Thursday, June 4, 2015

12 Fun Facts About the NBA Finals Between Cleveland and Golden State

After a weeklong break, the NBA Finals are finally here! Will LeBron James win a long awaited title for Cleveland or will MVP sharpshooter Steph Curry bring the championship to Golden State? With all the buildup leading up to the series, here are 12 interesting facts you may have missed.

  1. The NBA Finals will be between two teams with 40+ year title droughts for the 1st time in NBA history. It has never happened in the NHL or NFL either.
  2. The Warriors are the 1st team since the 1996-97 Jazz to make the NBA Finals without any players with Finals experience, and are seeking to become the first such team to win a championship since the 1990-91 Bulls.
  3. LeBron will be starting in his fifth consecutive NBA Finals. He is the only player to do that since the 1960’s Celtics dynasty.  
  4. So far in the playoffs, MVP Curry is shooting .437 from 3PT, which is behind Cavs guard Kyrie Irving at .481
  5. Only two of the past 11 NBA MVPs went on to win the title, both times it was LeBron.
  6. So far in the playoffs, the Cavs have out-rebounded opponents by 8 or more rebounds 8 times. The Warriors have only done it twice. 
  7. Two rookie coaches (Cleveland's David Blatt and Golden State's Steve Kerr) are in the Finals for the first time since the first title was contested in 1947. 
  8. The Cavs are holding teams to .281 3PT% in the playoffs. The two times the Warriors shot worse than .281 from 3 in the playoffs they lost.
  9. If the Warriors win the title, Curry will become the first player in NBA history to face and beat his four fellow All-NBA First Team members (Davis, Gasol, Harden, James).
  10. In the 2015 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors and Cavaliers have combined for a 24-5 record. This is the best combined total shared by two teams (who made it to the finals) since 1991 when the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers totaled a 22-4 win-loss card.
  11. LeBron is the first player in NBA history to enter ‪ the Finals‬ with averages of at least 27 points, 10 rebounds & 8 assists.
  12. The Cavs are undefeated in the playoffs when rookie and UVA grad Joe Harris plays.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How Historic is UVA’s Defense?

The #2 Virginia men's basketball team's defense is ranked first in the country, allowing only 50.8 points per game, with #1 Kentucky at their heels at 51.8. But how historically low is that number?

Last year UVA led the nation in this category as well, but at 55.7 points per game. The year before the leader was Stephen F. Austin at 51.2. You have to go all the way back to 1992 to find a stingier defense, when Princeton held its opponents to a mere 48 points a game.  (That is roughly 325 teams in the country for 22 years, or over 7,100 total seasons before finding a better defense.) In 1992, UVA's coach Tony Bennett was playing in college. Here is the list of the leaders by year:

Tony Bennett fans should recognize a couple of those teams, including his 2009 Washington State team and his father Dick Bennett’s 2001 Wisconsin team.

How about just looking at Virginia’s history? How does this year’s Cavaliers squad compare to the 109 other seasons of UVA basketball history through 23 games? Bennett’s 2012 and 2013 teams were smothering defenses as well, but with a slightly higher average of 53 points per game. Earlier coaches Dave Leitao and Pete Gillen were not known for defense and their teams averaged 72 points a game. You would think the great Ralph Sampson would have contributed to historic defensive teams as well, but they allowed 62 points a game.  Even the ‘60s UVA teams allowed an average of 80 points a game. That is 60% more scoring allowed per game even without a shot clock or 3 point line. That could be why the program went 69-176 (.281) that decade. You have to go all the way back to the 1946 season to find a Virginia team giving up less than 50 points a game.

Check out the results from that year:

Talk about an easy schedule. UNC and Duke only once? VMI and W&L twice?

(Interestingly enough a lot of the opponents around that time were military schools due to WWII, so UVA would play against air bases and naval training centers.  I can only imagine what losing to “N.C. Pre-Flight School” and “Camp Lee” did to Virginia's RPI in 1943.)

The teams in the 1920s played games with scores only in the 20’s, so this year’s Virginia team is not going to break any all-time records, but they still have a chance to finish as the best Wahoo defense in almost 70 years.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UVa Men's Basketball Keeps Rolling On

UVa’s basketball team is having another historic season. The Hoos are undefeated so far at 17-0 and are ranked #2 in the country. They are off to their best start in 34 years and have not been ranked this high since 1983. In fact, since January 18th of last year, Virginia has gone 35-2, best in the nation.

The Cavaliers have achieved this record due to their dominant defense, which is #1 in the country in points allowed per game and #2 in field goal percentage. Meanwhile, the offense has been efficient as well, ranked #24 in FG% and #4 in KenPom offense efficiency ratings.

Last season, UVa won the ACC regular season and tournament titles for the first time ever, and will have a tough time repeating this year. Next week the Wahoos start a three game stretch against #5 Duke, at #15 North Carolina, and #10 Louisville.

In fact, the Duke game is such a big match-up that ESPN’s traveling pregame show, “College Gameday,” will be in Charlottesville for the first time ever for that game.

Meanwhile, Kentucky is the other undefeated team in the country, and is ranked #1, garnering lots of media attention.  The Wildcats are a team made up of mostly All-American freshman looking to go to the NBA after their one year, while UVa is comprised of mostly upperclassmen with more aspirations towards graduation than the pros. It would make for an interesting title game if these two top teams make it that far.

Let’s Go Hoos!