Sunday, December 19, 2010
Ryan Elmquist's first bucket put him in the 1,000 Point Club. His four blocked shots cemented his name in Caltech lore as he set the program mark for swats in a career, surpassing Ben Turk's record of 126.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Read the Caltech release here.
See the official news on the SCIAC site here.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Read about the game and check out some of the highlights at gocaltech.com.
D3hoops also featured the Beavers on the home page.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
The next day, the Beavers took on Southwestern (AZ), but were unable to convert several open shots. Southwestern gradually pulled away and won 77-58 despite Caltech's courageous efforts to stay competitive. The Beavers' bench scored a season-high 17 points and won the points in the paint 22 to 10 while Caltech as a team boasted a 13 to 11 assist to turnover ratio. Cramer posted a double-double with 15 points and 14 boards and added four assists.
Finally, on the third day of the tournament, the Beavers broke through with a win over American Sports University, 74-67. After a hot start that saw Caltech jump out to a 10-0 lead, the Beavers held a 40-20 halftime advantage. Several runs by ASU made the game closer but Caltech was able to stave off the opponent with great execution and accurate free throw shooting. The Beavers shot 85 percent from the charity stripe (23 of 27) and hauled in 18 offensive rebounds en route to a 17 to 9 advantage on second chance points. For the second day in a row, they held a positive assist to turnover ratio at 14 to 11. Cramer duplicated his performance from the day prior with 15 points and 14 rebounds, plus five assists. Edwards added five assists to go along with a season-high 19 points, many of which came on explosive moves to the basket. Elmquist led all scorers with 25 points and he swatted three shots. Caltech won the battle of the benches, 15-10, paced by Mason Freedman's 9-point, 3-rebound outing.
For the 3-day, 8-team tournament, Cramer led all players with 37 rebounds (12.3 RPG). Elmquist received the All-Tournament Team Sportsmanship Award after averaging 17.3 points during the event.
From the Pasadena Star-News:
From the Redlands website:
Monday, November 22, 2010
Caltech struggled to find an offensive rhythm on Saturday against the host school but was +7 in turnover margin and tied a school record with eight blocked shots. Three Caltech players hit double figures in their opening game of the 2010-11 season.
Game two against Merchant Marine Academy on Sunday proved to be an exiting affair as Caltech rallied not once, but twice, from a 19-point deficit. The Beavers cut the gap to 5 points in the closing minutes of each half. Again, they forced more turnovers and recorded more blocked shots than their opponents. The Beavers also hit 17 of 19 free throws. Final score: 67-59.
Four players hit for double figures while Wisconsin native Mike Paluchniak scored 15 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in front of his family and friends.
Elmquist was named to the all-tournament team.
Click here for an audio slideshow of the weekend.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Prior to the varsity teams being introduced, SCIAC high jump champ Alex Lapides nailed the half court shot and won a basketball signed by the five Nobel Laureates on campus (in addition to a year's supply of sundaes). The band roared, the Beaver danced, and the varsity players' adrenaline pumped.
The event was covered by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times and then appeared on ESPN's College Basketball Nation Blog.
Check out the highlight reel from the evening.
Monday, October 11, 2010
The engineering and technology table is dominated not just by a single country, the US, but by a single state in that country — California.
Three of the top five in the table are from the Golden State, home to the global centre for high-technology business, Silicon Valley. The California Institute of Technology is in first place; Stanford University is third; and the University of California, Berkeley is fifth.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Check out the complete schedule and release here.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
As an all-state high school quarterback and defensive back from Wasilla, Alaska, Murphy was a two-way standout in football who was named Colony's valedictorian after a scholastic career that included a 5.0 GPA and key roles on the basketball and soccer teams. Here is a flashback of immense proportions that demonstrates Murphy's force and prowess as an athlete.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Chang (biology), Clanton (applied physics), and Kurdyumov (mech E and business econ mgmt) graduated in June and are headed to graduate school while Elmquist is a rising senior and computer science major.
Both Clanton and Kurdyumov are 2-time honorees.
For the full list and official release from the NABC, click here. (Caltech student-athletes appear on page 3).
(From the release)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) today announced the NABC Honors Court, recognizing those collegiate basketball student-athletes who excelled in academics during the 2009-10 season. The NABC Honors Court recognizes the talents and gifts that these men possess off the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom. In order to be named to the Honors Court, an athlete must meet a high standard of academic criteria. The qualifications are as follows:
1. Academically a junior or senior and a varsity player.
2. Cumulative G.P.A. of 3.2 or higher at the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year.
3. Students must have matriculated at least one year at their current institution.
4. Member of an NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA Institution.
Friday, June 25, 2010
His dual degree in applied computational mathematics and business, economics, management will surely be put to good use.
