On Tuesday afternoon, I watched along with some of you in horror as Chad Holbrook bunted Joey Pankake in the first inning after Carolina put the first two runners on. Holbrook stated ““I wanted to score first today and I told myself that if we get the first two guys on, we’re bunting.”
For many reasons, this was a terrible idea, and bad process led to calamitous results for the Gamecocks. Pankake bunted right back to the pitcher, who whipped the ball to third and recorded the first out of the inning. The Gamecocks would exit the inning 0-0, and though they ultimately scored the first run that Holbrook found so important in the top of the second, it (shockingly) was no more relevant than any of the other runs scored in the game. The missed opportunity in the first, where Carolina went scoreless, wasn’t important because it meant the Gamecocks would be on the board first. It was important because Carolina needed runs to win the game, and the first inning was an opportunity to score those runs. Bad coaching and bad execution cost the Gamecocks, and in a one-run game, could have cost them Omaha.
The purpose of this post is to set a standard for when it’s a good or bad idea to bunt. As Twitter (at least, my account) exploded in anger at the coaching decision, I found myself perturbed that few people were articulating exactly why it was a bad idea. Many thought it made sense to win or lose with your best players, but I wanted to put together a post that we can use as a reference point in the future to understand when bunting is a good or bad decision. So let’s look through the data and then analyze the three bunt calls that Holbrook made yesterday, to see how they hold up based on that understanding.
Frank Martin announced the hiring of Perry Clark this [time of day], bringing to the end a coaching search that began over a month ago with the departure of Brad Underwood to Stephen F. Austin.
The 62-year-old Clark comes to Columbia after two years away from the game. He’s been a head coach three times. Most recently, he coached Texas A&M – Corpus Christi for four years before being unceremoniously fired following a 10-21 campaign (to be fair, I may be being harsh – it’s possible there was a ceremony). Before that, Clark was also the head coach at Miami (FL) for four years. In the middle, he was a television announcer.
He landed the Miami (FL) job on the back of an 11-year stint at Tulane, where he went 236-183 (56.3%) and led the Green Wave to their only three NCAA tournament appearances in the history of the program. After putting together two winning seasons at Miami, Clark followed up in 2003 and 2004 with two straight losing seasons, and was fired.
Let’s look at his time as a head coach a bit more in-depth to see how his personality might mesh (or need to change) to adapt to the Carolina way of doing things under Frank Martin.
Today, we saw odds listed for both the SEC East and the BCS Championship for 2013. Below the fold, we’ll adjust those odds for you and provide some brief commentary.
South Carolina lost four players to attrition this week, as Damien Leonard, Brian Richardson, Eric Smith, and R.J. Slawson departed for opportunities elsewhere. The college game is a dirty business in many ways, and I won’t preach or defend the choices made here – the rules were followed, and when we hired Frank Martin, we knew attrition would be part of the package (at Kansas State, he lost 12 players from January 2008 until his departure in April of 2012). So here we are.
That said, it seems to me that to make sense of what will happen in the season to come, we should look back at the players we will lose. Our brief retrospective on Lakeem Jackson can be found buried in the post previewing his final game at the Colonial Life Arena, a win over Mississippi State.
So let’s take a moment to reflect on the careers of these four players, without whom the task of re-building the Gamecock program will be made all the more difficult in the near-term, as it leaves South Carolina without a point guard for large parts of the first semester, and as one of the youngest teams in the NCAA in 2013-14.
Hey folks, just to let everyone know what’s going on with the blog – right now, there’s not much we have to add about Gamecock basketball. The fine folks at the pay sites are posting insider information that we frankly aren’t allowed to (and wouldn’t want to, since it’s those guys hard work that gets the information) re-share. So, until the roster for next year is finalized, we’re not really going to comment, because this isn’t a recruiting blog, and we don’t have anything interesting to add that you can’t get elsewhere.
So hang tight and enjoy the break from our thoughts, to the extent you needed one. We surely needed one from sharing them. Once Martin inks the new class and the guys who are leaving are announced, we’ll be back with some more post mortem thoughts on the 2012-13 season, the signing class, the departed Gamecocks, and other things that have us thinking.
College Football: The Best Passing Quarterbacks since 2005, by Chase Stuart. Quick – who do you think wins here for USC (he’s #151)? Who was better last year – Shaw or Thompson? Click the link, use the filter, and find out how one metric answers these questions.
One Way to Cheer Up: Cheer Harder, by Bill Morris. Watch sports, be healthier. Well, if you say so, New York Times.
The Professor, the Bikini Model, and the Suitcase Full of Trouble, by Maxine Swann. I asked a friend I trust on these sorts of things whether he believed the protagonist’s story. We differed on our answers. It’s that kind of read.
Paralysis by Analysis: A Weekend at Sloan, and the Pluses and Minuses of Advanced Analytics, by Andrew Sharp. How can we know when our process is right and the results are flukish, or when the results simply show our process was wrong? Obviously, a question important to what’s done by this blog. We can’t know everything, so is what we do know enough to improve the analysis?
Why Nations Fail, A Review, by Bill Gates. What causes success and failure?
“Lucrative Work-for-Free Opportunity,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. ”I was ecstatic any time anyone took my ideas seriously enough to offer them a platform. Most people never get that.”
The Gamecocks’ season ended last Wednesday night in Nashville with a disappointing loss to Mississippi State, 70-59. State jumped out to an 11-point lead over the last 10 minutes of the first half and Carolina never really threatened from there on out. There’s not much to be said about the game because, frankly, everyone associated with it moved on almost immediately. The season is over. Now what comes next?