Originally published January 17, 2009 at 01:03p.m., updated January 17, 2009 at 06:15p.m.

FINAL: KU picks up first road win with 73-56 victory over CU

Kansas guard Travis Releford pokes the ball loose from Colorado guard Cory Higgins during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Kansas guard Travis Releford pokes the ball loose from Colorado guard Cory Higgins during the first half Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009 at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.


Reader poll

Who gets the game ball after KU's 73-56 victory over Colorado

  • Sherron Collins 55% 221 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 11% 45 votes
  • Marcus Morris 1% 6 votes
  • Tyshawn Taylor 6% 24 votes
  • Tyrel Reed 26% 104 votes
  • Other 0% 0 votes

400 total votes.

Audio clips

2009 KU-CU Jan. 17

Reader poll

Who was KU's first-half MVP against Colorado?

  • Marcus Morris 1% 4 votes
  • Cole Aldrich 9% 20 votes
  • Sherron Collins 77% 158 votes
  • Brady Morningstar 7% 16 votes
  • Other 2% 5 votes

203 total votes.

Reader poll

What was KU's best victory so far this season?

  • Washington (73-54 at Sprint Center) 5% 38 votes
  • Kansas State (87-71 at Allen Fieldhouse) 7% 53 votes
  • Tennessee (92-85 at Allen Fieldhouse) 87% 652 votes
  • Other 0% 4 votes

747 total votes.

KU scoring

Collins 18, Aldrich 15 (6-for-6 shooting), Taylor 14 (6-for-7 shooting), Reed 11, Marcus Morris 10, Markieff Morris 3, Morningstar 2.

KU made 27 of 44 field goals (61.4 percent), 10 of 19 free throws (52.6 percent) and 9 of 17 threes (52.9 percent).

FINAL: KU defeats CU, 73-56

Taylor makes two nice plays in transition. On the first, he fakes a pass to Aldrich to deke a defender before putting in a short shot. The second time, he beats the defender to the baseline before putting in a running layup.

Taylor’s racking up the points late, as he takes it strong to the basket for a runner with a foul.

KU finishes off Colorado to pick up its first road victory of the season. The guys celebrate with Darnell Jackson, who showed up to today’s game.

KU 65/CU 50 — 3:01 left in game

Reed drains another three, and Aldrich gets a dunk when his man falls down inside.

KU’s even getting the breaks now, as Markieff Morris jams his hand on a lob pass inside. The ball still deflects off the glass and goes in.

CU goes to a man defense, and Marcus Morris shows good awareness. He immediately notices the set inside and lobs the ball to Aldrich, who puts in a short shot off the glass.

KU 55/CU 39 — 7:46 left in game

Reed hits a three, then on the next possession, Collins throws a nice lob to Marcus Morris for an easy two. Just before CU’s timeout, Collins turned to the KU fans and cupped his ear, asking them to make some noise. Out of the timeout, he clapped his hands in their direction.

Reed picks up a steal, then loops in a tough layup. Suddenly, the Jayhawks are up by 16.

Marcus Morris was having a great game until the last two possessions. He tried an ill-advised, behind-the-back pass on a fast break that was stolen, then lost the ball inside on the next possession. KU lost some momentum after those two miscues.

Another three from Reed. He’s played a much better second half.

KU 45/CU 36 — 11:13 left in game

Wow. That might get the Jayhawks going. On a set play, Collins threw a lob play to Tyshawn Taylor (how many teams throw lobs to their guards?). The freshman went way, way up to tip it in while also drawing a foul. He hit the free throw as well.

Collins hits a deep three, and he’s only one away from his career-high for treys in a game (five).

Morningstar hits a rainbow shot, and he’s quietly having a productive game. That’s two points, six rebounds and four assists for him.

KU 37/CU 32 — 15:50 left in game

Marcus Morris hits a long shot from the side. KU gets its first points 4:10 into the second half. After review, it's called a three instead of a two.

KU 34/CU 32 — 16:17 left in game

Two turnovers on entry passes for KU to start the second half. Self throws the papers in his hand to the floor.

KU has five turnovers in the first 2:51 of this half. The Jayhawks are lucky that the Buffs haven’t taken advantage.

Higgins hits a three to beat the shot clock, and CU, once again, is only down two.

Kansas scoring

Collins 15 (4-for-8 shooting, 3-for-5 from three), Aldrich 8 (3-for-3 shooting), Marcus Morris 5 (2-for-2 shooting), Taylor 5, Markieff Morris 1.