"This is my dream job," announced Leibowitz, just a few days prior to his graduation ceremony. "I am going to be learning all about the bond market ... I will be building mathematical models and analyzing individual bonds."
Leibowitz, who hails from Las Vegas, was a 4-year member of the basketball team and served as a captain this past season. In his last game as a senior, he hauled in 11 rebounds and recorded 3 steals. Though he battled health issues much of his career, Leibowitz -- the Caltech Outstanding Freshman Athlete in his first year -- maintained his commitment and devotion to the basketball program. He was instrumental in helping to develop younger players on and off the court, and was -- and will continue to be -- a main cog in the recruitment of future student-athletes.
After an arduous season of interviews, Leibowitz finally found what he wanted.
"I'll be living by the beach," said Leibowitz. "I'm pretty excited."
Monday, June 14, 2010
- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World
Missing a shot during a basketball game is fairly common. With the exception of power forwards and centers who do their damage from within ten feet, most players shoot less than 50 percent from the field. Even great players struggle to make more shots than they miss. Michael Jordan only did that in six of the 15 seasons he played, finishing with a career average of 49.7 percent. To paraphrase Jeff Van Gundy, the NBA is a mostly miss league. If a circus knife thrower had that kind of accuracy… well, let's just say it wouldn't be a kid-friendly show. So why can circus performers fling knives 30 feet across the room to hit an apple above someone's head with high accuracy, but NBA players struggle to guide a basketball 30 feet across the court into a hoop?
Well, that's not a completely fair comparison. No circus knife thrower has to deal with a defender trying to intercept the knife or obstructing his vision. When dealing with pure shooting with no defense, basketball players are actually pretty amazing. Former Caltech guard Fred Newman holds the world record for 3-pointers made in a row with 209. Don't believe me? Check out the two-hour long video (cut version; uncut version, part 1). If that doesn't impress you, he also can make 88 free throws in a row while blindfolded. Still, whether it's Fred taking his 210th shot of that morning or Ray Allen taking a shot anytime during Game 3 of the 2010 NBA finals, players will miss.
Ask that question to an engineer, the answer will be mainly about suboptimal trajectories; ask a neuroscientist, it will be all about stability and precision of neural networks; and when you ask a psychologist, the reply will focus on mindset.
There are biological limits to accuracy - even when muscles are stimulated with the same voltage shock, there will be some variability in the output of force. When gauging distance, we will always make estimation errors.
To an engineer, shooting a basketball is just about solving equations. The mathematical laws which guide the trajectory of a basketball are well known. Lobbing an object into the air to hit a distant target has interested the military for millennia. Whether it's catapults, trebuchets, cannons or howitzers, armies for the past thousand years have used machines to bombard enemies from afar. It's a problem siege engineers have solved countless times in the past. In a simplified model, there are only two variables to consider - horizontal and vertical speed of the ball. Because we are constantly subject to the downward pull of gravity, we need an initial upward velocity to ensure the ball stays airborne. Once we know how long something can stay airborne from the initial vertical velocity, it's easy enough to calculate how fast its horizontal speed must be in order to reach the target. Introductory physics classes have tortured students with these problems for decades.
Unfortunately, accurately describing a basketball's motion requires much more detail than just the simple setup above. The collision of the ball with the rim will transfer some kinetic energy, depending on velocity and angle. This will affect the direction, speed and spin of the ball. With each collision, the spin of the ball will also influence all ball-to-surface contact, since it modulates the amount of friction between the two objects. In order to really describe real motion, we need a set of equations which considers all these factors and their simultaneous effects on each other. (A good mathematical summary can be found here). In fact, it is much easier to write a computer simulation which follow these rules and just run millions of iterations.
(to be continued)
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Are you telling me that if the Lakers win in the opener Thursday night at Staples Center, the Celtics aren't going to be peppered with that number [47-0] for the next two weeks? And that at least some of it isn't going to stick?
"I know when I go to the free-throw line, the odds of me missing one grow if I haven't missed one in a while,'' Boston's Ray Allen said with a grin. ''So I'll think of it like that.''
The Celtics act like the number is a coincidence. Smarter people than both of us say it is not ... I decided that, yes, I should consult with someone from the brainiest university in the country.
