Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"It's Christmas Time in Hollis, Queens..."

" Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees"

--Run D.M.C

Joni and I leave for Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee tomorrow at oh-dark-hundred (very early).
I picked up a couple audio books today to help me survive the drive through the no-man's-land that is Arkansas. On the way home, we'll actually drive across the entire states of Tennessee and Arkansas. If you've never done that, then you're not missing anything.

Searching for Bobby Perry
While in Kentucky, we plan to search for our lost seni
or. He failed to score in his second straight game last night. That means he has now landed on the same Excel spreadsheet that I use to search for Sheray Thomas. Have you seen this boy?
Both players were last seen rummaging through the dumpster, trying to find their games. This was a difficult task, considering how well their games blend in with normal garbage.

Winning Streak
Kentucky is predicted to win its next 8 games handily, and has improved their offensive and defensive efficiency such that Pomeroy now projects a 9-7 conference record.

In other news, Kentucky will beat Clemson next Friday in the Music City Bowl.

I expect to see some snow while we're up north. Though, like here, it's been a warm December. A friend of mine in Kazan, Russia told me that they have the warmest temperatures they've seen there in over 100 years. And not much snow. Goodbye polar ice caps.

"I want to wash my hands, my feet, my life in snow..."
--quote from the movie White Christmas (italics are my personal rendition of the song).

So, I'll do my best to blog from wherever we end up. In the meantime, you'd better hide the eggnog!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tara Conner and Sheray Thomas

*Cue Beverly Hillbillies theme song*
So, when Kentucky gets in the news it's either a plane crash or the crash of a beauty queen. Donald Trump decided not to fire Miss USA, Kentucky's own Tara Conner. She took her newfound fame to the NYC bars and nightclubs (she wasn't 21 yet). Oops.

In a tear-choked voice, Conner said, "In no way did I think it would be possible for a second chance to be given to me."

Turning to Trump, she said, 'You'll never know what this means to me, and I swear I will not let you down.'

She's from Russell Springs, population 2,500. It's also a dry county (no alcohol allowed).

A few years ago, Kentucky had a Miss America. She too was almost stripped of her crown, but mostly because she shacked up with the Lt. Governor and started campaigning for him rather than fulfilling her "duties" as Miss America.

In other news, Mark Story claims that Sheray Thomas was a real winner in the UK win over UL on Saturday. Others claim that Thomas is "vindicated." I admit, Thomas hit a great jump shot at the end. That was his first field goal in the last 3 games, and only his 6th all season! This from a guy who Tubby wants to start. If he's vindicated, then I must be crazy.

I expect Thomas to log at least 20 minutes tonight. Here's some key stats:
Sheray Thomas scores 2 points every 23.6 minutes that he plays. He gets 1 rebound every 7 minutes. He gets 1 assist every 15 minutes. He blocks 1 shot every 33 minutes. He gets a steal every 41 minutes.

*Sarcasm* Wow, look how productive he is. What an amazing senior. Why, I think he should get more minutes. *Sarcasm*

Vegas: UK -10
Sagarin: UK -7.66
Pure Points: UK -8.34
Computer Avg.: UK -9.26
Pomeroy: UK -7

Justin's prediction: UK by 9. And too many UK turnovers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Institutional Grade Inflation

Observe the following 2 report cards, and tell me which of the following undergraduates has the higher GPA this semester. *Note* If you graduated from the University of Kentucky, then you'll like this question.


Math 87
English 88
Econ 95
Finance 71
Accounting 72


Math 89
English 89
Econ 100
Finance 79
Accounting 78

Who has the higher GPA? Johnny, Steve, or neither?
*Bonus*: Calculate the 2 students' GPAs.

Well, at first glance, Steve has higher grades in every subject. But, you're probably thinking that these don't give him an actually higher letter grade. If I were a UK student, or a Texas A&M student, I would say that their GPAs are the same (unless I graduated during the Dave Blake era).
So, at UK and A&M, Johnny and Steve would have the same GPA: 1 A, 2 Bs, 2 Cs, or a 2.8.

But, let's suppose that Johnny is a Baylor student and Steve is a UK or A&M student. Now the answer changes.

Johnny now has a higher GPA than Steve simply by virtue of being a Baylor Bear! Johnny now has a 3.0. He can now apply for scholarships and jobs.
Steve is still stuck with his 2.8, even though he got higher grades in every subject than Johnny.

