Syracuse Basketball Fans Say Some Goofy Things

Feb 20, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; A young Syracuse Orange fan cheers during the second half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Carrier Dome. The Panthers won 66-52. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Syracuse, NY, USA; A young Syracuse Orange fan cheers during the second half against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Carrier Dome. The Panthers won 66-52. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s take a deeper look at some more examples of Syracuse basketball fandom gone stat-crazy.

As my colleague David Stone identified yesterday, the use of stats, in a bubble, by fans who have no general connection to Syracuse basketball, in order to provide infallible proof that their random thoughts as facts has become quite an amusing, and frequently irritating, aspect of sports fandom these days. Just check out the message boards and comments of articles written about your favorite sports teams. This may be a basketball focused piece, but I have to include a couple awesome football statements in my examples.

Here’s some non-stat-based examples I found while looking last night regarding our beloved Syracuse Orange:

“Syracuse needs to give up football or just drop down to division II.”

“Babers has already failed. What a terrible hire.”

“I can’t believe the NCAA didn’t ban Boeheim for life. He’s clearly been cheating his entire career. Syracuse sucks and would never have been good without SMU-level cheating.”

“Most people can’t even pronounce Gbinje’s name, so why would anyone claim to understand his game?”

And, my favorite:

“F the ‘cuse, they’re garbage!”

Tell us how you really feel. What in the ham sandwich is wrong with some of these anonymous posters out there? And we question the hateful speech of one of the candidates for president and how he seems to appeal to so many Americans? We’ll just save that philosophical discussion for another day, but wow.

Here are some examples I found of stat-based claims people who seem to be fans with no connection to the actual sport have made that I have no doubt they believe with their entire being:

“How is it that Lydon hits 43% of his 3’s and he’s only allowed to take 3 of them a game? Clearly he needs to take 10.”

“Syracuse is too slow to play a Baylor offense. Last year they ran 63 plays per game and were next to last in most per game, these kids are SLOW! What makes this admin think Baberz [sic] can make them faster? THEY ARE SLOW!!”

“Cooney hits more of his threes than any other type of shot. That means don’t let him shoot anything but 3’s.”

“Cuse is ranked 200 in rebound percentage. They are 250 in free throws. They are somewhere around there in field goals. This team isn’t even a top 200 team. Stop talking about March Madness. They aren’t even an NIT team.”

“Tyler Lydon averages a block more than anyone else, why isn’t he playing center? If he were, he’d own the paint.”

For the more rational Syracuse fans out there, I’m sure you just read and shook your head at most of these. I mean, let’s touch on some of the non-stat implications of these basketball suggestions.

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Do we (the royal we, as fans) really think Jim Boeheim tells Tyler Lydon not to take three-point shots? It can’t be because Lydon is just a selective shot taker, right?

Cooney has a higher 3-point percentage than field goal percentage, so you think he should never shoot from inside 25 feet? I guess being one-dimensional is how games are won.

Rebound percentage, free throw percentage, and field goal percentage are your indicators of a good team? No mention of being top 20 in steals or blocks? Way to cherry pick there, super fan.

And, of course Lydon needs to be in the paint on defense. He’s built for it. But, how will that fit with his offensive game? Didn’t you talk with that other hotshot who says he should take a bunch of three’s? Maybe Lydon is the next Terry Mills or Sam Perkins, but I doubt it. Syracuse basketball folks.

And, my personal favorite is the football statement, because the speed of the play call and whether a team huddles is directly proportional to straight line speed. Simply stunning.

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The point David Stone was making yesterday is that stats tell us a lot about a team and player, and can tell us even more when weighed against opponents. We are able to get even more information when we can use these stats to identify trends. The thing these stats don’t do, however, is tell the entire story in a bubble. You can’t cherry pick what matters and what doesn’t.

As David said yesterday: don’t be that guy.

There is a phrase data-types use to describe what they do: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

There is also a quote by the famous Tony Stark in the first Avengers movie that perfectly explains how people get themselves in trouble: “I can’t do the equation unless I have all the variables.”

If you think you have all the variables, then you are more likely to be wrong in your assessment. What you should instead strive for is being able to identify the variables that actually matter. For instance, rebound percentage, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and three-point percentage are all good stats to aid in creating a predictive model, but in a bubble, they do nothing but identify basic trends. Then you get to stats like PER, which uses those and other numbers to give another number that is supposed to explain an individual’s value to the team.

All of that is well and good, but guess what the biggest variable is in all of these numbers? If you guessed “human error,” you would be correct. Not in the error of doing the calculation, but in the error of the individuals to perform identical techniques, in identical orders, with identical methods, in identical situations.

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This is where the fun of being a fan comes into play. We never know what a person is going to do with the information in front of him. We can assume based on previous trends, but we never know for sure. Who would have expected Kevin Johnson to put Hakeem Olajuwon on a poster in the playoffs by throwing down in his face? How about Hakeem Warrick flying out of nowhere to block a three-pointer and seal a National Championship? How about true Freshman Eric Dungey evading the rush for more than 12 seconds before completing a 20-yard completion for a first down? All things a human did out of the expected range of behavior that changed the stats you get to look at later on to make your claims of a super fan.

So, to add to yesterday’s editorial, don’t just avoid being that guy, be the right kind of fan. Enjoy watching your team’s humans do great things.