A New TDG Feature - "After The Tip"

There have been a number of sports blogs that have taken a shot at reviewing each play in their favorite team's football games in the hopes of trying to figure out who is playing well and who may not be pulling their weight over the course of a season.

There's always been a sort of incoherence in trying to assign blame based upon only what you see in a football game, especially when you, the viewer, have no idea what the playcalls were on offense or defense. For example, the viewer may blame the RT for letting a defensive end come free in on the quarterback. However, that same viewer may not know that: (1) the RT's job on the play call is to release past the DE in order to block a LB on the second level; (2) the FB, after the RT released, was supposed to block that DE but missed; or (3) the QB did not audible to move the RB into the right spot to block. Without the benefit of knowing who is supposed to block who, or who is supposed to defense a certain player, it becomes very difficult to "assign blame."

I'm of the belief that figuring out a "good play" or a "broken play" is somewhat easier in basketball. First off, most offensive plays reveal themselves in a rather straightforward manner and can be identified. Second, defenses can also be identified over the course of a game. Third, the fundamentals of good passing, good rebounding, and solid-man-to-man defense or fast-break play are pretty evident even to the casual viewer.

So, we're going to try something new here at TDG. I'll call it "After The Tip." SportsCenter makes the big dunk or the 3-pointer to be the "reason you watch" basketball. However, there is normally a formative moment in a play which permits the scoring opportunity. We're going to look for those.

This is what "After the Tip" is going to do. We'll keep track of who is on the court. We will identify, as best we can, the offensive and defensive playcalls for Minnesota. We will identify who sets the solid screen, who makes the key pass, who breaks down a defender on the dribble on offense, and tally those plays for each (televised or attended) game. Similarly, on defense we will identify who makes a key block, who soundly boxes out, who ushers a defender into a double team, who steps into a passing lane, or who forces a turnover through sound positional defense.

What this analysis will hopefully do is make us all appreciate the difficulties and nuances of college basketball. Also, it'll probably show how good Sampson, Westbrook and Nolen really are.

If there are other trends other than those I've listed above that you'd like me to track, put them in the comments below. The first test run for "After The Tip" will be for Thursday's game against Utah Valley. I'll watch the game a few times, get through the possessions, and test run a tabulation system. We'll see how this goes and fine-tune it in time for the start of the Big Ten season against Penn State in late December. Enjoy.

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