Team Canada is off today, so no excuse not to join us here for this evening's liveblog of the exhibiton hockey game between the McGill Redmen and the UNB Varsity Reds at the Aitken University Centre in Fredericton. This will be the only meeting this year between the #2 ranked V-Reds and the #3 ranked Redmen, unless they meet again at the University Cup in March.

McGill is coming off a 6-5 overtime loss to StFX last night in Antigonish at the Keating Cup, which was shortened to a one-game tourney after the first game was postponed due to inclement weather. UNB has not played since a 4-0 win over Moncton back on Dec. 3.

UNB is 11-4-0 in AUS conference play, and 19-4-0 overall. McGill is 16-0-2 in OUA conference play, and 21-2-1 overall.

Game start is 7:00 pm (6:00 pm EST), and the game is NOT being covered on radio or webcast.

You can read more about the game on the UNB website, or courtesy of The Daily Gleaner.

So far we've developed and presented player rankings in basketball, volleyball, and football. These aren't the most sophisticated measures of player value, but I think it's the best, or close to the best, that we can do without the same degree of detail you find in professional-league statistics.

Today we move onto hockey--specifically, goaltenders.

Many factors influence goaltenders' performance: the quality of the defence in front of them, the overall league scoring context, the quality of the shots (and of the players) they face, and so on. We can't account for all of these, but we can try to correct for some of them.

We'll use last year's stats in this post. As an example, take Ottawa's Riley Whitlock (you'll see why soon enough). In '09-10, Whitlock had a .904 save percentage, 10th nationwide among goalies with 1000 minutes or more.

Now we adjust for the quality of his penalty-kill unit, by adding or removing goals from his record depending on whether his team was really good or really bad while shorthanded. (This serves as a proxy for Ottawa's defensive performance.) As it turns out, the Gee-Gees were successful at killing penalties at just a 72.4% rate, lowest in the OUA, so we're going to adjust Whitlock's goals-against down somewhat. Leaguewide, the rate was 81.4%, and the Gee-Gees were shorthanded 196 times so that means they gave up 17.6 "more" shorthanded goals than expected. (Not all powerplays are the same length, so this isn't strictly true, but until I actually figure out the amount of time each team spent at 5-on-4, 5-on-3, and so on, we'll have to assume they are the same length.)

Whitlock was on the ice for 85% of Ottawa's total minutes (shorthanded or otherwise). 17.6 times 85% is 15 goals, then we'll take away one of every five of those--since Whitlock was one of five Ottawa players on the ice in a typical shorthanded situation, we'll assume he was responsible for 20% of each goal--and we're left with 12 goals. So instead of giving up 92 goals on 959 shots, we treat Whitlock as if he gave up 80 on 959, for a .917 save percentage.

And then we make two simple adjustments, one for the leaguewide scoring context and the other for his team's strength of schedule. Whitlock's at .917 and the OUA average is .895 so that's 20 or so goals more than expected given the number of shots he faced. And Ottawa's strength of schedule wasn't great, so we take a little bit of credit away from him, down to 19.8 "extra goals saved."

From there, we just have to apply the goals-to-wins conversion (about one win per eight goals), which tells us that Riley Whitlock was, by this measure, worth 2.5 wins in 2009-10, the highest of any CIS goaltender.

Here are the men's goaltenders from last year who were worth at least one win above average:

+2.5Riley WhitlockOttawa.9043.81
+2.3Jean-Christophe BlanchardUQTR.9242.28
+1.9Anthony GriecoWestern.9541.53
+1.6Steve ChristieManitoba.9172.51
+1.3Maxime JoyalConcordia.9073.75
+1.1Ryan DanielsLaurier.9143.38
+1.0Wayne Savage UPEI.9043.23

I included the last two columns to illustrate how you really can't just look at save percentage or GAA and conclude much of anything. Whitlock numbers in those categories are the worst on this list...but then again Ottawa was the worst non-RMC team last year (second-last in RPI). So not all of that 3.81 is on his shoulders. Put him behind the Western defence and he'll look a lot better.

Steve Christie was named the top goaltender in both Canada West and CIS last year, and while he might be somewhat behind some other non-CW players on this list, he's tops in the West, just like our Evan Daum thought ("without a doubt"). In fact, Evan argued that Christie was the best in his conference, even if his other numbers didn't look so good, and here we are agreeing with him. Works for me.


We can do the very same thing for the women's results from last year too:

+2.6Jamie TessierWindsor.9352.32
+2.3Liz KnoxLaurier.9600.89
+2.3Mel Dodd-MoherQueen's.9421.82
+1.8Kathy DesjardinsMoncton.9431.61
+1.7Meghan Corley-ByrneMount Allison.9143.77
+1.3Sydney McMurterYork.9361.98
+1.3Vanessa FrederickSaskatchewan.9271.88
+1.2Kendyl ValentaToronto.9272.41
+1.2Beth ClauseBrock.9242.55
+1.0Audrey Doyon-LessardConcordia.9093.41

Liz Knox was last year's player of the year, goalie or otherwise, so seeing her behind Jamie Tessier (and tied with Mel Dodd-Moher) is a little bit of a surprise. But not much of one, because:
  1. There's virtually no difference between 2.6 and 2.3;
  2. Tessier faced a lot more shots than Knox (930 vs. 550);
  3. While Knox is very good, so is the team in front of her (this is related to point 2); and
  4. Tessier, at one point, had a .950 (!) save percentage against Laurier across a three-year period despite playing for the unremarkable Lancers, so she's definitely got the skills to be put in the same sentence as Knox.

The second-team all-star goaltender last year was Manitoba's Stacey Corfield, who would be on that list if I extended it to include three more names (+0.8 wins).


There are two cases above of a goaltender on a great team being ranked behind a goaltender on a not-so-great team: Anthony Greico behind Whitlock and Knox behind Tessier. While some may object, based on the philosophy that the best goaltender in the league can't play for the worst team, I think it's more accurate, and that this is a better way to figure out who really had the biggest impact on his or her team.

Also note that you need to take those numbers above and regress heavily to the mean if you want to predict how they will do once 2010-11 is done. A 28-game season is hardly enough to draw conclusions from. I suppose I could include the partial stats from this season, but I'll wait until the end of the year and include both '09-10 and '10-11 (playoffs as well).

So the full 2009-10 rankings are here, and again, the 2010-11 version will follow when this season is over.
It took a fair bit of time, and a great deal of effort, for me to swallow the pain of a pilfered fifth year and make my way back to SFU’s West Gym; I still felt cheated, and wasn’t sure I’d react appropriately when the need arrived to cheer on a squad that still should have been mine. And so, it was with great hesitation that a couple of weeks ago I bit the proverbial bullet and decided to be a big girl and go watch the Barbara Rae Cup.

Now, the Barbara Rae Cup, for those who are not aware, is an annual game played between the SFU Clan and the UBC Thunderbirds, and the location switches every year. Or, at least it has switched in the past – apparently, the only “league-legal” way for the now-NCAA red and blue to suit up for this fabled match is if it is played on SFU court, by American rules – otherwise, were SFU to tramp the enormous 45 minutes across the city, the game would be considered an international one and therefore constitute a breach of league contract.

But, teeth grinding aside, I quickly and thankfully realized that – personal disappointment aside – my patriotism had not wavered, and I was as avid a supporter as I had hoped I could be, cheering and catcalling proudly along side other ex-teammates, alumni and parents. So caught up was I with trumpeting my support, in fact, that when the first backcourt violation was blatantly disregarded, I chalked it up to referee incompetence and silently and colorfully admonished the poor cad as such.

But, there it was again: a minute later, the ball crossed into the frontcourt with nearly fifteen seconds having ticked clearly away from the flashing red clock. Incensed, I leaned in to a parent nearby and suggested she hand the nearest zebra her thick, horn-rimmed glasses. To my surprise, however, she merely laughed and shook her head. “Oh no,” she replied, “it’s only the men that have a ten second backcourt clock. In the NCAA, the women’s league doesn’t have a backcourt clock at all. They can spend their whole shot clock back there if they feel like it.”

I was at once shocked and outraged. Perhaps I had known of this already, and merely suppressed it; on the other hand, perhaps I had naively assumed that the general equity between the CIS men’s and women’s rules would have extended through the NCAA. But, there it was, staring me in the face: a smaller three point line, smaller even than women’s CIS; a 30 second shot clock, compared to the men’s 35; and the complete absence of a backcourt clock, when our male counterparts were held to the standard ten-of-thirty-seconds.

But then again, I mused, as I began the slow drive home that night, there was a significant discrepancy in the CIS as well, although it wasn’t actually based in league rule. As our women’s team had finished their play, the men had come racing out onto the court – and, as their warmup began, the stands slowly filled to nearly twice the population that was slowly drifting out from the Barbara Rae Cup.

