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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee – Silicon Valley Takeover Edition

January 17, 2022

By now most of you are probably aware that CSU absolutely smashed the San Jose State Spartans on Saturday to the tune of 78-42. I didn’t write about it post-game because I really had nothing to say. I saw it from the same viewpoint as all of you. I listened to the opening minutes on the radio because, like you, my Stadium app wasn’t working. I realized I could watch the game in my browser and started doing so midway through the first half. In time to catch the Rams’ remarkable 23-0 run which began with about 4 minutes remaining in the first half and lasted nearly 7 minutes into the second half.

Nearly 11 minutes of shutout ball!

It was accomplished with near flawless execution on both ends of the floor. The result of a great game plan by the staff and 100% commitment to said plan by the team.

Interestingly enough, it was not done at breakneck speed. Rather, it was a very methodical 65-possession game where the Rams took their time running their offensive sets and then attacked aggressively at the moment of truth. When the Rams’ offense is clicking, its much like waves rolling in at the ocean. Relentless and smooth. But after a series of average waves, there’s that one big wave that absolutely crashes. Thats the CSU halfcourt offense when operating properly.

Dischon Thomas

The Rams depth rose the forefront as the bench players combined for 41 points out of the 78. Dischon Thomas started and was certainly the player of the game with 14 points and 7 rebounds in only 15 minutes on the floor. A lot of the crashing waves came from subs Isaiah Rivera (12 points), Jalen Lake (8), James Moors (8), John Tonje (7), and Chandler Jacobs (6).

And I cant help but think that the tempo was not only intentional for the San Jose State game but for many of the upcoming Mountain West games. Five of the 11 MWC teams (San Diego State, Wyoming, Air Force, Fresno State, and Boise State) are in the bottom 20% nationally in terms of tempo. In short, they play games in the mud.

As for the Spartans wearing uniforms that look like Golden State Warriors but with Silicon Valley on the front, all I can say is that is sure is interesting branding.

I spent 23 years with Hewlett-Packard, the original Silicon Valley giant. The first 5 were in Silicon Valley. And I could probably count on one hand the number of San Jose State grads we had in my division at the time. San Jose State was a commuter school back then. We did have a few people who pursued advanced degrees part time at night. But we were dominated in the management structure by Stanford and Harvard MBA’s. And many of the engineers came from the top Engineering schools. I’m not trying to insult San Jose State because the Cal State system is top notch but it seems to me to be way too much of a stretch to brand San Jose State as Silicon Valley’s school/team.

Oh well. What do I know?

Smashing Sparty and the Climb in the Metrics

A lot of people were surprised to see CSU’s NET ranking climb from 42 to 29 and to see the KenPom.com rating climb from the low 50’s to 39 after eating SanJose State’s children.

I thought I’d give a brief tutorial how these two key metrics used by the NCAA Tournament committee work.

The NET ranking is a results based metric. A portion of the formula evaluates the quality of the opponent, the location, and the final result. All point differentials are capped at 10. Which begs the question, how the heck did CSU rise so much if a victory over a weak squad like San Jose gets capped at 10.

The answer is simple.

The NET formula also has efficiency metrics (similar to KenPom) that aren’t capped at 10. So if you absolutely smash a team, you benefit immensely in the efficiency component of the NET rankings. Some teams exploit this by running up scores. I wont mention who the culprits are in the MWC but all you have to do is check out some final results and the minutes played by the starters. By the way, CSU has a reputation for not smashing weaker opponents and oftentimes their metrics are affected in a negative way.

KenPom.com is not a results based metric. It is totally predictive and driven by numbers that feed into Offensive and Defensive Efficiency metrics. And it really isnt capped by scoring margin. It is a model that is completely agnostic to winning and losing. If fact, if a team wins more games than it should based upon its metrics, KenPom categorizes that as ”Luck”. I know he has his reasons but for gosh sake it seems like the ability to win should be paramount to other metrics. Again, what do I know.

So the reason for CSU’s ascent in KenPom was driven by the fact that on the offensive side, the Rams scored at a very nice clip of 1.2 points per possession.And on the defensive side, they held the Spartans to a remarkably low .65 points per possession.

Some Early Bracketology

I dont put any credence into bracket predictions this early but I did get excited when ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had CSU matched up with North Carolina in San Diego in a 8/9 game with the winner most likely playing #1 seed Arizona in the next round.

I was excited because we are planning to attend these games and San Diego would be a great site for us. My wife looked at the cities that are hosting early round games and one of them was Buffalo, NY. My wife asked if CSU was assigned to Buffalo would we really go?

And the answer was a resounding ”NO”! There is no way I would consider heading to Buffalo, NY in March unless you paid me a ton of money. I have been to Buffalo in the winter. I can’t think of a more miserable place to visit.

And Finally…

Thanks to everyone for the kind words last week regarding my current medical situation. I am blessed to have so many people on my side, especially the CSU family. While I am a CSU fan and booster, I never attended CSU. We do have one CSU degree in my family (my daughter was a Masters in Design and Merchadising). But the outpouring of support means so much to me.

I want to acknowledge our old RamNation.com glitterati. Joel Cantalamessa, Mike Rowe, Joe Baran, Rob Russell, Dave Johnson, Luke Kingsley, and Jared Spears. They are amongst the few that I shared things with a while back. They have all been like brothers to me, constantly checking in and asking how things are going. Their support has meant everything.

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