European Basketball Analysis

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When Bodiroga took on Bologna



A friend of mine, a childhood Chicago Bulls fan, once told me he refuses to watch replay of the historical Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. He doesn’t want his childhood memories ruined. Having watched said game myself years after it took place, I am certain he is doing the right thing. Subtract the magnitude, the end-of-an-era charm and you’re left with a stagnant, 48-minutes iso-feast, during which Michael Jordan took more than half of his team’s shots. He missed 20.

I always expect to come away disappointed from watching tape of an all-time classic. Most people will tell you the 2002 Final between Kinder Bologna and Panathinaikos was one of the best in modern Euroleague history. It had Bodiroga, Obradović, Ginobili, Rigaudeau, Smodiš, Messina, a large first half lead, a comeback, worthy star performances, a fired-up crowd and tension until the last minute. And yet — guess what — players missed shots. They committed dumb turnovers, left the backdoor open, failed to box out, missed fouls shots, just as they do today. 65 free throws too often brought the game to a standstill. All things considered, it was a great game.

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Written by sJacas

March 8th, 2014 at 9:09 am

Posted in Euroleague

Podcast: Real Madrid versus CSKA, D-League and Analytics


George Rowland and sJacas discuss George’s upcoming trip to the Real Madrid vs CSKA game, plus Moreyball in the D-League and findings from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference 2014.


Written by sJacas

March 5th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Euroleague

In Non-Moving Pictures: How Real Almost Threw Away the Copa (But Didn’t)

George Rowland


After Felipe Reyes hit a pair of free throws with 1.11 left on the clock in the Copa del Rey final in Malaga yesterday evening it seemed like Real had the game sewn up with a 75-68 lead. But an 8-0 Barcelona run over the next minute put Real behind and set up Sergio Llull’s game winning long two  from the right corner.

Real’s defence had been superb over the weekend, but it was a number of key lapses in the final minute that almost cost them the game, with their normally air tight help defence being found wanting by Barcelona, before Barcelona’s own defensive mistakes allowed Llull to get open in the final seconds.

Play Number One: Llull gets Lost (Three Times), and Oleson Drains a Three

The logical first play to look at is Brad Oleson’s three, coming after Joey Dorsey pulled down a huge offensive rebound. On the play leading up to this we saw a Marcelinho Huertas layup knocked out of the rim by Rudy Fernandez. It seemed as if Barca were shaping to send Huertas left around a Dorsey screen, potentially setting up another of his floaters. But as Dorsey came to set the screen both Sergio Llull and Felipe Reyes were found out of position, allowing Huertas to drive right uncontested to the rim, only for Fernandez to knock the ball out. Real’s disorganisation on that play led to Dorsey’s offensive rebound, as Reyes had stuck close to Dorsey, anticipating having to hedge out to stop Huertas’ floater, he was recovering very late, as both Reyes and Llull turned towards Huertas heading to the rim the both crashed in on him. Leaving Dorsey unchecked to step into the paint and pull down the offensive rebound. With Reyes’ being the help defender, Llull, having already been beaten should have had the responsibility of putting a body on Dorsey.

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Written by George Rowland

February 10th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Posted in ACB

La Copa 2014 Live Blog


Written by sJacas

January 31st, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Posted in ACB

In Non-Moving Pictures: Partizan, CSKA and the Control of Pace

Rod Higgins


As some of you may have noticed, this blog has been making an effort to decode the meaning of an ancient cliché in basketball lingo: controlling the pace. We’ve discussed it in both a thick-accented podcast and a detailed account of Madrid’s perfect season.

Last week, Ettore Messina (most likely inspired by our work), joined in the conversation, as part of his breakdown of CSKA Moscow’s defense:

First, it’s paramount that we do not allow fastbreak points. Those occur when you take ill-advised shots or turn the ball over. Conversely, taking good shots within the flow of the offense usually gives you a good chance to grab an offensive rebound or at the very least to get back and set up your defense.

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Written by Rod Higgins

January 19th, 2014 at 7:04 pm