Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Tweener: A let-down, a spectacular quarter, and a spectacular revelation

On February 26 I wrote my inaugural Tweener column. It's that time of the week again - here are this week's quick hitters:


One of the most unfortunate feelings in life is being let down. I'm talking, major time let down, like your city's franchises repeatedly make the playoffs or have great seasons and can never win anything important (cough Denver cough).  This isn't some "I wanted to go for a bike ride and it rained" kind of crap. I really mean let down. As far as I can remember, this has happened to me 4 times in my life: (1) when I was flying home from abroad and passed out on the plane, causing me to miss my connection cause they made me go to the hospital, causing me to get stuck in London for 5 days because of snow (this was really not tight at all), (2) when I was 14 and had gotten the new version of Madden each Christmas for like 5 straight years and all I could think about on Christmas Eve was getting to play it for 14 hours the next day, and then "Santa" didn't bring it that year, (3) when I heard Emma Watson was newly single, only to have someone respond to my exuberance with "yeah did you hear how she said she's done dating American men?", and (4) when my parents didn't fill the pinata at my kindergarten birthday party with candy (this is actually the most anti-climactic moment of my life...but the good news is one of my classmates still managed to hit my uncle in the face while we were trying to break the empty-pinata, so that saves it a little bit).

Why did I say all of that?

Remember that time they photo-shopped Steve Nash's face onto
John Cena's body for the cover of this issue?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Obscure NBA Player of the Week: Aron Baynes

Each week at Volume Shooters, we highlight an NBA player, past or present, who doesn't spend much time in the spotlight but is nonetheless a valuable cog in his team's quest for the championship. Obscure players tend to be on obscure teams, but with the playoffs upcoming, we tried to pick somebody out from one of the title contenders. Here's this week's edition:

It has been an interesting week here at Volume Shooters. On Tuesday, Grantland introduced a column they called "Who's That Guy," highlighting - you guessed it - an under-the-radar NBA player on a playoff team! Reading this column, we couldn't help but think it looked eerily similar to a number of pieces we had seen somewhere before...so we let them know about it. Hey Grantland: if you are reading our stuff, how about throwing a writing gig or two our way? Anyways, we really dug deep into the vault to come up with a player for this week:

He looks pretty surprised to be this high up

This week's player is San Antonio big man Aron Baynes! Here's what you need to know about him:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Now That's a Fine Play!

Each year the NBA hands out a variety of fines and suspensions to its players and coaches. The NBA is, of course, all powerful, and therefore can fine or suspend you for whatever it wants to.  Some of these fines and suspensions are predetermined, such as the penalty for accruing too many technical fouls. We’re not really concerned with penalties like that; the really interesting fines and suspensions are the ones leveed by the NBA after the game is over and the league has time to review the tape.

Often this is how we choose to evaluate actors and actresses: we watch their performance and then later assess whether or not it was valuable.  This season the NBA has largely been judicious with their penalties: they’ve been consistent, and most of them were fines or suspensions that a player or team could reasonably expect. Yet regardless of their fairness, fines and suspensions always leave someone hot and bothered, even if what they did was ridiculous to begin with…which always leaves us rolling with laughter.

So without further ado, here are the best fines and suspensions from the 2012-2013 NBA season, broken down by category:

European Basketball Flopping
Did you know the NBA instituted a rule at the start of this season that allowed the NBA to determine if a player flopped after the game is over? Each player gets one warning, and then is fined $5,000 for their second ruled flop.  Here’s to you, Omer Asik, Kevin Martin, J.J.Barea, Gerald Wallace, and Reggie Evans for being officially designated as “pansies” by the league for over-floppage. Don’t worry, Zaza Pachulia, Gustavo Ayon, Royal Ivey, Tony Parker, and Donald Sloan – we know you received warnings too for not being man enough to play this game.  Oh and also, if you were curious, Donald Sloan now plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Generally Being a Dick to the Refs

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

America's Pastime: Why We Love Baseball

Since the start of the NBA playoffs has already been covered in depth by my co-writers (and the fact that I’ve missed every game because a move to a new house took away my TV, internet, and running water), I thought I’d dedicate today’s column to America’s pastime. My apologies for completely neglecting Opening Day – I’m going to make it up to you by sharing the top 5 (extremely objective, of course) traditions that make baseball great. And if you're lucky, I might throw in some of my experiences from Orioles games for good measure.

