Sports Nerd defends his stance
OK, let’s get to the fun stuff now. Most of this blog entry will be me, just being a sports fan, taking an argument and running with it.
You know, the part about sports that is supposed to be fun.
First, a little history.
As you know, I wrote a column that questioned the 4A GSHL girls basketball coaches who failed to recognize Evergreen’s Justine Joudrey as a first-team talent. I noted how she was first team last year while scoring 10 points per league game for Heritage, but was second team this year after averaging 19.8 points per game for Evergreen.
I did not want to overburden readers with statistics and more numbers, so I left it at that. I did not break down her game-by-game results. But in a blog, I have no problem with it. So later, I will unleash my inner sport nerd and go deeper with the numbers. I’ll even bring the NBA into the discussion. Why? Because that’s part of the fun of being a sports fan.
Oh, there is another reason, too.
There were so many comments, e-mails, and voicemails regarding my column. Some suggested that a columnist can’t possibly know more than the coaches about evaluating talent, and that I should stay out of it. Evidently, the coaches don’t always know more. Sometimes they let their personal agendas get in the way. Or sometimes, they make simple mistakes. I would not have written my column if I thought this was a simple mistake.
This was an interesting case. And, dare I say, unprecedented.
Yes, what happened to Joudrey was unprecedented.
Now, for the sake of accuracy, I will say “most likely” unprecedented in this sentence. You know, just in case it has happened previously. I doubt it.
I defy anyone to find me an example of this: A player in the 4A GSHL girls basketball making first-team as a sophomore averaging 10 points per game, then scoring 19.8 per game the next year — and leading all of Clark County — and not making first team.
Some online readers did not think wondering about all-league teams was worthy of a story. Again, in most cases, I agree. Through the years, I have opined against all-league teams that hand out honors just for showing up. There was one year when one league had more than 50 names on its all-league softball team. That was ridiculous.
But I do not recall arguing a case for one player in the past. I respect the vote, for the most part, and we use those results to help us determine our All-region teams. I do not anticipate this type of a column happening very often.
It’s just that this was newsworthy because … here we go again … it was unprecedented.
I hope that point gets across. And I hope readers will understand that I was not taking sides on the “the leagues vs. Evergreen” when it came to the accusations. Yes, Evergreen did have a lot of new players. That is up to athletic officials to determine their eligibility. Not up to coaches to take out their frustrations on players.
Every year, some players feel they deserve better in all-league voting. That’s part of life. Part of sports. But what happened to Joudrey piqued the interests of a lot of people. Not just me. I had e-mails and phone calls alerting me to the voting — from people outside of Evergreen — and wondering what happened.
So I asked a few questions. Didn’t get any answers. Just finger-pointing at Evergreen’s program. But no explanation about leaving Joudrey off the first team.
Other readers noted that scoring is not the only measure of a basketball player. True. Rebounding, assists, defense all come into play. But scoring still is a key part of the game, I’m sure everyone can agree.
With all of this in mind, I went back into our archives to see how Joudrey did in each league game. We do not have other stats for every game in our daily roundups. This is just what we reported after each game.
Joudrey, game by game:
Game 1: 15 points, 7 assists in win against Kelso. (Seven assists. Does more than score.)
Game 2: 13 points. (Game-winning shot at the buzzer to beat former team.)
Game 3: 10 points in a loss to Skyview. (This would be her worst game of the year, scoring-wise. Interesting, her worst game this season was her average last year, you know, when she was first team all league.)
Game 4: 25 points, 9 boards, and 6 assists in OT win. (That’s quite a game.)
Game 5: 28 points and 10 rebounds in a four-point win. (Double-double. She really can do more than score.)
Game 6: 29 points in a loss to Kelso.
Game 7: 20 points in a loss to Heritage.
Game 8: 17 points. (Including 10 in the fourth quarter when Evergreen rallied to beat first-place Skyview.)
Game 9: 22 points, 7 boards, 5 assists. (Another all-around solid performance.)
Game 10: 19 points. (Including 10 in the fourth quarter of a two-point win.)
Breaking it down, it looks like she could do more than score. Oh, and a lot of those points were clutch. Team record was 7-3 in league play, good enough for second place in the regular season. That was after Evergreen won one game the past three seasons. She did not do it alone, but she clearly was the leader of this team.
Those 19.8 points per game were more than 6 points per game more than anyone else scored in the league. With that huge of a lead in the scoring, with her rebounding and assists, and with those clutch shots, it is clear she is one of the top five players in the league. (Unless there is a hidden agenda.)
Here’s an idea:
There is another league in Clark County that has a back-up plan when it comes to all-league voting. The athletic director who tallies the votes sends out the results to all the coaches prior to publishing the team. This gives the coaches a chance to go over the list to make sure they did not miss an obvious choice.
(You see, that happens, too. A simple mistake. It has happened to me in my All-Region football team, as documented in my previous blog entry. Honest mistakes happen. However, none of the representatives of the teams that I spoke with for my Joudrey column would acknowledge a simple mistake. There was no explanation. No one offered up an apology. That was weird, and that’s what warranted my assertion of an agenda in the column.)
What’s the NBA got to do with it?
Well, nothing, really, but I told you, I’m a nerd when it comes to this stuff. I wanted to know how experts evaluated scorers. Remember, I was told that there is more to basketball than scoring. Of course, I know that. So do the experts covering the NBA.
Still, it was interesting to find that the past 33 NBA scoring leaders have been named to the first or second All-NBA teams. The scoring leaders were first team in 26 of those years.
Yes, Joudrey was a second-team GSHL selection, but that’s a six-team league. With the NBA, I was going to consider first or second team as the equivalent of first team in high school.
The experts covering the NBA understand that scoring isn’t everything, but it still is the most important stat of the game.
Joudrey not only led her league in scoring, she also led all of Clark County’s scorers, in all classifications. In my nine years covering high school basketball for The Columbian, no player who has done that has not been a first-teamer for her league.
That’s what made this a story.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Later tonight, I’ll be covering the Prairie girls and the Union boys in the Class 3A bi-district tournament finals. Next week, both teams will be competing at state. This Joudrey story will fade away, and hopefully we can all just have some fun with sports and arguments again.