Friday, January 25, 2008

Group A, Day Two.

I wasn't able to watch games the last two mornings --I miss evening classes and not having to worry about getting up past noon on days I don't work, by the way-- so these were my first matches since the triple header and it provided the best game I've seen in the tournament and, thankfully, a close night game. I was dreading the inevitable destruction of Namibia after watching their first match, it's not that I'm usually so empathetic to the failings of athletes (Eli Manning's game against the Minnesota Vikings, for example, was hilarious), but I wasn't anticipating enjoying watching Ghana run all over them, but more on that game in minute.

Guinea v. Morocco
The first half played out with very few chances for either side. Guinea played defense like they had in the second half of the opening game with Ghana, as though their play in the first half of that tie was an aberration, likely due to nerves or something.

Morocco's attack was without Alloudi and, the Cristiano Ronaldo look-a-like, Marouane Chamakh, they looked very little like the side that was up 2-0 within the first five minutes against Namibia. The long balls that were setting up easy opportunities for their strike force were nowhere to be found, as if they were only brought out against the lowest ranked team because who needs to spend a lot of time developing strikes when everything is coming so simply?

They had two shot attempts in the first half. It's possible both were by Youssof Hadji. I know one of them was because I made a note at the time that I have little faith in him actually putting something in the net when he's on goal. Of course, that was before I saw more of Chamakh. Put it this way, it's not surprising that his best play of the first game was passing the ball off the deflection of his own missed strike to Alloudi for the first goal against Namibia. That's likely the closest he's going to come to scoring in this tournament, his touch is awful; were it not, his team likely would've scrounged a point.

Aside from Pascal Feindouno's fantastic free kick from the left side of the penalty area in the 11th minute, neither side were able to get anything by each other until a flurry of goals around the 60th minute. The first was a wonderful set up by Feindouno finished by a perfect strike by Ismael Bangoura; followed by a goal from the just subbed in Hicham Aboucherouane that came from distance and was so quick that the live broadcast was only able to show the ball in the back of the net because they were still replaying Bangoura's shot; a minute later, after a questionable penalty call --the commentator said that if the foul had been committed in the French Ligue, it would have been a free kick; I know from experience that it would have been in FIFA-- Feindouno made it 3-1.

It seemed all but over, unless Morocco had another non-sequitur goal or two in them, but Feindouno was goaded into kicking a defender who had stepped on his foot and was immediately ejected. The resulting half hour, with occasional breaks, the Moroccans were in Guinea's side attempting to close the gap. Despite a few great opportunities, they wouldn't score until the final minute of regulation, and then proceeded to squander the last minute of stoppage time --in which they had a free kick-- feuding with Guinea. It seemed like a waste to me, that maybe they could have used that time to set up something a little better than a long range kick with their last possession of the match, but it's possible there are things about proper late game strategy I need to learn, being a relative neophyte to the game.

Two things things that stood out.
First, early, multiple Guinea players were forced to leave the pitch to cover weddings more than they already were taped up. The guy announcing the game (I've yet to retain the name of any of the people involved in putting on these broadcasts --not knowing most of the players involved, I'm forced to focus my attention on learning those-- by African Cup of Nations 2008 I'm hoping to have that down) seemed to think that the attention these rings were getting was odd. I certainly don't remember this happening in any other game. I wonder if Guinea are notorious for fouling with their rings, if they use them as a brass knuckle or if they attempt to get close to people and pinch them between in the skin of their finger and the band. Either way, this South African ref was abysmal and this had nothing to do with it.

Second, I wasn't initially sure what I thought of Pascal Feindouno after the Sunday. He seemed good and all, but I couldn't tell whether I was under that impression simply because of the attention he received being the captain and everything, but I've definitely come around. He might be my favorite player of the tournament I didn't already know (although Salomon Kalou of the-great-goal-against-Nigeria-fame-who-would-rather-be-playing-for-the-Dutch-national-team is intriguing), the unfortunate red card notwithstanding. Apparently, the rumor is that Blackburn is looking to sign him this month to replace the departed Anelka for a fifth of the money they retained from his sale. I don't know anything, really, but it seems like a good deal to me.

