lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Houston v. Tulsa Football in 215 Seconds

Gonzo Reiter Promotions posts a field level view of the action in the University of Houston’s nailbiter in Tulsa this weekend.

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Houston’s Shane Battier Profiled in Michael Lewis’ The No-Stats All Star

Michael Lewis, known as one of the most interesting and erudite writers in sports commentary, has a new profile of the Houston Rockets’ Shane Battier in the New York Times. At the core of Lewis’ inquiry is the knotty issue of determining a player’s value in a quintessentially team sport.

The Grizzlies went from 23-59 in Battier’s rookie year to 50-32 in his third year, when they made the N.B.A. playoffs, as they did in each of his final three seasons with the team. Before the 2006-7 season, Battier was traded to the Houston Rockets, who had just finished 34-48. In his first season with the Rockets, they finished 52-30, and then, last year, went 55-27 — including one stretch of 22 wins in a row. Only the 1971-2 Los Angeles Lakers have won more games consecutively in the N.B.A. And because of injuries, the Rockets played 11 of those 22 games without their two acknowledged stars, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, on the court at the same time; the Rockets player who spent the most time actually playing for the Rockets during the streak was Shane Battier. This year Battier, recovering from off-season surgery to remove bone spurs from an ankle, has played in just over half of the Rockets’ games. That has only highlighted his importance. “This year,” Morey says, “we have been a championship team with him and a bubble playoff team without him.” Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win.

Michael Lewis, The No-Stats All-Star, New York Times, February 15, 2009.

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Bowling: Two Handed, Backwards, Presidential and Pug

via big t kirk, aka houston’s clear thinkers Read the rest of this entry »

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Bull Jumping, Recortadores

I’ve been momentarily mesmerized by my recent discovery of Bull Jumping, performed in some parts of Spain by Recortadores, with variations in various parts of Europe derived from the Minoans, as a non-violent alternative to the bull-fight. Video below: Read the rest of this entry »

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Smart Football

Growing up in the frozen, football-less tundra of northern Maine, I was blissfully ignorant of the obsession that afflicts the rest of the country. Spending the past decade in Texas, however, I’ve grown increasingly infected interested in the nuances of the game. I could always follow the action on TV but after talking to some friends who coached or played at a higher level, I realized there were many facets of the game which only a trained eye can comprehend.

The Smart Football Blog is my entree to the odd rituals of college football strategery. Try the top Smart Football posts of 2008 on for size:

A quick list of my five* most popular articles of 2008.

1. The Florida Gator/Urban Meyer Offense – Self-explanatory

2. Coaching preview: Alabama’s Nick Saban vs. Clemson’s Rob Spence – I’m guessing that it was Saban and not Rob Spence that drew in readers.

3. Auburn’s offense might be bad, but don’t call it the spread, the Airraid, or the Tony Franklin System - This is the part where I have a hand in getting an entire coaching staff axed … ack.

4. The Divide Route in the Multiple Smash Concept – Pure technical football here; this post won a college football blogger award.

5. The Shotgun, The ‘Gun, and the Shotgun Spread Offense – A brief history of the gun and the rise of the modern spread.

* Actually, the second most popular article was one I wrote several years ago, though it is more salient than ever now: Has the Spread Offense Reached Its Apex?

** Two other rather technical and older (2005) articles dealing with a “conceptual” approach to the passing game finished barely behind these posts: Organizing Pass Plays As Concepts and St. Louis Rams Shallow Cross Concepts.

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Houston Cougars win Armed Forces Bowl, first bowl win since 1980, ESPN

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

ESPN: Houston Cougars win Armed Forces Bowl, first bowl win since 1980

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Cardboarding, like Snowboarding, but without Snow or Excitement

This Houstonist post brought back fond memories. Since my elementary school had a giant hill behind the playground cardboarding was a frequent pastime in the spring and fall, as was sledding in the winter. How we didn’t break our little faces I’ll never know.

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Men’s Basketball: Houston v. Nevada

Well, um, not exactly March Madness but fellow hapless Cougar fans can watch the Houston Cougars men’s basketball team take on Nevada in the College Basketball Invitational tonight at 9pm. The television broadcast is on Fox College Sports (which I don’t have) or stream it from the CBI website for $6.95. Sigh.

More here and here.

UPDATE: Houston pulls out a close one 80-79. GO COOGS!

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Slice of Houston, Expats Fuel Thriving Amateur Cricket League

houston-cricket.jpg

A visiting professor remarked that Houston was not quite what he expected as I was driving back to the airport after one of our conferences. The image projected is a bastion of oil-rich, good-ole boy, SUV-driving, God-fearing, Bush-loving conservatism, and like most images, the reality is a lot more complex.

Case in point, the Houston Chronicle profiles an amateur cricket league driven by the part of Houston’s massive immigrant population hailing from those parts of the world where football is played with your feet and takes a backseat to the more gentlemanly sport of cricket.

Houston Chronicle: Bringing passion to the field: As immigrants with various backgrounds make Houston home, many are finding common ground through a love of cricket

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Michael Lewis Studies the Plight of the Placekicker

Michael Lewis, best known for his books Moneyball and the Left Side, has carved out a niche in a sea of ESPN-addled braggadocio by bringing a novel and highly-analytical mind to bear on the world of sports.

His latest in-depth article chronicles the plight of the place kicker, the red-headed stepchild of the profession, this misplaced soccer player with a helmet is expected to kick game-winning field goals as a matter routine, yet shunned after the inevitable miss. In typical Moneyball fashion, Lewis makes his argument on the numbers and concludes that the oft-sought clutch kicker is more myth than reality.

NY Times: The Kick Is Up and It’s … A Career Killer

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