KU made 11 of 21 shots (52.4 percent), 8 of 14 free throws (57.1 percent) and 4 of 10 threes (40 percent).

CU was 7-for-16 from the floor (43.8 percent), 12-for-14 from the free-throw line (85.7 percent) and 1-for-5 from three (20 percent).

KU had nine turnovers, while CU had 12. KU is out-rebounding CU, 14-10.

Halftime thoughts

• KU has to avoid fouling on the defensive end. The Jayhawks are bailing out the Buffs, who had just one offensive rebound all half (and that was a team rebound, meaning it went out-of-bounds off KU).

• I don’t know if I’ve ever seen only 16 field-goal attempts in a half. That’s an extremely low number.

• Nice half for Collins, who didn’t force things and also was able to make three of his open treys.

• Marcus Morris had a solid first half as well with five points, a steal and two rebounds. On his fast-break bucket, he looked much more like a small forward or shooting guard than he did a power forward.

• Taylor played just seven minutes because of foul trouble. KU needed him as another three-point threat. He should be well-rested, so he could be a key in the final 20 minutes.

KU 34/CU 27 — Halftime

KU has to stop fouling Cory Higgins. He was second in the Big 12 in free-throw percentage coming in (84.1 percent), and he already has eight free throws. Predictably, he’s 8-for-8.

The Jayhawks have started trapping in the half-court, and already they’ve forced a pair of jump balls.

Interesting stat of the day: At one point, KU had 11 rebounds. Morningstar had five of them.

Two more free throws for Higgins. He’s 10-for-10 now.

KU takes a seven-point lead into the break.

KU 30/CU 23 — 3:59 left in 1st half

Collins breaks KU’s scoring drought, hitting a tough 14-footer just before the shot clock expired.

On the next possession, Collins lobs a nice pass inside to Aldrich, who slams it home. Aldrich comes up with a ferocious block off the glass on the other end, and Collins gets fouled in transition, making both free throws.

KU’s defense has created its offense lately, as Marcus Morris gets a steal and goes all the way to the other end, spinning to the basket before getting a two.

The Jayhawks force another CU turnover, and Aldrich puts in two free throws to give KU a four-point lead.

Collins hits a three (give the assist to Morningstar), and KU has an 11-0 run of its own.

CU 19/KU 17 — 7:37 left in 1st half

Some of Taylor’s confidence looks to have spilled over from the K-State game, as he dribbles into some heavy traffic before putting in a floater off the glass.

The Buffs have picked up a couple steals off their 1-3-1 zone. I’ve been told CU coach Jeff Bzdelik had never implemented a 1-3-1 zone with any of his teams until this year.

KU’s struggling on the offensive end against the zone. The Jayhawks have gone 2:38 without a point, and the Buffaloes have responded with a 7-0 run to take their first lead.

KU 15/CU 12 — 11:18 left in 1st half

The Jayhawks are shooting well, but they haven’t been able to build a big lead.

KU made 5 of its first 6 shots but still only led, 15-12, after Aldrich’s dunk inside.

Meanwhile, CU has gone 5-for-8 (63 percent) in the first 8:42.

KU 8/CU 6 — 15:49 left in 1st half

Colorado starts the game in a 2-3 zone. KU breaks it on the second possession, as the defense collapses on Aldrich inside, and a kickout to Taylor gets the Jayhawks an open three. The guard drains it.

On a fast break, Aldrich goes under the basket for a reverse lay-in. That’s one of the most athletic moves I remember seeing from the big guy this year.

Marcus Morris has already made an impact, as he has a field goal and free throw in the first 4:11.

2:35 p.m.

Starting five: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Brady Morningstar, Mario Little, Tyshawn Taylor.

2:28 p.m.

Gotta be honest — there are more KU fans here than CU fans, and it's not really close. I'd say it's 60-65 percent Jayhawk fans, and that might be giving Buffalo fans the benefit of the doubt.

1:58 p.m. CST

Let’s go through a preview of Colorado, which comes in with an 8-7 record.

If Colorado wins (or keeps it close), it will be because:

1. Cory Higgins. Doesn’t it seem like Colorado always has one really good player (think Chauncey Billups, David Harrison, Richard Roby)? Higgins is that player this year. He’s averaging 17.5 points (sixth in the Big 12), 6.3 rebounds (11th in the conference) and 1.9 steals (fifth in the conference). KU will need to be aware of where he is on the court at all times.

