Tag Archives: Basketball

The Gospel of Hoops

Microkhan has the goods on Indiana’s obsession with hoops (he’s also got smoking ballerinas and cave bear crime covered, if you’re interested).Who knew we have a 19th-century Presbyterian minister to thank for Jimmy Chitwood:

The vector of “Hoosier Hysteria” has been identified as the Reverend Nicholas McKay, a Presbyterian minister born in England. In 1893 McKay was assigned to a YMCA in Crawfordsville, Indiana. En route, he visited Dr. James Naismith’s YMCA camp in Springfield, Massachusetts, where a new winter game called basketball had been invented two years before.

Reverend McKay knew he could do better. After he found space above a tavern in Crawfordsville for his YMCA, he hired a blacksmith to forge two metal hoops, sewed coffee sacks around them and nailed them to the walls.

This got Meanderings thinking: why have other particular regions become so fixated on certain sports? Why baseball in Boston? Why NASCAR in the Bible Belt? And really, Australia…cricket?

Meanderings will be investigating these mysteries in the coming days. Post the sports-geograpy mysteries you want solved, or your answers, in the comments.

Wynton on Bball

Wynton Marsalis talks basketball with William Rhoden at The New York Times in this video. The whole thing, all 4 minutes of it, is worth an enjoyable look. At one point, he talks about the difference between the history of musicians and athletes (rough transcription):

The arts deal with the human soul. A person can arrive at any time in any art form and be the most advanced. No one has taken the art further than Homer, or Shakespeare, or Louis Armstrong. No one’s going to play better than him. You can bring your own thing. But great art doesn’t become old…Athletes can beat the opponents of their era. Musicians speak across epochs. Louis Armstrong wasn’t trying to beat anybody.

Full-court press

So Malcolm Gladwell writes about basketball – and other things – in this week’s New Yorker. With lots of exclamation points! His thesis, reasonable enough: too many Davids try to beat Goliath at his own game, when their best chance of success hinges out outhinking and outworking their opponents. His primary example is, well, 7th grade girls basketball:

The second deadline requires a team to advance the ball across mid-court, into its opponent’s end, within ten seconds, and if Redwood City’s opponents met the first deadline the girls would turn their attention to the second. They would descend on the girl who caught the inbounds pass and “trap” her. Anjali was the designated trapper. She’d sprint over and double-team the dribbler, stretching her long arms high and wide. Maybe she’d steal the ball. Maybe the other player would throw it away in a panic—or get bottled up and stalled, so that the ref would end up blowing the whistle.

I don’t have a problem with Gladwell’s point (though it seems pretty self-evident to me). But I’m not sure proving that 12-year old girls – not to mention 12-year old boys – can’t handle a full-court press is the most effective way to prove any point.

Air ball

Two purposes: to point out Michael Lewis’ great profile of Shane Battier in the NYT Magazine, and to point out the epic fail online.

No graphical attempt at showing some stats, the point of the piece?

No interactive shot chart for seeing, say, how good certain players are from different spots on the floor?

No video footage of Battier playing defense?

Just about the only interesting multimedia piece is the photo spread on Battier’s shot-by-shot Kobe-stopping – which you can find in the print version. The options were limitless with this piece, especially considering the NYT’s ability and penchant for online experimenting. Fail.

At least they own the Globe.

Oh, and the article is great.