Now, sports-bra-burning, foot-stomping feminist I am not – but I must admit the timing of men’s and women’s games has always been something that has somewhat irked me. At SFU, men and women always split Friday and Saturday – that is, we went early on Friday nights, and the men went early on Saturdays – but even then, the early Friday night games were at least an hour earlier than the early Saturday night games, meaning a much greater ease of accessibility for the working public who tried to drive out and see them.

A certain other unnamed school, for example (one that recruited me, though I will finger-point no farther) has a standing policy that the women play before the men. The women’s coach had even, in fact, gone to the administration to ask about splitting the times, but the men’s coach had put his foot down: men always played later, he said, and that was that. And besides, he added, then more people might show up to the women’s game, if only to get early seats before they were filled for the second, more entertaining match of the evening.

I suppose, ultimately, the timing of games is based on a number of factors. Games that start at 5-something, for example, are notoriously difficult to get to: people are travelling during rush hour, coming straight from work, and are then forced to grab some sort of pseudo-food from a concession stand instead of a real dinner at the end of a long day. The later games, on the other hand, are much like a 7:45 movie: not too early that you’re skipping dinner and changing other plans, not too late so the kids can’t come, and overall a more comfortable time for the majority of the viewing populace.

The Friday/Saturday conundrum is another thing that always bugged me. Yes, the men played earlier on Saturdays, but ‘earlier’ was still ‘later’ than Friday’s first match, and that also meant we didn’t finish our games until nearly 10:00. The same hordes of people that shlepped their way in for the ‘spectacle’ of leaping and dunking men thundered right back out before the women’s game, since by that point it was getting too late and we were interfering with their Saturday nights out.

Yes, yes, I know – I can practically hear the indignant shouts now. Men are more athletic, men are statistically more likely to draw a crowd, men’s games are more entertaining. And besides, who am I to climb up on the proverbial soapbox and spout off about women’s rights? This is supposed to be an athletics website, for gawd’s sakes! I’m just bitter about the league switch, and it’s tainting my perception. Well, touché, dear reader – touché. I am bitter, and it probably is tainting my writing. But I tell you this: not one of the sentiments I expressed above have come solely from the pit of my pouting person; each and every prior point has been purposefully pointed personally out to me by spectators, coaches and players over my decade of basketball player-hood. And no, I don’t think there needs to be some enormous revolution – I just feel that, all things considered, the timing of these games should be taken into more serious account than they have been in the recent past. (The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference recently had to change its women-always-play-first standing policy in response to "an anonymous sex discrimination complaint" – the event that inspired this column.)

Game times, after all, come under numerous umbrellas other than those of viewership: the people playing them must be taken into account, as well as the coaches, trainers, referees, support staff, and facilities managers that put them on. Perhaps the only real issue, then, is that the decisions about men’s and women’s game times are based solely in the desire for spectators, rather than a balance of competition times in double-header weekends or an even spread of accessibility for competing squads on the road. All I’m really suggesting is that, for a “non-rule” based in “non-league” values, game times really do affect more than people realize. And, in all honesty, I’d like to know more about the gender disparity country-wide (and hopefully it’s worse in the NCAA, because then I have even more reason to be bitter).
Yes, I know, student-athletes have finished exams and mostly headed back to their families for some home cooking and to catch up on sleep/partying. But many AUS hockey players will be back on campus soon after Christmas to prepare for holiday tournaments and one-off exhibition games before the second half starts.

First place UNB will be hosting McGill on Dec. 30, and then the NCAA's Providence College will at the AUC for two games at the 6th annual Pete Kelly Cup on Jan. 1 & 2. It will be the Friars' first ever visit to Fredericton, and first trip to Canada since the 80's.

Saint Mary's hosts Toronto on Dec. 30 and face Acadia on Jan. 2. That game will be played in small town Berwick, Nova Scotia in the heart of apple country.

UPEI hosts Dalhousie on Dec. 30 and St. Thomas on Jan. 2.

StFX will be hosting McGill for two games at their 5th annual C. V. Keating Cup on Dec. 28 & 29. McGill will then travel the five and a half hours west to play the Varsity Reds the next day. Three games in three nights in the AUS for the Redmen ... now that's a team getting ready for the second half.

Acadia hosts Toronto on the 29th, the day before the Varsity Blues play SMU, and then they get their chance to play SMU on Jan. 2.

Dalhousie has just the one game, that trip to Charlottetown on Dec. 30.

Moncton also just has one game, at St. Thomas on Dec. 30.

So Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Have fun, stay safe. Maybe next week I'll follow up this brief post with a look at which new players AUS coaches found in their stockings this Christmas.
Ilana Shecter is a colour commentator for McGill basketball games on SSN, and will be covering QUBL women's basketball for us. Her first piece takes a look back at the season so far, with some predictions for the 2011 portion of the schedule.

The 2010-2011 season in the QUBL has the potential to be the most exciting one in the past decade—if only because, for the first time in ten years, the Laval Rouge et Or aren’t a lock to win it all. The league has finally gained some parity, and it seems to be anyone’s guess who will raise the QUBL banner come playoff time. Below is a recap of what’s been going on this season, and a prediction of how the second half will end up.

After seven seasons at the helm of the McGill Martlets, Head Coach Ryan Thorne has finally found a group who have a seemingly perfect combination of offensive output, defensive tenacity, and team chemistry. The Martlets are playing the best basketball in the league and most of the credit goes to their defence. They have held five of their six opponents to 60 points or fewer, and have a league-leading scoring margin of +14.6 points. And all this success comes with a very young team who only have three players with more than two years of experience. This young squad plays with a lot of confidence and were able to hold off Concordia and UQAM when they each made a push late in the fourth. They also boast arguably the best combination in the QUBL with Marie-Eve Martin and Anneth Him-Lazarenko. Have I mentioned that they are undefeated?

Prediction The Martlets are playing great basketball. If McGill wants to stay on top, they need to continue to play tough defence. They have been fortunate enough to be shooting at a league-leading 47.1% effective field-goal percentage, but that number will surely drop. The true test for these Martlets will be how their young players overcome the adversity when their offence drops off. Expect the Martlets to finish first in the league, but certainly not undefeated. 1st place.

The 3-2 Citadins currently have the league-leading scorer in Michelle Bellemare. Unfortunately, it's not scoring that the Citadins need. It's defence, and they need it badly. Any team knows that they can’t be taken seriously if they are classified as the worst defenders in the league, and that is where the Citadins currently are, ranked last in points against (72.4 per game), and second to last in the defensive rebounding category (grabbing just 57%). Head Coach Jacques Verschuère needs to turn his attention to the defensive end. There’s no doubt that they have the offensive capabilities in their starting five rotation to make any defence wary. But in this league, it isn’t enough to simply score.

Prediction: There is no doubt that Verschuère will be focusing on defence during this winter break. Their explosive offence had one off game against the Rouge et Or where they only made six baskets in the first half and ended up losing. That certainly won’t happen again. If the Citadins can get in a defensive mindset, expect them to finish second at the end of the season. If not, they could very well finish fourth behind McGill, Concordia, and Laval. 2nd place.

The Stingers know they should be undefeated this season. A tough overtime loss to the UQAM Citadins and a loss to McGill (where they came within two points of coming back from a 13-point deficit with four minutes left to go in the fourth quarter) leaves them in second place with a 3-2 record. Their offence is led by Yasmin Jean-Phillippe (14.6), but she has plenty of help with four other players averaging at least nine points. If anything, the problem the Stingers face is that they are on the verge of being great but they haven’t been able to reach that tipping point. Their inability to beat the top two teams in the league (so far, at least) might be worrisome for Head Coach Keith Pruden.

Prediction: Pruden doesn’t have many adjustments to make during the break. He knows that his team has all the right ingredients to be considered a prime contender. Their second game coming back from the break is against UQAM, which is shaping up to be one of the most important games early on in the season. If the Stingers can beat them, they’ll show that they have what it takes to be considered heavy favorites to hoist the QUBL banner. If they lose yet again, this Stingers squad might have to settle for being mediocre in the 2010-2011 season. 3rd place.

The back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back champions (that’s six in a row and nine out of the last ten years) are a dismal 1-4 going in to the half time break. A lot of it has to do with the departure of Chanelle St-Amour, their point guard from the 2009-2010 season. No player this season has been able to replace her ability to protect the ball and control the offense. Their record isn’t a result of a deficiency in talent. They have plenty in Marie-Michelle Genois and Elyse Jobin. Instead, their record is a direct result of averaging a league-worst turnover margin (averaging a whopping 25.8 per game) and allowing, on average, 70 points per game. This combination of sloppiness on offence and weak(er) defence means that they have a lot to work on over the break if they want to regain their usual form.