Let's say that the 2 are competing for the same job, and have identical résumés. Who would the boss hire, the 3.0 or the 2.8? Probably the 3.0.

"How is this possible?" you may ask. Well, it's not just because Johnny paid 4 times the tuition to come to Baylor than he would at either UK or A&M. It's because Baylor participates in something that I will call "institutional grade inflation."
Baylor undergrads operate under the "plus system." It means that you can earn B+ and C+, which is worth more. Instead of just 2 B's in math and English, Baylor awards Johnny with B+.

(Now, for graduate students the system operates a little differently. We actually receive minuses also. A B- is a 2.67 instead of a 3. If Johnny operated under the "plus-minus" system instead of the "plus" system, then his grades would be deflated).

If Steve transfered from UK to Baylor, he would actually have a 3.2 GPA instead of a 2.8 at UK. See the difference?

So, anytime you see schools publish reports about how their students' GPAs rank against other schools, you have to ask "What's the grading system?"

Baylor's student senate voted in 2001 to keep the "plus system" because getting rid of it would "hinder" the student body in competing for jobs with students from Texas A&M, Texas, and Oklahoma. Here's the link to the statement .

So, that's what you've learned today: A student can actually get higher scores at UK or A&M than a Baylor student, and still have a lower GPA than a Baylor student.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Birthday Fun

I turn the ripe old age of 27 today. First of all, I'd like to thank my wife who made us homemade pizzas yesterday, and baked me a pumpkin cheesecake.

Second, I'd like to thank Rick Pitino for scheduling Louisville to play 5 games in 11 days, including the UMass game on Wednesday. I'd also like to thank him for making his team do two-a-day practices before the UK game, so that they had absolutely no legs on their jump shots. Yes, thanks to Rick, UL missed every single wide-open jumper, shooting 27% overall and just 12.5% from 3-point.

If you had told me UK would be outrebounded, turn the ball over more, and that Morris would only score 2 points playing only 16 minutes, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the game.
Instead, I got the birthday present that I wanted.

I would also like to thank Wukash Obrzut for getting fired up about the rivarly, and for being 7'1" tall. Thanks to you, Louisville couldn't really do the damage inside. I especially liked it every time you body-checked Padgett and he just got more and more frustrated.
I would also like to thank Wu for the great post-game interview he gave on the radio.

I would also like to thank my sister-in-law's family for giving us Fandago bucks. We saw "The Pursuit of Happyness" (no, i didn't mispell it) on Friday. It was an inspirational story.

I won't be posting much about basketball for the next few weeks, because we only play cupcakes. Even if we had not beaten IU and UL, we still would be heavy favorites in all these games. I'll get interested again when we start getting into the real SEC stuff.

Kentucky is now ranked #42 in the Sagarin. #43 in both Pure Points and Elo Chess. Louisville is now ranked #112. NIT, here they come again.

Kentucky is now ranked #47 by Pomeroy. Our offensive efficiency is a dismal #77, but defensive efficiency is now #37. Pomeroy still projects us to go 8-8 in the SEC.

Keep it real.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

UK clips vs. Louisville (2005)

The nice shelacking UK put on UL last year at Rupp. Listen to the crowd. Feel Joe Crawford's dunk.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Kentucky Tips Louisville - 1987

After Rex Chapman helped UK blow out Louisville in Freedom Hall in '86, "Little Brother" came to Lexington in '87. Gotta love Denny Crum at the end.
I'm pretty sure I can remember having to stay home while my parents went to this game. Lucky them.

Louisville is sin, so it's very easy and necessary to hate them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rex Chapman dunking over Louisville

I'm having problems posting from YouTube to Blogger today. The new Blogger Beta is annoying.

Here's a clip of Rex Chapman from his 26-point performance as a freshman in 1986. King Rex claims in the article that he felt bad for Denny Crum after UK blew them out by 34 in Louisville. Maybe Rex was the only person in the world who felt bad for Denny.

Here's another clip from the following season. Same situation: steal and a jam.

Chapman was easily one of the top 5 players ever at UK, and one of the best white dunkers ever.

And in case you haven't heard, Travis Ford coached UMass easily over Louisville last night. The "Little General" is making his stand in Kentucky.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Last minute of Kentucky Louisville 2004

I'm posting classic UK vs. UL clips this week in anticipation of Saturday.