2. Good shooting. The Buffaloes run the Princeton-style, slow-it-down offense, and when they get shots, they make a lot of them. CU has made 54.5 percent of its two-point field-goal attempts this year, which ranks 21st in the country. The Buffs also are making 72.5 percent of their free throws, which is the second-best mark in the Big 12.

3. Altitude. There’s just something to be said for being used to playing a mile above sea level. If the game is close late, remember that CU will most likely be the better-conditioned team.

If Colorado loses (or gets blown out), it will be because:

1. Poor defense. Buffs’ opponents are making 49.4 percent of their two-point field goals, which is a high number. CU also averages blocks on only 5 percent of its possessions (ranking 316th out of 344 Division-I teams) and only steals the ball on 8.4 percent of its possessions (ranking 274th).

2. Lack of size inside. The Buffaloes’ tallest starter is 6-foot-8, and their tallest player is 6-9. CU also is terrible on the offensive glass. Only 22.7 percent of the Buffs’ rebounds are offensive rebounds — that’s the third-worst percentage in the NCAA.

3. Home has been better, but not great. CU is 7-2 at home this season, but that includes a three-point loss to Montana State and a 16-point loss to TCU. The Buffaloes have won four straight games at the Coors Events Center, but the best victory was against Colorado State (170th in Kenpom rankings).

1:28 p.m. CST

The gates must have just opened, as there was a mad rush of fans to get the best general admission seats.

All of them — and I mean all of them — are KU fans.

I would say about 200 Jayhawk fans are already seated behind me on the baseline, and they won’t be hard to spot, as two-thirds of them are wearing blue.

Lots of cameras are out now, as I’m guessing this is the one time all year many of the western Kansas KU fans get to see their team.

1:05 p.m. CST

Welcome back to the Newell Post Live, coming to you from Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo., where the Kansas Jayhawks are getting set to take on the Colorado Buffaloes.

Quick, name KU’s best victory this season.

You said Tennessee, right?

According to some computer rankings that’s not the case. In fact, Ken Pomeroy’s Ratings would tell you that the Tennessee victory isn’t even the Jayhawks’ second-best win this season.

Looking back, here are KU’s top five victories this year, based on the opposing team’s rankings in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings:

1. Washington (25th in Kenpom rankings), W: 73-54

2. Kansas State (26), W: 87-71

3. Tennessee (34), W: 92-85

4. Temple (48), W: 71-59

5. Siena (75), W: 91-84

Remember also that the Washington victory was not a true home game either, as it was at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Washington, after losing to Kansas and Florida in the CBE Classic, has won 10 of its last 11 games and now sits at 12-4. Though not considered a resume victory at the time, the Huskies’ victory could be valuable for the Jayhawks come March when NCAA Tournament bids/seedings are determined.

KU, meanwhile, is 19th in the Pomeroy rankings. Only two Big 12 teams are ranked higher than the Jayhawks (Missouri, 11th; Oklahoma, 15th).

In case you were wondering, has a slightly less favorable view of this year’s Jayhawks.

KU is 42nd in those ratings, behind Big 12 teams Oklahoma (7th), Oklahoma State* (17th) and Texas (22nd).

The Jayhawks’ five best wins, according to the RPI, are as follows:

1. Tennessee (30th)

2. Siena (34th)

3. Temple (36th)

4. Washington (38th)

5. Albany* (99th)

* — These are both head-scratchers to me. Oklahoma State better than Texas? Albany better than Kansas State? I’m sure it will all get sorted out as we get deeper into conference play.

In the RPI, top-100 victories are considered “quality wins.” KU having five quality wins already can only help its chances at making the Big Dance.

For comparison, No. 1 Pittsburgh, though undefeated, only has five quality wins to its credit so far.


RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

You can't compare Pitt to KU in terms of quality wins.They haven't even played their hardest part of the schedule yet. They still have to play UConn twice. They also play: at Louisville, at Villanova, home against Marquette and Notre Dame. They however will have three common opponents: Syracuse, Texas Tech and Siena.

Jesse Newell 11 years, 4 months ago

That's why I said so far. KU has more losses than Pitt, but it also has played three more top-100 opponents. That was my point — not that Pitt wouldn't get more top-100 wins.

