated war game and make it a must-read? I think this guy could endlessly string random words together and somehow make it compelling. Basically it's an article about the old David and Goliath tenat. Once Gladwell's done, it's a contender for BASW 2009.

Offline topsheep

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 11:00:07 AM »
I read the first thrust that leads up to the "David's victory ... " and like it.

I'll read the rest later.


Offline Ashy Larry

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2009, 11:20:41 AM »

.......Bill Simmons?

Who else can mix in a 3 years olds first poop, Beverly Hills 90210, Rocky III, 90's grunge music, Holy Cross basketball, a Rick Pitino coached BU team, Barack Obama and a tecmo football game and make it a must read? 

Offline Ryan_Sonner

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2009, 11:22:29 AM »

.......Bill Simmons?

Who else can mix in a 3 years olds first poop, Beverly Hills 90210, Rocky III, 90's grunge music, Holy Cross basketball, a Rick Pitino coached BU team, Barack Obama and a tecmo football game and make it a must read? 

Note the irony of this thread on espn.com.
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Offline topsheep

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2009, 11:22:52 AM »
The Bill Simmons song is catchy ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47og8lOIICs

Offline Ashy Larry

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2009, 11:27:18 AM »

.......Bill Simmons?

Who else can mix in a 3 years olds first poop, Beverly Hills 90210, Rocky III, 90's grunge music, Holy Cross basketball, a Rick Pitino coached BU team, Barack Obama and a tecmo football game and make it a must read? 

Note the irony of this thread on espn.com.

hah...I didn't even see that. 

Malcom Gladwell is a weird looking dude eh?

Offline mustangj17

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2009, 12:05:54 PM »
I wanted to read about the basketball team, not Goliath. Quit after page one.
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Pulitzer Wannabe

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2009, 12:12:08 PM »
Isn't this essentially continuing the trend that "Moneyball" began?

"Read this week as Big-Time Writer turns everything you thought you knew about this aspect of sports on its head!"

Offline TheSportsPredictor

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 12:13:12 PM »
I wanted to read about the basketball team, not Goliath. Quit after page one.

Too bad, since there's much more about the team.

Offline TheSportsPredictor

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2009, 12:14:37 PM »
Isn't this essentially continuing the trend that "Moneyball" began?

"Read this week as Big-Time Writer turns everything you thought you knew about this aspect of sports on its head!"

Is this a criticism?

Pulitzer Wannabe

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2009, 12:18:04 PM »
Isn't this essentially continuing the trend that "Moneyball" began?

"Read this week as Big-Time Writer turns everything you thought you knew about this aspect of sports on its head!"

Is this a criticism?

More of us sports writers for fostering the conditions for the genre to thrive.

Offline Bob Cook

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2009, 12:54:21 PM »
Malcolm Gladwell is full of shit on this one, and here's why.

Mainly, it's this -- the press works if you have a team that relentlessly practices it and a team playing against that doesn't know it's coming or doesn't practice for it. I would guess that 100 percent of the teams Redwood City played never played anyone else with a press defense, and didn't have the college basketball-playing daughters of former NFL stars helping out in practice.

Plus, the effectiveness of the press goes down the higher level you go. Yeah, a press can work great at the 12-year-old level because most kids' ballhandling skills aren't good enough to overcome it. But when Pitino tried that in the NBA, he got hammered. Even on the college level, for every Fordham-over-Dr.-J's UMass upset with the press, there are 100 teams that try it and watch the ball fly past them for easy layups.

The rec leagues I've coached in (junior high/late elementary coed) limit the press to either a certain point of a game (elementary level) or when you're down (junior high). By doing so, it prevents a game that gets out of hand either way -- either a team never able to inbound the ball, or a pressing team getting blown out. Anyway, why don't I have them defend the whole court instead of the last 24 feet? Because no one is scoring from 50 feet out. I tell my kids to move out the big people, and except for kids we know can shoot from 16 feet out, give player on the outside a lot of space. Then get the rebound and leak out on the fast break -- that's where a commitment to playing the whole floor worked for the teams I've had.

Gladwell misses the point when he fawns on the press defense. You coach based on how the strengths of your players match the weaknesses of others -- no argument there. But saying everyone should play a press is way too simplistic a point.
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Offline Dave Kindred

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2009, 01:17:30 PM »
Excuse me, but how does Gladwell's take on the full-court press qualify as a breakthrough in thinking about basketball strategy? Coaches have been theorizing about the press for 60 years. If it worked that well, everybody'd be using it all the time. (Did we not see Michigan State-Louisville a couple months ago?) As for Pitino as "David," come on. The man has had his pick of the best college athletes at both Kentucky and Louisville.

Offline Singapore Slim

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2009, 01:22:41 PM »
Good writing, poor grasp of the game of basketball.

Leave it to the hacks, please.

Offline Bob Cook

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2009, 01:23:50 PM »
Excuse me, but how does Gladwell's take on the full-court press qualify as a breakthrough in thinking about basketball strategy? Coaches have been theorizing about the press for 60 years. If it worked that well, everybody'd be using it all the time. (Did we not see Michigan State-Louisville a couple months ago?) As for Pitino as "David," come on. The man has had his pick of the best college athletes at both Kentucky and Louisville.

