The Basketball English To English Dictionary

Language is a living evolving being. It intermingles with many different fields including sports. Phrases like “three strikes” and “the whole nine yards” are frequently used outside of sports. Meanwhile sports has acquired words from the English language and gives them a new meaning. A word like “dime” has a totally different meaning when applied to basketball. This guide is intended for those who would like to learn more about basketball terminology. All of these words are borrowed from the English language, but their meanings are radically different from their original meaning. All quotes are made up.

Intangibles (adj) – Statistics other than points per game; Tangible stats like rebounds, blocks, steals, etc.
“Ben Wallace is a phenomenal player because of his intangibles.” – Bill Walton

Proven (adj) – A player who has done this feat once in his career. Frequently used when the player isn’t likely to ever repeat that feat.
“Charles Smith will help the Knicks reach the Finals. He’s a proven 20-8 guy.” – Anonymous analyst, summer 1992

Legitimate (adj) – A player who has been a starter for more than one year. Usually refers to one that is a borderline starter.
“We could probably get a lot back for Willie Green, since he’s a legitimate shooting guard.” – Random message board commenter, Philadelphia suburbs

Winner (n) – A person that was lucky enough to play on a championship team. Today this usually applies to just about anyone who played with Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal.
“Derek Fisher is a great acquisition for Golden State. He’s a proven winner.” – Bill Walton

Choker (n) – A person that was unlucky enough to face Shaq or Duncan late in the playoffs, during one of their championship runs.
“Chris Webber isn’t a winner, he’s a choker.” – Eric Montross

Athletic (adj) – Unskilled. Usually in intangible areas, like rebounding, blocking shots, etc.
“Our team could use an athletic player like Kwame Brown or Tim Thomas.” – No one. Ever.

Glue guy (n) – A valuable player who’s main contribution isn’t using up lots of possessions.
“Andrei Kirilenko is the type of glue guy that every team needs.” – Spokesman, Elmer’s Glue

Energy guy (n) – Unlike some of the aliens you would see on Star Trek (Q, Pah Wraiths, Trelane), these are corporal beings. Usually an illegitimate glue guy that can run the floor in transition, or excels in one intangible part of the game.
“And a fast break dunk by energy guy Tayshaun Prince.” – Kenny Smith

Chemistry (n) – Winning Percentage.
“The Lakers had great chemistry under Shaq, Kobe, and Phil Jackson.” – Jack Nicholson

The Eddy Curry Study, Pt. II

It’s only been 12 games, but it looks like Knicknation has turned on Eddy Curry. Posts on various message boards show New Yorkers’ disdain for their “center of the future.” At UltimateKnicks, a post was titled “I’m done with Curry….” and it was met with no resistance. One Knicks4Life poster started a thread two weeks ago called “The Eddy Curry Watch” and went from the opinion “Got to admit, he looked pretty good out there” to “I’m done defending Curry” in two weeks. Even on RealGM, where the hardcore optimists take up residence, posts are proclaiming “Curry has got to go.

However there are still a few people that are still optimistic on Curry’s future.

“We’re not asking Eddy to dominate the league at 23 years of age. That’s a tall task for anyone. I don’t remember too many 23-year-olds coming in and dominating, regardless of how long they’ve been in the league. Twenty-three is still 23.”

You might expect that quote to come from a body-painted rabid Knick fan on a message board, but instead those words come from Knicks President & Coach Isiah Thomas. That quote comes from the New York Daily News along with this tidbit:

Still, [Isiah] has made a Ewing-esque guarantee about Curry’s future, and yesterday named some other top-tier big men in arguing that the sixth-year pro will take as long as they did to develop. Those names included Yao, Jermaine O’Neal – whom Thomas acquired and coached in Indiana – and one guy whose number hangs from the Garden rafters.

“I saw Patrick Ewing in the gym (Saturday) night,” Thomas said. “I remember Patrick at 23. Do you remember what the Knicks’ record was when Patrick was 23? … I’m just saying, it takes awhile.”