MichaelC 11 years, 4 months ago

When I go to ABC on my TV it tells me that Sunflower can't reach an agreement to show that channel. Anyone know how I can get the game?

Jesse Newell 11 years, 4 months ago

KTKA, 12 and 200, are also ABC in Lawrence on Sunflower.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 4 months ago

Mike - try if nothing else. There broadcast the jayhawk network.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 4 months ago

Mike - there were other posts on another article today from people in Kansas, but being from CA I didn't pay attention. It is regular cable,, or the local pub (if my daughter isn't napping) for me.

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

Sunflower should have put up a "Please visit this channel for the KU game."Pretty awful planning on their part.

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

And I agree Jesse...This next five game stretch for them will be telling of how good they really are (Pitt). If they can come out with just one loss in those four games, they're going to have a special season. And if KU - PItt faced off, they would simply dominate the Morrises inside.

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

KU looks like they've never seen a zone this season...

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

Releford with his worst Chalmers' impression...

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

This is Teahen's first appearance since the UMass game...

Robert Murphy 11 years, 4 months ago

This entire team plays like it has it's head up it's ass. Morningstar is the second coming of can't make a free throw Moody or what ever his name was. With guys like this starting can there be any hope for this team. Even if they win they stink.

cwag 11 years, 4 months ago

This ain't the Ricky Ricardo Buffs, but still......

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

Aldrich is the key.... He will win this game for KU.

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

A good point that the announcers made: Last year's team was tied 30-30 at halftime in Colorado.

RockChalkJayBlog 11 years, 4 months ago

Colorado is losing their poise and playing into Kansas style-play.

Brian Powell 11 years, 4 months ago

Love him or hate him, or both -- you gotta give Sherron one thing: he's a big-time competitor with a lot of heart.

ku98 11 years, 4 months ago

Cole needs to develop a hook shot or a turnaround move.

Brian Powell 11 years, 4 months ago

or a head fake and dip-inside-dunk.. not sure if I've seen that yet either,

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 4 months ago

ZZzzzzzzzzzz. I hate Colorado's style of play. No wonder our team seems lethargic. They are probably half asleep.

joedavis 11 years, 4 months ago

Jesse, can you confirm that that is five straight turnovers in five possessions?

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

This year's group just can't stand their own prosperity.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

Four hawks in the paint and one Buffaloe, and who gets the rebound.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

I really wish we would learn that when Cole goes for a block his man has to be sealed off, otherwise it is a good chance he gets the rebound.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

A lob to a Hostess Twinkie and no jam.......

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

Are they actually recognizing who has the hot hand right now?

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

Any other year I would agree with Bill. But as I said earlier, this group can't live with their own prosperity.

ku98 11 years, 4 months ago

ABC went to Clemson-Wake Forest here in Chitown, so I did not see that hook shot.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

ku98,Even in the areas of Big XII country ABC cut away to Wake-Clemson so we all could see some snoozer finish that Jayhawk fans could care less about.When networks do that I think they should have to pay the conference(s) that are dissed.

Dale Kroening 11 years, 4 months ago

Ok first road win. 5 guys in double figures, Cole gets another dd, and Sherron continues to find his outside stroke. Great second half for Tyrell after probably his worst half of the season in the first. Great game Hawks and bring on A&M!!!!!!!

speedy 11 years, 4 months ago

talk about lack of respect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @ 3.01 ABC switched off ku/colo. and went to wake forest. ku had too big of a lead or sothey said. wake forest was up by 10 with 1.01 left. wonder why coach self has a hard time recruiting? how about getting screwed by the tv people. first you cut the coverage in half then cut it off. duke and nc never ever get that kind of bs. THEIR GAMES ARE ON TWICE A WEEK. AND HAVE BEEN SINCE THE SEASON STARTED. CAMON KU WAKE UP! let the AD earn his paycheck. or get another AD!

jmsuther 11 years, 4 months ago

I dont know how you can say bill has a hard time recruiting.

Steve Gantz 11 years, 4 months ago

Boy you people whine about ABC? 2 undefeated top 10 teams play and ABC still shows KU in many most? parts of the country. Who cares if we missed a couple minutes at the end of a blowout? I was happy to get to see a bunch of the game.

BCRavenJHawkfan 11 years, 4 months ago

wissox,We are carping because we expect it from ESPNorthCarolina, but not from ABC that is providing regional action based on the local affiliate. In Big XII regions one would expect Big XII coverage!

