Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cerebral Matter - March '09

Elite scientists are well-rounded... I like to believe this, knowing that my basketball players and other student-athletes at Caltech are talented in a number of areas. It's math and science first and basketball (hopefully) a close second. And many are expert musicians and artists as well:

"Some of the best scientists recommend looking for breadth of skills and talents in a variety of endeavors beyond the sciences.

In two previous posts, we argue that training in the arts benefits scientists in a variety of different ways. The best scientists are much more likely to be artists, musicians, actors, craftsmen, and writers than are typical scientists, or even the general public. Scientists draw skills, knowledge, processes, concepts, and even inspiration from their non-scientific avocations. Many are well aware of these advantages."

Leading and listening are skills. And being able to change one's mind is as well. Malcolm Gladwell explains.

Where are your thoughts? The past, present, or future? And are you now concerned that you didn't enjoy yourself when you had the chance? Some people could be suffering from hyperopia:
"They’re so obsessed with preparing for the future that they can’t enjoy the present, and they end up looking back sadly on all their lost opportunities for fun."

So, players DO think during the game. But not too much. And sometimes not at all. But then a little bit to help them later. Actually, it's all about having a really quick mind... which is an effect of practicing and playing and understanding the situations that may present themselves. Vince Carter summarizes:
"It’s all about memory through repetition and memory throughout the course of the game."

In-depth statistical analysis of the NCAA and NIT tourneys.

Even Bill Simmons is thinking like a coach. He wants details, man. Details about the inner game of statistical analysis. Simmons, like yours truly, was at the MIT Sloan Sports Business Conference, and the Sports Guy was seeking answers:
"I want to know Wade's percentages on contested, wide-open and clock-saving threes. I want to know how many uncontested jumpers LeBron creates for teammates. I want "mega-assists" (passes that create a layup or a dunk) and "half-assists" (for each made foul shot). I want "unforced turnovers," like in tennis (Tony Allen would be Wilt Chamberlain in this category), and "nitty-gritties" (some combination of charges taken, deflections, balls saved from going out of bounds and rebounds tipped to teammates). I want "Unselds" (a long outlet pass that leads to an assist for a layup or a dunk) and "Russells" (a blocked shot directed to a teammate)."

Basketball instituted a 3-point line, a shot clock, replay, and a host of other changes as player development made the game too easy. Now, how about an adjustment in Scrabble?!


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