So What Do You Think You Know?

In Sports by Brock Bourgase

Two ideas that I have been recently mulling over:

Spin: A three-point shot, released with backspin, is tipped by a defender who is closing out desperately, hands up. The ball, deflected from its intended path, heads towards the short corner. Is the clockwise vector – applied to the bottom of the ball – strong enough to overcome the shooter’s finger flick? Does the ball have any rotation? If so, is it material enough to influence the ball’s trajectory (beyond the linear forces pushing the ball towards and away from the basket)?

If nothing else, the block should augment the ball’s forward bounce when it hits the court, according to specular reflection. Or perhaps a 4,700 sq. ft. piece of hardwood is too small to seriously consider the impact of physics.

Timeouts: The season’s hottest trend is to call timeout just before the opponent attempts a late-game field goal. Scarcely moments before the ball is to be snapped, the coach signals timeout to the side judge, who blows his whistle but cannot stop the play so the kick must be attempted again. Mike Shanahan and Lane Kiffin succeeded; the second kicks were missed and blocked respectively. Dick Jauron failed; the do-over was good and Buffalo lost the game.

How much physical recovery is necessary after the strenuous exertion of a long field goal attempt? Should the offence call a timeout (if they have one) to ensure that the kicker is rested? What about the mental aspect? Does the outcome of the first attempt or perceived feelings of fatigue alter the kicker’s confidence, positively or negatively? Does the defence gain additional insight concerning the offensive line’s blocking schemes?

Or is the late timeout an idle gesture, an ineffective tactical maneuver executed in order to keep up appearances, avoid accusations of coaching like Marty Schottenheimer? Since results count, Shanahan and Kiffin are judged to be right, because if they had done nothing, they would have lost. To me, it’s dubious that these coaches are pulling the strings and altering percentages. What if the first kick went wide right and the place kicker was able to correct his mistake on the second try?

Food for thought. x2.