EppsNet Archive: Basketball

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

10 Jan 2015 /

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand.

Derek Jeter

About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority.

I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same page on this topic. I have to admit I was pretty competitive as a student. I didn’t want anyone to do better than me and I especially didn’t want anyone to do better than me because they worked harder than me.

This Jeter quote reminded me of a quote from another notable sports figure . . .

Bob Knight

This is Bob Knight, college basketball coach, most notably at the University of Indiana. He won 902 games, three NCAA championships, and he coached the 1984 Olympic basketball team to a gold medal.

Notice that he says “everyone” and “no one.” He doesn’t say some people don’t want to come to practice. There’s a universal aspiration to accomplish great results without a corresponding level of effort. I recognize that in myself, definitely. As far as I can tell, this approach rarely if ever works, even for people we think of as prodigies.

Mozart used to say that anyone who thought composing music came easily to him was very much mistaken. While all the other kids were playing kickball, Mozart was in the house practicing his music lessons. In case you’re thinking that kickball wasn’t even a game at that time, you may be right. The point is that if there was kickball, Mozart wouldn’t have been playing it because he was practicing his music lessons.

One more on this topic . . .

Michelangelo's David

This is a quote from Michelangelo. Nothing great seems to happen without a lot of practice.

Once again, please raise your hand if you recognize the person on this next slide.

Anton Chekhov

He looks Russian.

Yes, he is Russian.

Dostoevsky? Tolstoy? Mendeleev? Pushkin? Boris Pasternak?

No . . . he’s known as an author of plays and short stories.

[A student sitting next to a smart but quiet young man from Russia points to the Russian boy and says, “He knows.”]

Who is it? Chekhov.

Right . . . this is Anton Chekhov. He wasn’t a programmer but his advice is relevant to many different endeavors.

Don’t overcomplicate things. A good heuristic – which is a fancy way of saying “rule of thumb” – is to do the simplest thing that could possibly work. Method A could work, Method B could work — which one should we try first? Try the simplest one first.

Note that the heuristic doesn’t say to do the simplest thing. If the simplest thing couldn’t possibly work, don’t do it. Do the simplest thing that might actually work.

One final slide. I don’t think anyone will know these people so I’m not asking for a show of hands.

2 days in a closet

I saw an article last week about a man and a woman who were “trapped” in a janitor’s closet at the Daytona State College Marine and Environmental Science Center for two days. They got themselves in the closet last Sunday and finally on Tuesday, the gentleman on the right got the idea to call 911. Why that idea took two days to incubate is unclear. Police showed up to let them out and found out the closet was not locked. They could have opened the door themselves.

Maybe the lock was meth’d up, like the woman. “Meth’d” up, get it?

Are they students at Daytona State College? The article doesn’t say. Do any of you have Daytona State College on your college wish list? If so, you may want to take it off. Or just keep it as a safety school in case Harvard and the Sorbonne don’t come through for you.

What can we learn from this story? I don’t want to say “don’t make assumptions” but don’t make unwarranted assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about things that you can easily verify. If you’re in a closet, don’t assume the door is locked. Try it and see. A lot of uncertainty can be dispelled by trying things out.

Assumptions can hurt you as a programmer. You might be stuck because you’re assuming some condition is true that isn’t true. Or you’re assuming that some condition can never be true when it really can be true. Don’t make unwarranted assumptions.

I couldn’t help noticing that a lot more people recognized Derek Jeter than recognized Anton Chekhov. If you want to achieve great renown, if you want to be part of the public consciousness, entertain people in a simple-minded way, like hitting a ball with a stick and running around in a park. People can be entertained by Derek Jeter without expending any effort.

Where Chekhov went wrong is that he failed to anticipate a world where nobody reads anymore. Furthermore, he believed that the role of an artist was to ask questions, not to answer them. His plays and stories don’t have a traditional structure where everything is tied up neatly at the end, so you not only have to put in the time to read them, you have to go into overtime to ponder the moral ambiguities. Who has time for that in their busy lives?


Random Thoughts on Paying College Athletes

17 May 2014 /

Where is the money going to come from? Most people seem to think that college athletic programs are big money makers. They aren’t. Despite the big revenue dollars associated with two sports — football and men’s basketball — 90 percent of Division I athletic programs, because of the much larger number of non-revenue sports, operate at a loss. They’re subsidized by the general fund of the university. Paying athletes would require additional dollars to be directed away from academic endeavors: hiring and paying professors, funding research, offering financial aid to non-athletes, etc.

