Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lakewood Wrestling, Lake Erie Surfing, Iverson Doc, and Racing Coming to the Cleveland International Film Festival

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 10:07 AM


The best ten days in Cleveland cinema is almost upon us. The Cleveland International Film Festival takes over Tower City March 18-28 and there's plenty of celluloid sporting goodness on the docket.

(All summaries courtesy of Also head over there for full schedules and trailers.)


At two different Lakewood, Ohio high schools, two wrestling teams prepare for competition at the State Championship in Columbus. Lakewood High, the underdog, has set its sights on Matt Curley, the school’s first real chance at a state championship in 50 years. Meanwhile, only a few miles away is the country’s most successful high school wrestling program, St. Edward’s. There, Lance Palmer prepares to compete. PINNED draws a comparison between the two boys, contrasting Matt's broken home with Lance's family, which is utterly focused on wrestling. What the two boys share is a deep passion for the sport and intensity beyond their years. Each in his own way takes his training to extreme levels. Matt starves himself relentlessly in order to “make weight,” while Lance wrestles a 600-pound bear to prepare. While both notions seem ludicrous to any onlooker, none of this seems out of the ordinary within the culture of competition that is portrayed here. The rivalry is settled, of course, at the state tournament where only one of them will meet their goal. — B.K.

Out of Place

It goes without saying that Cleveland, Ohio is not a surfing tourism destination. Further, most Clevelanders are probably not aware that surfing even happens on the beaches and in the waves of Lake Erie. More surprising still is the fact that this Great Lakes surfing is taking place during the coldest months of the year. You would likely have to be a surfer in Cleveland to know this, but that is when the waves are most surf-able. You have to see it to believe it (and you will) as OUT OF PLACE features great footage of Lake Erie surfing. Listening to the interviews with Cleveland surfers is just as compelling as watching them surf Edgewater beach in November. It is nothing short of inspiring to hear of the passion for surfing and life that drives these die-hards into the icy water armed with only a wet suit and a board. — B.K.

Racing Dreams

Annabeth, Brandon, and Josh aren't old enough to legally drive. But that hasn’t stopped them from hitting the track in their extreme racing karts on a quest to achieve their RACING DREAMS — to become NASCAR racers. Over the course of a year, this emotionally charged and action-packed documentary looks at what motivates these young people as they compete in the five races that make up the World Karting Association’s National Championship, “When you are 11, your whole life is filled with people telling you what to do,” says Annabeth, one of the few girls making a name for herself in the sport. “But when you’re racing, you’re totally independent.” “The choice is yours,” says Josh, 12, who can’t wait for racing weekends and has the trophies to show for all his hard work. For Brandon, 13, the path has been a bit rougher. His bad temper led to a disqualification the previous season as he raced toward the title of senior class champion. These three young racers find themselves navigating two roads: the thrill of each hard-won victory and the daily struggles of family life. — C.K.

CIFF is also screening the ESPN 30 for 30 doc No Crossover; The Trial of Allen Iverson.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Czar Writes Things

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 3:10 PM


Former Cavs head coach and current broadcaster Mike Fratello has a blog and he likes to write things. He also likes to post pictures, like the one posted here, which he titled, "Mike's Sideline Move of the Week." Vicious. Love it. Check it out.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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The Routine

Posted By on Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM

You've probably seen this floating around (I saw it over at Ball Don't Lie), but it's worth posting here. LeBron's pre-game handshake rituals. Like, all 974 of them. After you watch the video, get the scoop on the rest of LeBron's extensive game-day routine with this New York Times article.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

20,562 Snuggies Can't Be Wrong

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM


From the Press Release:

Cleveland, Ohio, February 23, 2010 - On Friday, March 5, 2010, the Cleveland Cavaliers and KeyBank are asking fans attending the Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons game to get to their seats early to help break the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets.” Fans attending the game should be in their seats before the 7:00 p.m. tip off at The Q to be a part of this history-making event.

An anticipated sellout crowd of 20,562 fans will receive a complimentary limited edition Cleveland Cavaliers Snuggie™ blanket courtesy of KeyBank that will be conveniently draped over every seat in the arena. Fans will be asked to wear their Snuggie™ blanket for the first five minutes of the game. In attendance will be Guinness World Records® Adjudicator Danny Girton who will then officially certify the new record. Once the record is achieved, every fan will receive a commemorative magnet certificate that will acknowledge they are a Guinness World Record holder.

Gotta be honest, that last sentence intrigues me.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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Charts! Offensive/Defensive Efficiency

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 1:56 PM


(Via Piston Powered)

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Swag Alert: Whiteness Tee

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 3:26 PM


GV Art and Design have taken the "Witness" campaign to a whole new level.