Ghana v. Namibia
Ghana dominated this match. Really, it played a lot like the first half of the kick-off match. Ghana with over 60% of possession, getting chance after chance, missing all of them (except, of course, the Agogo off-the-keeper chip). It's possible that I've just seen three really mediocre halves from an ordinarily really good team, but I wonder if they weren't the home team if they would have won either of these matches. Despite having the ball, roughly, 38% of the time and being out shot 20-7, Namibia really could have tied this game and put a lot of pressure on Ghana to even qualify for the next round. It's possible they're one of those teams that play down to their competition, but save for a great long distance goal from Muntari at the end of the opener and Agogo miraculously not missing the goal from 5 feet out, I don't know if they're capable of actually finishing. I think Morocco can beat them (and obviously Guinea can beat Namibia) and potentially eliminate them from the tournament. Either way, it should be an exciting final day, on Monday, for these four sides. Well, three of them.

Claude LeRoy was wearing a black jacket and a black v-neck sweater.

Monday, January 21, 2008

African Triple Header.

Last night I drank a beer and a bottle of wine and won trivial pursuit and got to bed at around one in the morning still feeling pretty drunk. I point this out, not trying to brag about my fast-lane lifestyle, but to establish, roughly, how I was feeling when I woke up at 6:45 this morning to get prepared to watch the first of three soccer matches. My head hurt, I was tired, and I was starting to get hungry.

Morocco vs. Namibia
Apparently there were only two thousand people in the stands to watch this one, after 45,000 watched the home team Ghana vanquish Guinea yesterday. I guess there are only so many people willing to wake up at 6:45 in the morning, hungover, ready to watch --if the experts at the FIFA rankings department would have you believe-- a likely rout. I put my faith in the experts and make it a point to believe what they'd have me believe and I was rewarded with having an idea of what I was in for.

Soufiane Alloudi scored two goals in the first five minutes and a third in the 28th minute that effectively ended it with an hour to play. Namibia's Brian Brendell scored in the 24th to make it 2-1, but that would be their only score. I went to Wikipedia a couple of minutes after Alloudi scored his hat trick and his profile had already been updated to reflect what he'd done in the match, I didn't check to see how quickly whoever is doing that fine work would mention the injury he sustained in the second half, but I do know that it's up there now.

Considering how much of their offense came from the feet and head of the forward, it'll be interesting to see how they'll fare in their next matches against tougher opposition without him if he's unable to perform. He was walking with a distinct limp and grimacing with each step as the cameras showed him walking toward the dressing room after full-time. It's difficult to know just how good he was, and how much of his production was the product of the performance of his teammates, the first and third goals were set up brilliantly, requiring him to do little more than be in the right place at the right time, but I suppose he does deserve credit for being there, and that second goal was superb.

Delightfully, Claude LeRoy made another appearance on my computer screen as he was shown scouting his group opponents. In a tournament with few compelling-enough-for-me stories, so far, I'm pleased to see as much of him as possible.

Nigeria vs. Ivory Coast
At halftime of the first match, I was considering dozing off, Morocco was effectively running the clock and Namibia wasn't about to make it interesting, but I stayed awake and alert for fear that if I did nod, I'd miss the start of this match. I realized as the lineups were announced that all three of the players I specifically cited in my first entry were playing in this game, and it figured to be an exciting match. For the most part it wasn't, but how much of that was due to my own condition could be debated.

Through the first half, Ivory Coast excelled in controlling possession, but it was Nigeria that had the chances. The cliched allusion of two heavyweight fighters, perhaps, feeling each other out before throwing hay-makers came to mind, but that seemed rather hopeful until around the end of the first hour, when both teams traded strikes on goal. Ultimately, it was Salomon Kalou, taking on the entire Nigerian defense who put the only score on the board in the 66th minute. It was a fantastic goal, I wouldn't be surprised to see it go down as the best of the tournament.

Ivory Coast had a few more attacks in them, but eventually the pace would slow back down with Nigeria unable to find an equalizer late. I assume that frenetic pace of Morocco's attack in the first game was largely due to the inferior quality of their opponent, and that they wouldn't fare as well if they were going against a class side like either of the two in this match, but it was still disappointing that the first twenty-five minutes of the earlier game, when Namibia appeared to still have a chance, were more exciting than all but a quick stretch of this heavily touted showdown.

Mali vs. Benin
I assumed Mali would roll here, not because I know anything about African soccer, just due to the disparity between the two in the CAF rankings. Benin mounted serious attacks infrequently, mostly relying on a bend-not-break defensive approach, I imagine in hopes of trying to steal a 1-0 decision or, at the worst, a point. Going against a much better side, it makes sense, I know when I play video games (it doesn't matter the sport) against significantly higher rated opponents, I like to play ball control offense and limit possessions, but unfortunately, Mali received a penalty and that would be the only goal for either side.