 

Title IX requires gender equity. You couldn’t just pay football players and men’s basketball players. Everyone would need to be paid equally in some sense, even in non-revenue sports.

 

How much money are we talking about? Let’s say at a medium to large school, we have 500 to 1,000 student athletes and we’re going to pay all of them a modest stipend of $10,000. That’s a cost of 5 to 10 million dollars a year. Sorry, Mom and Dad, that your kid couldn’t get the classes he or she needed to graduate in four years but when we pink-slipped professors so we could pay the athletes, we had to cut back on the number of available courses.

 

Are college athletes being exploited imposed upon financially? It makes sense to consider athletes in two groups:

  1. Future professional athletes. They have available to them a large group of coaches and support staff whose job is to prepare them athletically and promote them so as to make as much money as possible in highly lucrative occupations. If they don’t get paid right now, they’ll get paid a lot of money very soon.
     
  2. Everyone else (a much bigger group). Everyone else will have to go forth into the world and try to earn a living in some non-athletic pursuit. An athletic scholarship gives them the benefit of a paid-for college education that most of them would not otherwise receive. What is the monetary value of that over the course of a lifetime? Quite a lot.
 

With all the national and local sports networks, playing football or basketball at a Division I school makes you not only a big man on campus, but a local, if not national, celebrity. It’s fun! You get to play games with your buddies, travel around, stay in nice hotels, appear on television. If you’re a good player, people will talk about you on TV, on the radio, on the Internet – constantly – like you’re some kind of an important person. There are worse things that can happen to you in life than being a Division I scholarship athlete.

 

All that being said, if you as a college athlete really feel that you are being taken advantage of and not adequately compensated for the value of your contribution, don’t play. It’s not exploitation if you do it voluntarily.


See You in Hell, Carl Douglas

5 May 2014 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

“It put a smile on my face that finally [Donald Sterling] would be unable to deny the racist allegations against him,” said Carl Douglas, a lawyer who represented former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor in a lawsuit against Sterling.

Carl Douglas is best known as a member of the O.J. Simpson defense team. O.J. Simpson has done some regrettable things, like murdering a couple of white people, but at least he’s never made negative remarks about Magic Johnson photos on Instagram.

See you in Hell . . .

P.S. Carl Douglas the lawyer should not be confused with Carl Douglas the “Kung Fu Fighting” singer. Him, I like.


See You in Hell

3 May 2014 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Congratulations, Americans! Your lives have become so trivialized that you think the most important issue facing your country is how many Magic Johnson photos get posted to Instagram.

See you in Hell . . .


I’m Done With the NBA

1 May 2014 /

I’m choking to death on all the pious platitudes re Donald Sterling. I hope that TMZ will make a recurring feature out of providing glimpses into the private lives of NBA executives, coaches and players. The level of sanctimony amongst these juvenile moralizers will drop off a cliff.

To cite an obvious example: The Clippers are currently in a playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. The coach of the Warriors, Mark Jackson, describes himself as “an African-American man that’s a fan of the game of basketball and knows its history and knows what’s right and what’s wrong.” He goes on to encourage people to boycott Clippers games and says, “We cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit.”

Jackson is an ordained minister. He and his wife run the True Love Worship Center in Reseda, Ca.

Jackson was also, a couple of years ago, the victim of an extortion attempt involving dick pics he sent to a stripper with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

TMZ should do one of those man-on-the-street interviews and ask him, “Coach, you’re a religious man who knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Let me ask you . . . do you think a man who has extramarital affairs with strippers is the kind of man who should be allowed to profit as a member of the NBA family? Do you think a man like that has the moral stature to stand in judgment of the private lives of others? When someone’s private transgressions become public, should they just be able to say ‘Oops’ and move on?”

I just want to see all of these pretentious phonies laid low . . .


Which Experts Predicted a UConn-Kentucky Title Game?

8 Apr 2014 /
UConn logo

PunditTracker tracked March Madness 2014 brackets for 26 “experts” from ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports, plus President Obama.

Number of pundits who picked UConn to win the tournament: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the final game: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the Final Four: Zero.

Number of pundits who picked either UConn or Kentucky to reach the Elite Eight: Zero.


INSANE Backyard Trick Shots

25 Apr 2013 /

Jerry Buss, 1933-2013

18 Feb 2013 /

I’m sad. As a lifelong Laker fan, I kind of feel like I knew the guy. He bought the Lakers in 1979, which means he was younger than I am today, and now he’s dead at the age of 80. I feel old.

