You Don’t Know (And, Frankly, Neither Do I)…

We jettisoned ourselves to the land of Kenny George over the holiday. Longtime CAA: LAMM readers know we have friends that live in the western mountains of North Carolina, and their property is beautifully situated. From their back porch, on a clear day we can see Tennessee. On a cloudy day, we can see the back yard. The beauty resides in the fact that most days our view is in-between. This affords us the opportunity to see something new nearly every single trip. The camera is always packed first.

These retreats seem to fall in perfect time and order. Drinking and eating is usually bordered by periods of extreme sitting and game-playing. Oh, it isn’t the Nintendo game playing. The television is unnecessary. No, it is classics like Labyrinth that pass the time. Otherwise, I read and think about what the summer will hold, and how that will translate to college basketball. Yes, I am that geeky, but I don’t apologize.

This year I chose to do my best to validate early thoughts of what the conference was going to look like next season. In typical fashion, this type of pure, unfiltered thinking dovetailed, sometime between the sixth Stella and sunset. I’m not sure.

I started thinking about our goal here of thinking. That is, I always encourage you to think a given situation instead of rehashing what you saw somewhere else. For whatever reason that led me back to predictions, and ultimately the point of this ramble.

You don’t know what is going to happen next season. And I mean that on a far different level than “duh, of course we can’t predict the future.” What I mean is that we spend so much time thrashing about with what we do know–statistics and such–that “what we don’t know” is severely underrated.

The what we do know is easy–the same opinions are generated from the same data and obtained by using the same analysis. Sure, it makes great message board fodder, but it doesn’t even begin to gauge the impact of the unknown.

A lot of data is relatively meaningless, versus the incalculable unknown event. Here’s what I mean:

Consider Your Team’s chances to finish in the top three of the standings next season. No doubt this thinking starts with who is lost and who is added. The second step is surely to chart the “progress” of the returning players.

“Joe Smith averaged X points and X rebounds, and if improves to Y points and Y rebounds, we’re in good shape.” You will likely do that for several players, and do the same for other teams.

Don’t do it. You are wasting your time.

Let’s say Joe Smith averages exactly the same number of points and rebounds. Let’s say three players all average the same numbers as last season, and only a marginal freshman improves his numbers. Is that really the different in second and seventh place?

No way. A couple of points/rebounds here and there cannot make that big of a difference. It is the unexpected event that will shape the season.

Practical example?

Two seasons ago, VCU went from sixth place in the conference to first. Do you think that was because BA Walker and Jesse Pellot Rosa and Jamal Shuler all improved their averages and impacts marginally from the previous season? Partly, yes. But the big impact was an unknown named Eric Maynor that went from a handful of minutes per game to an All Conference performer and dagger shooter. Nobody could (legitimately) see that coming.

I’m wagering nobody put into their calculations two seasons ago that TJ Carter would injure himself to the point of missing an entire season. Sure, UNCW lost Temi Soyebo and had a new coach, but those were marginal compared to the unexpected loss of Carter, and certainly not reasons that would take you from 25 wins to seven.

It’s also why I imagine we’re going to have to look more closely at recruiting here at CAA: LAMM. That is the hotbed of the unknown. We’ll call that the Fonzie Dawson rule, in honor of the best freshman last season nobody knew anything about.

It’s what you don’t know. Think about what you don’t know and give it the proper consideration. Just think.

I know I will.

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~ by mglitos on May 27, 2008.

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