There's a widely held belief that the best tournaments, the best finishes, are when the perceived top powers meet in the finals. The most recent occasion I've heard someone say this was in reference to March Madness, that it's ultimately better when it's North Carolina meeting Duke meeting UCLA meeting Georgetown than when there's a George Mason or an Evansville or a what-have-you. It's a theory I'm not sure there's much to.

I watched Super Saturday last year, when four big conference powers and top seeds met up, and it was horrible basketball. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I had been convinced going in that both games were "must see" action, when they wound up both being extraordinarily (they went above and beyond) boring.

I guess what I'm getting to, with this aside, is that I'm really rooting for an underdog to come out of this first round. The last ten minutes of this match, in which Benin was peppering the Mali goal, was pretty fantastic, and I was really hoping they could even it up and perhaps be that energy drink with the black horse on it (if you're not watching African television, you're not getting that reference). I imagine that if, and likely when, the top clubs advance that there will be some great action, with one complete game on par with the best moments of the first two days, but it will feel like something is missing if a mild upset doesn't occur.

I firmly believe that on the right day George Mason can make for better basketball than UCLA (and I've seen UCLA on the wrong day, so I feel like I know what I'm talking about there) and I hope this tournament has one.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ghana & Guinea.

As I watch more of these matches, I'm sure I'll come away with a better idea of what I should expect as far as quality of play is concerned. It seemed choppy early, particularly in contrast to thirty minutes of the Barcelona v. Racing match I watched a replay of later this evening. It's possible that was due to nerves, the halftime analysts said that the opening match is usually of poor quality, so maybe tomorrow will be make for a better 90 minutes, rather than 90 minutes of alright with intermittent flashes of brilliance.

As for the game, it was only surprising it was as close as it was. After a few early chances for Guinea, Ghana dominated the rest of the first half, maintaining possession for nearly 60% of the period. They had an 11-1 corner advantage and should have found themselves up, with at least something on the board after three shot attempts knocked off the woodwork, including one hitting the inside and bouncing out. Guinea was lucky to still have a chance at a point.

Both teams would get on the board in the second, Asamoah Gyan knocked in a penalty, ten minutes later, Oumar Kalabane tied it up with a header off a corner. The quality of the challenge on the play that led to the penalty, and the ensuing first goal, was debatable, on one hand Kalabane missed the ball, but it still didn't really look as though he made significant contact with Agogo. I wonder about the art of the flop, and if the referee would have made the same decision had Agogo stayed down on the pitch and writhed, rather than rolling and quickly getting back up. However questionable the call, it was a brilliant play on his part, not over-selling the contact.

Ultimately, the team I'd incorrectly assumed was the favorite won, and in spectacular fashion. In a game full of missed chances, Sully Muntari's impeccable game winner from about 25 yards out in the 89th minute seemed a near miracle. By that time I was openly rooting for Guinea, that a point should have been theirs, as Ghana had appeared desperate late to come away with more, relying on the long ball and forgoing the midfield in order to create quick shot attempts. I was disappointed Guinea weren't able to hold on, but at least the defeat came after a fantastic shot.

Also, and maybe it's just me, but Claude LeRoy, aka "The White Witch Doctor" needs more screen time. The horrified gasp in the room that came after the close-up of him smiling was priceless. Apparently he looks exactly like Mad-Eye Moody from Harry Potter. Who knew?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Eve of the African Cup of Nations.

In the process of getting amped for the African Cup of Nations, starting tomorrow with Ghana v. Guinea, I watched most of the first half of an Argentinean match between Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo.

Despite not having any idea which team was which until a process of elimination based on uniform and crests colors, I found particular elements intriguing. First, I love when a game is being presented in a language I'm not familiar with (anything other than English, of which I have a remedial understanding), it creates a greater sense of meaning to the words I actually do understand when they're spoken or pop up on the screen. Occasionally it's the name of a player I've heard of, but since there weren't any playing in this game it was mostly coming from the banner ads that line the pitch, in this case the blinking "No Crack" followed by a similarly flashing "Megaflex." Apart, I can make sense of these words, the need to stay off the crack being the basis for most of the hilarious comedic routines I'm aware of and Megaflex sounds a lot like a home workout machine. Together, they make little sense to me, the American viewer, and I considered a few possibilities, namely whether it was possible that there was a serious enough crack problem in Argentina that, perhaps, Megaflex was some sort of patch, gum, or methadone-like substance for easing the physical withdrawal associated with laying off any drug one has become accustomed to. The widespread usage of crack down in Southern South America way would explain why my girlfriend's grandmother is so adamantly against her dating an Argentinean, but if I'm being honest with myself, this is all unlikely, and it's probably just some sort of cure-all elixir to be rubbed on the skin of broken joints not yet passed by the fools, criminals, money-grubbing capitalists and the socialists in the FDA.