Dr. Buss was a USC alum. Fight on.

R.I.P. Jerry Buss

jerry-buss


USC 75, UCLA 71 (OT)

31 Jan 2013 /
USC logo

Sorry to spoil Reggie Miller Jersey Retirement Night at the new Pauley Pavilion, but you should know better than to schedule these things against the Men of Troy.

FIGHT ON!


Why Kyrie Irving is a Better Basketball Player Than Anyone in My Family

16 Jan 2013 /
Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

My son (age 19) and I are driving to Staples Center to see the Lakers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, listening to the pre-game show on the radio. Because the Cavs are basically a one-man roster, and that one man is Kyrie Irving, there’s a lot of talk about Irving on the pre-game.

One of the analysts offers up his opinion that Irving is as good as he is at such a young age (he’s 20) because Irving’s dad was hard on him as a kid and pushed him and didn’t let him take breaks.

As always, when the topic of someone’s dad bullying him to greatness comes up, the boy gives me a melancholy look to say that my lack of abusiveness as a parent is the reason he’s not a professional athlete. “You let me take breaks,” he says.

“You know,” I say, “I think for every guy who says, ‘My dad wouldn’t let me back in the house until I made 100 layups with each hand and now I’m in the NBA,’ there’s 900 other guys whose dads tried the same shit and these guys got nowhere and now they’re extremely angry about it. You just never hear from those 900 guys because they’re nowhere, as I just said.”


I Have Kids Older Than NBA Players

19 Dec 2012 /

My boy, a college sophomore, and I are watching the Lakers play the Charlotte Bobcats on the TV . . .

“Did you know,” he says, “that I’m a full two months older than [Bobcats forward] Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?”

“Hmmm . . . really?”

“He grew more than me.”

Kidd-Gilchrist is 6’7″, 232 lbs. He turned 19 in September.


Dee-FENSE

12 Dec 2012 /

107-2 — Bloomington South girls basketball team beats ArlingtonESPN

They gave up two points?! Who’s coaching the defense, Mike D’Antoni?


The Game Blame Game

22 Jul 2012 /
Washington Bullets uniform

My boy is playing NBA 2K12 and points out that my Where’s Waldo shirt looks like the Washington Wizards (nee Bullets) throwback uniforms.

“Where’s John Wall-do?” he says.

Ha ha. I get my comeback opportunity a few minutes later when his game player passes to a teammate, who scores, but his player doesn’t get credit for an ssist.

“HOW CAN THAT BE ANYTHING BUT AN ASSIST FOR ME?!” he shouts in disbelief. “That’s bad programming.”

“Oh I doubt that,” I say. “The people who program video games are a lot smarter than the people who play them.”


Derrick Williams

24 May 2012 /
Derrick Williams

My boy saw Derrick Williams out and about the other night . . . Williams is from La Mirada (like me!), so it wouldn’t be unusual to spot him in the SoCal area.

“You’re Derrick Williams, right?” the boy said.

“No, that’s not me,” Williams replied.

Williams was cleverly disguised in an Arizona basketball hoodie and Minnesota Timberwolves sweatpants. Oh, and he’s 6-foot-8.


Ashley Corral Wins 3-Pt Competition

30 Mar 2012 /

Things You Can and Can’t Do

21 Feb 2012 /

Chink in the Armor

Things You Can Do

Discriminate against Asians in college admissions.

Things You Can’t Do

Use “Chink in the Armor” as the headline for an article on the New York Knicks.


Jeremy Lin’s Mom

9 Feb 2012 /
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 08: Jeremy Lin #17 o...

Jeremy Lin

“My son shot 64% last night?! THAT IS A GRADE OF D! I AM ASHAMED!” — Jeremy Lin‘s mom


UCLA 66, USC 47

19 Jan 2012 /
USC logo

After this debacle of a basketball game, my son, a college freshman, says to me, “I should have gone to USC. I could probably walk on to basketball and make the team.”

“Are you kidding? You could probably walk on and start,” I said.


Keep the damn mouthguard IN your mouth, will ya?

Posted by on 16 Jan 2012

Thank God for Coach K

16 Nov 2011 /
Coaches Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski at the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Without whom Duke would be known for nothing more than educating the idiot offspring of our nation’s tobacco barons.

Now that he’s broken the record, are there any grand jury reports waiting to be released?


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