"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Majerus Memory Showdown - 1998 Utah vs. 1977 Marquette

My all-time March Madness featured a "Rick Majerus game" as his 1998 Utah team seeded #22 in the West drew the #11 seed 1977 National Champs from Marquette. Majerus was on the bench when both teams beat UNC in the Final 4 - Marquette for the title of course and Utah in the semifinal before losing to Kentucky. (click here for complete free game)

The following is the basic set-up of the game with suggested positioning of the cards and the one sheet score sheet in the bottom right that is used to track the running score and stats per player:

This is a zoom on the actual player cards of the starters.

One trick in playing eras of course is the 3-point play. For teams that played without the 3-point line we do make one in five shots a three-point play, to match the average from when the line was put into place, but need to use your imagination in assuming the guards are actually 3-point shots whereas the big men are scoring on traditional 3-point plays. However, the overall level of competition and average points scored and allowed for each team is carefully calibrated to balance any differences between eras so that all of the 96 great teams should be as strong offensively and defensively per a 66 possession game as they should be based on a dunk range and dunk defense that balance all out.

Michael Doleac's 3-point play with 6:41 (11 possessions left) cut the Marquette lead to 66-61, but most of the game Marquette dominated inside. The next two possessions Bo Ellis (27 points, 12 rebounds) grabbed three offensive rebounds and ended up fouled both times.

A couple of trips later Andre Miller would have made another 3-pointer to cut the lead to 68-64 except that Jim Boylan stole the ball to deny the shot (because four dice are rolled at once and are read in order we actually know what the result would have been if Miller had gotten off a shot). Boylan's fast break, one of only a couple for Marquette, made it 70-61 and Marquette never looked back.

Jerome Whitehead (10 points, 13 rebounds) joined Ellis in doubling the number of rebounds any Utah player grabbed to give Marquette a decisive 34-23 edge on the boards.

Player of the Year Butch Lee added 21 points. All Value Add Basketball Games last 66 possessions, so even though Marquette played at a slower pace that would have likely held the overall score lower for both teams, the 79-69 score was the result of 66 possessions rather than an actual timed game simulation.

The cards indicate how many possessions a player can play before being tired. In a credit to Marquette's history of keeping stats, MU's minutes were tracked even back in 1977 so the players are on the court the correct number of possessions, while Utah 1998 stats do not including minutes therefore their players get the "average" in the game - which is 37 possessions for starters after 7 possessions for reserves (the game assumes a 20-20 score with all players having played 11 possessions when the actual board game starts so the box score below lists which of the final 44 possessions each player was in the game at which position).

#22 Utah 1998PtsRebStlsBlksFoulsPossessions Played
Alex Jensen7210237-1 (3)
Hanno Mottola8202437-1 (4)
Michael Doleac10600237-1 (5)
Andre Miller15220137-1 (1)
Drew Hansen13411237-1 (2)
Jordie Mctavish2100144-38 (2)
David Jackson4100144-38 (4)
Trace Caton2100144-38 (3)
Britton Johnsen6100144-38 (1)
Jon Carlisle2300144-38 (5)
#11 Marquette 1977PtsRebStlsBlksFoulsPossessions Played
Jim Boylan7131332-1 (1)
Butch Lee21201144-1 (2)
Bill Neary4300123-1 (3)
Bo Ellis271202444-43, 40-1 (4)
Jerome Whitehead101302342-1 (5)
Gary Rosenberger2110144-33 (1)
Ulice Payne4110144-30 (3)
Bernard Toone4100344-43 (5), 42-41 (2), 29-24 (3)
Robert Byrd00000DNP
Jim Dudley00000DNP

In the second round, Marquette now faces the Texas Western 1966 team (now UTEP) that featured the first team to start five black players in a national championship - the team that fittingly upset Adolph Rupp - Al McGuire's hated rival who split four tournament games between the two. The two teams are on the opposite side of the bracket of Bill Walton's 1972 UCLA team - my No. 1 overall seed.

Majerus Breakthrough in Game

Rick Majerus coached two of the great defensive teams in the game - he was an assistant for the 1977 Marquette champions whose dunk range is a mediocre 51-50 (meaning no automatic dunks vs the average 51-53) and was head coach for 1998 Utah which had the same 51-50 dunk range. However, on defense Marquette had perhaps the greatest on-ball defense (everything except blocked shots, steals, and defensive rebounds) in the entire game with a -11 adjustment on opponent's dunks, and Utah was also excellent a -5.

The first step you always take in a game is to adjust the Offenses dunk range by the defenses adjustment, so this would give Marquette a 51-45 and Utah a 51-39. In the past I had always simply upped the lower team to 51-50 (no dunks) meaning Utah had no dunk range but adjusting Marquette by the same margin gave them a 51-56 - and that is how I played the game. Then it occurred to me - while exactly accurate in the correct gap between the two teams - what I had done is made Utah's offense almost average and Marquette's good (relative to all-time great teams) whereas really this match-up should have resulted in Marquette's defense being stifling against Utah's mediocre offense and Marquette also having some trouble against Utah's defense.

