Just a few notes on ACC Basketball Tip Off subjects that kind of stuck.
First, on a macro level, we were happy to see the ACC Network a bit less gray. When they started out, it was such a dry network. The supposed Big Draw was Mark Packer and Wes Durham’s daily show. In the beginning, the best thing about it was the periodic disruptions since it was allegedly filmed in Durham’s house. Unpredictability is a good thing. Woof!
And it took awhile for the network to build up some content of course. They’ve done better lately. Some of the documentaries are solid, for one.
Wednesday, they managed to get some spontaneity from some of the various players interviewed, partly due to a wheel of questions, much like Wheel of Fortune. One of the Florida State kids shared an aversion with the ocean with host and former Tar Heel Drew Berry. One of the hosts discussed her irrational fear of throwing up. Not necessarily fun but different? Uh...yeah.
They asked Jeremy Roach and Jacob Grandison which Duke player had the worst singing voice (it was Mark Mitchell).
And the coaches loosened up a bit too. Tony Bennett was relaxed and appealing. You could see how he would come across on a recruiting visit. He still looks like Smithers, but he’s quiet and humble. Moms must love him. He’s a very appealing presence.
Jeff Capel had to deal with the Dior Johnson situation, which he finessed by saying he wasn’t going to add anything to the statement Pitt released and urging due process.
But the most fun guy we saw, not suprisingly, was Mike Brey.
The guy who Skip Bayless once said was “vanilla” was anything but. A breath of fresh air, he is still sporting a sort-of beard that looks more like 10 days of not shaving. He was relaxed, funny and unpretentious. He talked about Nate Laszewski shooting an airball and laughing at himself and how that was a really good thing, that he’d been trying to get him to be that loose for some time. A coach actually laughed about an airball! It was a great moment.
Josh Pastner, for his part, was his normal high-enthusiasm self. He could probably teach a Dale Carnegie course if coaching doesn’t work out. The guy is relentlessly positive. He could be drowning in a lake and see an opportunity to market the healthy water. That’s just his personality.
For his part, Duke’s Jon Scheyer talked a bit about replacing Mike Krzyzewski and just how to blend so many new players into his program. He talked again about the Wim Hof breathing method, which is really interesting and may be worth trying for many of you. It’s been clinically studied and the most amazing part is that Hof manages, to some extent, to control involuntary bodily functions. It also helps to lower blood pressure. Lots of interesting benefits actually.
In general, we thought the whole package that the ACC and the ACC Network put on was pretty good. Duke kind of pioneered the whole idea of marketing the athletes via social media videos and in appealing presentations, often turning the whole thing over to them, and we’re glad to see the conference following suit.
Next up, for Duke or the ACC, we hope someone (David Bradley is a good candidate) is looking into the startling possibilities that AI is beginning to open up. Actually, for the basketball office, someone should be looking into applying AI to analytics. Anyone can look at the numbers but if you start applying AI to it, you should get a much, much more detailed analysis than humans and current technology can manage.
It might be time for the ACC to use AI as well. We could see a show that’s dedicated to uncovering statistical insights that could be absolutely fascinating. Presumably, advanced AI could analyze standard video and discern a great deal, which would be great for a general video presentation.
And for an individual program, AI, combined with the cameras used for analytics and perhaps devices that gather information about heart rates, energy expended and various other things that could be broken down into patterns could be amazing. Just hypothetically, imagine if you could track the heart rate and, for lack of a better phrase, physical tentativeness around a shotblocker like Dereck Lively. You’d not only gather raw data but also be able to gain insights into physical and even emotional responses.
For that matter, if you can apply it to video in a productive way, then certainly basketball offices could use it for scouting. Imagine running every game you can gather through AI: you could scout every team in the conference, and nationally, as soon as the video was available. When tournament time comes, you just ask for a scouting report on your next opponent and there it is, all ready to go.
That’s coming on fast so get ready for AI to move into every aspect of life, which absolutely includes sports. Younger coaches like Scheyer are in prime position to benefit and we hope he does.
The ACC Network has done a nice job of relaxing a bit. AI could be really useful for studio analysis. But they could also have some fun. We’re not necessarily suggesting this, but AI can now recreate someone’s voice so they could theoretically have people like Howard Cosell, Al McGuire and Dean Smith comment on video replays. There is a site now which has Joe Rogan interview the late Steve Jobs and both voices are created by AI. This is happening now.
We don’t expect the network to quickly adopt such technologies. But we do think that, in addition to loosening up, which it has done to some extent, that you have to surf the frontier. And right now, AI is a wildly alluring frontier. The ACC Network should be as far out there as it can possibly get before someone else gets there first.
Needless to say, so should Duke.