While I don’t expect Isiah to badmouth one of his own players, I don’t think Thomas should expect Knick fans to swallow his words hook, line & sinker. Let’s look at the facts and discuss whether Eddy Curry is similar to Jermaine O’Neal, Yao Ming, and Patrick Ewing? Curry turns 24 in a couple of weeks, which means last year he was 23 for a majority of last season. So let’s look at our 4 players at the age of 23:

OFFENSIVE STATS
Ewing  20.0 pts, 22.5 pts/40, 47.4% efg, 52.6% ts%
O'Neal 19.0 pts, 20.2 pts/40, 48.0% efg, 52.1% ts%
Y.Ming 17.5 pts, 21.3 pts/40, 52.2% efg, 58.6% ts%
CURRY  13.6 pts, 21.0 pts/40, 53.8% efg, 58.3% ts%

Curry’s scoring and shooting percentages are right up there with the other three, only his points per game lags behind. Since that’s a function of his minutes, let’s look at some of his other stats to see why he’s not getting the playing time the other 3 received. We’ll use the stats per 40 minutes to even things out, since the minutes per game are radically different between the 4.

OTHER STATS (per 40 minutes)
Ewing  10.2 REB, 2.3 BLK, 3.9 TO, 4.3 PF
O'Neal 11.2 REB, 2.5 BLK, 2.6 TO, 4.0 PF
Y.Ming 10.9 REB, 2.3 BLK, 3.0 TO, 4.1 PF
Curry   9.2 REB, 1.2 BLK, 3.8 TO, 5.1 PF

It’s clear from the fouls that Eddy can’t get more minutes, however it’s not just the fouls that keeps Curry on the bench. He lags behind all 3 in rebounding, blocked shots, and fouls. Only Ewing’s high turnover rate keeps Eddy from running the table. Curry’s blocked shot rate is especially damning. The Knicks current center’s blocks shots at half the rate of the others. This confirms eye witness testimony of Eddy’s poor defense. From these numbers, it’s obvious that Curry is poor in areas vital to the center position, which is the primary reason he doesn’t receive more minutes.

Curry’s backers say that his poor defense, high foul rate, & lack of rebounding are a factor of his age. Unfortunately this statement is in direct contradiction of the evidence above. Ewing, Yao, and Jermaine O’Neal were all good rebounders, had their fouls under control, and were dominant in the paint even at the tender age of 23.

Thanks to basketball-reference.com, we have another way to judge a player’s potential. Similarity scores look at a player’s stats, then finds other players that had similar numbers. For example if you wanted to know if Chris Paul is likely to be good, one way would be to look at the players that were most similar to him. Good news for Hornet fans, as Paul’s most similar are Stephon Marbury, Mike Bibby, Isiah Thomas, and Gilbert Arenas. Meanwhile Garnett’s comparables at age 23 predicted a Hall of Fame career: Bird, Duncan, Webber, and Ewing. And how do our four players match up?

Most Similar at Age 23
Ewing: Jermaine O'Neal, Keith Van Horn, Pau Gasol, Derrick Coleman, Tim Duncan
O'Neal: Patrick Ewing, Pau Gasol, Derrick Coleman, Bryant Reeves, Shawn Kemp
Y.Ming: Ralph Sampson, Rik Smits, Pau Gasol, Jermaine O'Neal, Georghe Muresan
Curry: Jeff Ruland, Mitch Kupchak, Sharone Wright, Jamaal Magloire, Leon Douglas

At 23 years old Ewing, O’Neal, and Ming compared to All Stars and/or players that were very good early in their career. On the other hand, Curry’s most comparables leave a lot to be desired. The one thing they have in common is they were all washed up by the age of 28.

For those that aren’t into statistical methods, there are still other ways to judge a player’s value.

Awards by the age of 23
Ewing: All Star, Rookie of the Year, All Rookie Team
O'Neal: All Star, Most Improved Player, All NBA Team (3rd)
Y.Ming: All Star, Rookie of the Year, All Rookie Team
Curry: None

Just as the statistics predicted, Patrick Ewing, Jermaine O’Neal, and Yao Ming were acknowledged by their peers for their fine play. All three became All Stars before the age of 24, and all three were given some other award. And again Curry is the odd man out, lacking in any kind of hardware.