On the last play, Pitino told his players "Whoever passes the ball inbounds will take the last shot. Do not leave the inbounds passer!" But, Louisville players are dumber than the average players and you can see the result.

Before Patrick Sparks shot the free throws, Tubby broke the ice by asking him "What do you want for Christmas?"
Sparks enters UK folklore.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mr. Hand

I'm the only business/econ graduate student that has the... privilege... of teaching. I don't get paid more than other graduate students; my perks are free coffee and an office. Oh, and lots of hours more work than the other graduate students.

This time of year, I'm often reminded of the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I think I only saw bits and pieces of it on TBS over the years. But, does anyone remember Mr. Hand? He and I are a lot alike.
Why am I reminded of Mr. Hand? Well, I get a flood of emails and office visits asking me to round up a grade, or raise someone's grade for no reason other than the person wanting a higher grade than what they've earned.

Student: "I'm trying to get into medical school. It
would really help me if you would give me a C+ instead of just a C."
Prof. Tapp: "Well, if you had done all of the extra credit I offered, turned your paper in early for me to proofread it and for you to re-submit it for a guaranteed 100%, you would actually have a B in the class. If you had gotten higher than a D- on your final, that would have helped you out too."
Student: "I know, but...."

Get the picture?

Here are some memorable quotes from Mr. Hand

Mr. Hand: What's the reason for your truancy?
Spicoli: Just couldn't make it on time.
Mr. Hand: You couldn't or you wouldn't?
Spicoli: Well, there's like a full crowd scene at the food line.
Mr. Hand: Food will be eaten on your time. Why are you continually late for this class, Mr. Spicoli. Why do you shamelessly waste my time like this?
Spicoli: Uh... oh... I dunno.
**Mr. Hand writes the words "I don't know" on the chalkboard.**
Mr. Hand: I like that. 'I don't know.' That's nice.
'Mr. Hand, will I pass this class?' Gee, Mr. Spicoli, I don't know! You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to leave your words right up here for all my classes to enjoy, giving you full credit of course, Mr. Spicoli!
Spicoli: Wow, all right!

Throughout the movie, Mr. Hand is asking students "Are you on dope?"

I feel like asking that at least twice a day.

At the very end of the movie, it shows Mr. Hand grading his students' final exams. He sighs, shakes his head, and the subtitle reads:
"Mr. Hand is convinced that everyone is on dope."

Yep, he and I think a lot alike right about now.

The end is near

I took my last final this morning. It was a struggle. All of my finals were. This has been the toughest semester ever. I'm thankful for a praying wife and praying friends that helped me through it. I'm also thankful for research papers since I'm much better at those than exams.

My students did OK on their final. They rocked the departmental, which is probably raising some eyebrows upstairs, but did less well on my questions. Overall, there are plenty of A's, B's, and C's in the class, which is what I was hoping for.

Sadly, we all still have some lingering work to do on a paper for Development. So, celebration won't really start until Wednesday.

And then I have 1,000 other things I need to do over Christmas Break.

That's all I have for today.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

UK-IU Pregame

So, Tubby made the players carry the ball to class, to eat, and to sleep. Ramel Bradley: "Coach wanted us to carry the ball around with us, take care of it, sleep with it," Ramel Bradley said. "Coach told us to sleep with the ball. He's trying to get us to take care of it, love it. She (the ball) already knows I love her, but now I have to take care of her a lot better."

Good. This IU team seems actually pretty decent, with 2 close
losses to Duke and Butler.

I want revenge for the 26-point pasting that IU put on us last year. Marco Killingsworth is gone, thankfully. And we didn't have Randolph Morris last year.

Vegas says: Kentucky by 5.
Sagarin says: Kentucky by almost 2.
Sagarin PP says: Kentucky by about 1.5.
Pomeroy says: IU by 6.

Justin says: Kentucky by 8. The season starts getting better today.

*Note* I won't get to watch the game on TV because I'll be giving my final. But, my students will see Professor Tapp sitting up front with his laptop open and his earphones on, and will probably see him getting agitated.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rankings and Predictions

I'm going to take a break from studying to post on UK and some statistical projections. You remember how this works, this blog DOES NOT accept any polls by writers or coaches. That so much weight is given to the opinion of people who can't even watch all those games is ridiculous.

This year, the official rankings of this blog will be the Sagarin (as always) and the Pomeroy. Because the numbers don't lie.

