Monday, June 14, 2010

14 June 2010: NBA thoughts and College Student Evaluations

NBA thoughts So the Celtics have a 3-2 lead going into Los Angeles for one or two games.

Frankly: the Lakers are good enough to pull it out, period. Nevertheless, I'd say that the Celtics, for now, have a slight edge.

I have two comments:

Phil Jackson made some interesting remarks in the huddle toward the end of the game. The Celtics had a 12 point lead with 2:55 left in the game and the Lakers had cut it to 5:

""This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than anybody in the NBA. They know how to lose in the fourth quarter, all right? They're just showing us that right now."

You can see the video here (before youtube nukes it...)

Yes, the Celtics hung on to win.

Now, of course, coach Jackson was technically the regular season that was true. But why?
With a month left in the regular season, Doc Rivers gathered Paul Pierce(notes), Kevin Garnett(notes) and Ray Allen(notes) in his office to tell them how they would be champions again. They were so far away, so uncertain the possibility remained plausible. The longer the season had gone with worn legs, beat-up bodies and bad losses, the clearer the truth had become for Rivers. They would stop angling for playoff seeding and home court, stop treating the regular season with urgency.

Doc Rivers has guided the Celtics to the NBA Finals in two of the past three seasons.
(NBAE/ Getty Images)

“Listen, we’re going to practice harder, you’re going to play less and there’s going to be a minute restriction,” Rivers told them. Garnett’s and Pierce’s faces grew long, and Rivers punctuated his declaration with the obvious: “And I know you’re not going to like this, but the only way you’re going to win is healthy.”
“I thought it was the right plan, but it didn’t look right because we were losing,” Rivers said. “But guys were resting and conditioning, and I thought that was the only chance we had.”

So, Rivers would watch Garnett seethe on the bench and wonder whether they would ever get through this and into the clear. “Kevin doesn’t have a shut-down button,” Rivers said. They took him out of games, lost leads and Garnett would deliver that icy glare that demanded Rivers return him to the floor. It felt like the season was slipping away in March and April, but it turned out that it was just getting started.

As Garnett and Pierce glared into space, Rivers would hear his assistant Tom Thibodeau and trainer Ed Lacerte bark out the minutes they had played, and Rivers refused to let his thirtysomething stars exhaust their prescribed limits. As a former player with a winning pedigree, Rivers combines the best of X’s-and-O’s acumen with a true understanding of the player’s plight. He’s publicly supportive and privately harsh. He never gets personal with his criticism and never embarrasses them. He treats them with respect, but never reverence.

Bottom line: Coach Doc Rivers kept the long term goal in mind. I remember the days (Bird-Mchale-Parish-D. Johnson-Ainge) in which the Celtics would play their starters hard during the regular season, get homecourt advantage and then run out of gas (1987: Lakers, 1988: lost to the Pistons).

That didn't happen this time, though, again, I am NOT conceding the title to the Celtics. Mr. Bryant, Mr. Gasol and Mr. Fisher have a good deal to say about that.

But in any event, Doc Rivers has done an outstanding coaching job.

My guess: 7 games, with game 7 being a toss-up.


Here is an interesting article about student teaching evaluations (college level; hat tip: Edge of the American West):
College administrators tend to rely on student evaluations. If students say a professor is doing a good job, perhaps that's enough.

Or maybe not. A new study reaches the opposite conclusion: professors who rate highly among students tend to teach students less. Professors who teach students more tend to get bad ratings from their students -- who, presumably, would just as soon get high grades for minimal effort.

The study finds that professor rank, experience and stature are far more predictive of how much their students will learn. But those professors generally get bad ratings from students, who are effectively punishing their professors for attempting to push them toward deeper learning.

The study is called "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors." It was written by Scott E. Carrell of the University of California, Davis and National Bureau of Economic Research; and James E. West of the U.S. Air Force Academy

It uses as a laboratory the Air Force Academy, where students are randomly assigned to courses such as Calculus, each taught using an identical syllabus. All students are required to take specific follow-up courses. So, the researchers were able to study how each professor fared in producing results for his or her students, and how the same students did the next semester, and so on.

