Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I Am Howard Levy

TigerBlog starts today with the answer to yesterday's "Who Am I?" quiz.

TB gave you the improvement of a player from his first two seasons with the men's basketball team to his last two, and it was dramatic. Then he asked you to guess who it was. 

A few of you commented, and a few others emailed TB directly. That was a fun little exercise, and TB will do it again one of these days.

And that answer was Howard Levy. Howard is very familiar to Princeton fans, after his playing days (he's a 1985 grad) and then his years as an assistant coach here under Bill Carmody, John Thompson III and Joe Scott.

These days Howard is the head coach at Mercer County Community College, as well as a frequent attendee at Tiger games.

The whole thing started, as you recall, when TigerBlog was talking about the great improvement that junior center Richmond Aririguzoh has made this year. Princeton women's basketball coach Courtney Banghart talks about how hard Richmond has worked, how often she's seen him in the gym, in the current episode of "The Court Report," which you can listen to HERE.

There was also a comment from Monday's entry, the one that started with Chris Thomforde. Here was the comment:
After you said that Chris Thomforde was fifth at Princeton in career free throw percentage, I looked up his figure, which was 0.829. That has got to be one of the sport's very highest career stats for a player 6'10" or taller.
Richmond Aririguzoh's FT percentage for this year of 0.776, while obviously derived from a small sample size, must be one of the best run rates for a player 6'9" or taller.
Why there is such a strong correlation between FT percentage and a player's height? Perhaps it has something to do with small muscle versus large muscle motor control. Somewhere there is a Princeton senior thesis waiting to written on this phenomenon.

This got TigerBlog thinking. If you look at the 20 highest free-throw percentages in NBA history, only three of them - Kevin Durant, Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitski - are by players who are 6-9 or taller. Currently in the NBA, on the other hand, three of the six players who are currently shooting at least 90 percent from the line - Durant, Danilo Gallinari and Jeff Green - are at least 6-9. So are seven of the top 15.

What explains this? Maybe it has something to do with how it used to be that the biggest kid was simply planted near the basket, so he never had to learn to dribble or shoot from more than two feet away. These days, your tallest men - and women - are playing facing the basket, developing more than a low post game and with it the ability to develop a shot from away from the hoop.

For a Princeton women's example, for instance, there is Bella Alarie, who stands 6-5 but with guard skills.

Anyway, that would be a good senior thesis topic.

Meanwhile, as TB is sure you're aware, the college football season ended Monday night in a way that made pretty much any non-Alabama fan happy. TigerBlog assumes that about 90 percent of those who watched who weren't fans of either of the participating schools had to be rooting for Clemson.

TB figured the final score would be about what it was. He just didn't think that it would be Clemson who would be the winner, not that he was sorry to see Alabama go down.

With the final college game of the year (other than all-star games), TB can say that there are way too many bowl games that nobody cares about and a lot of them were absolute blowouts. The three playoff games weren't exactly competitive either.

Now that the dust has settled, there are only three unbeaten teams in Division I football for the 2018 season. Clemson and Alabama were both unbeaten coming in, so one of them was going to finish perfect. And then there was North Dakota State, who was the FCS champion.

The third? That would be Princeton. The Tigers, by the way, finished the season ranked ninth in both major FCS polls, which is the highest Ivy League finish in 32 years.

There are 124 teams in the FCS. There are 129 FBS teams. That's a total of 253 Division I football teams.

Three of them finished with perfect records. Princeton was one of them.

Any time you can make that statement, you have to feel pretty good about it.

1 comment:

John Poole said...

Speaking of players who flowered late in their college years, how about my classmate Tom Chestnut’69? Tom sat in the shadows of other great players until senior year. When he finally got his chance, Tom performed so well that he was invited to tryouts in Denver, where I was living at the time, for ( I think) the Pan Am Team.