So what do all these facts tell us? First that Curry’s age isn’t an excuse for his lack of development. Just using the players Isiah chose, we’re able to show that 23 year olds can play at a high level. Ewing went to a four year college, Yao Ming came form another country, and Jermaine O’Neal skipped college. Despite coming to the NBA from different routes, all three made their mark by the age of 23. Second Curry’s lack of college experience isn’t an excuse either. Just like Curry, O’Neal came to the NBA out of high school. Before age 23, Jermaine O’Neal played in only 5076 minutes compared to Curry’s 6683. Despite Curry having a season’s worth of minutes over O’Neal, Jermaine was the one to become an All Star. But O’Neal isn’t the only player to accomplish this. Dwight Howard is only 21, and is poised to become one of the East’s best centers. Toronto’s Chris Bosh appeared in his first All Star game at age 21. While Isiah Thomas might be throwing out names like Ewing, Yao, and Jermaine to make Curry sound like a promising young player, it’s clear no matter how you look at it that Eddy Curry will not become a “league-leading center.”

In Defense of Marbury: Usage Rate and the Ball-Hog

This article was written by KnickerBlogger reader Michael Zannettis, who originally sent this to me in a different form. I’ve taken the liberty to edit the work to make it more befitting this space. Any grammatical or spelling mistakes are therefore mine. Additionally I sat on this article for well over a week, so I’ve attempted to update the stats where applicable. At the time the Knicks were doing much worse on offense and much better on defense, so it may suffer from it’s late publication. While it may not be best presented after Marbury’s 35 point outburst against Detroit, I feel that the piece should be heard, and believe that it still stands on its own.

Again any issues that arise from these changes are the fault of the editor, so save Michael from the voodoo doll pins that many of you are currently using to punish yours truly.


It is with great concern for the current competitiveness and future viability of our beloved Knickerbocker franchise that I have become distressed with the treatment of the Knicks? best player, Stephon Marbury. I was certainly a supporter of one of the great coaches of all-time, Larry Brown, being hired to lead this franchise back to the NBA playoffs, but his initial returns on player development are frustrating.

Most obviously, Mr. Brown?s poor treatment of his only star performer, Stephon Marbury, has collapsed a once-decent New York offense. I will not forget that the defense has made a turn around from 27th to 16th without the addition of even one frontline defensive player. Due credit will be meted out in time, but even Mr. Brown?s championship Detroit Pistons had an average offense to complement their superior defense.

Let the numbers decide the offense?s stature. Last year’s team was an average offense, ranking 17th (105.9pts/100 poss). This year, the team’s production has plummeted to 24th (100.7pts/100 poss), a decrease of 5.2pts/100 poss. Last year, the entire scoring load of the Knicks’ offense fell to its guards, Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford, both of whom were the only Knicks to average 15 points or more per game.

In the more advanced metrics, Marbury fared well while Crawford looked worse. The former led the team with a .690 player win percentage and a 21.9 PER, while the latter was an inefficient, if volumous, scorer with poor defense, whose win share was a replacement-level .344 with an average 15.4 PER. It was Crawford’s low shooting percentage, often forcing ill-advised shots, which killed his contributions to the offense. He didn’t help his cause by being a spectator on the defensive end either.

Marbury was criticized for his high Usage Rate (24.7%) but considering the teammates he was expected to pass to, it’s a wonder that he didn’t shoot the ball even more often. The only other Knick regular with Offensive Efficiency ratings at the league average or better were Jerome Williams and Mike Sweetney. Williams was a rebounding specialist whose 13.2% Usage Rate belied the fact that the only time he scored was off a tip-in or offensive rebound. Meanwhile the underrated and underutilized Mike Sweetney was a low-post scorer with a prodigious free throw rate, who neither was a pick & roll partner nor a particularly explosive finisher around the basket that would complement Mr. Marbury?s talents.

No other teammate, besides the underused Sweetney, approached offensive competence.

If the criticism of Marbury was that Sweetney should have received more touches in the low block, then I would certainly be in agreement. This was not the case. Rather, it was the Knicks’ coaching staff themselves who limited Big Mike’s production by playing him only 19.6 minutes per game, and all that behind inferior talent.

Sweetney even played less when Malik Rose joined the team through a mid-season trade with San Antonio. Rose was clearly finished as an offensive player, and shared Sweetney’s biggest weakness: being short. If Mike Sweetney was losing playing time for being an undersized 6?8? power forward with limited open court athleticism, then what exactly was Malik Rose, an undersized 6?7? power forward who could no longer hit a jump shot doing playing over 20 minutes a game?

Who then was Marbury expected to share the ball with? Because of his incompetent teammates, on any given possession the best option for the Knicks was Stephon taking the shot.

