Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hype Clouds

I’m finding myself a little behind the curve this year, in terms of keeping abreast of this year’s college basketball story lines.  I blame moving cross-country, the beautiful San Diego weather, and the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs still have playoff hopes in November.

Oh, sure, I’ve seen the big headlines:
Turkish guy ineligible!”
“Bruce Pearl hosts sweet backyard BBQ!”
“Hummel reveals secret identity: Glass Joe!”

But I’ve somehow avoided the usual talking-up of new recruits, revelations that a player spent all summer in the gym, and “in-depth” conference previews that name drop one or two players from each team.  As a result, I don’t know who I am supposed be sick of yet.

To remedy this problem, I thought it would be fun to (1) count how many times a player was name-dropped in various season previews, and (2) make a word cloud out of the results.  Accomplishing #1 was more difficult than I thought, at least if I wanted to do it for more than one or two teams.  So instead, I recorded the number of results found on Google News from October 17 to October 31, with a ton of assistance from Excel and URL Opener.  [I chose October 31 to avoid most exhibition game recaps, and October 17 because Google wouldn’t let me go back any further.  The player names I searched for were simply taken from ESPN.com’s team rosters.]  Then I massaged the numbers a bit (so that end of the bench players would actually be visible), popped them into Wordle, and voila.  Ladies and gentlemen, your Baylor Bears:


A couple of things to note:
1) Scott Drew’s name is ALL CAPS.  I did that with all the coaches, to differentiate them slightly.
2)  The absolute sizes of these names should not be compared to those on other teams.  Each team’s cloud gets scaled so that it is roughly the same size, so the main thing to notice here is how big the biggest names are, compared to the others on the same team.  It should give you a sense of how much of the hype surrounding a team is focused on a specific player or two (or a coach).

Wow, this is already educational for me: I had no idea who Perry Jones is.  A quick glance at the Bears’ roster shows he is a really tall freshman.

Let’s do it for the rest of the 35 teams that I found in at least one major preseason Top 25 ranking.  Clicking each thumbnail should take you to a higher resolution version, so you can read all the tiny names of the unheralded players.  Hopefully you can figure out the teams based on the players and coaches shown, but if not, they’re in alphabetical order, and the images themselves are named after the team.

DukeFlorida State
IllinoisKansas State
Michigan StateMissouri
North CarolinaOhio State
RichmondSan Diego State
Virginia TechWashington
West VirginiaWichita State

Finally, here is a combined cloud, made from all these 35 teams.  This is the one you should use if you’re trying to compare the hype of players on different teams.   (But, remember, hyped players on mediocre teams won’t be included here.)

Wow, that was time consuming, but fun.  Hopefully at the end of the year, I’ll remember to revisit this post, and compare the preseason hype with how much the players actually contributed to their teams.

[NOTE: Feel free to re-use one or two of these, as long as you credit me by linking back to this post.  But please don’t post the whole lot of them elsewhere.  Thanks.]