5. The First Pitch

This mainly applies to your team's home opener, even if it's not the first game of the season. You might have been there for such a game - the team runs out to the roar of the crowd, the pitcher tosses a couple more just for good measure, and the crowd turns from an excited chatter to a low murmur of excitement. There's a buzz, a feeling of electricity in the ballpark, and that goes double if you have an ace pitcher on your staff. The other team's leadoff batter is almost NEVER swinging at the first pitch of the season, so your pitcher has no excuse but to zip one down the middle. STEEEEEE-RIIIIIIIIIIKEEEEEEE. Awesome. After the fact, it feels a little anticlimactic, but the buildup to the first pitch is truly great. Here's an example:

Oh wait, that was John Wall throwing out the worst first pitch ever. Here's what I mean:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Tweener: T-shirts, Biting, Losers, and Superstars

On February 26 I wrote my inaugural Tweener column. It's that time of the week again - here are this week's quick hitters:

Free stuff is always better than something you pay for

You know what I really love about the NBA playoffs? How the owners make the fans feel welcome by spending a tiny fraction of their surplus for t-shirts for the home crowd so their arena looks good on TV every arena makes sure there is pure color domination in favor of their home team! OKC's blue t-shirts and the Heat's white ones made the solidarity of the fan-base simply awesome. I also love that you can tell Denver makes less money by the fact that they only gave out towels and not t-shirts the towel waving in Denver! It's so energetic, and it is probably the reason Andre Miller turned into a 21-year-old and dropped 18 points and his first career game winning shot in the 4th quarter on Saturday.

I know this is a year old. But it is just so good. And I hope it happens again.
Steph as a superstar? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

What Did We Learn?

After playing 82 games apiece during the regular season, there always seems to be ample information with which to judge each one of the 30 teams in the NBA. An educated fan knows who the important players are for each team, what style they like to play, and how much success (or lack thereof) they have had thus far. Yet every year, the playoffs start and despite watching all season, you still find yourself learning new things about the NBA landscape. Like any red-blooded American that doesn't have a wife or girlfriend to consider, I watched at least part of every game this weekend, and sure enough, there was a lot to learn in each matchup. So what were the key takeaways from the first weekend?

Both of these guys will be important in the playoffs. No, seriously.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Western Conference Predictions

Yesterday we took the time to examine the Eastern Conference first round match-ups. Today, we look at the much more exciting because there's more than one good team Western Conference playoff picture. Like yesterday, you'll find all you need to know, or at least a couple of facts that are probably true (since that's the nature of facts), and then our tweetable predictions will follow.  Hopefully we win you a lot of money in your office pool.

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (8) Houston Rockets

This gif comes from Business Insider. That's not a joke.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Eastern Conference Predictions

This weekend marks the beginning of the NBA Playoffs. The writers at Volume Shooters have collaborated to give you a comprehensive and thorough break-down of each match-up. And even if that isn't completely true, we at least matched all the teams up correctly. Today we preview the Eastern Conference playoff picture; tomorrow we'll visit the West.

(1) Miami Heat vs. (8) BYE Milwaukee Bucks

We believe this is Monta kissing the Bucks' hopes good-bye.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Boston Marathon and the Healing Power of Sports

I'm still reeling over the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Tragedy comes in many forms, but it's rare that it strikes such a peaceful and unsuspecting scene as it did Monday. Most of you know the facts by now: an eight year old boy was brutally killed watching the race with his family, along with two others. Some 180 others lie injured in the area Boston hospitals, a number that could easily be over 200 when all is said and done. Many have had their limbs amputated, their lives forever changed. It's hard to fathom such a horrible thing happening in our proud country. My heart goes out to all those affected, and I know that I speak for all of us in wishing the best for those poor victims in their recovery.