This led me to realize the the truly accurate way to make this adjustment (and these ranges are both already precisely calibrated to measure how many "other" things each offense and defense should do based on their overall strength of adjusted scoring, era, offense and defense) is to leave the ranges how they fall but have a reverse dunk range for defensive struggles that actually lets the defense stifle the offense.

I developed the table below, and if I played this game in the future Marquette would not have received a 51-56 dunk range, but actually their 51-45 calculation below would mean that they would instead have a range of 51-55 where they did NOT score. Utah's 51-39 range would result in them not only have a range of 51-61 where they did NOT score, but also the turnover range of each of their players would increase by 2 (e.g. 41-42 becomes a turnover on 41-44) and each of Marquette player's steal ranges would also increase by 2 (e.g. steal range of 11-14 becomes 11-16).  The following is the new table in the instructions:

When you first set up your two teams, look at the dunk range of the players on one team (e.g. 51 to 53 = Off Dunk) and then add or subtract the opposing team's "adj. opponent's dunk by __. If the second number does not have a "minus" (-) sign by it then that number is added to the range, but if a minus sign is designed then subtract. Find the resultant range down the left hand column of this chart - this is a very important number that adjusts each team for level of competition and offensive and defensive overall performance to make the team as good as it should be overall after accounting for all of the other ranges on their team's cards.

Dunk Range + - Def Adjust50s and 60s ResultChanges to Team's or Opponents Stl/TO
51 - 6651 - 66 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6551 - 65 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6451 - 64 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6351 - 63 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6251 - 62 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6151 - 61 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 6051 - 56 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 5951 - 56 dunk-2 Opp Steals, -1 Team's Turnovers
51 - 5851 - 56 dunk-1 Opp Steals, -1 Team's Turnovers
51 - 5751 - 56 dunk-1 Opp Steals
51 - 5651 - 56 dunkNo other changes
51 - 5551 - 55 dunkNo other changes
51 - 5451 - 54 dunkNo other changes
51 - 5351 - 53 dunkNo other changes
51 - 5251 - 52 dunkNo other changes
51 - 5151 - 51 dunkNo other changes
51 - 50No Dunk or MissNo other changes
51 - 4951 - 51 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4851 - 52 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4751 - 53 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4651 - 54 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4551 - 55 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4451 - 56 miss, def rebNo other changes
51 - 4351 - 56 miss, def reb-1 Opp Steals
51 - 4251 - 56 miss, def reb+1 Opp Steals, +1 Team's Turnovers
51 - 4151 - 56 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +1 Team's Turnovers
51 - 4051 - 56 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3951 - 61 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3851 - 62 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3751 - 63 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3651 - 64 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3551 - 65 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers
51 - 3451 - 66 miss, def reb+2 Opp Steals, +2 Team's Turnovers

51-51 or higher. In most cases a team will have a dunk range of 51-51 or higher. In those cases, every time a range ends up in the range then the player who gets the ball on the roll of 1-8 gets to the basket and scores 2 points. However, if the 20-sided die would have resulted in a 3-point goal made, or in a foul drawn that would foul out an opposing player, the team with the ball can choose the result of the 20-sided die instead.  (e.g. Team A has a 51-55 dunk range, and the opponents have a -2 adjust - on all rolls of 51-53 Team A scores two points).

51-50. Nothing happens on rolls of 51-66 - just play the other three dice.

51-49 or lower. A weak offense against a strong defense could result in a range below 51. In that case, use the middle column to determine a range of times in which the team would NOT score. For example, if the same Team A with a 51-55 range played the 1977 Marquette team, which has a great defense and adj dunk range of -11, then subtracting 11 from that 11-55 range would leave the team with a 11-44 range in the left column, which translates in the middle column to NOT SCORING on rolls of 51-56. In those cases, record zero points for the trip, the player who received the ball due to the 8-sided die misses a shot with the player guarding him getting the rebound on a 1-5, or turns the ball over on a 6,7 or 8.

Optional: If both teams have positive dunk ranges, you can decrease the worse team's DUNK range to 51-50 so roll of 51-66 are ignored for them and you just refer to the other three dice. In that case you also lower the other team's range by the same number. If both teams have negative dunk ranges resulting in NO SCORE, then you can increase the better team to 51-50 so they have no range, and increase the lower teams by the same number so that they have a smaller NO SCORE range. You must decide on this adjustment before the game starts.

Note that if the calculated range is 51-57 or higher, then the offensive team's turnover range and/or their opponent's steal range are both lowered. If a team's calculated 51-43 or lower then the team's turnover range and opponent's steal range are both higher as well.

If you ever had an extreme case when a team's resulted range went higher than 51-66 (e.g. a 51-63 and defensive +8 would be 51-71) then count how many you need to subtract to get down to 51-66 for that team (-5 in that case) and lower the opposing range by that many (e.g. if the better team was 51-71 and the lesser team was 51-52, then subtract five from both to get 51-66 and 51-47.

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