Pomeroy's rankings combine winning % with ratings for offensive and defensive efficiency.
Pomeroy has Kentucky ranked #64, with the #64 offense and #80 defense in terms of efficiency.
(On his site you can compare this to previous seasons).

Want to know how UK's season will fare? Here's Pomeroy's prediction for every game in the season. Right now, we're projected to go 16-14. These predictions will adjust for game outcomes. But, thus far it predicts a 26% chance UK loses by 6 to IU on Saturday.

Sagarin ranks Kentucky at #57 overall today. We only rank #84 in terms of who we've beaten, but we rank #52 in Pure Points (basically points scored). Both his overall and pure points predict a narrow UK win on Saturday.

To respond to David's comment, Kentucky has played 2 teams ranked in the Sagarin top 30, with one of those in the top 10. Memphis is ranked #44 because they haven't beaten anyone. Their loss to Tennessee last night helped us drop in the rankings.

Florida is ranked #31 overall, but #1 in Pure Points. They score a lot of points over weak teams, but don't have a lot of quality losses. Florida State is ranked higher, as it should be.

Pomeroy also predicts we'll lose to Louisville, then go on a winning streak. This makes sense. We haven't beaten anyone decent yet, why should we start now? We'll easily beat the Santa Claras and EKUs of the world.

What will help UK the most is to 1) reduce turnovers 2) beat IU handily 3) beat UL decently. That will prove that we've improved.

Weird Uncle Justin

My sister gave birth to a 6 lbs, 14 oz. 21-inch baby named Joshua Daniel Allen this morning. This makes me an uncle, and my parents are now grandparents.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

You break it, you bought it.

"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved.... the challenges are daunting. There will be difficult days ahead...there is no guarantee for success in Iraq... The level of violence is high and growing. There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show no improvement. Pessimism is is pervasive... the ability of the United States to influence events within Iraq is diminishing."

"We're winning." - President Bush in October
"We're not winning." - Gen. Pace (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) as quoted yesterday.
That is my view, yes, senator." - Robert Gates when asked if it's true that we're not winning.

"We didn't have a full appreciation of just how broken Iraq was when we went in."- Robert Gates

So, now what?

Thoughts on the Chattanooga Game...

I listened to most of it, but have no idea what you saw.

Starting Perry at the 4 was no surprise, but sitting Thomas, Stevenson, Carter, and Orbzut for essentially the entire game was humorous. Chattanooga's tallest guy was 6'7", guess Tubby didn't want to humiliate them.

Only 10,000 showed up at Freedom Hall, probably the lowest attended UK game there ever. That's sad. That's a vote of "no confidence."

Our guys can shoot the lights out when not challenged defensively.

I say we weren't challenged, but 20 turnovers? John Clay points it out this morning:

"Just once all of last year did Kentucky commit 20 or more turnovers in a game. That was Feb. 15 against Georgia in Rupp Arena, when the Cats committed 26. They have already topped the 20-or-more mark three times this year, and we're only eight games into the season."

Did anyone watch UL-Arizona last night? Anyone see that alley-oop that Chase Budinger threw down? He might be the best white dunker in America.Here's a pic of him at McDonald's All-American weekend. Wow.

Both Arizona and UL moved the ball well, particularly in the 1st half. Louisville got back in the game in the 2nd. Caracter looks like he'll be a beast under the basket for the Cards. Louisville scares me. Good ball movement, a heady point guard, good shooting. We have to beat them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Best thing I've heard all day...

Uncharacteristic Tubby Smith on Sheray Thomas in today's press conference (listen here):

"Sheray is giving us hell... "

(BTW-- he claims Perry Stevenson is still too "banged up" to start...)

Look for Bobby Perry to start at the 4 on Tuesday. Who cares, it's Chattanooga.

At the 15:00 mark in the conference, he says he likes Sheray because "he brings physical presence. He dives on the floor, hits guys... Perry Stevenson just isn't strong enough to do that."

Then, weirdly(!), Tubby looks at the box score and says "7 rebounds. Well, Perry is one of the most productive guys we have. He gets a ton of rebounds, he's active, we need to get him more minutes..."

It's the contradiction. He always says 2 conflicting things at one time. Frustrating.
The Tubby and The Damage Done

Monday Monday

In an update to my previous post, Southlake Carroll dominated Permian 42-6 to advance. No real surprise there.