Marcia Parsons 11 years, 4 months ago

That wasn't ABC coverage. It was "ESPN on ABC." ESPN controls the broadcast.

John Randall 11 years, 4 months ago

ESPN was disappointed mightily on 4/5/08 and KU hasn't felt the last of this kind of treatment. They will be shoving ACC down everyone's throat all year. Does CBS still have the contract for NCAA tourney?

speedy 11 years, 4 months ago

wissoxfan83 and jimsuther what is wrong with your brain? too much weed or beer?i,ll bet you are a joy to kick many high profile recruits went else where in the last few years. with ESPN recruiting for the last 20 years for duke ku managed to hold on because of williams. thats shifted now espn can hype big east and acc. and to hell with every one else. here have a bone now and then. ever hear of NC or duke being cut off because the were wining too big? but thing that really ticks me off is not getting to see the final score.

jayhawker85 11 years, 4 months ago

It was on here until the end in Lawrence, but either way, the Clemson/Wake Forest game was a better game to watch--I still watched the end of the Kansas game.Interesting enough is that these guys writing on these blogs on the LJ World/KC Star don't even stick around until the end of a game most times, even close ones. They're typically busy rushing down to the media room to get prepare to get quotes. For those of you who missed the rest of the game, it's hard to consider this win a "road win." With 2:20 remaining in the game, Kansas fans were doing the rock chalk chant and it was audible on television.

Jesse Newell 11 years, 4 months ago

jayhawker85 — Don't really know where you're coming from. I haven't left one game early to go to the media room...

Lance Hobson 11 years, 4 months ago

Seriously, you guys are smoking crack if you think KU-Colorado is worth watching over Clemson-WF. I hate the ACC as much as anyone but we're talking about a huge early season conference matchup there. The game also had a ton more energy than the Boulder Bedtime Story.Great to see Darnell at the game, he's one of my favorites of all time.

Jack Wilson 11 years, 4 months ago

This team is literally just one player away from being a top flight team. It does not appear Little is that one player.KU is worth watching over Clemson-WF .. for KU fans. The KU game was a regional game, and they switched from a regional game to a national game. That makes no sense.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