Also, apparently San Lorenzo is sponsored by Wal-Mart, likely putting out a lot of mom and pop crack stores with the low margin they're able to apply to their bulk product. Jerks.

I stopped watching after the first half in order to catch the Houston v. San Antonio NBA game, so I didn't see who won, and surprisingly, through all of my searching online after the fact, I can't find any evidence that the game was actually played. It's possible it was a match in the Torneo de Verano, but I'm not sure. Whatever it was, I should be able to find scores from the African Cup of Nations after the fact, and even more excitingly, I think I'll be able to watch a number of the games. Starting tomorrow, six of the first twelve matches will be played when I'm not in class and hopefully I'll be able to catch a few of the rest on replay. I haven't decided which team I'm rooting for, outside of knowing random English Premier League stars like Toure, Drogba, Martins, etc., I don't have any knowledge of how these teams will play, so I'm going to wait until the style of a couple of the sides strikes me before picking an allegiance.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to try writing about the matches, which should be interesting (to me only, which should be obvious for a multitude of reasons I have little desire to describe, other than this:) because I have no real concept of how to write about soccer. The knowledge I have of the game has come from watching a few games, listening to podcasts, and playing FIFA, despite knowing that Pro is better, more realistic soccer.

Twelve hours and counting, I'm pumped and jacked.

Houston Should Be A Playoff Team.

Watching the Houston Rockets look as though they were set to begin to pull away from the San Antonio Spurs early in the third quarter it seems reasonable to call them a favorite to take one of the last spots in the conference, despite currently sitting in the tenth spot in the West standings. They managed to hold the San Antonio to 42% shooting in the first half (the mark would eventually rise to 45% by the end of the game), in line with their current placing of second in team defensive efficiency, a tenth of a point ahead of Detroit and New Orleans, but after getting out to a ten point lead, they were only a couple of Manu Ginobili quick jumpers from finding themselves back in a close ball game.

The lead came after a nice run to end the first half, following a slow first quarter and a half highlighted by forced shots in transition without numbers, missed contested jump shots, and limited touches for Yao Ming in the half-court. With defense and hustle, and not often inept offense, carrying the day, the Rockets' play resembled something from the mind of Mike Brown and not the (somewhat) lauded Rick Adelman.

When Jeff Van Gundy was fired and Adelman hired (along with the pickups of Francis, James, and Scola), it was generally assumed that while they wouldn't defend as well, that their offense would be improved. That hasn't really been the case, the team is currently ranked 17th in offense efficiency, they'd ranked 14th a year ago. What stretched the lead to double digits, Houston's willingness to take long twos (it does seem that they're much better off when it's Bonzi taking these shots and not Alston and Head, by the way) either quickly in the shot clock or at the end of a 20+ second-long possession featuring a great deal of dribbling and maybe one or two passes, inevitability aided the Spurs coming back as, in what should be surprise to no one, the shots eventually stopped falling.

Houston held on to win, despite a stretch in which they missed seven consecutive field goals in the fourth quarter, thanks to great fourth quarter defense and clutch rebounding from every position. They were able to grab five offensive rebounds in the final two and half minutes, and what I've come away with after having my first chance watching the 07-08 edition of this team is just how strong they should be, and I have to think would be, if they were able to sustain consistent offensive production. What seems strange to me is how little Yao was given the ball within the half-court set. It seemed as though most of his touches came off loose balls and offensive rebounds, whether this perception was accurate, I'm not sure, but with an offensive talent like Ming, and with poor play-makers like Alston, Head, Brooks, etc. playing as many minutes as they did, it's strange that he didn't see the ball more.