Here's an article on UK's (football) recruiting class. Yay for football on the upswing.

I'm a better person for having watched NCAA football this year. Yeah, the post-season stinks, but there's nothing better than the regular season. And this season was AWESOME. And you don't need ESPN to watch most of the good games. I think it's a shift in my life: I'd now rather watch football than basketball. And I don't have ESPN to watch basketball if I wanted to anyway.

According to Pomeroy, Baylor (basketball) is more efficient than UK on offense.

In the next 7 days I'll take 3 finals and give 1.

So, unless something falls into my lap I likely won't be blogging.
Plus, I physically can't handle UK losing. I mean physically, mentally, just can't handle it. I predict we win our next 8 games, but really who are we beating?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I'm tired of losing

It hurts me deep down.

We were 10.5 point underdogs (though Sagarin predicted it right: UNC by 12). It pains me that we HAVE to slow it down and play a half-court game in order to keep it within double digits. Ironically, Brandan Wright said before the game that he didn't come to UK because we play too slow.

2 reasons why we lost by 12 (most of this happened in the 1st half... every thing else just sorta flowed from it in the 2nd half):

1). Joe Crawford. I loved his aggressiveness and his rebounding, but the turnovers killed us.
Constantly shooting the 3 (0-5) hurt us at the beginning too. Joe, take it strong to the hole! 7 turnovers, including 3 walks and a carry. Horrible.

2.) Sheray Thomas. When he gets a stat, it's a turnover or dumb play. Again, 2 points 4 rebounds 0 blocks in 23 minutes. He was owned by Brandan Wright. See that alley-oop? That was Thomas's man. See those bricks that didn't even touch rim from 5 feet away?! Yes, that was She-ray in action. He's our worst player and he starts. Morris held down the front court.

Perry Stevenson- 7 rebounds and a blocked shot in just 12 minutes. He was active on defense creating deflections. He's just longer and taller than most guys, so he's better. Sheray has no wingspan and isn't that tall. Play Stevenson!!!

I thought the most effective lineup was Bradley, Jasper, Morris, Stevenson, and Perry. This lineup lasted about 5 minutes. That was when me made that little mini-run in the 2nd half. Jasper makes freshman mistakes, but Crawford makes the same mistakes as a JUNIOR. Let Jasper play! Or Porter, he makes decent decisions.

13 assists, 22 turnovers. We suck at offensive efficiency.

Bright spot: Randolph Morris is our most complete player.

I'll close with Tubby's quote from his press conference yesterday (Friday before the game):

"We’ve failed two tests so far this season. When you don’t win it’s a failure. There is a way to measure, when you look at it and say well you did this better and you did that better. The bottom line is did you win? When you don’t win, that means you failed. It’s as simple as that. This is kind of a pass-fail course right here. Did you play well enough to win?"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tayshaun Prince vs. UNC

Tayshaun hit 5 THREES IN A ROW in 2001, one of the happiest memories in the UNC-UK rivalry. Look how far #5 was. I was on like the 5th row behind the UK bench for this one.
Yay for senior year memories.

Tomorrow at 11am CST you know what I'll be watching on CBS.

The REAL Friday Night Lights

The Texas high school football playoffs last a long time. Just look at the bracket. They're just now in the regional semis.

Tomorrow the Permian Panthers (the same team in the book & movie Friday Night Lights) take on powerhouse Southlake Carroll in Lubbock in a huge clash of Texas football traditions. Mojo vs. Dragons.
It's also a tough, west-Texas oil-dependent town (Odessa) vs. one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America (Southlake).

Here's an article explaining the history.

Southlake Carroll has a powerhouse. As the district has grown exponentially in the past 15 years, Southlake has won titles in 3A, 4A, and 5A. They've won three of the last four 5A Div-II titles, winning 44 straight games, making them arguably the best high school program in the nation. They're currently ranked #3 in the nation by USA Today.

Permian-Odessa used to be a powerhouse. They're going to try and bust Southlake in the mouth.

I've never been to Odessa but I've driven through much of Southlake (suburb of Ft. Worth). Movie stars and professional athletes build their HUGE homes out there. One time, for kicks, I cruised in Joni's old Mustang convertible with the top down around some of the neighborhoods, as though I was living there like a Big Pimp Daddy.

I'm rooting for the Mojo, baby!