Life goes on; that's a part of the healing process. Everyone finds a different way to cope with their pain, takes a different path on the road to recovery. And time and again, sports have been an outlet for the grief of a community. I'm not the first to write about the healing power of sports, nor will I be the last. But I wanted to share some of the more inspiring moments that sports have offered us after a tragedy, as a way of lifting everyone's spirits just a little bit after what happened on Monday.

Marshall Plane Crash, 1970

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Tweener: Pi, GIs, and the fat lady singing

On February 26 I wrote an inaugural Tweener column. It's that time of the week again! My apologies for opting out of this column last week. This week, well, I've watched more than a couple movies recently. Just so everyone knows, THERE ARE AT LEAST MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT LIFE OF PI, GI JOE 2, and LES MISERABLES in the following post. Just FYI. Ok...anyway, I warned you, so if you read something you didn't want to know, don't blame me if you end up like this:

I don't even know what that is from. Ok here we go:

What's in a name?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Obscure NBA Player of the Week: Chris Copeland

Each week at Volume Shooters, we highlight an NBA player, past or present, who doesn't spend much time in the spotlight but is nonetheless a valuable cog in his team's quest for the championship. Obscure players tend to be on obscure teams, but with the playoffs upcoming, this week we tried to pick somebody out from one of the title contenders. Here's this week's edition:

With the playoffs starting this weekend, for this week's edition of this post, I (somewhat) eschewed the humorous elements to this post in order to identify a player that might actually be relevant in the title chase. Usually these players only step up due to injuries, so as much as I wanted to point out the recent excellent play of Evan "The French Mamba" Fournier, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction by looking at the injury-riddled team in the Big Apple. My search led me to this week's obscure player:

Sporting the typical rookie gym bag, that's Knicks player Chris Copeland! So what makes him so obscure? Read on...

Friday, April 12, 2013

50 posts? It's time to celebrate!

Today marks Volume Shooters' 50th post on this site. Don't worry - we're surprised we made it this far as well.  To honor ourselves, and because the playoffs are right around the corner, we're looking back at some of the top moments from the 2012-2013 NBA season.

50 point performances

Jack: What better way to start things off than by commemorating our 50th post than by examining the best 50-point efforts from this season? (Side note: In an attempt to include more games and players I thought about making it players scoring 45+ in a game. Turns out this would only expand the field from 3 performances to 9, and from 3 players to 6.  You can see the list here. My take-away is that Carmelo Anthony and James Harden have clearly been out to prove things this season - Carmelo that he can still perform while being hung over lead a team to success at the highest level, and Harden that you should always fear the beard. Anyway...) Only three times has the 50-point mark been eclipsed this season - here's my ranking of those performances:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Metta World Peace: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Each week I compare my impressions of a player or team to statistics, to see if they confirm the "eye test." I first started out by looking at Bobcats legend Byron Mullens. This week I'm going to be looking at the NBA's resident psychopath, Ron Artest.

Most of you have heard of that crazy dude who plays next to Kobe named Metta World Peace. Actually I refuse to call him that out of principle, so I will be referring to him as Ron Artest for the entirety of this column.

Does this look like a guy who calls himself "Metta World Peace"? Yes, yes it does.

Artest is known for many things: tough defense, tireless hustle, and uncontrollable temper flares that would make the Hulk blush. He's calmed down in recent years, but let's not forget that this is the guy who WENT INTO THE STANDS TO PUNCH OUT AN INNOCENT MAN. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. Sometimes his temper just gets the better of him:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Expect Layups: The NCAA Women's Championship

Usually every week I compare my impressions of a player or team to statistics, to see if they confirm the "eye test." I first started out by looking at Bobcats legend Byron Mullens. However, this week I'm going to be bringing you something entirely different - that's right, a live blog of the women's NCAA basketball championship.