joedavis,First, thanks for that link to Bill James. It is an intriguing, formalized heuristic that could have saved me from many irritated and infected nail beds, if I had been able to think of it myself many years ago.Second, James was/is IMHO the proto sports blogger, the ur sports blogger, even though he has been doing what he has been doing in the form of histories and statistical compendia in books and print media long before the internet was anything but four nodes in California not even taken over by ARPA/DARPA yet. James was/is THE answer to the internet question "what is internet sports commentary" that improbably and strangely preceded/foreshadowed the internet. James was/is a freakish phenomenon of stochastic kharma. Third, James is the sporting equivalent of Garrison Keillor, the radio dramatist/humorist and social commentator, in several ways. James is near the same age as Keillor. He comes from a sub-region of the midwest, as Keillor does. And he has achieved mainstream distribution without leaving that sub-region physically, or mythically. The world of sport, no matter where that sport occurs, is always experienced, filtered through, analysed by way of, and understood from the point of view of an exceptionally bright, but unmistakeably Kansan Midwesterner. He shares a similar droll and impish wit with Keillor, that also inevitably flashes briefly with a stinging, righteous bite. James presents a persona, which is probably quite like how he really is; that is, he is so self-effacing and unpretentious as to be in stark and often hilarious contrast with how brilliant he actually is.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Fourth, Bill James, and Garrison Keillor, are both not only children of the late fifties to mid sixties, but also Nerds Version 1.0. They were born in 1949 and 1942, respectively. Specifically, they were nerds roughly between the time of The Honeymooners and Wally and the Beeve, if your idea of historical indexing were Nickelodeon. This combination of cultural legacy attributes is very significant for younger persons to understand about both men, and about a great number of persons in the generation that I kind of straddle but am not fully a member of. I was, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (in this one respect only), a member of Nerds Version 2.0. The basic cultural difference between Nerds Version 1.0 and 2.0 was that 1.0's grew up experiencing USA as a society progressing too slowly and then entering their college years and seeing change accelerate exponentially in the arcing trajectory of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (i.e., rapidly up and then rapidly down), whereas 2.0s grew up experiencing USA accelerating in the trajectory of Gravity's Rainbow (up then down), and then experiencing their college years telescoping into an orgy of glam rock, Eagles rock, the early shipments of Colombian cocaine and lapels the size of Montana. Nerd 1.0s like James and Keillor grew up in a time of belief that wrongs could be righted, and that when things couldn't be righted, well, we sure as heck were right nonetheless. This outlook helped them to become masterful human commentators adroit at, and probably neurotically obsessed with, explaining why things were happening in contradiction with their hopes. It allows them to be both comforting and critical at the same time. Their cultural legacy derived temperments allowed them to perform professionally in a way that incrementally made Nerdism's POV finally become somewhat mainstream acceptable, if not always loved by the conservative masses. In contradistinction, Nerd 2.0s, like myself, on the other hand (though I hardly knew I was one at the time), discovered that everything worth saying had already been said by the likes of James, Keillor and Bob Dylan--another midwesterner, and so instead preoccupied themselves with developing technology, indulging in truly decadent pleasures and the retro aping of either the Ivy league look (ur Yuppie) or embrace of the triumph of nerd casual on the heals of near toxic levels of double knit clothing loud with emergently gay patterns. But I have strayed far into generational distinctions, when this is really about understanding and appreciating Bill James.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Fifth, James, as I suggested already, is a regionalist who manages to cut across regional lines without abandoning his regionalist persona and POV. He had/has the brilliance required to ask the deceptively simple, but ultimately paramount and crucial question of sport (i.e., why do teams win or lose?). Formulating this question alone ranks him as the foremost genius of sports commentating and sports analysis. It is a question of such purity and simplicity and elegance as to be worthy of Richard Feynman in physics. Bill James really is a genius. What he is behind all the history, all the statistics and all the entertaining commentary is a quantoid and mathematician and would be game theorist studying and formalizing the topology of competition from its quantitative residue. His love of sport simply allows him something to focus his potent intellect upon. Sport is a game. A game is competition. Competition has winners and losers. Why do winners win and why do losers lose? For a person who watched his own generation lose before it even got out of college (its leaders were assassinated and its movements were neutered by the force of assassination and a reign of lawless land-and-order), Bill James asks exactly the right question. Why did the winners win and the losers lose? And it is a resonant question whether you are right, left, or center.Consciously, or unconsciously, and it was/is probably some of both, James sought the answer in the laboratory of sport. He found a realm of society, sports, that was not crushed by the social/political forces of his youth that crushed so much else of what persons right, left, or center thought American society and the world could be. We all found such out lets. Doing so was then called getting on with your life and trying to find some way to carry on the beliefs of a generation (diverse and fuzzy as they were) by insinuating oneself into the system and making the system work from within it. How quaint and naive that notion now sounds.Are there ways to know why winners win and losers lose? It is so simple, so beautifully, elegantly and essentially it. I cannot even type his question without being transfixed by its simplicity.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Little Bill had to have been identified early on as being good in math, as we used to say. And so it was probably not surprising that in the wake of the burning union, and the national guard deployments, and the dead students, and riots, and crime, and police brutality in North Lawrence, and unwanted visits by rabble rousing thugs from Kansas City, and the equally unwanted visit by combination former LBJ administration Press Secretary/flack and PBS-fake-social-conscience Bill "I never meant a liberal cause I couldn't moderate to the interests of the axis of oligarchy I schill for" Moyers, who sought to shine a slanted light on the local version of the national break down in order resulting from people wanting change , but being given excuses and body counts and draft the wake of all this, it was/is not really surprising that young Bill responded, shall we say, quantitatively. Again, as we used to say, he got into statistics about sports, because, well, because they had always interested in him before the sixties came down and seemed unconventional, yet within the mainstream of society. And there was a shiboleth of the time that said: find something you love doing and do it.Of course most of us didn't find such a good fit as sports and stats and history, plus a sideline of ballpark baseball. And most of us, whether left, right, or center, did not have the brilliance to re-ask, what I have come to believe, in distant retrospect, was one of the most profound question posed by philosophy and the sciences over the last several millenia: Why DO winners win and losers lose? It is not a new question, is it? It is an eternal question. It has been asked in all the arts implicitly or explicitly throughout human history. Philosophers and historians have weighed in on it. It has been explored and discussed by everyone from mathematicians to military strategists to fans betting on Christians and lions and probably back for as long as humans had sufficient self awareness to know they could win or lose. But when did it start getting formalized? Was Bill James the first?