That was the other thing that stuck in my craw (which I think is near the cockles of my heart). Gladwell presents as fact that Pitino uses the press because he ALWAYS has substandard teams, given that Antoine Walker is his presumed only pro success. The current starting lineup of Lawrence North High School would disagree. Any coach who believes their success is completely tied to his or her own system is delusional. If you don't have talent on you team, your precious system goes down the crapper. Anyway, you could make an argument on the flipside -- the reason so few NBA successes come out of Pitino's system is because it doesn't prepare players for what they'll be doing in pro ball.

By the way, the Redwood City team Gladwell talks about with girls who hadn't played, or weren't terribly talented? I bet they weren't a bunch of kids who had never touched a ball. I don't care how many practices they had -- if the girls didn't have some speed or coordination already, the press would have failed in a hurry. And as far as development, this coach is failing his kids because as they advance and have to play more halfcourt ball, they'll have no idea what to do.
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WaylonJennings

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2009, 01:26:04 PM »
Excuse me, but how does Gladwell's take on the full-court press qualify as a breakthrough in thinking about basketball strategy? Coaches have been theorizing about the press for 60 years. If it worked that well, everybody'd be using it all the time. (Did we not see Michigan State-Louisville a couple months ago?) As for Pitino as "David," come on. The man has had his pick of the best college athletes at both Kentucky and Louisville.

"That forward pass hogwash will never work! Mere gimmickry!"

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In seriousness, a lot of New Yorker articles really dumb down sports for the masses, which cracks me up at such a highbrow, literate publication for educated people.

Online Double Down

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2009, 01:36:35 PM »
By the way, the Redwood City team Gladwell talks about with girls who hadn't played, or weren't terribly talented? I bet they weren't a bunch of kids who had never touched a ball. I don't care how many practices they had -- if the girls didn't have some speed or coordination already, the press would have failed in a hurry. And as far as development, this coach is failing his kids because as they advance and have to play more halfcourt ball, they'll have no idea what to do.

I normally like Gladwell, or at least find him interesting, just because he poses interesting questions, but this is absolutely the truth. He's also using the anacdotal evidence provided by one team of 12-year-old girls! to support this theory. It really reads more like a college lecture discussion point than it does any kind of explanitory journalism. While the basketball stuff was more interesting, the war stuff was a lot more convincing when it came to making the actual point.
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Offline Webster

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2009, 01:39:24 PM »
I liked the writing a lot and his idea that unconventional strategies should be used more is a good one.

Didn't like that he said that the only reason that the 12-year old team lost a game was the refs, using as evidence, the coach's employee (Roger Craig) and Craig's daughter.
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Offline cranberry

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2009, 01:42:29 PM »
Looks like Malcom went from the top back to the middle in the space of about six posts.

Offline topsheep

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2009, 01:48:49 PM »
But with a lot of nutbusting pressing, he'll back be at the top in no time!

Offline Inky_Wretch

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #20 on: May 13, 2009, 01:57:52 PM »
How did he do that article without mentioning the "40 Minutes of Hell" coaching style of Nolan Richardson?
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Offline Second Thoughts

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #21 on: May 13, 2009, 02:01:54 PM »

And no mention of Candace Parker's C cup?

Offline TheSportsPredictor

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2009, 02:11:28 PM »
Gladwell didn't write the article to advocate that all basketball teams should press. He wrote it to illustrate how underdogs should use unconventional tactics to gain an advantage and win.

Offline Bob Cook

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2009, 02:24:21 PM »
Gladwell didn't write the article to advocate that all basketball teams should press. He wrote it to illustrate how underdogs should use unconventional tactics to gain an advantage and win.

Is the press really an unconventional tactic? I also argue with the idea that this particular team of 12-year-olds were "underdogs." It sounds like what they were was a well-coached team of girls who brought in a modicum of athletic ability and a dedication level not always common among 12-year-olds. He could have taught them to run Milan High's 1-2-2 offense and they would have won.

Using the press all the time was an unconventional tactic when Pitino used it with the Celtics. And he got his ass kicked. It's not about using unconventional tactics, but about figuring out the best way to use your strengths against an opponents weaknesses. Gladwell presents is like everyone else is playing basketball wrong, which isn't always the case.

Gladwell is cherry-picking anecdotes and turning them into a grand conclusion. Which makes sense, because that's what he does.
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Offline Editude

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Re: And your best current sportswriter is ...
« Reply #24 on: May 13, 2009, 03:03:51 PM »
No, what he's saying (as the Lawrence references made clear in the article) is that the press is one way for an undermanned unit to have some chance of success. There are no guarantees, and good teams easily take advantage of the press. Trying to compete on even terms with overdogs, whether it's in war, fast food or youth sports, is folly. Too often, people would rather fall short conventionally than face a potential drubbing; it's a defeat either way.
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