If you're not familiar with GV, Greg and George do just about every kind of design you can think of, including logo designs for pro teams and those magnificent Etch-a-Sketch portraits that you shake your head at, and they also happen to love Cleveland. LeBron, Browns, Cavs — doesn't matter, they love them all, as you can tell with their Cleveland t-shirt shop.

That's where you'll find the brilliant "Whiteness" tee, complete with awkward white basketball player, white socks, the dorky headband, and the uber-dorky pose.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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More LeBron Stat Analysis: Too Many Jumpers, Period

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 3:12 PM


Last week, I took a look at the number of three-pointers that LeBron has attempted this year. CliffsNotes version: Too many. He's 5th in the league in most 3's attempted and 77th in % made. Also, he's LeBron, and getting to the paint is kind of what he does best.

Today, Kelly Dwyer expounded on the analysis over at Ball Don't Lie, noting that LeBron is taking too many jumpshots, period, be they 3's or long-range 2's. Definitely head over to read the full thing. Here's a snippet, though:

Making 35 percent of your 5.2 three-pointers a game means you're creating just a little over one point per possession. This year, 312 points for every 298 possessions. That's not what you want. The Detroit Pistons, the NBA's 25th-worst offense, score at about the same rate: 103.7 points per 100 possessions. Even as an aside, five possessions per game amongst the dozens that LeBron uses up, this still hurts the overall picture.

Because you only get so many looks per game. The Cavs average 91 possessions per contest, and while five out of 91 might not seem like much (especially considering that that he does right for a huge chunk of those other possessions), it's still enough to hurt. And that's not even considering the scads of long two-pointers LeBron takes.

About 5.2 a game, same as the three-pointers, at about the success rate you'd imagine (exactly 40 percent). Considering how infrequent it is that LeBron would get fouled in a long-two situation, that's about four points scored per every five possessions. That's ... that's not good.

There's much more, obviously, so click over and read on.

I'll take jumpers from LeBron if it's in the flow of the offense, I'd prefer to see them come with James working off the ball (incidentally, Chris Jent told me his field goal % will go up the more he does this), and I'll live with them when LeBron's in heat check mode, but watching him hoist 18 footers when no one else has touched the ball in the possession (or, at most, one) is insufferable to watch. It happened twice in the 4th quarter yesterday (from 22 and 25 feet), and both times in the stretch when the Cavs went from up 85-80 to down 86-85 and never to see the lead again. And both times there was little to no offense run.

Back to the original piece for a second.

Jacob Rosen over at WFNY also used my analysis as a jumping off point by looking at which teams have the most three-point attempts and highest percentages made.

In fact, among the top 20 teams in three point shooting percentage, they have an average winning percentage of .567. The rest of the NBA has only a .366 winning percentage. Among the top 20 teams in three point attempts per game, they have an average winning percentage of .546 while the rest of the NBA is only at .406.

Just take a look here at the top five teams in the NBA in three point shooting percentage as well as the bottom five teams: 1) Cavaliers, 2) Suns, 3) Nuggets, 4) Raptors, 5) Spurs, 26) Bulls, 27) Pacers, 28) Clippers, 29) Nets and 30) Pistons. It is obvious in all of these reflections that the three ball is crucial to teams winning games in the 2009-2010 season.

While I agree that teams that are shooting the three well are probably going to be in a better position to win more games, I think Jacob misses my point. I'm all for efficient offense and possessions that end with a three being launched a) Within the scheme of the offense, and b) By someone who shoots threes well. LeBron's 35% average from behind the arc doesn't merit the number of attempts he takes, and that's simply scratching the surface.

As I wrote, when you're talking about a guy who is deadly effective in getting into the paint for easy buckets (while, oftentimes, drawing fouls and putting the opponent's defense into trouble), when you're talking about a guy who is routinely compared to Magic Johnson in his passing abilities, and when you're talking about a Cavs offense that already struggles through pronounced and sometimes prolonged difficulties on the offensive end, it's not practical or advisable for 5.2 possessions a game to end with a LeBron three-pointer. (Keep in mind, there's plenty of games where he's hoisting 7, 9, 11 threes.)

The Cavs are a good three-point shooting team. That's partially due to LeBron's improved % from long range, but, more so, it's due to Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, and Boobie Gibson being among the league's best. Their success, in addition to sheer skill, is due to being wide open and being found within the offensive flow.

Too many of LeBron's threes come outside of the framework of anything that could be remotely considered offense.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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