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Certainly one of the leaders of the modern craze of statistics in sports, but not in broader historical perspective where I believe you have to lodge James central question, if we are to truly appreciate him.One might actually go back to the ancient geometricians and say that Euclid's mathematics and geometry was an exploration and formalizing of what forms and topologies had integrity and which did not; i.e., which abstract forms could win and which others could not in certain applied activities like building buildings. And if one reads Euclid, as say Abraham Lincoln did obsessively, one finds that Lincoln, and other politicians and thinkers long before him had, came to recognize that the conflict and competition and cooperation of politics occurs around symmetries and takes forms that have shapes and patterned integrities that can be discerned and sometimes manipulated around the axes of symmetric and asymmetric conflict and tactically flanked at certain angles. Who wins and who loses has a geometry to it. Lincoln preserved a Union with it. But figuring how winners win and losers lose did not start getting much real mathematical formalization regarding games (and practical robustness in use) until the 19th Century (or was it a couple centuries earlier?) gamblers and book makers and casino operators sought out mathematicians to help them develop a more reliable means for figuring odds and hedging bets. When you are a bookie, it really matters who wins and who loses. Without putting too fine a point on it, the mathematicians got as fascinated with the mathematical dimension as the bookies were with the money making dimension. And mathematicians being mathematicians, they reasoned that if you could formalize winning and losing into a prediction, why, someone else could get their hands dirty and seek out the killer apps. But what the mathematicians of the time also knew somewhat already and subsequently revealed much more fully with hard thought was that you really couldn't formalize why winners win and losers lose, so much as you could estimate the probability of either player winning by assuming a then kind of weird and arcane notion of randomness that let you think about probabilities with math. In short, what is the probability of an outcome given an assumption of randomness? Odds taking into account differing capabilities of players in competition are just an effort to simulate a fully randomized, and symmetric competition, so that the probabilities can be relied on. It worked so well the bookies quickly became what might be called applied mathematicians themselves.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

The insurance industry siezed on this also. Life and death are a game to bet on. Insurance actuarial tables were created that allowed the insurance company to bet on when you were going to die. Yep, life insurance is just the mortality game. Your life insurance man is your bookie. You are betting on your own death. The actuarial table is giving odds, so that the randomized probabilities can be relied on. Engineering of course got into statistics too--in order to guarranty a highly probable win betting they could build a bridge across a river; i.e., a bridge that does not collapse. Probability of materials failures, etc.Hmmm, what came next in trying to understand (and formalize) why winners win and losers lose?Well, Mathematician John von Neuman basically first moved beyond the yoke of inductive statistical probability and formalized the question of why do winners win and losers lose as game theory in the 1940s, or maybe the early 50s. He was asked to do it to try to figure out how to anticipate and prevent potential east west conflict in Europe from deteriorating into nuclear holocaust. Essentially, he was asked to come up with some way of robustly simulating two super powers with high mobility weapons bolting across the Iron Curtain and the loser resorting to nukes. He had the brilliant insight to think of war as a real game. Two players. Assumed moves for both. incentives. Probability assumptions. Cascading outcome. Equilibrium strategy, or tendency observable. Voila, you could formalize it. You simulate play and pick who would win and why? Alas, it was , at its root, deductive and so not really empirically verfied in the purest sense of inductive stats. Game theory spread glacially at first among the academy, because it wasn't inductive, then it found legs with computers in simulations. Game theory really does simulate the game, in that case a war game, in another case legal bargaining between lawyers, etc., in a quasi deductive dynamic model in which one player's choice alters the opportunity set of choices faced by the other, and so causes him to respond other than he would have had the opponent's choice not reduced his opportunity set. Dynamic! This was new and heady stuff at the time. And you could even use some by then good old fashioned inductive statistics (like the regression you slept through in intro to business statistics) to shore up certain assumptions of the game a little. And game theory came to rock the world with influence. Game theory and heuristics derived from it drives stock market trading, legal bargaining, the rewriting of international trade institutions, the decision to torture, the decision to put a small army in Iraq rather than a big one. And obviously,it is often wrong because, not very surprisingly, it turns out it often gets the assumptions wrong, and so simulates a game that never gets played in the expected way. Garbage in the algorithm, garbage out of the algorithm.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