Editor's note: I thought this game started at 9:23pm just like the men's game. Oddly enough, they started it earlier because most people don't feel compelled to watch women's basketball til midnight. This means that the first 18 minutes of the first half consisted of me watching the Lion King. I am not the least bit ashamed. We pick up with 1:50 remaining in the first half.

1:50: I flip the channel and a travel is called immediately. Tough call, she only took 4 steps without dribbling. Looked like a cartoon character wiping out on a banana peel. Oh by the way - Louisville is down by 20 with 2 minutes left in the first half.

1:41: A deep 3 from UConn. Apparently that girl has 17 points already. It's like Trey Burke's extremely pale, white female twin! I can get into this.

1:35: A loss of basic motor function by UL's point guard results in a turnover. Maybe I can't get into this.

0:42: Louisville cuts it to a "manageable" 19 points. I'm having trouble writing this with a straight face.

0:30: Girl with 17 points on UConn is apparently named Brianna Stewart. The announcer casually mentions that her wingspan is 7'1". KEVIN DURANT only has a 7'5" wingspan. Maybe the Bobcats can take her with the #1 overall pick.

0:22: Louisville's shooting guard decides to take a contested, fadeaway 18 footer across her body, also known as the "JR Smith." And it's good!!! Just kidding, it nearly put the cameraman in a wheelchair.

0:10: UConn's point guard decides to end the half with back to back near-airballs. Geez, why don't you build a house for the homeless with all those bricks?

0:00: We have a special guest for halftime - Maya Moore!! Back to the Lion King it is.

(Halftime spent crying over Mufasa's death)

20:00: And we're back!

19:40: Quick Louisville basket. Lead down to 17. Has a team ever won the men's and women's tournament in the same year? That would be pretty cool.

19:22: Quick UConn basket. UConn coach Geno Auriemma is currently sweating through his 3rd shirt of the game, setting his sights on Gary Williams' long standing record of 7.

17:40: UL guard actually dribbles off her foot out of bounds. Jesus.

17:10: UConn drains a wide open 3. Gotta be honest, I'm very aware which team is the 1 seed in this game.

16:50: UL point guard throws a pass to 3 UConn defenders with none of her teammates in sight. "She's not really a natural point guard," the announcer lets us know. Well, then.

15:40: UL's backup point guard brings the ball up the court with the single greatest "deer in the headlights" look I've ever seen. Even I feel kinda bad. UL misses a wide open 3.

14:50: Rick Pitino is interviewed. He has clearly not slept in 48 hours, and is looking like a homeless man's Charlie Sheen. In a 12 hour span, Pitino won the national championship, had his horse qualify for the Kentucky Derby, made $3 million, and his son was hired to coach basketball at the University of Minnesota. Now that's a heater.

13:50: Louisville takes a charge and hits a 3 on the other end! THERE IS FIGHT IN THIS DOG YET!

13:27: Schloppy turnover from UConn. Extra schloppy.


12:45: Brianna Breanna Stewart puts the kibosh on that run with another 3. I just found out that she can dunk. Seriously, can the Bobcats draft her already?

12:15: Louisville airballs a stepback jumper and UConn's center throws the outlet pass out of bounds. That was fun.

11:55: Louisville airballs a fadeaway jumper and UConn's point guard throws a transition pass out of bounds. That was fun.

11:55: Wait, what just happened??

11:55: Geno is sputtering he is so angry. He actually sounds like Popeye the Sailor Man. Bro you're up 18, lighten up!

8:15: Nifty pass from UConn's point guard leads to a layup, a steal leads to another layup, another steal leads to a 3, and a bad shot by Louisville leads to another 3. All of a sudden it's a 27 point game. Where's Luke Hancock when you need him?

7:33: UL point guard pulls up from 28 feet with 25 left on the shot clock...(CLANK). Who the hell do you think you are?