Prediction: Even if they improve their defence, protect the ball, and find a much-needed leader, the Rouge et Or are unlikely to finish in the top 3. The top teams in the league are simply too good. Head Coach Linda Marquis finds herself in a position that is foreign to her: second-last place in the league. You can be sure to see a revamped team after the break, but at the end of the season, I don't see them hanging up their 7th banner in as many years. 4th place.

The Bishop's Gaiters are a lowly 1-3. What looked like a promising team for these Gaiters has turned into a nightmare. They are getting badly outrebounded, grabbing only 42% of available boards (and just one in four on the offensive glass). Their top two rebounders, who also happen to be their guards, are averaging just four per game. The Gaiters also happen to have one of the tallest teams in the league which makes this deficiency all the more perplexing. Head Coach Alex Perno can’t be happy that the most fundamental aspect in basketball – boxing out – is not being utilized by his players.

Prediction:If these Gaiters want to salvage the 2010-2011 season, they are going to need to show some physical toughness, get in the paint, and box out their opponents. Lost rebounds lead to fewer offensive chances, which lead to fewer points, and considering the Gaiters sit last in offensive output (61.3 points per game) it’s pretty evident that they need to start crashing the boards. Expect them to finish last in the league even if they manage to get their rebounding game together, though. 5th place.
For those wondering what the level of play in CIS women's soccer is like, Canada's 2 - 2 draw with Brazil yesterday might give some evidence.

Former Vert et Or player Josée Bélanger scored the first goal of the game on the sort of header that takes skill--a nice little deflection after an intelligent run into the box.

The game is very well described on Canadian Soccer News by Daniel Squizzato and there are video highlights on that page. As the article states, it's a great result for women's soccer in Canada. It's not every day Canada holds Brazil to a draw in Brazil.

There will be a trickle down effect if the success continues, especially if we perform well at the 2011 World Cup. The effect may not be tangible for general sports people, but it's hard for women's soccer fans like me not to get a bit excited for the future of the women's game as a whole when our national team does so well. If the attention and results continue, interest grows and attendance can grow as well.

A potential 2015 Women's World Cup bid for Canada is on the horizon. This is an exciting time. As Squizzato writes, the momentum is maybe the most important thing. That goes for women's soccer as a sport overall, too.

There are few enough opportunities to watch high quality women's soccer in Canada, especially outside of Ontario and British Columbia. Bélanger goes to show that the CIS level of play is nothing to turn up one's nose at. That's a positive sign, and an exciting one.
One of the more intriguing concepts to emerge in sports analysis lately is win probability: the chances of winning the game given where you are in that game. It's not a new concept, but it has experienced a wave of popularity in recent years, mostly in baseball but also in the NFL. Today, we'll see what we can learn by applying win probability to CIS volleyball.

First, some quick background on win probability in general. The idea is to look at the state of the game (which means the score, time remaining if applicable, field position if you're talking about football) and figure out who's more likely to win at that point, and how likely they are to win. This allows for two types of descriptive analysis: not only can we chart the likelihood of a team's win probability as the game goes on (e.g., last year's Super Bowl or a crazy baseball playoff game between the Giants and Braves), but we can also credit individual players for increasing the chances of a win for their team (or "blame" them for decreasing the chances).

The "credit" part of the analysis is related to the common criticism that most stats could be accumulated in close games, blowouts, or anything in between. So if we incorporate win probability into volleyball, say, then a block at a crucial time is worth more. We'll come back to this idea later.

It turns out that win probability analysis is actually rather straightforward in volleyball, compared to other sports. Given any volleyball "game state" (like 0-0 in the first set, 20-0 in the second, or 10-10 in the fourth), there are only two outcomes: either one team wins the point, or the other team does. No touchdowns or field goals; no triples or strikeouts or double plays. So it's quite simple to figure out the odds of winning at each game state (well, simple if you know your conditional probability theory and your Markov chains).

We can do all the calculations and say that, for example, in a game between two evenly-matched teams, a team that is up 13-12 in the fifth set has a 69% chance of winning that match. Say they get a service ace, so they're now up 14-12--which corresponds to an 88% chance. If they then win another point, they've won the game. This, of course, means they have a 100% chance of winning the game.

The eagle-eyed reader will notice in this example that the point that ends the game moved the chances of winning by 12 percentage points (88 to 100), whereas the previous point moved the chances by 19 (69 to 88).

"How can a point that wins the game be less important than a point that doesn't win the game?", you might ask. This makes sense when you think about it: being up 14-12 is "safer" than being up 13-12. Losing a point in the first situation and dropping to 14-13 still puts you in a pretty good position to win on the next play. However, losing a point at 13-12 brings you back to a 13-13 tie, and means you now need two points to win. Essentially, your odds of winning the game change more when you score that 14th point, even if you haven't actually won yet.


That's a lot of theoretical talk. Let's see what happens when we apply this to an actual volleyball game.

Take the 2010 Canada West men's final, a five-set win by Alberta over Trinity Western. We have the play-by-play, so we can enter the score after each point is scored and track the win probability at every point during the match (click for bigger version):

Even in a five-set match, the Spartans' chances of winning were never that great; in fact, they were never better than 50% after their first point of the game. (By convention, the game begins with a 50-50 chance of either team winning, even though this is not strictly true if you have a lopsided matchup.) Alberta won the first two sets, as you can see from the gradual increase in win probability. Then they lost the next two, bringing it back to a 50-50 game. The fifth set was more or less all Alberta, as they quickly went up 10-4 and won 15-9.

This is not groundbreaking research; anyone watching that fifth set would tell you that Trinity, once down 10-4, probably didn't have much of a chance, and it's self-evident that going up two sets to none greatly increased Alberta's chances of winning the match. But it does provide a handy overview of how the game progressed, which is rather helpful if you didn't see the game yourself (as I didn't), and it puts a number on what you're observing as you watch. We know whether any given point is valuable, but "how valuable?" is the question we can now answer.


That's the first way we can use this analysis to describe what happened in a game. The second way, in which credit (or blame) for each play is assigned to players, allows us to see who was involved in the important plays. Since I'm working with play-by-play logs from several months ago, I have to assume each point is attributable to just one player (whoever's named in the play-by-play), which is not not strictly true* but good enough for now. To that player, we assign the change in win probability for that point (often called Win Probability Added, or WPA).

* Just to clarify: ideally you would divide credit among, and assign blame to, several players on each play. No one player is solely responsible for scoring a point; successful kills are often the result of successful sets, of course. But the game was nine months ago, so I hope you'll accept a simplified version.

Let's look at the first point in the first set of that Canada West final. The point was awarded after an attack error by Jason DeRocco, which moved Alberta's chances of winning from 50% (the beginning of the game) to 48% (down 1-0 in the first set). So DeRocco is "credited" with minus-2 WPA for that play. On the next play, Paul Lindemulder made a service error, and is "credited" with minus-2 WPA (as the game went back from 48% to 50%). Assign the WPA for every play, and add up everyone's totals, and you get something like this:

WPA (2010 Canada West final)
+29 Jarmoc
+29 DeRocco, J
+28 Merta
+27 Lidster
+4 Leiske
-2 Alberta TEAM
-15 DeRocco, M

+23 Doornebal
+22 Verhoeff
+18 Marshall
+10 Howatson
+0 Ball
-3 Kufske
-5 Offereins
-5 Lindemulder
-9 Schalk

What this means is that four Alberta players were involved in most of the plays that led to Alberta's win, since their contributions were all worth at least 25 points in WPA. This doesn't mean that each of those players is worth a quarter of a win, or even worth more than their teammates, because WPA depends on the situations in which players find themselves. It just means they were, on the whole, involved in plays that were very beneficial to their team.

There are some other interesting results. Mike DeRocco, despite being on the winning team, still cost Alberta 15 in WPA (so for him it's more like "Win Probability Subtracted"). There's never a good time to commit a service error (or four), but his errors came at crucial times: for example, when the Bears were down 21-20 in the third set. We can also confirm that Josh Doornenbal and Rudy Verhoeff performed well in the situations given to them, albeit in a losing cause.

This was also a game to forget for Mikiah Schalk: not only did his Spartans lose in five sets, but Schalk, through his minus-9, was involved in more plays that helped the Bears win than a couple of Bears were.

Also note that Alberta's total adds up to 100%, and TWU's adds to 50%, giving Alberta an edge of +50. This is not a coincidence: Alberta won the game, which means we will have an edge of +50 in their favour, to move from the 50-50 starting point to the final result (once you win, you obviously have a 100% chance of winning!).

Again, though, this isn't a value judgment. It doesn't mean those players are worth a quarter or more of a win in this game, but that they were involved in plays that were worth that much.