But what do game theory, and probabilities and statistics have to do with Little Bill James from Holton, Kansas, the boy who grew up not so far from Holcumb, Kansas, where the Clutter family got randomly slaughtered, the little boy who later became Nerd 1.0 Bill James from Lawrence on the Kaw? Well this was the legacy and then current mathematical opportunity set an unconventional young man was faced with, as he began to grapple with one of the eternal questions rearticulated in the venue of contemporary sport: why do winners win and why do losers lose, mathematically speaking? Or why do the Jones live and Clutters get slaughtered?I am not saying Bill James was consciously affected by the despicable crime dramatized in In Cold Blood. I'm just saying that he like me and everyone else in Kansas, were affected by that murder and dramatization on some subliminal level or other that is today probably rather hard for young persons to grasp, given the tremendous and almost cliched violence out society has descended into since. But I digress.Though I can only claim to be familiar with a small part of Jame's work, it appears from my too small sample that Bill has tended to favor simple descriptive statistics like averages to characterize sport and has discovered assumption defying inferential statistics like regression to be often of lesser use, and has, like so many quantoids in recent decades, shot the algorithmic rapids of heuristics and game theory and found rocks and passage to a world of some systematized insight, as evidence by his highly reliable, but still heuristic mathematical rule about when a game is iced before the final buzzer sounds. But...Bill James and many others of like disposition have butted up against the same problem that afflicts all ultimately algorithmic explanation of why winners win and losers lose.Randomized statistical inference and forecast either violates modelling assumptions and so is not reliable with any definable confidence, or meets the assumptions with such gross oversimplication of parameters and variables as to be not an explanation at all, but rather just another kind of black box. And on the other quantitative hand, using deductive, or game theoretic algorithmic simulations is just not very reliable because of emergent complexity.

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Complexity theory, still in its analystical infancy, says things just tend to get more and more complex and get harder and harder to predict because of that rising complexity.Hard to believe it took the best minds in western civilization several millenia to come to this insight, eh? But that is the circumstance today and this circumstance, i.e., formal recognition of emergent complexity, is what renders a lot of the brilliant work of Bill James, and many other lesser known persons in many fields, well, it makes it some what less useful than it once seemed to be. The fact is we still really can't say with much systematic confidence via a quantitative process why winners win and losers lose, and we may have lost much of the ground we thought we had gained in forecasting even the probabilities of winners winning, because of all of math and science finally stepping out into the blinding new light of emergent complexity. It is as if all of math and science has suddenly become freshman on the KU team hitting "the wall" at the same time.What are the odds of that?But the really important accomplishment of Bill James than can never be erased or diminished, is that he asked the question at all and that he asked the question in the venue of sport. Why? By seeking his simultaneously personal and universal and timeless question in the venue of sport, what he found and published brought the beauty, elegance, and yes, the emergent complexity of this question to a huge number of persons that likely would never have even thought of their larger world in mathematical/quantitative terms. Bill James is one of the intellects that brought the age of probability in a palatable form to the masses. And he did not speak down to them doing it. Kansas has James Naismith, who invented basketball.Kansas has Phog Allen who invented basketball coaching and a good deal of what the game became.Kansas has Wilt Chamberlain who showed how the capability of the individual athlete is capable of a nonlinear leap that can drastically alter prior expectations of what is possible in the game.And Kansas has Bill James who asked the ultimate question of sport and indirectly of society--why do winners win and losers lose--and then proceeded to show us all a path of how to begin to quantify and formalize answers to this question in sport.I hope someday there is a Bill James statue in Allen Field House. He didn't play for KU. He didn't coach for KU. He's best known for baseball. The bulk of his historical and statistical work is not even about KU sports. But he did go to KU. And he is all KU and he is quite frankly the man who made it possible for most of us to begin to profoundly understand the KU sports legacy in a Jamesian combination of quantitative and qualitative terms.Rock chalk.

Tony Bandle 11 years, 4 months ago

JaybateThe four years I spent with Bill at Stephenson Hall were the best years for sports discussions in my life. And I agree totallty, if he and I were to return to that TV Room of many years ago, he would still be the same. Sometimes consistency is perfection.PS Did you make these posts pre or post medication...because they're awesome!!

jaybate 11 years, 4 months ago

Functioning hot, straight and normal when composed. :-)Not sure why it came out.And after rereading it today, I do think, for once, that I came close to nailing something.A little different for Sunday morning reading, eh?Glad you liked it.

yates33333 11 years, 4 months ago

Jaybate, you're an education almost as good as the one I got at KU when you were a little boy, if you were at all. Herb

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