Examining the Usage Rate comparables of the 2004-05 season makes the ball-hog criticism even more inane. Marbury ranked 30th in the league in Usage Rate. For those of us keeping score at home, there are only 32 teams in the league, and since Usage Rate cannot exceed 100% by a team, the more one player’s ratio increases the more another’s must decrease (although if they are playing as substitutes one might not affect another’s directly). An obvious example would be Chris Webber?s high usage rate falling precipitously when he was traded to the Philadelphia 76er?s midseason. Allen Iverson led the league in Usage Rate, and promptly cut Webber?s dramatically, before it stabilized to a 17% decrease from his Sacramento rate.

As Dean Oliver explains in Basketball on Paper, a high usage scorer could be an asset to a team even if he is below average efficiency, because it permits his teammates to take fewer but higher quality shots. This improves the team?s overall efficiency. Ideally, of course, a team would like several high usage/high efficiency scorers. The Chicago Bull dynasty had this with the ultimate example of Michael Jordan and his Top-50 Player of all Time teammate Scottie Pippen. By the time they were done using the ball, the remainder of their teammates had only to use a small high quality percentage, which improved the team?s overall efficiency even more.

Compared to Stephon Marbury?s much maligned 24.7% Usage Rate, Scottie Pippen’s usage during the Bulls? championship seasons is comparable: 1990-91, 23.2%; ?92, 25.8%; ?93, 25.4%; ?96, 24.4%; ?97, 24.1%; ?98, 21.4%. And what about the one year Pippen had to lead the Bulls completely without Jordan? His Usage Rate in ?94 was 27.4%. Obviously, he should have passed the ball more. What a hog!

This additive function of Usage Rates would make it extremely difficult for any two teammates to be near the league leaders in Usage Rate, unless it was a classic pairing like Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles during their championship run, or the aforementioned Jordan-Pippen combination. For the 2004 season, there were only four teams that had a pair of teammates who played with each other all season and both had a higher usage rate than Marbury’s 24.57%, 30th: Indiana Pacers (Jermaine O’Neal 32.32%, 3rd; Jamaal Tinsley 26.12%, 17th; Stephen Jackson, 25.03%, 29th); Miami Heat (Dwyane Wade, 29.03%, 5th; Shaquille O’Neal, 27.45%, 10th); Washington Wizards (Gilbert Arenas, 25.95%, 18th; Larry Hughes, 25.30%, 24th); Minnesota Timberwolves (Kevin Garnett, 25.88%, 19th; Sam Cassell, 25.86%, 20th). In other words, as the best player on the Knicks’ team Marbury only used the ball as much as the 24th most heavily used first-rate player. Including the 76ers and Warriors by projecting full season stats and therefore including Iverson/Webber and Davis/Richardson, only moves Stephon up to 22nd, still a below average rate for a team?s best player.

If Marbury’s reputation labels him a ball-hog, the statistical evidence does not support the hypothesis. Instead, he resembles a talented offensive player who creates his own shots and creates high quality efficiency. Teams need more of this, not less. Considering the Knicks general incompetence at the offensive end, it was a wonder that Stephon Marbury is not asked to increase his Usage Rate.

Three Days

Only three days left in the NBA’s regular season!

* The best race left is in the East, with the 76ers, Nets, and Cleveland fighting for the final two spots. If the three teams were high school seniors, New Jersey would be the guy who decided to straighten himself out so that he could graduate. The Nets have done everything they can to make the big dance, by taking 8 of their last 10, including beating Philly on Sunday.

Meanwhile the Cavs are like the B+ student that suddenly started to run with the wrong crowd. LeBron James went from valedictorian candidate (MVP) to summer school applicant. They have dropped 8 of their last 11, and have decided to work on their ping pong game instead of studying for the finals.

Philly is the average kid that decided to work harder, but got sick and missed a bunch of classes anyway. Getting a tutor (Chris Webber) didn’t help the Sixers as much as they would have hoped. However they’ll make the cut because New Jersey started off bad, and Cleveland is ending bad.

* The only serious battle left in the West is the 5th spot. The Rockets and Kings are tied, but according to Yahoo!’s standings, Houston has the tie breaking edge. I believe that they have the edge in schedule as well. Houston’s last two games are at home against the Clippers and Sonics. Although Sacramento plays the easy to beat Utah, they have to head to Salt Lake to do so, and then the Kings go home to face the top seeded Suns.