So I called the folks from Caltech.
A couple of grad students in applied and computational mathematics —Stephen Becker and Mike McCoy — figured that the odds of going 47-0 by coincidence were less than three in a billion.
''I would be demoralized if I were the other team,'' Becker said.
Gary Lorden, a Caltech professor emeritus in mathematics, added, ''If I were a huge basketball fan and ran into this stat, I would say, wow.''
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Two more players will be SURFing this summer on campus. (artwork by Caltech tennis player Michelle Jiang '11)
Arjun Chandar, a freshman guard from Miami, Florida, will be researching Modern American politics and Christianity under Erik Snowberg. The project aims to investigate the factors that lead Christian preachers to deliver political sermons in modern times (since 1995).
Chandar, who is often referred to as "Mr. President" by the the team because of his leadership and communication skills, will be collecting sermons from church websites and classifying them as political or nonpolitical based upon the results of a computer program as well as manual inspection -- of course, he will write the program.
"I expect to learn more about programming and important political drivers in modern American culture," said Chandar. "Hopefully, my research can shed some light on how politics influences Christianity and, possibly, how Christianity can influence politics."
Chandar, along with fellow classmate Ethan Boroson, was voted Citizen of the Year this past season by teammates.
Ziying Wang, a junior guard from SoCal's Rowland Heights, is set to research Nano-scale chemistry application in atrophic age-related macular degeneration with Robert Grubbs, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2005. End-stage atrophic age-related macular degeneration is a disease that causes middle-aged and elderly patients to go blind.
"The goal of my research," said Wang, "is to come up with nano-particle systems that can potentially replace some of the dead ganglion cells' photoreceptors to return vision to the patient."
Wang is a 3-year player and a double major in chemistry and BEM (business economics management).
Monday, May 24, 2010
Both Edwards and Elmquist ranked among the best in the SCIAC and set myriad records this season.
Click here for the official release.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Three more first-year basketball players will be working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory this summer.
Mike Edwards (18.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.8 spg) will have a role in developing new platinum-based alloys for use in hydrogen-air fuel cells. He will also have his own sub-project while collaborating with a group of students on the main assignment.
"I expect to learn how to perform a modified sputtering system for preparing thin films," said Edwards, a mechanical engineering major. "I'm very excited to get a chance to work at JPL."
Collin Murphy (3.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg) has an internship working with instruments for Mars missions.
"This is my first glimpse into practical applications for my major," said Murphy, who is studying bioengineering. "Working at JPL will also give me a chance to continue working with really smart and experienced people throughout the summer."
Pan Wang (3.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg), an electrical engineering major, will be involved in a highly structured SURF under Steve Chien of JPL, entitled Onboard automated processing of SAR data for autonomous unpiloted vehicles and autonomous spacecraft.
Wang will investigate and implement approaches for transforming SAR data into readable images and study their accuracy in comparison to other satellite imaging. These algorithmic procedures will take SAR data and create classification maps or statistical summaries like soil-moisture estimations, glacial surges, fire-scars, and forest biomass.
"Essentially, I'll gain experience turning raw data into programmable data," explained Wang.
The concentration will be on approaches that can be efficiently implemented onboard autonomous aircraft or spacecraft so that vehicles operated by UAVSAR and DESDynI can engage in onboard automated processing of data.
"It will be great to work with a new group of scientists," said Wang.
Monday, May 10, 2010
"They wanted to use the science to show what it (a particle accelerator) would really look like and they also wanted to do it in a way that was entertaining," said Wise. "They even wanted to know the behind-the-scenes stuff -- stuff that you wouldn’t see."Fascinating ideas from Pasadena to Hollywood. And the other way around, too. James Cameron, director of Avatar, was recently on campus discussing possibilities of a real Pandora.
If you can build a wormhole, you can also turn it into a time machine. By dragging one of the mouths of the wormhole around space at nearly the speed of light, we can create a two-way tunnel connecting two points in time. Even better, you don't need to worry about mucking up history. A time machine built from the laws of general relativity is necessarily self-consistent, and thus your history will remain safely as you left it.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Junior captain Ryan Elmquist, a computer science major, will be SURFing in Cupertino, CA this summer, at Apple. Elmquist secured an internship with Apple's graphics team and is looking forward to a new learning experience.
"In addition to the specific knowledge I'll gain (about graphics), I want to understand the similarities and differences in working in industry and academia," Elmquist said. "This will be a great opportunity to see what working in a competitive industry environment is like."