We can do this sort of analysis for any game that has play-by-play (looking at you, OUA). And in fact, there's one more thing you can do with this analysis: figure out which situations are the most crucial--that is, when you really don't want to make a mistake--and by exactly how much. To do that, we simply figure out the change in win probability between winning and losing the next point.

For example, winning a point when it's 23-23 in the first set is 4.4 times more important than winning the first point in that set, what we'll call a Leverage Index of 4.4. The LI for a 23-23 tie (or 24-24, or 25-25, and so on) in a 1-1 match is 5.8.

And if you're tied at 13 (or above) in the fifth set, winning that point is worth nearly twelve times as much (LI of 11.6). So I think we've handled the "points at crucial times should be worth more" requirement. (And for your enjoyment, here is the Leverage Index for all volleyball game situations.)
This time in Calculated Reactions, Canada's most-widely-read collegiate sports statistics column, we're going to look at the teams who might improve in the new year.

I included those teams whose final expected records turn out noticeably better than their current records (in other words, the ones who are likely to turn it on in the second half). To find the expected record, I figured out the odds of each team winning each of its remaining games, based on RPI so far this year, and added up the probabilities for each team over all its games. So for example, January 8, St. Thomas at SMU in men's hockey, the Huskies have about a 67% chance of getting the two points, so that means about 1.4 points on average. Then we just add up all the expected points for all games for all teams and we have expected final standings. (Games between the more evenly-matched hockey teams are assumed to go to OT, so there is a third point in play for those games.)

For some reason, OUA teams are everywhere in this article. Perhaps this is due to cross-over schedules: OUA East and OUA West men's hockey and basketball teams play different schedules, and if you have a more balanced schedule it's less likely that you'll be much better in the second half than the first.

I didn't include any teams who were so far back in their conference that any improvements were more likely to be regression to the mean than actual improvements, such as St. Thomas women's hockey or UPEI men's basketball.


Now: 4-8, 10th in Canada West
Expected: 10-14 or 11-13, 8th
Swing games: Jan. 7/8 at Calgary, Feb. 11/12 at Lethbridge

This isn't the sexiest improvement--from 10th to 8th!--but a 6-6 second-half record is, after all, better than 4-8. The Cascades start things off with the Dinos, a team that may not reach the heights they did last year but can still offer a tough road opponent. UFV's season (and playoff chances) may turn on how they perform in their four games in southern Alberta.

Now: 6 points, tied for 4th in AUS
Expected: 27 points, 4th
Swing games: Jan. 9 vs. St. F-X, Jan. 28 vs. UPEI

I'll never understand why the AUS goes with a two-point/four-point system (they have a 2-5 team ahead of two 3-3 teams), but it seems to exist only to require me to do more work for prediction articles like these.

The Axemen have lost only to CBU and Dalhousie in league play (and to McMaster and Ottawa in preseason play, though by January those games will be two months old), and their games against St. F-X will be good barometers for their chances to grab an AUS berth at the Final 8.

Now: 3-5, tied for 7th in OUA West
Expected: 10-12, 6th
Swing games: Jan. 5 vs. Laurier, Jan. 12 vs. Windsor, Jan. 21/22 vs. Lakehead

Mac might be a bubble team in the OUA West this year--though everyone from 4th to 8th could potentially be bubbly, if you will, especially if something happens to Lakehead or Laurier or Windsor.

Our Brian Decker has seen this team far more than I have. His thoughts on Mac's second-half chances? "The absolute biggest factor for them will be the health of Scott Brittain, their NCAA transfer. He's easily their best player and every time I talk to the coaches, players or anyone else with the team they rave about him. They've held him out of the lineup because they are being cautious bringing him back from multiple concussions, but I expect him to be playing fully in the winter.

"Their success will depend largely on how quickly their first year guys (especially Taylor Black, who is likely a future cornerstone player) can develop, because they have to depend on them a lot more than most playoff teams do."


Now: 18 points, tied for 6th in OUA West
Expected: 31 points, 5th
Swing games: Jan. 8 at Waterloo, Jan. 28/29 vs. Lakehead, Feb. 12 at Western

Guelph's actually 8th nationwide in RPI. The only problem with that? The other teams in their division are 4th, 7th, 9th, 15th, get the point. The OUA West is tough. Can they make a run? The Big Man on Campus, Greg Layson, says it's possible:

"Biggest question is goaltending. I think Cody St. Jacques [who signed with Brampton in the OHL] was the best they had. And, by the looks of it, I'm right. They've lost every game without him — at least since he left.

"It's going to be interesting to see how Guelph — or anyone — goes about winning it or at least making a run. I think it's Western and Lakehead and everyone else in the West. That said, Guelph's as good as Waterloo and Laurier and Brock. They could finish third."

And Guelph, of course, has already beaten Brock twice this year, which as Greg points out would give them the tiebreaker should the Gryphs and Badgers finish equal on points and wins.

Now: 19 points, tied for 5th in OUA West
Expected: 31 points, 4th
Swing games: Jan. 19 and Feb. 11 at Toronto, Jan. 8 and Feb. 15 at Ryerson

Five points out of second with four games left against RMC is not a bad place to be in, and the Gee-Gees and Ravens (in third and fourth place) each have much tougher schedules in the second half. Let's turn this one over to Ken Pagan (@nuggetKenPagan), who covers the Lakers for the North Bay Nugget:

"Both Ottawa and Carleton would do well to go .500 in the second half. Whereas, Nipissing can be expected to win seven or eight games, perhaps more. If they play to their level, the Lakers could go 7-3-1 in the second half and finish with 34 points. Fourth place is definitely in the cards, and third is a possibility.

"The wildcard in the second half is goaltending. Matt Hache missed time with a hip injury, Kyle Cantlon missed the first 10 games with a shoulder injury and Billy Stone is still eager to show he can win some games after tending the net during first-half losses to Queen's and Concordia.

"The ceiling, I think, would be third place in the East, earning home ice for a first-round playoff series and perhaps reaching the Eastern semifinals. While they have matched up well against UQTR, winning both games, the playoffs are the playoffs and experience is a big factor. The Lakers have just two players (Ryan Maunu and Brodie Beard) beyond their second year in the OUA. In that sense, the Lakers are similar to the Carleton Ravens — in another year or two, the core of the team will be further along and they should be poised for a longer run."


Now: 2-5, tied for 5th in OUA East
Expected: 7-12 or 8-11, 4th (i.e., a playoff spot)
Swing games: Jan. 8 vs. Lakehead, Jan. 15 vs. Laurier, Jan. 22 at Windsor, Jan. 29 vs. Toronto, Feb. 6 at Ryerson, Feb. 12 vs. Guelph

RMC? Playoffs?! Are you kidding me?

After years of losing every game, the Paladins won one last year, and already have two wins this year. And they're ranked ahead of four other OUA teams in my preliminary, not-yet-published rankings. Even so ... how is this going to work? Well, they're actually favourites to win at home over Toronto, so that helps. Among other home games, Lakehead, Laurier, and Waterloo are also winnable.

I'm not saying they'll win all six swing games above, but a couple of those plus a couple of well-timed losses by Toronto would do it.
A quick Saturday post ... here are the various available rankings for AUS men's basketball, inspired by Bill McLean's Power Rankings from today (thanks to Mark Wacyk for pointing it out).

St. F-X31121
McLean: Bill McLean's Power Rankings, Dec. 11
Wacyk: Mark Wacyk's Top 10 ranking, Nov. 23
RPI-MT: The RPI, provided by Martin Timmerman, as of Dec. 4
RPI-RP: My RPI, as of Dec. 5
CIS: The Smartphone CIS Top 10, Dec. 7

There's not much disagreement, really. It's only with the Capers and X-Men that we see a difference of more than one spot. And even though my RPI puts CBU at the top of the AUS (and No. 2 in the country), their SRS is +6.6, behind Dal (+9.6) and X (+9.3), and merely 13th nationwide. So if you added another column to the chart for SRS, every one of the top three teams would have at least one "vote" for first, second, or third.

And for the other teams, Acadia on down, we're all pretty much in agreement.
[Update: 3:43 pm AST. As I suspected might happen, Saint Thomas University president Dennis Cochrane has suspended the STU men's volleyball team for the rest of the academic year for organizing a hazing party. The CBC website has the story from this afternoon's press conference.]

Six weeks ago the news broke that a young man was found dead in the stairwell of a Fredericton apartment building in the early hours of October 24th. Soon after it came out that the young victim was 21 year old Andrew Jason Bartlett, a fourth year Saint Thomas University student from small-town St. Andrews, NB, who also happened to be a first year player on the varsity volleyball team. (While STU's men's and women's hockey teams compete in the CIS, their other varsity sports compete in the ACAA, the Atlantic Colleges Athletic Association for "small" schools). STU and police said they were investigating the incident.