Random thoughts following the game:
  • I don't necessarily want to hate Fabricio Oberto, but he makes it difficult. At least after he gets called for a foul on his flops he doesn't hold out his palms in indignation, with his eyes bugging out of his head like a certain San Antonio big man.
  • I'd like to see more of Carl Landry, he struck me as a rich man's Chuck Hayes. He finishes plays, steals rebounds, and is able to find the open man when he's pressured in the paint. After only seeing him in one game, he's now one of my favorite players that doesn't play for a team I'm necessarily a fan of (fantastic achievement!).

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I was just reading a three day old report in the New York Daily News that the Yankees were backing off in their pursuit of Johan Santana. This is all well and good, I don't root for them and so it doesn't effect me negatively if they don't end up with, possibly, the best pitcher in baseball. I'm fine with that, trust me. What does seem odd, though, is the reaction this news garnered in the comments section. Posters named bronxbomber, edman2222, and QNSFDGUY718 rejoiced hearing that their team wouldn't be mortgaging their future for the the likes of Santana, writing things like, "Santana is hittable.. Hes no sandy koufax in his prime and fast approaching 30," and, "Check his lifetime stats...not that impressive" (not my ellipsis), as well as, "We have an arsenal of pitchers! All though they aren't all proven 100% who cares?" Not to spend too much time belaboring an obvious point, namely that Johan Santana is really good, but it might be worthwhile (it probably isn't) to examine the truth behind these statements.

First, while it's true that his numbers aren't on the level of Sandy Koufax in his prime (should be noted that pitching today might be significantly more difficult than it was in the 1960's), it might be important to remember that Koufax's prime was a little bit better than phenomenal. During his last four seasons, from 1963-1966, he posted ERA+ numbers of 159, 187, 160, and 190 and posted a cumulative K to BB ratio of 1228-259 (in those seasons he averaged 307 strikeouts a year despite missing a decent amount of 1964). At a time when the Cy Young award was given to who was believed the best pitcher in the Majors, rather than handing out one award in both the American and National Leagues, he won the three times, only losing deservedly to Dean Chance in 1964. That's an incredibly difficult bar to match, and Santana hasn't done that, but in addressing the second point, that his lifetime stats aren't that impressive, it should be noted that in his last six seasons, he has posted an ERA+ of 149, 148, 182, 155, 161, and 130. He was a part-time starter in those first two seasons, starting roughly 44% of the games he appeared in, so if one chose to throw them out, I'd understand. Limiting ourselves to his four seasons as a full-time starter, that leaves us with two seasons in which he received the Cy Young deservedly, one in which he was jobbed (he threw 9 more innings, posted an ERA .61 lower, and struck out 81 more batters than the winner, Colon, whose primary credential was that he was on a better team that allowed him to be credited with more wins), and one merely very good year, his most recent, which is likely the reason his abilities are being discounted. I think the fact that he is 28 and has managed to string together, already, three Cy Young worthy seasons consecutively would suggest that, indeed, his lifetime stats are really, actually, kind of, sort of, impressive, especially if we assume he's not going to have to retire prematurely due to arthritis, which is reasonable because not a lot of pitchers do (as far as I know).

As for the current state of the Yankees pitching staff, at the moment it looks like they're going to be throwing out Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Mussina, and Chamberlain and barring injury that could be solid. I'd certainly feel better about my team if we had that rotation and not, you know, Hernandez, Washburn, Batista, Silva, and Ramirez (Horacio is the Josh Barfield of pitching), but that's for another blog entry. After the two known quantities, the Yankees are counting a great deal on a second year starter who was simply league average last year (he had an ERA+ of 100), a former ace who is making, according to the unreliable source that is, 11 million dollars and has pitched exactly one good season in his last four, and a second year pitcher that excelled in relief, but hasn't started at this level. No, this staff is not 100% proven, and considering that this team, like every Yankee team I'm able to remember, is constructed to win this year, I'm not sure I understand how any fan of the team could not care --go Yankees!-- that they essentially know what they're going to get from 40% of their rotation, and even that's assuming both Wang and Pettitte stay healthy.

Understanding how good Santana is, and how willing they've been to throw money around in the past (according, again, to baseball-reference, their top five highest paid starting pitchers --who I believe were Clemens, Pettitte, Mussina, Pavano, and Igawa-- made nearly 60 million for 92 starts last year) to shore up pitching, unless the Yankees are positive that Hughes and Kennedy are going to be very good at the major league level, I don't understand why anyone would rejoice hearing their team won't be adding someone who could easily be the best pitcher in the league (an opinion on track record, not just potential) this coming year.