Elmquist, a member of the 2010 SCIAC all-academic squad, spent his previous two summers working with Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs in chemistry (2008) and at the University of Minnesota where he was involved with autonomous navigation of mobile robot teams (2009).
At Apple, he'll have the opportunity to live in the Bay Area and work in a non-lab setting, a change of pace he anticipates will be exciting and open even more doors.
"Apple is a company involved in constant innovation," he added. "The (future) job interviewers always love hearing about past experiences, so this will hopefully be great for that."
Elmquist, who owns the Caltech record for blocked shots in one season and led the conference in the category, averaged 13 points and six rebounds a game for the 2009-10 Beavers.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Kurdyumov, who was recently recognized as Academic All-Conference and who was named to the NABC Honors Court in 2009, spent last summer designing a sampling system for the AXEL rover at JPL. Axel is a minimalist tethered rover designed for accessing extreme planetary terrain. This is useful because current rovers can't sample from scientifically interesting locations, such as the sides of crater walls.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Two players voluntarily passed to teammates in a better position to score. In basketball, plays like that are fairly common, especially on winning teams. Each coach has his own word for it: teamwork, unity, ubuntu. Whatever one calls it, cooperation is key to winning basketball games. In a recent UC Berkeley manuscript, the authors found that the best NBA teams touch each other more. Why? According to the researchers, in other primates like chimps, adults spend up to 20 percent of their day grooming each other. The constant touching is a sign of mutual cooperation. In humans, touching (a handshake, a high five, a friendly punch) may build the same bonds. When I fist-bump a teammate as we're walking onto the court, it may send the message "Hey, bud, next time you're open in the corner, be ready for the kick-out and drain the three. Also, you have the ball and I'm open in the post, dump the ball down low." And it’s all communicated without speaking a single word.
Anecdotes from successful point guards do seem to support the hypothesis. Just look at two-time MVP Steve Nash. The Suns had an intern record how many times Nash high-fived teammates in a game. Take a guess before looking at this video:
The answer is 239. In this case, Nash does seem to build trust and cooperation through his numerous high-fives. Is there any wonder why the Suns went 60-15 with him (and were only 2-5 without) during his first MVP season?
A lot of blogs have featured the Berkeley study and just presented the conclusions at face value. "Touch each other more during games and you'll play better!" But is that really what was concluded in the study?
The paper mentions many ideas, but the main claim is that better bonding between teammates produces better team results. Touch is a proxy for bonding because it’s important in building trust and cooperative bonds. Right off the bat, I have to say that one concern I always had with social science papers is the lack of experimentation. It's not because social science people don't understand how to conduct experiments. Often, experiments are just impossible, and they require the ability to manipulate variables -- while holding all other possible interfering factors constant. In this case, no NBA team in their right mind (well, maybe the Clippers) would allow some experimenter to mess around with team chemistry even if the authors knew exactly how to strengthen or weaken team bonds. In other cases, its often unethical. For example, one can't take twins and coddle one while mistreating the other to see how nurture affects success – that is child abuse.
But, back to our original point: without experimentation, the best the authors can show in a paper is that two variables -- when observed in the real world -- are often found with each other and tightly correlated. The tighter the correlation, the more likely there is a real relationship between these two variables rather than just random chance. Even before all of that, they had to find a way to measure touching and team performance.
For touches, it was as simple as sitting someone down and having him note whenever two players of the same team touched. This included "fist bumps, high fives, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, chest punches, head slaps, head grabs, low fives, high tens, full hugs, half hugs, and team huddles." Notice these touches come outside of normal basketball plays, so screens and fighting for rebounds don't count. As we all know, a good screen sets players free for open shots. In order to pick off the defender, a good screener usually rubs shoulders with his teammate, while bad screens don't result in any contact ("screening the air"). If screens are counted as touches, the conclusion might as well be winning teams set good screens, while losing teams set bad ones.
As for team performance, it might surprise people that the authors didn't use total number of wins for each team. Instead, they used some statistics not found in a normal box score: offensive and defensive rebounding efficiency, assist ratio, rebound ratio, win score and NBA efficiency. This may surprise some people since, in practical terms, winning more is more often associated with performing better in basketball, but these statistics seem to predict future performance more effectively than total wins. That is because a lot of basketball analysis is done with knowledge of probability theory in mind. To statisticians, two teams playing a game is nothing more than a coin flip. Good teams maximize their probability to win, like weighing a coin to come up heads 90 percent of the time instead of 50 percent. Why look at teams this way? As one knows, with a normal coin, once in a while, the toss will get nine out of ten heads in a row (much like a .500 team goes on a long winning streak). Does that mean the coin will start flipping heads more? Now that would be a neat trick.