7:12: Flagrant foul on Louisville's center! I love when things gets chippy in women's basketball. Kinda hot, actually.

6:16: Foul shots and a couple buckets make it a 32 point lead for UConn...and they hit yet another 3. UConn 87 - Louisville 52. The women's record is apparently 97 points in a championship game. I am now rooting for this to happen.

3:49: Louisville launches a series of...ummm..."ill-advised" 3s. I'm tempted to yell, "PULL!" every time they shoot like I'm going skeet shooting.

3:10: Geno just subbed Breanna Stewart back in! He's winning by 33! Somebody shoot this guy.

1:35: Louisville just subbed in bench warmer Shelby Harper. The fuck were they waiting for?

0:34: Louisville misses a 3. They are now 0 for their last trillion.

0:00: UConn runs out the clock for a 33 point win. That was the exact opposite of the instant classic we had from the men's game last night. On the bright side, I found my new crush. Marry me, Shelby Harper?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Once you're in the gym, you're in range

Last night, the University of Michigan Wolverines squared off against the Louisville Cardinals in the NCAA Men's National Championship game.  Please excuse the delay of this week's Tweener, as I felt this was a prime opportunity for another retro-diary. And yes, I chose to do this at least in part because in nearly every bracket I filled out I had a Michigan-Louisville final.

8:53PM - Tip off is in one hour. I just finished my dinner of pizza bites and an apple, so my night is off to a great start.

Here's my prediction of how this goes: Early offense from both teams. Pitino asks his guys to slow things down. Russ Smith forgets that strategy in two possessions. Louisville goes into the half up two. Michigan comes out hot. Stauskas hits a couple "white-man-corner-threes"prompting celebrations from his bench like the one below. It gets close. And then.....TREY BURKE. The national player of the year shows up, goes 5-for-6 from the free throw line, hits a couple of tough drives, and then is accidentally left open for 3 on a possession where Russ Smith thought he was already on a fast-break but forgot the basketball. Dagger. Wolverines, 79-74.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Obscure NBA Player of the Week: Gustavo Ayon

Each week at Volume Shooters, we highlight an NBA player, past or present, who doesn't spend much time in the spotlight but is nonetheless a valuable cog in his team's quest for the championship. Here's this week's edition:

In 1996, a 7'0" center by the name of Horacio Llamas (out of noted powerhouse program Grand Canyon University) became the first Mexican-born player ever to make the NBA. Four years later, Eduardo Najera was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, beginning a successful 12-year NBA career (on a humorous side note, Najera is the current coach of the Texas Legends and was recently suspended for receiving his 13th technical foul of the season - a full 6 more than the NBA coach with the most technicals! Really taking that coaching gig seriously). These guys would both make excellent obscure players in their own right, but they are both retired from the game. So who is carrying the torch for Mexican players in the NBA today? None other than this gentleman:


That's Gustavo Ayon, currently of the Milwaukee Bucks! Here's what you need to know about Gustavo.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hipster HOF: David West

It is a special day here at Volume Shooters, as the time has come to elect another member into our prestigious club, the (Basketball) Hipster Hall of Fame. As a reminder, we select for this hall of fame from on a set of questions we developed based on the Keltner List, designed to determine a player's worthiness for induction. Some of the questions are more or less necessities, others simply add bonus points and make a stronger case for the player. These are players that the mainstream media may ignore, but the true (hipster) fan holds in extremely high regard. Today's candidate is described on his Wikipedia page as "fundamental for the most part, as he is not known for being a flamboyant player." Sounds pretty hipster to me. David West everybody!