Soon after there was a feces storm in Fredericton when the website run by fourth-year STU journalism students, The New Brunswick Beacon, posted a story linking Bartlett's death to a hazing party. Not good. This led to accusations back and forth on campus about the validity of the posting, and then the mainstream media started following the story. STU president Dennis Cochrane responded that the school had set up a committee to investigate, including Athletic Director (and hockey coach) Mike Eagles, and were awaiting the police report.

Well the police report came down yesterday, and the NB Beacon has video of the press scrum. In today's Daily Gleaner,
Fredericton police concluded Wednesday that Bartlett's death was a result of an accidental fall in which alcohol consumption was a contributing factor.

"Final findings upon conclusion of the investigation confirm that there was nothing suspicious regarding the death and that no criminal activity was involved," Const. Rick Mooney said.

Dennis Cochrane told media Thursday hazing wasn't the cause of Andrew Jason Bartlett's death.
"We did know that there was an event on-campus, there was an event off-campus, and we were told ... that the young man was driven home by teammates and left at the door of his apartment building," Cochrane said.
"There was no activity associated with hazing that had a direct contribution to his death. We had no reason to believe there was any connection between the hazing event and the death."
In referring to the internal report, he said:

"There was an event that took place on-campus and off-campus that would meet the definition of hazing.''

"First-year players were identified and treated a little differently than the veteran members of the team. As a result, that fits the definition of what hazing would be. That's a concern to us (and,) obviously, it's a concern to everyone because one had an eventual tragic outcome."

Cochrane is expected to announce later today the consequences for the volleyball team for the hazing. My guess is that he will follow precedent in the CIS and end their season.
This went out in the Charlatan last week, and Neate pointed it out today: it's an update on the Carleton football situation. If I may quote liberally:

The three sub-committees working on bringing back the varsity squad — the governance, funding and facilities committees — had planned to launch an official funding drive in time for this past weekend’s Vanier Cup.

Unfortunately, the three sub-committees weren’t quite ready as anticipated, said former Ravens offensive guard and president of the Old Crow Society Kevin McKerrow.

“It was a very ambitious goal,” McKerrow said. “We hoped to have all of our ducks in a row by [last] weekend.”

McKerrow said at this point the finance committee is just shy of $4 million in pledge commitments. The committee’s goal is to have secured $5 million in pledge commitments to support the program for the first five years. The long-term goal is to have a self-sustainable varsity program.

Not sure what it means to be "not quite ready" while at the same time having already raised four of the five million dollars, but nevertheless the school appears ready to submit a bid in May, apparently for 2012.

The self-sustainable nature of the program is once again mentioned, and while you'd expect that from any football program trying to model itself after Laval, it wasn't that long ago that athletic director Jennifer Brenning spoke of the need for a much smaller fundraising amount: $750,000. A near-sevenfold increase in 15 months? I must be missing something in the details here.

Besides, the inimitable Deux Fans made a good point last summer: "the success of a team depends more on its recruitment than on their financial success."

But I'm not an expert on Ottawa sports (or Ottawa anything, except where to find the best burgers in Nepean), so I'll leave any informed commentary to those who are. To me, OUA expansion with a credible program seems like a perfectly cromulent idea.
The #6 Brock Badgers were able to continue on their impressive season as they knocked off the #2 Laurier Golden Hawks in a shootout win on the road Sunday.

Beth Clause was the major difference in the game between the pipes for the Badgers, as she gave up just one goal on 32 shots in the game.

Karolyn McIlmoyle opened the scoring for Brock in the first period when she beat Laurier's Liz Knox.

Laurier tied things up in the second, however, when Katherine Shiriff scored on the powerplay to pick up her sixth goal on the year.

Overtime couldn't solve anything, so the two teams headed to a shootout, where the goalies shined.

Neither team was able to score through the first three rounds, as Clause and Knox stole the show in the shootout. In the fourth round, though, Jessica Fickel scored for Brock while Laurier's Andrea Shapero couldn't net a response, giving Brock the gritty 2-1 victory, and solidifying their position as a legitimate contender for this year's championship.

Elsewhere Around the Top Ten

#1 McGill Martlets
Despite giving up the opening goal in their game against Concordia, McGill was able to finish off their pre-holiday schedule undefeated as they downed the Stingers 4-1.

#2 Laurier Golden Hawks
In Laurier's other game of the weekend, they hosted their rival, the #8 Guelph Gryphons. Laurier took the Gryphons with relative ease in a game that saw Guelph make trip after trip to the penalty box, and in the end the Golden Hawks came out with a 4-1 victory.

#6 Brock Badgers
In addition to their thrilling shootout win over Laurier, Brock also faced the Waterloo Warriors this weekend, in a game that they should have won big. The Warriors fought hard though and were able to keep it close, but in the end a first-period goal by Jessica Fickel was enough to give the Badgers a 1-0 win.

#8 Guelph Gryphons
After losing to Laurier, the Gryphons took on the Waterloo Warriors in a game that saw Guelph pick up 45 shots on net. Tayne Hewer scored twice for the Gryphons, who were victorious by a 4-1 final.

#9 Windsor Lancers
Windsor struggled last weekend, suffering losses in both of their games and allowing eight goals in doing so. Their first match-up saw them get shutout by the Queen's Gaels 3-0, while the next night they traveled to Oshawa where the UOIT Ridgebacks downed the Lancers 5-3.

Both Canada West and Atlantic University Sport had finished up their first-semester seasons before this week.

Updated Top 10 As of Dec 7 (Record) [Previous Ranking]
1. McGill Martlets (10-0-0) [1]
2. Laurier Golden Hawks (15-1-1) [2]
3. St. FX X-Women (10-0-0) [3]
4. Manitoba Bisons (9-3-1) [4]
5. Alberta Pandas (8-3-3) [5]
6. Brock Badgers (14-2-0) [6]
7. Calgary Dinos (9-4-0) [7]
8. Guelph Gryphons (10-4-2) [8]
9. Moncton Aigles Bleues (9-2-1) [10]
10. Windsor Lancers (8-8-0) [9]
Everyone in the CIS basketball community knows who Jacob Doerksen is. Doerksen is a nightmare to guard for any team, the undisputed centrepiece of the no. 7 Trinity Western Spartans offence and a monster on the glass.

So when the Spartans missed the playoffs last year, I think a few people forgot about him. That isn't likely to happen anymore, as Doerksen posted one of the most monstrous games in CIS history with a (team record) 42 point, 8 rebound, 8 assist performance in the Spartans' 114-89 win over the Fraser Valley Cascades on Saturday.

The win capped off what has been an outstanding first half of the season for the Spartans, who have won 10 in a row and sit at 12-2, atop the Canada West standings. Both of those losses came against the no. 2 UBC Thunderbirds, and the Spartans have yet to take on the no. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies (and are merely third among Canada West teams in the RPI), so it's premature to say that Canada West has a new top contender for the Stan Broder Trophy.

With Doerksen leading the way and a sizzling end to the 2010 portion of the season, however, it seems unlikely the Thunderbirds, Huskies and the rest of the CIS will forget about the Spartans any time again soon.

Other Top-10 scores:
#1 Carleton Ravens:
Are just chillin' over the break. Will resume play Jan. 7 at home against Ryerson.

#2 UBC Thunderbirds:
Split a pair of exhibition games against the NCAA Div. II Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks (a 98-85 win) and the Div. I Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (a 71-53 loss). The Seawolves did what no CIS team has done to the T-Birds in a long time in slowing down UBC's offence. Meanwhile, as noted in this article from a couple of weeks ago, UBC has been practicing with former NBA player Michael Dickerson, continuing their practice relationship from earlier in the fall.

#3 Saskatchewan Huskies:
Will be celebrating the holidays by playing in Winnipeg's Wesmen classic over three days from Dec. 28 to 30. All the Huskies want for Christmas is for the Rejean Chabot-Jamelle Barrett project to keep working like a dream.

#4 Concordia Stingers
Took over Quebec supremacy with a 92-86 win over Laval. As Rob duly noted in last week's Top-10 tracker, Laval had been sitting in the no. 3 spot despite an extremely weak schedule, so we'll see how the Stingers handle being the top squad in la belle province. They'll start by playing in Dalhousie's Rod Shoveller Tournament from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2.

#5 St. Francis Xavier X-Men:
Will also be taking part in the Rod Shoveller tournament. While I'm all for cross-country parity in the coaches' votes, I don't understand how a team that has gone a meager 3-2 in relatively weak conference play stays in the top-5, especially after they've lost to two teams below them in the top-10.