So, in conclusion, yeah, Johan Santana's good and can help a team. If you're reading this, you're likely my girlfriend, and in that case, you're hearing it here first.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Importance of Quinton Ross.

At one point, near the end of a drunken night in Portland, while discussing the not-so-recent Zach Randolph for Channing Frye and Stevie Franchise trade, a group of constituents and I were reporting to each other the speculation we'd heard about the future of Francis. Assuming the Blazers didn't want anything to do with him, there was word that they would either buy him out or try to trade him. Specifically, to the Clippers. for what? I have no idea. I don't remember anyone having any idea what the Clippers could package that would work under the cap, and I don't just mean us, I'm also talking about the professional writers and analysts.

It's been months since the conversation, so how we got to discussing the strength of LA's roster and what Francis' relative place would be in it is understandably fuzzy. What has stuck with me since: me alleging that Corey Maggette was the second best player on the team and it being counted by one of my friend's argument that it was Quinton Ross with a statement as dismissive as, "sure, Maggette scores more." Saying that in such a way, he was implying that Ross brings a great deal more to table that isn't measured by simpletons that are distracted by flashy production (PPG, and to a lesser extent, RPG and APG), but underestimate what a defensive stopper like Ross brings to a team. I think of myself as someone who isn't stupid, so when I got home to my stolen internet connection, I fired up the laptop and checked to see how Maggette and Ross rated in more advanced statistics that would take into consideration more than simply points and rebounds per game. Being relatively new to said advanced statistics, the first I checked were PER and Win Shares, which Maggette easily outpaced Ross.

Starting in the 2004-2005 season, Ross' first in the league, here's how they break down in PER (note that the last numbers reflect their statistics through January 11th of the current season):
Maggette: 19.95, 18.89, 18.67, 17.93
Ross: 8.92, 7.36, 10.54, 8.36

Win Shares (basketball-reference only has the statistics through the last completed season):
Maggette: 21, 8, 19
Ross: 5, 5, 9

The obvious problem with relying too heavily on PER and Win Shares is that they're heavily weighted towards statistical production and miss those contributions which "don't show up in the stat sheet." It's clear, though, that if one were going to measure Ross' ability to Maggette's, they would have to almost completely rely on different metrics, because in only one of those three seasons did Ross' Defensive Win Shares out-rate Maggette's (2005-06). It does need to be said that 05-06 was the one season that Maggette missed 49 games due to injury, considering Maggette's consistency, it's likely the numbers would have resembled the seasons sandwiching it had he been able to play even as many games as he did the year before, 66.

The next number I decided to look at was plus-minus. It's a rough stat because it doesn't take into account the other players on the floor, but here's how they match up:
Maggette: + 0.8, + 5.2, + 5.4, + 8.4
Ross: - 9.1, + 3.0, - 5.0, - 4.3

With the exception of the 2005-06 season, which was also the only season Ross' Defensive Win Shares were higher than Maggette's (because of the injury), they're not close, but how about looking at how the most efficient lineups for the Clippers were composed from 04-05 on? Choosing the top ten, admittedly a somewhat arbitrary number, on court combinations for each season, here's how they break down:
Maggette: 7, 3, 6, 7
Ross: 2, 3, 2, 5

Here they come out a bit closer, and in fact in that second season, Ross was featured in the one that ranked first. Of course, looking closer at that season, the number 1 unit (Cassell-Ross-Mobley-Brand-Kaman) played 629 more minutes and finished with a differential of + 88 whereas the second lineup, which is the same save for Maggette in the place of Ross played 233 minutes and finished with a + 84. The first team outscored their opponents 29 out of a possible 47, which is 61.7% of the time, the second outscored their opponents 17 times out of a possible 20 times, which is 85%.

Aside from a formula that Dan Rosenbaum ( created that measures individual defensive success (I haven't seen the statistics for any year but 04-05, but it's reasonable to assume that Ross continued to rank higher than Maggette, because as every other statistic suggests that he wouldn't have a job otherwise), there isn't a statistical measure that says that Ross is a better player than Corey Maggette. In fact, other than the 05-06 season, one appears so much better than the other that it may seem unfair to even suggest comparing them, that is before remembering that Ross actually started a higher percentage of games in which they were both available than Maggette throughout the last two full seasons and the start of this one, 59.8% compared to 42.5%. Obviously someone involved in the decision-making with the Los Angeles Clippers seems to agree with my friend that his team is better with Ross in the place of Maggette. Why?