West, looking far too cool to be posing for this picture
The questions (and answers) are as follows:

1. Did this player have something unique or unusual about his game that distinguished him from many, if not all, of his peers? When you watch West play...well, when you watch games West plays in, you probably aren't watching him. The guy looks like he is moving in molasses most of the time. I mean, the soundtrack to this highlight video is called "Sloe Gin" for god's sake. West may not have one unique feature to his game, but we may never see another player with the same build and skill set.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

FYI - Answers to the trivia questions you've never been asked

Sports trivia. Maybe you and your friends quiz each other all the time. Or perhaps you think you've actually no need for it. If this is the case, I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Maybe you end up out at a trivia night with your friends, and because you read this you're able to answer a question. Or maybe you meet a boy (or girl...but probably a boy) you want to impress, and you use this to "drop some knowledge on his ass". Or maybe you want to find a way to finally connect with your father.  Whatever the case may be, you'll be thankful you've got a bit of sports trivia knowledge stored away somewhere.

Let's start with this. What happened here?

If you answered with "a high school student made a fool of himself on national television during the McDonald's All American Game last night," you are correct! If you also mentioned what appears to be Morgan Freeman sitting at the end of the bench, you get extra points.

Here are a few more answers to potential trivia questions you may face. For each of these questions, I set a threshold for 50 games played in a season, since seasons used to be shorter and this allows for players to miss even significant portions of a season but still count statistically.  FYI - you'll probably never actually have to face these questions, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve an answer!

Who are the most prolific off-the-bench volume shooters?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Eye Test: Final Four Edition

Each week I compare my impressions of a player or team to statistics, to see if they confirm the "eye test." I first started out by looking at Bobcats legend Byron Mullens. This week I'm going to put the Final Four teams to the eye test.

Wow, what a tournament it's been. One for the ages. Think of all the memories we'll have: La Salle. Florida Gulf CoastAaron Craft's shotTrey Burke's shot. And of course, the injury to Kevin Ware (no freaking way I'm including a video) that was one of the more surreal scenes in recent sports history. While it was undeniably awful, his attitude and the reaction of athletes everywhere epitomizes everything we love about sports. Anyone not rooting for Louisville at this point is either a Wichita State, Michigan, or Syracuse fan. Or maybe you need one of those other teams to win for your bracket's sake. Or Louisville beat your team. Ok, not everyone is a fan. But if you didn't get choked up watching Ware's teammates cry when he was carted off, you don't have a soul.

Alright, where were we? This week I'd like to put the eye test on each Final Four team based on what I've noticed while watching the tournament this year. Without further ado:

Observation: Kevin Ware needs to drink more milk Russ Smith is the best finisher around the rim for a player 6'0" or less since Allen Iverson

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Tweener: "A Cold-Blooded Three!"

On February 26 I wrote an inaugural Tweener column. It's that time of the week again! This time we're going to look at the five most hateful shots of the 2013 NCAA Tournament (to date, at least).

Just in case you forgot why this column was called "The Tweener," it's because I love points, and more specifically shots, like this:

Anyway, here's the real theme of this week's piece:


Monday, April 1, 2013

Obscure NBA Player of the Week: April 1, 2013

Each week at Volume Shooters, we highlight an NBA player, past or present, who doesn't spend much time in the spotlight but is nonetheless a valuable cog in his team's quest for the championship. Here's this week's edition:

As you can probably tell if you have been following this blog, I am a completely rabid basketball fan. Whether its the NBA, college hoops, or even high school basketball, it is rare for me to feel behind when it comes to knowledge about players in any given game. (Quick aside about high school hoops: if Andrew Wiggins commits to UK in the next few months, you can go ahead and write them into your 2014 tournament bracket as the champions in pen, and I give them a 40% shot at going undefeated. Their recruiting class is In. Sane. For clips: this guy, this guy, this guy, this guy and possibly this guy. Be very afraid.) So you can imagine my surprise when I was watching the Timberwolves and a player checked in who I had literally never heard of before - not from high school, not from college, and not from anywhere else. Naturally, he became a prime candidate for this edition of Obscure NBA player of the week! Who is he?

No, that's not Lil' Wayne from the days before his tattoos, that's Mickael Gelabale! More on the Wolves' new starting 3-man after the jump.