#6 Laval Rouge et Or:
Fell to the Stingers in the previously mentioned battle of Quebec titans. The Rouge et Or lost that contest despite shooting 51% from the field. That came one night after Laval snuck by the McGill Redmen despite making 19 turnovers. The Rouge et Or will also compete in the Rod Shoveller Tournament.

#8 Windsor Lancers:
Will head down to South Euclid, OH for the Notre Dame Christmas Invitational on Dec. 29 and 30.

#9 Toronto Varsity Blues:
Will head stateside to take on Houghton College and Daemen College on Dec. 21 and 22 in Amherst, NY, and will play in Ryerson's tournament from Dec. 28 to 30. The Blues will be a darkhorse team in the second half of the conference season, having weathered the OUA West storm well.

#10 Cape Breton Capers:
Will perhaps have the most interesting holiday travel schedule of all the top-10 teams, as the Capers will head to China from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3 and will play three games.
The final Top 10 rankings of the fall period of the 2010/2011 season have been released. The final games were played last weekend, and after the winter break regular league games will resume on January 5th. The next round of CIS rankings will be released on Tuesday, January 11th.

The Top 10 are as follows, courtesy of the CIS website:

(The numbers represent each team's regular season record, and the second indicates their previous ranking.)
1. Windsor / (7-1) / (1)
2. Saskatchewan (8-2) / (3)
3. Regina (10-2) / (2)
4. Victoria (9-3) / (4)
5. Western (7-1) / (5)
6. UNB (5-1) / (6)
7. Carleton (6-2) /(7)
8. Alberta (10-2) / (8)
9. Toronto (6-2) / (8)
10. Cape Breton (5-2) /(10)

#3 Regina vs. #8 Alberta:

The previously #2-ranked Cougars fell to third place in the CIS coaches' rankings after a split weekend against #8 Alberta. On Friday, despite a 62-62 tie early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars managed a slight lead after a Joanna Zalesiak layup and held on for the 77-74 win. For the Cougars, Carly Graham and Anne Mercer led with 15 points apiece, while Gabrielle Gheyssen and Danielle Schmidt added 13 and 11, respectively (box score here). On Saturday, a 20-point performance from Panda Anneka Bakker was enough to trump Joanna Zalesiak's 25 points and give the Pandas the upset 81-58 victory. Regina was down by a mere 5 points entering the 4th quarter, but didn't manage a score for the final seven minutes. Alberta, on the other hand, scored the final 18 points of the game to earn the W in commanding fashion. Box score for Saturday available here.

None of the other top 10 teams played this past weekend. Non-top 10 results and boxscores are available from the CIS website.
I wrote a preview article about the Mustangs men's hockey team just before the season started and something that head coach Clarke Singer said to me stood out. He told me that his biggest competition would come from Lakehead, Waterloo and Guelph.

I immediately noticed he left out the Laurier Golden Hawks and I asked him about it. He told me that they would still be good, but they probably wouldn't be challenging any of those four teams.

In fairness to Singer, I don't think many people would have predicted the way Hawks goaltender Ryan Daniels has played thus far this season.

He's had to be great, because as Singer noted, this isn't a vintage Laurier team, especially offensively. The team is clearly missing the punch that Paul Bradley and the Voakes brothers once brought. Their leading scorer -- left winger Ryan Bellows -- is 30th overall in the OUA with 19 points.

Sure, they have had depth in scoring, but they still have only put up 60 goals in 17 games. I mean, that's good, but it's nothing to write home about. Prior to this past weekend, the Hawks had scored more than two goals only twice in November -- at least against teams not named RMC. Yes, I know Western lost to RMC. It doesn't make RMC a good team.

Naturally, that has meant that Daniels has needed to shoulder the load. And it's been quite a load to carry, considering he is facing 36 shots a game. To put that into perspective, Western's duo in net face only 31 per game -- and neither of them have played every game this season. Yet the man has the second best save percentage in the entire OUA, and the seventh best goals against average.

This weekend was a perfect example of what Daniels has meant to this team. Laurier emerged from its last two games of the semester with 4-1 victories over Guelph and York.

They were flat out dominated by Guelph, with the Gryphons outshooting the Hawks 44-24 -- that includes an 18-5 shot difference in the first period. Guelph had six powerplay opportunities to boot. Daniels came up with 43 saves, while a poor performance from his Gryphon counterpart, Andrew Loverrock, allowed the Hawks to steal one. I suppose defenceman Garrett Sinfield deserves a little credit too, scoring his first two as a Hawk.

They followed that gem of a performance by being outplayed by the superb -- i.e., last-place -- York Lions at home. They were outshot 36-28 and showed their lack of discipline, taking 26 minutes of penalties and handing York seven man advantages. Once again, Daniels allowed a single goal and did not allow York back in the game once his team took the lead for another crucial two points in the ultra-tight OUA West.

Laurier should probably be in the bottom half of the OUA West, but Daniels has put them right in the mix tied with Waterloo and one point behind Lakehead.

They might be pretty easy pickings for either of the Mustangs, Thunderwolves or Warriors come playoff time (the RPI agrees with this, putting Laurier at 15th, behind those three top 10 teams). But with Daniels between the pipes, you simply cannot count them out of any game. Now if only they could score.

Western 6-4 Brock
  • Mustang goal scorers: Matt Paltridge, Yashar Farmanara, Steve Reese (2), Kyle Lamb, Brandon Greenside
  • Mustang goaltender: Josh Unice - 10 saves on 13 shots, Anthony Grieco - 11 of 12
  • Badger goal scorers: Kaine Geldart, Joey Pell, C.J. Dickson, Matt Abercrombie
  • Badger goaltender: Kurt Jory - 18 stops on 23 shots, Vince Cusick - 11 of 12
This was an uncharacteristic game for both teams -- according to their respective coaches -- for several reasons:
  • Brock is normally a solid trapping team, allowing very few shots. Western peppered their net with 35, scoring 6 in the process. Brandon Greenside's winner was a brilliant top corner rocket after one of the worst defensive giveaways I've ever seen.
  • Brock also is a self-admitted poor offensive team. Yet they buried four goals on just 25 shots -- and they all came on the powerplay.
  • Western gave up four powerplay goals on six opportunities. Not great for one of the best defensive teams in the OUA.
  • Both starting goalies were pulled in the game.
Players of the Game
  • On a more positive note, the line of Yashar Farmanara, Kevin Baker and Steve Reese dominated again with 3 goals and 8 points between them. They stepped up in all-star Aaron Snow's absence.
  • Matt Abercrombie was probably Brock's best player, scoring his team-leading 10th and assisting on Geldart's opener.

Brock 5-3 Waterloo
  • Badger goal scorers: Adam Schwark (3), Jordan Gignac, Kaine Geldart
  • Badger goaltender: Kurt Jory - 19 of 22
  • Warrior goal scorers: Steve Whitely, Chris Ray, Tyler Moir
  • Warrior goaltender: Keaton Hartigan - 32 of 37
  • A good response from the Badgers after their loss to the Mustangs. Head coach Murray Nystrom challenged them to put together a better game and they did.
  • This was a better game for Brock's defence. Jory only saw 22 shots and Waterloo didn't get on the board until midway through the second.
  • Brock's powerplay remained on fire, adding two more to the four they scored on Western. Nystrom told me it was something they worked on a lot in practice this week.
  • This was a bit of a let down for Waterloo. They had a road weary Brock team in their sights with lots of time to prepare and they laid an egg.
Players of the Game
  • Schwark came into the game with a single goal, but was excellent with the hat-trick, two of which came on the powerplay
  • Hartigan was one of Waterloo's better players. Though he allowed 5 goals, he didn't get a lot of help, seeing 37 on the night.

UOIT 2-1 Windsor
  • Ridgeback goal scorers: Brendan Wise, Kyle Wetering
  • Ridgeback goaltender: Jason Guy - 35 of 36
  • Lancer goal scorers: Kyle Lang
  • Lancer goaltender: Jim Watt - 33 of 35
  • The Ridgebacks pull to within a point of the Lancers in the battle for seventh in the West thanks to their upset in Windsor.
  • UOIT had a single powerplay, but they cashed with Wise's opener in the second. Wise leads the team with 8 goals.
  • This game was always going to be a goaltender battle. York is the only team in the West that has fewer goals than these two powerhouses.
Players of the Game
  • Guy stopped 35 shots. You can't ask for much more from your goalie. It was a nice change from his usual 4.12 GAA and .877 save percentage.
  • Watt was unlucky not to emerge with the win, allowing only two goals on 35 shots. He may be the only goalie in the OUA that has been better than Ryan Daniels.
We're three weeks into the 11-week MUBL season, so let's see how the teams are doing so far:

Full results are here; corrections welcomed.