The findings are, to say the least, counterintuitive. Professors rated highly by their students tended to yield better results for students in their own classes, but the same students did worse in subsequent classes. The implication: highly rated professors actually taught students less, on average, than less popular profs.

Meanwhile, professors with higher academic rank, teaching experience and educational experience -- what you might call "input measures" for performance -- showed the reverse trend. Their students tended to do worse in that professor's course, but better in subsequent courses. Presumably, they were learning more.

That conclusion invites another: students are, in essence, rewarding professors who award higher grades by giving them high ratings, and punishing professors who attempt to teach material in more depth by rating them poorly.

Of course, two caveats: this study does have a randomized feature and the entrance requirements for a service academy are stringent.

At other types of universities there is a bigger spread in the quality of student; at such places the popular professors often attract weaker students and of course, these students don't do well in subsequent courses.

But yes, this reveals the flaws of using student evaluations; not that this will matter to the administration.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Celtics vs. Lakers Game 4

The Celtic shots are rimming out over and over again; Ray Allen is still missing his outside shots. The Lakers are making theirs and lead 12-11 with 4:35 left in the first quarter. Paul Pierce has been aggressive, though he has also missed two free shots (unusual for him)

10 points for Pierce and it is 14-14. The Celtics are still shooting poorly.

The Celtics are shooting 33 percent from the field; the Lakers 47 percent. Ray Allen is 1-5.

Not a lot of points so far.

Wallace just jumped and landed right on Pau Gasol. This is a good old fashioned NBA playoff foul.

Now Gasol flops and gets a foul call. That call was a Laker gift.

Still it is 19-16 Celtics after one quarter; the C's are shooting 36 percent, Lakers 35. For the Lakers, Artest is 1-4, for the Celtics Allen is 1-5, Rondo 1-4.
Gasol has 8, Pierce has 10.

Second quarter

Celtics are still shooting poorly. Ok, Robinson has his second 3.

At least the Celtics are attacking the rim. Garnett and Rondo are getting a nice rest.

27-26 Celtics with 8:10 left in the half. The Celtics' bench has 11 points in just a few minutes.

Allen in, Pierce out. Still the Celtics are hustling. 29-28 Celtics with 5:45 to go.

Man, is Gasol the referee's baby; you just breathe on him and you get a foul!

Rondo drives, gets fouled, but he sucks from the line (he is great at everything else!) He reminds me of Wilt Chamberlain in that aspect.

Bryant a 3 point shot. Pierce a nice hook off of the glass. Bryant another 3. Damn.
Rondo 2; 35-33 Lakers.

Bryant another jump shot. Oh good lord...this is getting away from the Celtics.
It started with 3 straight Bryant jump shots...
39-33 Lakers. 39-35...offensive rebound.

Lakers are shooting 50 percent; Celtics 38.5 percent. That won't get it done.

I am wondering: cold streak, good Laker defense or...old Celtic legs. Often a tired team misses lots of open shots.

Good lord..another horrible call against the Celtics.

Garnett hits the turn-around jumper to make it 45-42 Lakers at the half.

Photos by yahoo.

At the half it looks like this: Bryant 12, Gasol 13, Artest 6. Pierce 12, Davis and Garnett have 7, Rondo and Robinson have 6. Percentages: Lakers 48.6, Celtics 40.9. Rebounds are close; 21 for the Celtics, 20 for the Lakers.

The ABC announcers: Jon Barry called the Celtic offense "pathetic". Another announcer pointed out that the Lakers have the best court player (Bryant) and the best "big" player (Gasol). In short, the Celtics are lucky that this isn't a blow out. Old has been a good run.

Third Quarter
The Celtics pick it up; two missed shots in a row.
Make that 3 missed shots in a row. But two free throws; 45-44.
Gasol fouled hard this time.