Honestly I don’t think there is a huge disparity between the two spots. Thanks to David Stern’s three division alignment, the “winner” gets to face the tougher Mavericks and the “loser” plays the Sonics, despite Dallas’ 50 point lead in win percentage.

* I can’t think of the words “Three Days” without thinking of the Jane’s Addiction song. The song is about weekend filled with drugs & group sex. If you’ve never heard of Jane’s Addiction, just wait for a Coors commercial to come around, and you’ll hear the “Mountain Song.” I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked with Perry Ferrell selling off his songs, especially the one with the lyric “cash in” repeated about 20 times. Additionally Pete Coors next Senate run should be interesting, considering the conservative’s “family values” and anti-gay marriage stance not exactly falling in line with his company’s purchasing Ferrell’s music to sell beer.

* Seven teams have clinched in the West, leaving just Minnesota and Memphis to fight for the final spot. The Timberwolves could have pulled within one game, but lost at home to the Sonics by 15 points yesterday. Just one Grizzlies win or Timberwolves loss in their combined four remaining games clinches the 8th spot for Memphis.

* In the Final playoff battle, Washington kept the hope alive that they could beat out Chicago for the coveted home court advantage in their series. The description from the AP wire read:

With Larry Hughes racing the length of the court and the clocking running down, Charlotte’s Brevin Knight knocked the ball away from behind — and right to Jamison, who put it off the glass and into the basket with 1.3 seconds remaining to give the Washington Wizards a 106-104 comeback victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday.

The Wizards luck is going to end there, as they have to win two on the road, while the Bulls get to work from home for their final pair of games. Ironically both teams face the Knicks, so my team gets a chance to play spoiler. From my perspective it’s Chicago and Washington that get to play spoilers. The Knicks are tied with Golden State and Toronto for the 7th draft spot. If both teams happen to win against New York, it could mean two spots in the draft, depending on how the Raptors & Warriors do.

The Sun Also Rises

Last October I interviewed the author of the Basketball Forecast series John Hollinger. I only knew John from those books, his website (alleyoop.com), his Sports Illustrated columns, and some interaction on the old APBR_metrics site. Wondering if I could coax some more writing out of my favorite hoops author, I asked him if he would be reporting on a more frequent basis. John’s response:

Well, I write two columns a week for the New York Sun, so since you’re in the Big Apple that’s a big fat yes. Otherwise, I’ll be doing a weekly piece for SI.com.
After overcoming my embarrassment of not knowing that Hollinger writes for my hometown paper, I was thrilled to find out that I could read two more high quality and humorous columns a week on hoops. At first I bought the paper solely to scan for Hollinger’s articles, but it didn’t take long before I noticed that the New York Sun had the best sports section in town.

As far as I’m concerned as a basketball blogger, the crew is led by Hollinger. Now that ESPN’s Insider has John locked up on their pay site, at $.25 an issue the Sun is the only place I can afford to read his writing regularly. Yesterday John wrote an excellent piece on how the Knicks should go about rebuilding. Proving that great minds think alike, Hollinger advocated the Knicks should rebuild around Marbury, Sweetney, Ariza, and Crawford (only if he can learn to attack the hoop) while aiming for free agency in 2007.

The Sun’s other NBA columnist is Martin Johnson. Johnson was the first person to mention my site in print, and his local bar is my old college haunt which proves his impeccible taste. When not at the bar, Johnson’s keeps his finger on the pulse of the NBA like Hawkeye Pierce, and can surgically separate hype from substance. Martin’s levelheaded and analytical style allows him to cut through the trends and get to the core of a team’s ability.

The New York Sun’s excellent sport section doesn’t end with its’ basketball coverage. The rest of the writers are a veritable who’s who in sports statistics analysis. I’ve seen articles written by Aaron Schatz from www.FootballOutsiders.com and the soon to be released 2005 Pro Football Forecast. This week the Jets & Giants draft needs were covered by Sean Lahman, famous for his sports databases, who also writes for the Pro Football Forecast. Now that baseball is in full swing, the Sun is featuring articles from a potpourri of writers courtesy of BaseballProspectus.com. Almost daily year round, you can find a piece by Tim Marchman who all-baseball.com called “one of the brightest young baseball writers in the country.” Finally for those who like more than the top 3 American sports, there are regular columns on the more esoteric boxing, horse racing, soccer, and something our ice age ancestors called hockey.