Alexandre Tourigny of RDS is sitting in first place, having won his three weeks 4-3-1, 6-2, and 5-3. That 6-2 win over AlwaysOUA's Chris Lund came despite an 11-of-24 weekend from Ryan MacKinnon, and MacKinnon's 6-of-25 performance in Week 1 kept Alex from beating me by more than the bare minimum. (So naturally, when MacKinnon finally starts shooting, with 15/22, 48 points in 56 minutes in the week ending Nov. 28, it's Daniel Quirion who goes 2 for 18.)

Two wins behind Alex is Cam Charron, and before you think the new people are dominating the league, fellow newcomer Brian Decker has a combined record of 8-16 (no matter that five of those eight are against me). Cam picked up 23 boards from both Drazen Glisic and Jacob Doerkson recently, winning rebounds 63-61 as part of his 6-2 Week 3 win.

The second through sixth spots are all very similar (Cam, Neate Sager, Chris, Andrew Bucholtz, Greg Layson): they've won some weeks, and lost other weeks.

We'll also skip over the seventh-place contestant, the only one who's lost every week so far, and land on Brian, who's lost every week except against the seventh-place team. There are still eight weeks left, meaning a total of 64 wins to be picked up, but Brian's teams have shot 35%, 45%, and 38% so far (going back to Week 1), with points-per-40 values often in the mid-to-low teens. So we may see a 1-5-2 split among the great/good/mediocre teams as the season unfolds.

The most recent week didn't count for MUBL purposes, so we return to play in the new year. It's a Decker/Tourigny matchup to start off the 2011 portion: last vs. first. I don't know whether to cheer for Alex (who has a heck of a team) or for Brian (for the upset, though that means I would be in last place...).
Calculated Reactions is a new, hopefully-recurring feature that takes an hopefully-interesting look at CIS statistics, with the goal of taking the numbers and giving them greater meaning.

This time out, I am going to illustrate the strange inconsistencies in the scorekeeping in CIS basketball. We've all made jokes about it ("Completely Inaccurate Stats"), and I'm by no means the first to notice the curiosities. But I wanted to sit down and go through the issue completely, hopefully going past the jokes to a more removed and calculated reaction (see what I did there?).

But wait a second Rob, why does it matter if the stats are wonky, anyway?

For one, you'll see below that this inconsistency can affect the statistical records of the game. Not enough to change the outcome of any game, but certainly enough to cast doubts on many team and individual statistics, and the methods by which those statistics are kept. I realize that only about seven people in the world care about the number of assists in a CIS game, and five of them are me, but there's no reason for these issues to be present.

I'll also admit that, selfishly, I want my own rankings to be better, which would require consistency in the stats across all conferences and schools.

The idea for this started when I recently looked into the difference between home and away stats, just as a curiosity. You can access home-away splits for each team on the CIS site--here is UBC's men's team from last year--and a quick glance at some teams can reveal some odd results, but I was more interested, at first, in overall trends, so I went down to the boxscore level and rebuilt the home-away stats from the bottom up.

Here's what I mean by overall trends. The categories in this table are sorted by the home-court advantage (HCA), meaning the percentage difference between a team's results at home and that same team's results on the road (so the average CIS men's team shoots 4.4% better, or 1.8 percentage points better, at home). Statistics are either expressed per game (200 player-minutes), or as percentages.

Men's basketball, home and away splits, 2009-10

Before I get into the big numbers (looking at you, assists), notice that the home team does, in fact, enjoy an advantage in nearly every category. Most of these are beyond the interpretation of an official or the scorers' table--either the ball goes in the basket or it doesn't--and are exactly what you'd expect: the home-court advantage, whether due to travel, sleeping in your own bed, familiarity with the arena, or whatever, does exist. It's important to know that there's a true HCA (however small) so that we can greater appreciate how bizarre the extreme results are for, say, blocks and assists.

Assists seem particularly suspicious, but you probably get more opportunities to record assists at home (if home teams take more shots, for example). So let's add a row to that chart and see if that advantage goes away:


It doesn't.

So the average team, when at home, is awarded assists on 56% of their made baskets, about 8 percentage points higher than when they're on the road. That's not that bad, though, and mis-allocation of assists is of course a basketball universal. So if it's just part of the game everywhere, then it all balances out and there's no problem.

If there's no problem here, and the schools were generally consistent--meaning, the home team generally has an 8-point bonus over their own results on the road--then the 43 home assist bonuses (one for each men's team) would be centred around 8, with simple random variation causing some to be higher or lower, and a few to be much higher or lower. But only a few.

Rather than overload you with another table, let me overload you with letters and colours and lines instead:

The two axes cross at 48% and 56%--the CIS average for home and away assist rates--but what we're (or I'm) really interested in here is teams above the red line, meaning they receive many more assists at home than on the road, or below the blue line, meaning they receive many more on the road than at home.

If the results were consistent, most everyone would be between the red and blue lines. But instead we have 9 schools--CBU, Memorial, Lakehead, Western, Toronto, Manitoba, Laurentian, Brandon, and Concordia--above the red line, meaning their home bonuses are significantly higher, and another seven below the blue line. So that's 16 out of 43 with extreme results, when statistically we'd expect two or three.

You remember what the bell curve looks like? Well, all of these 16 teams are in the tiny parts at the far right or far left of that curve. In order to even see the curve, MUN and CBU would need to get in a plane and fly for a few hours. And stop to refuel.


But maybe there's something about the Capers and Sea-Hawks men's teams (and the Mustangs and Thunderwolves...) that make them legitimately more likely to receive more assists at home. In other words, it has nothing to do with the scorekeeping (at whatever school or schools), but the players on the floor. I don't know why this would be true, but let's assume it is. If so, then the women's team assist bonus shouldn't be the same, because they're different people playing a different game with a different strategy.

You can see where this is going.

Were the men above the red line? More often than not, the women were too. There's a very strong correlation between the home assist bonus experienced by the men's team and the same bonus for the women's team. For the nine men's teams with the highest home bonuses, seven of the corresponding women's teams saw similar extreme results. The same trend holds for the teams below the blue line as well.

Assists should be recorded in the same way by all CIS scorekeepers, and I am pretty sure that the above analysis shows they are not.

I haven't been to games at enough schools to know whether everyone's following the FIBA interpretations, and even if I had been, I honestly don't know the rules enough to tell you whether School X is over- or under-rewarding assists. So I'm not accusing anyone of pumping up the assist totals at home, or of ignoring visiting players' accomplishments while keeping score.

All I'm pointing out here is the inconsistency.


We haven't talked much about blocks, but those numbers were also pretty high; a 40% increase in blocks at home is worth investigating further. Just to confirm that the visiting team isn't giving the home team more opportunities for blocks: home teams received blocks on 8.2% of missed shots by their opponents. Visiting teams? Just 5.8%. So that 40% difference, or 2.4 percentage point difference, remains.

That difference of 2.4 wasn't consistent, either. Some schools saw a much higher bonus for the men and women (where it was actually 1.5 points on average). Most notably, York's home block bonus was 7.1 points for the men and 6.2 points for the women. Going back to the bell curve, we'd expect there to be two, maybe three out of 86 teams (men's and women's) whose home bonus was more than two standard deviations above the mean (and, of course, two or three more who are 2 SD below). Not a lot of room under that curve for more teams than that.

Of course you have guessed the punchline: there were 10. In order of how ridiculous their home block bonus (or "road block demerit") was: Winnipeg men, SFU women, UBC women, SMU men, Ottawa men, York women, Laval women, York men, Winnipeg women, UQAM women.

These are mostly different teams than we saw on the list of extreme assist bonuses, which shows you how statistical oddities aren't just limited to a handful of schools.

The results between home and road blocks shouldn't differ by this much. Remember, we're comparing every team to themselves, and no matter how dominant the Clan were, they were generally the same players at home as they were elsewhere. (Kate Hole has assured me she was the same height in every province.)


You may be wondering why I haven't looked at home-team stats vs. road-team stats in the same game--say, why I compared the Carleton men's home results to their away results, rather than comparing Carleton's home results to their visiting opponents' results in those games.

I didn't do it that way because different offences move the ball differently and may not actually have the same true assist rates; we'd be assuming things are the same when they might not be. Also, different teams play different opponents at home, meaning we'd be introducing another variable we couldn't really account for. There's far less variation in looking at the same team home and away, meaning any strange results we find are less likely to be caused by styles in play or opponent.

But to satisfy those who are curious, let's do it anyway. Here's what you get if you add everything up by venue:

Again, I don't endorse looking at it this way, at least not in isolation. The problem with looking at this chart and saying, "Aha, I knew it, those Waterloo scorekeepers are biased!" is that Waterloo, or anyone, could move left or right on that graph based solely on the ability of their opponents to receive assists, not based on their home scorekeepers.