Instead of looking at how many heads versus tails came up in the past, a more accurate way to predict future coin flips is to measure where the center of gravity is in the coin. Rebounding efficiency, assist ratio, win score and NBA efficiency are supposed to be a basketball team's equivalent of the coin's center of gravity. But is playing a basketball game really as random as flipping a coin? It's too deep of an argument for this blog post, but I will say these statistics predict more winners in playoff series than just picking the team with a better record.
Once they've determined how they were going to measure touches and team performance, it's on to the analysis where they used hierarchical regression and came up with significance β = .34, t(25) = 2.55, p < .05 for these correlations. In layman's speak, the authors compared number of touches to team performance to see if a team with more touches also had higher performance; if the two values weren't related, the dataset being examined could be generated randomly less than five percent of the time. (p-values are a really tricky and non-intuitive subject. For a better explanation, see this article from scienceblogs.com.)
However, even with the low p value, it’s still difficult to conclude that closer bonding leads to better performance. For one, number of touches measured may not be a good indicator of team bonding. One point the authors missed is that regardless of bonding, better teams produce more high-five worthy plays – that is how they win. More touches equals more good plays, so good teams -- regardless of how well they bond -- will have more opportunities for touches. I would love to see something more nuanced. I think better bonded teams will congratulate each other more for each good play. I would like to see measurements such as "high-fives per dunk" or "chest bumps per clutch defensive stop" and how they correlate with team performance.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The SCIAC announced the 2010 Men's Basketball All-Academic Team today. Five Caltech players were recognized for their academic achievements (3.5+ G.P.A. in second year varsity status). A number of the players on the team were not eligible for the honor because so many of them are still freshmen.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Mike Edwards - Freshman
|Free Throw Pct.||.777||8||216|
|Steals per game||1.8||2||196|
|3-Pointers per game||2.5||2||78|
Ryan Elmquist - Junior
|Rebounds per game||5.9||10||397|
|Defensive Rebounds per game||4.9||7||--|
Collin Murphy - Freshman
|Assists per game||2.0||13||--|
|Assists per game (conf. only)||2.4||8||--|
|Steals per game||1.4||9||432|
|Rebounds per game (conf. only)||4.5||18||--|
Alex Runkel - Freshman
|Rebounds per game||4.5||17||--|
|Offensive Rebounds per game||1.6||15||--|
Jesse Shevin - Freshman
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
By the way, since when does Pasadena get to claim so many important bowls? It doesn't really have a college team of its own, aside from those warrior-nerds of Caltech. Ever seen the Caltech basketball team? They're the topic of my latest screenplay, "White Guys Can't Pass Either."
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
With Ben Turk '98 in the crowd this past Saturday night, junior Ryan Elmquist tied a 12-year old record for blocked shots in a season with 47. Elmquist, who totaled four blocks against Occidental, now has 103 blocks in his career. Turk owns the career record with 126 and maintains the mark for most rejections in one game with six. (Official release from Saturday night).
Elmquist, who through this past weekend was ranked among the nation's elite in blocked shots (2.1 bpg), has blocked three or more shots in seven games this season.
Caltech set a program record against Chapman University on January 6 for most swats in one contest with eight. Elmquist was responsible for five of those on that historic evening. (Official release from Chapman game).
Other Beavers who have aided the blocked shot effort?
6'7" Mike Edwards, 6'9" Jesse Shevin, and 6'2" Ethan Boroson.
6'0" point guard Collin Murphy is even in the mix.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Turk looks like he can still play -- a scoring and rebounding machine. Great overall support from alumni and friends. And congratulations to the 1,000 Point Club members. Click on their names in the left column for their details.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Honorees in attendance included Ben Turk '98, George Papa '94, Jon Bird '03, Lindsay King '08, Bryan Hires '08, Travis Haussler '09, and Fred Anson '54 (they are pictured, in order, to the right of Coach Eslinger).
The ceremony capped a fabulous reunion for Men's Basketball as more than 40 alumni and friends returned for the alumni game and luncheon. More to come on the event...
Friday, February 12, 2010
More information on the Caltech Men's Basketball home page.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Check out the rich history on the men's basketball records page.