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# You're Killing Me Smalls

For the few/many* of you who have joined us for a basketball game thread, you might have noticed my fascination with a fairly simply toy called The Bill James Lead Calculator. Basic premise: when has the fat lady mathematically began her song?

The interesting thing about it's application to the 2008-09 Penn State basketball team is that the Nittany Lions have straight up defied mathematics with their inability to hit a free throw.

The team is shooting a league worst 65%, even after a solid performance against Minnesota (75%).

Where things get ugly, and usually painful, is watching opposing coaches use the Hack-A-Team strategy flawlessly to climb back out of the hole Penn State put them in.  However, against Minnesota, there was for some reason a strange sense of confidence at the line that we haven't seen all season.

A look at the FTs to end the game last weekend (note a "Win%" of 1 is consider a lock):

 Time Play PSU Lead Win% +/- 1:43 David Jackson made free throw 1 +0.04 0:57 Talor Battle missed free throw 4 -0.04 0:37 Talor Battle made free throw 5 +0.04 0:37 Talor Battle made free throw 6 +0.12 0:26 Jamelle Cornley made free throw 7 +0.23 0:26 Jamelle Cornley missed free throw 7 -0.31 0:24 David Jackson made free throw 7 +0.25 0:24 David Jackson made free throw 8 +0.33 0:09 Stanley Pringle made free throw 6 +0.44 0:09 Stanley Pringle made free throw 7 +0.31

That is a total gain of 176% and a total loss of 35%.  Now you aren't going to hit every free one, and a five to one ratio of cluchyness isn't bad at all.

Now compare that to the end game against Georgia Tech:

 Time Play PSU Lead Win% +/- 0:44 Talor Battle missed free throw 5 -0.22 0:27 David Jackson missed free throw 5 -0.13 0:15 Stanley Pringle made free throw 4 +0.15 0:06 Jamelle Cornley missed free throw 2 -0.04 0:06 Jamelle Cornley missed free throw 2 -0.04

A total gain of just 15% and a total loss of 43%.  That is the definition of allowing FTs to kill you.  It's also a lot less fun to watch.

*Depends on the game, really, and definitely which direction the team is trending.  The last five game alone our live-thread comment total has gone as low as 47 and as high as 509.