You can compare travel partners, though, because their opponents are the same. UW and WLU are about equal on handing out assists to the visitors (they're right above/below each other), as are Western and Windsor, and Toronto and Ryerson. But Carleton's much lower than Ottawa (the Gee-Gees are hidden with Calgary, to the right of WLU on the chart). So there might be something there for any of you Ottawans to decipher.

But for the most part, in this analysis we're keeping the scorekeepers constant and changing the teams. Earlier, we kept the teams constant and changed the scorekeepers. I think the first method was a better way to look at this problem.


Again, why does this all matter?

Well, aside from keeping Kate from officially breaking her PB of seven blocks on the road one time ("when I looked in the stats sheet it said one pissed me off"), and questioning the integrity of all past MUBL champions, it makes you think twice about leaderboards and fair treatment of all players.

Western's Ryan Barbeau was tied for second in the country in assists last year at 120, 17 behind Josh Gibson-Bascombe. Barbeau received 80 of those at home, in 326 minutes (9.8 per 40). He received the other 40 on the road, in 427 minutes (3.7 per 40). Quite a drop-off.

JGB, on the other hand, had 6.4 at home, and 7.5 on the road. If Gibson-Bascombe had Barbeau's road assist rate, he would have nearly 37 fewer assists over the entire season, and therefore finish behind him (nearly out of the top 10, actually). Or, if Barbeau's home assist rate were any lower (it is kind of high), he would have fewer assists than Christian Upshaw...see how it goes?

Unless Barbeau's passing skills deteriorate once he leaves London (it's a nice city, but not that nice), there's something weird going on. I don't know what it is, but the only thing universal about this assist mis-allocation? It's not consistent at all.
To answer the titular question, the Laurentian Voyageurs do. They put up 82 points on the York Lions and beat them soundly on their home turf.

The 82–69 win was a statement of where the powers in the stacked OUA East lie. The 4-5 Voyageurs now sit one and a half games back of the ninth-ranked Varsity Blues (6–2) in the division. The team can control their playoff destiny in January, as they are set to face the Blues Jan. 15 and the Ravens Jan. 21.

As for the Lions, they have been scratching to break out all season. So far, blowout losses to the Lancers (7–1) and Thunderwolves (6–2) and a narrow loss to the Warriors (4–4) have set the squad back a bit.

To make things worse, they traveled up to Sudbury and got off to a slow start Dec. 4. Outscored 21–14 and 20–12 in the first and second quarters respectively, the Lions simply did not have the legs to make a comeback. They turned it over 15 times, and were outrebounded 37–25 for the game. Lions’ guard Ostap Choliy led York with 16 points and 75 per cent shooting in a losing cause.

The Vees played quite well overall. The team shot 44 per cent from the floor, made seven three-pointers and tallied 16 assists. Manny Pasquale scored 25 points on 64 per cent shooting, and forward Mike Hull grabbed nine rebounds in a winning cause.
The last day of play before the OUA holiday break saw a great opportunity for the Laurentian Voyageurs (1–8) to get out of the OUA East basement and take some positive memories into the break.

But the York Lions (4–5) had other plans. They beat the Voyageurs 62–49 at Ben Avery Gym on Saturday.

Despite the Voyageurs' valient effort, having the lead scorer (guard Kate Goggins, with 20 points) and rebounder (forward Lisa Furchner, with 17), scoring was largely imbalanced. Seven Voyageurs scored two or fewer points, and four did not score a point.

The Vees had a hard time getting into much of an offensive rhythm. A 36–25 first half and a six-point third frame made their fate for this game. They shot 28 per cent overall and 18 per cent from the three-point line.

The Lions, despite being outrebounded 48–33, stole the ball 10 times. Scoring was fairly spread across the Lions’ roster, with Emily Perras leading the way with 19. If the north Toronto squad has anything to learn from this game, they will have to look at their scoring opportunities. They made one free throw for the entire game and scored 12 points in garbage time.

Should the Lions worry about their bench production? Not yet, because their January schedule is a winnable one. They go to Kingston the weekend of Jan. 7 for the Gaels and Paladins,, and return home to face the Blues and Rams the next weekend.

The Lions now sit in fourth in the East, behind the Blues (7–2) and the Ravens (6–2). The Voyageurs, tied for last with the Paladins, get back to action against the Gaels and Paladins the weekend of Jan. 7.
Only a few games this week as we finish up the first half and head into the exam and Christmas break. For teams like UNB the long break couldn't come sooner, as they try to heal up the injured (they had six starters out Saturday) while for reigning CIS champion Saint Mary's it might be a bit of a momentum killer as they've been nicely rounding into form these last few weeks. For teams at the bottom of the standings, like Moncton and St. Thomas, a chance to stop the bleeding (at least for awhile) and firm up the rumoured reinforcements.

The week started out with three 4-0 blankings. Tuesday night Dal goalie Bobby Nadeau, who was named AUS male athlete of the week for his standout play last week, got outperformed by StFX's Joey Perricone. The X-Men were up 2-0 after two periods, and added a shorthanded goal and a last second power play goal by Brett Morrison for the win.

Wednesday night it was the Huskies putting on a clinic against the visiting Axemen, who didn't really appear to threaten. Like the game above, the victors were up 2-0 after 40 minutes, and SMU added two power play goals in the third period, including Cam Fergus' second goal of the game. Neil Conway picked up his second shutout of the season.

Friday night UNB was looking to break their two-game losing streak, while UdeM was on a four-game slide. The biggest crowd of the season in Fredericton, 3621, restlessly had to wait 47 minutes for a goal, as Moncton's P.-A. Marion was flawless on 30 shots. Then Dion Campbell punctured les bleus balloon, and the V-Reds scored four goals in five minutes. The last goal was historic, as Jordan Clendenning one-timed a Hunter Tremblay pass on the power play, and Tremblay set a new UNB career regular season points record - 178 points in 96 games played. Travis Fullerton quietly and efficiently picked up his AUS-leading third shutout of the season.

Also on Friday the Tommies were in Charlottetown to play the Panthers. Despite giving up a goal to CIS rookie of the year Jared Gomes just 47 seconds in, STU managed to tie the game late in the first period on the power play, and take the lead in the second period. UPEI tied it late in the period, but STU took back the lead again in the third period. However Gomes tied the game up again five minutes later and Cory Vitarelli scored the winner at 2:33 of overtime for the 4-3 win. STU's Charlie Lavigne did his best to keep his team in the game, making 40 saves.

There was only one game Saturday to close out the half, as the Tommies had to travel on to Halifax to play the Huskies in a game postponed from October. STU was opportunistic, nabbing three goals on 24 shots, but Lavigne saw 41 shots come his way from domineering Saint Mary's, and four got past him. The Tommies have certainly improved their play of late, and goaltending keeps them in games, but they don't have enough skilled players to beat the top teams in the conference.

So at the break we see the AUS standings tighter than they've been in years, with only six points separating first to sixth place. Sure UNB has come back to the pack a bit this year, and injuries have a lot to do with that, but the rest of the conference has improved as well, and should get due credit. After all, there are three Panthers leading the points race (Matt Carter, Vitarelli and Mike MacIsaac) before you find V-Reds Tremblay and Chris Culligan tied for fourth place. Parity is the overused, but accurate, description of the AUS this season. Maybe some of the Top 10 voters should be paying more attention to what's going on in the Maritimes ...
In case you missed it, December 2 was the night the Golden Gaels men’s and women’s hoops squads gave themselves a confidence boost going into a month-long hiatus.

The women's team's 65–43 victory was a solid one. Even though the Paladins kept a good pace in the first half, a 21–6 third quarter was a perverbial nail in coffin. Despite shooting 33 per cent for the game, the Gaels made baskets where they counted. They shot 44 per cent from the freethrow line, and 77 per cent at the charity stripe—compared to 21 and 60 per cent for the Paladins.

Dave Wilson dressed eight players Thursday, with Brittany Moore leading all Queen’s scorers with 17 points. Post player Sydney Kernahan led with 12 rebounds.

For the men, an 83–38 thumping saw the Gaels keep the Paladins from scoring double digits from all but the third quarter. Every Golden Gaels player scored at least one point, with Nikola Misljencevic leading the way with 17 points and 88 per cent shooting in, brace yourselves, 11 minutes.

Paladins’ forward Nicolas Cooke led all scorers with 18 points. The squad, possibly looking ahead to holiday cheer, only dressed seven players.

For those Paladins men’s and women’s fans seething at the loss, the squad will have a chance for redemption when it counts. They will face the Gaels on the last weekend of the OUA regular season, Feb. 18, at Queen’s.
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