49-44 Lakers; Celtics offense is still offensive. Two bad passes by Pierce; another missed fast break.
Fisher...wild shot and it went in...horrible 3 second call. Just awful; there were 20 seconds left on the shot clock!

Still the Celtics miss shot after shot; horrible. Another missed shot. 48 percent for the Lakers, 38 for the Celtics. But the Celtics are playing hard on defense.

4 fouls on Derek Fisher. That is good news.

Boston up 54-53 with 5:00 to go in the 3'rd.
Bryant ANOTHER 3; taunts the crowd.
Allen hits a shot.
Tie game (56-56) with 4 minutes to go in the 3'rd.

The Celtics continue to miss open shots. 39 percent shooting.
Pierce needs to demand the ball.

Another 3 by Bryant. Another foul on the Celtics.
Another 3 by Bryant. This one is over.

62-60 at the end of 3; Bryant is 5-7 from 3 point land.
Lakers are shooting 45 percent; Celtics 39.
The Celtics are very balanced: Pierce 12, Garnett 11, Davis 9, Rondo 8, Allen 8.
Lakers: Bryant 21, Gasol 17, Artest 6.

4'th quarter; 62-62. Gasol walks all over the place; no call; 64-62.
Big steal by Robinson who has given the Celtics good minutes off of the bench.
The bench getting 17 points and playing good defense is keeping the Celtics in the game.

Davis another shot; the bench is keeping them in the game.

Big stop; I am surprised the Gasol's wild 3 (with the shot clock running to zero) didn't go in.

Ray Allen a shot...another shot by Davis and a foul. 70-64 Celtics with 8:22; both teams shooting 42.9 percent.

But Byrant is shooting well.

The Celtic bench continues to step up; Davis on the boards and put backs.
74-66 with 7:43.
Wallace fouled and ran away. Still, got a technical; Bryant missed the free shot.
Big plays for the Celtics bench. Davis 16, Robinson 12.
Wallace buries a 3. Stupid technical on Robinson; he lost his cool.

79-72 with 5:39 left. Lakers shooting the technical. Fisher actually misses the free throw.

81-72. 5:30 to go.

Odom is playing well for the Lakers. 81-74. The backups are still in the game. Pierce is going to come in as is Garnett. Robinson the big drive!

The backups are still in the game, getting it done. 85-74 Celtics.
Wallace's back went on him. 85-77 Celtics.

2:51, 85-77; does Doc Rivers put Garnett and Pierce and Rondo back in? That isn't an easy call.

Bryant is shooting free throws; money in the bank for the Lakers. 85-79.
Pierce hits a key basket, 87-79.
Bryant another key basket. 87-81.
Pierce big drive; basket plus the foul! 90-81
(ok, bad call but that just made up another call)
But Bryant gets fouled while shooting a 3.

1:08 to go.

Bryant isn't going to miss these.

90-84 with 1:04 to go.
Rondo with a big steal and a lay-up. 92-84..makes that 92-86 with 22.2 seconds left. I hate Derek Fisher.
Boston ball though; the Lakers will foul. Don't give Rondo the ball. They foul Garnett; Garnett is a good free throw shooter.

94-86 Celtics with 17.7 seconds left; this one still isn't over given that Bryant can hit three 3 point shots in this amount of time.

Bryant his ANOTHER 3 94-89. But Pierce is on the line.
96-89 with 9.5 seconds to go; that is how it ends. Celtics win!

Keys to the game

Lakers: Bryant 33, Gasol 21, Odom 10. BUT, Bynum went out early with his knee; that hurt them inside. Fisher got had 4 fouls.
Celtics: 41-34 rebound advantage, Davis had 18 points, Robinson 12, and among the starters: Pierce 19, Garnett 13, Ray Allen 12, Rondo 10. Rebounds were shared.

But mostly it was the play of the bench that made the big difference.

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