The best part about the New York Sun, is that the sports coverage reads more like a magazine than a newspaper. With that I mean the articles get to the heart of the matter, and are not just scraping the surface of the day’s events. While I don’t want to mention any other writers or papers by name, this is a far cry for what normally passes as sports reporting. If they aren’t publishing the latest Bull Durham-esque trivial player quotes, they’re passing along every possible rumor that comes across their plate. Occasionally it’s sexy to hear GM hearsay and free agent gossip, but its superficial reporting.

Yesterday for example the Sun contained a column from Baseball Prospectus on constructing a batting order. While sounding simplistic on the surface, it referenced a Bill James study, calculated the additional plate appearances the different spots get over the course of the year, and discussed which teams around the league are taking advantage of the second spot in the order. It’s just so much more refreshing than hearing for the 11th straight year how Chris Webber would love to play for the Knicks, or how a manager thinks his team keeps “playing, and that’s the type of team that I need to have.” (That is a true quote from today’s paper, name withheld to protect the guilty). As far as I’m concerned when it comes to sports coverage by the New York print media, it’s crystal clear that the New York Sun rises to the top.

No Horns On Luther’s Head

I love watching sports arguing shows. Ok not all of them. It’ll be a long time before I willingly turn on Mike and the Angry Puppy on my television or radio again. Instead I’ll admit that I prefer watching either “PTI” or “Around the Horn.” Now before my loyal readers decide to erase KnickerBlogger.Net from their bookmarks, I don’t watch these shows for the “intelligent sports banter”. Like people of an earlier generation who watched Siskel & Ebert, I tune in for the arguing. While “sports talk” that degrades into “sports yelling” is entertaining, it’s also valueable from a rhetorical standpoint. To be persuasive, how you say something is sometimes more important than the content of your words.

The other day the prevailing (but not unanimous) opinion on “Around the Horn” was that watching MLB’s Opening Day would be more entertaining than the NCAA Final game. Those that were patient enough to sacrifice 0.6% of their team’s baseball season were rewarded with an exciting game. Illinois clawed back from a 13 point halftime deficit to tie the game late in the second half. Unfortunately the Fighting Illini came up short in the last seconds.

I’m sure someday somebody revives Luther Head’s final college minutes in a negative fashion. It might not be tomorrow on the aforementioned sports yell shows, or in a newspaper column. However eventually I have faith that on a message board in cyberspace somebody will imply that Luther Head was the goat. They couldn’t be more wrong.

I freely admit that in Illinois’ final two possessions with the game on the line, Head turned the ball over and missed the tying three pointer. However unlike Chris Webber’s time out folly, the mistakes were something you would see on any normal possession & not caused unduly by stress. The turnover was from a drive & kick, that was literally tipped by UNC’s Raymond Felton. In his final attempt, Luther Head’s missed three pointer was not a rushed shot. His feet were set, shoulders squared, and didn’t hurry the shot. It was well aligned, but a tad long caroming off back of the iron. In each case, only a few inches separated Head from being the hero of the game.

So often in sports, people try to make sense of something by pinning the entire team’s result on a single person. In baseball the pitcher earns the win or loss, despite the fact that he doesn’t control how much his team scores, how his fielders perform, or what the bullpen does with his lead. While pitchers are highly influential on the outcome of a baseball game, they aren’t the sole determining factor. Certainly if Randy Johnson had any offensive help last year, he would have posted better than a 16-14 record with his obscenely low 2.60 ERA.

People get so carried away with crediting an individual for a team effort, that they’ll do the same in other sports as well. Things like W-L records are even more ludicrous in other sports like football. Trent Dilfer was 7-1 in 2000, and that should tell you something about the nonsense of attributing wins & losses to a QB. Even when NBA MVP voters note that the Suns are 2-4 without Nash, it implies that Steve’s individual record is 54-13. Nash may very deserve the MVP award, but not because of his teams’ record without him.

Wherever you cross the misinformed soul that attempts to claim Luther Head lost the game for Illinois, you can remind them that Head led his team in scoring and shot a respectable 50% (eFG%). Point out that James Augstine couldn’t stay out of foul trouble long enough to score a single point. Tell them that Head wasn’t responsible for defending Sean May, who put in 26 points while only missing one shot from the field. Remind them that teammate Ingram was so oblivious in the final minute a pass hit him in the back. Or better yet, tell him basketball is a team game, and the Tar Heels were just the better team on this night.