A lot of people are giggling about the multiple-choice final exam for basketball players that was released as part of a document dump by the University of Georgia this week in connection with an NCAA investigation. The 20-question test, from assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr.'s 2001 Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball class, includes such puzzlers as "How many halves are in a college basketball game?" and "How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a Basketball Game?"
But don't laugh. Take it from me that it wasn't so easy to pass. Maybe that's why Harrick -- who along with his father, head coach Jim Harrick, lost his job in the scandal involving academic fraud and improper benefits to players -- gave all of his students an A even if they didn't bother to take the final.
It's a little-known and even less true fact that I was a Georgia Bulldog basketball player in 2001. This was before an investigation revealed that I was a 37-year-old who was not enrolled at the university and, more importantly, couldn't play basketball worth a damn. I took the junior Harrick's class and saved my final exam. Here it is:
1. How many goals are on a basketball court? (a: 1, b: 2, c: 3, d: 4)
There can be many goals on a basketball court. It depends how we're to define "goals." Each team wants to win, of course. Is that one goal or two? Every player (except [blanked out]) wants to get laid after the game. Is that one goal, or 10, one for each of the starters? Or do we include even benchwarmers like [blanked out] and [blanked out], who never score, on or off the floor? But the basic goal is to win. I mean, everything else stems from that: the glory, the Tournament invitations, the real money, the chance to play on TV, the free shoes, the girls. You have to win. That's why we play, baby, to win. And get laid. So I'll say "B." Two goals.
2. How many players are allowed to play at one time on any one team in a regulation game? (a: 2, b: 3, c: 4, d: 5)
Is this a trick question? None. We're not here to play. We're here to work! (And get laid.)
3. In what league does [sic] the Georgia Bulldogs compete? (a: ACC, b: Big Ten, c: SEC, d: Pac 10)
We don't play in a league, we play in a conference. Coach, I'm starting to think maybe you're really trying to fool us and make this test too hard. I've never heard of most of those leagues except the SEC. That first one looks like my report card from last semester ha ha! I'll say "C," but I'm wary of that "league" business. I think the "E" in SEC stands for conferencE.
4. What is the name of the coliseum where the Georgia Bulldogs play? (a: Cameron Indoor Arena, b: Stegeman Coliseum, c: Carrier Dome, d: Pauley Pavilion)
This is a funny one, coach. "Indoor" arena? What other kind is there? "Carrier Dome"? Like a basketball team plays in a dome. And putting in here that there's an arena named after that guy on "The Sopranos." That's a good one. OK, "B."
5. How many halves are in a college basketball game? (a: 1, b: 2, c: 3, d: 4)
Baby cows? Uh, none. I don't get the joke. I don't know why you keep trying to trip us up like this, coach. I thought the idea was this was supposed to be easy.
6. How many quarters are in a high school basketball game? (a: 1, b: 2, c: 3, d: 4)
Well, it depends how many people are in the stands. I always carry a couple of quarters around in case I come across a video game. Other people probably do that too, so I'll say since there's usually about 100 people in the stands at a high school game, there must be about 200 quarters there, but I don't see that as one of the choices, so maybe by "quarter" you mean quarterback, as in point guard, and there's one of those on each team, so I'll say "D."
7. How many points does one field goal account for in a Basketball Game? (a: 1, b: 2, c: 3, d: 4)
Field goals are in football, coach.
8. How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a Basketball Game? (a: 1, b: 2, c: 3, d: 4)
The simple answer would be three, but in my opinion you have to account for more than just the points that go up on the scoreboard at the time the ball goes through the hoop. Making a three-pointer tends to lead to more three-point attempts, as the shooter begins to "feel it," that is, believe that he can't miss from long distance. This feeling can be contagious, leading to more three-point attempts by his teammates. Since three-point attempts are lower percentage shots than others, this can have a deleterious effect on the overall offensive performance of a team, unless that team does in fact have an unusually strong shooting night. (It should be noted, however, that there is no statistical evidence to support the idea of "streak shooting.") More often, becoming "three-point happy" leads to a team getting away from attacking the basket, which results in higher percentage shots and potential foul trouble for the other team and is often the best strategy for winning in the college game.
On the other hand, hitting a three-pointer has an unmistakable positive psychological effect on the scoring team, and a corresponding negative effect on the team scored upon. This factor can be magnified by the effect the three-pointer has on the crowd, either boosting its enthusiasm if it's the home team that scores or silencing it if it's the visitor that does. There is anecdotal evidence, at least, that, particularly at home, this psychological or emotional boost can help spur the team that hits a three-pointer into a "run," during which it is able to take control of the game and significantly outscore the opponent for a stretch of a few minutes. Such runs are often critical in winning important games.
Using play-by-play data from all NCAA Division I regular-season games in 1996-2002 (inclusive), I've run a statistical analysis of the effect of the made three-point field goal on a game. I found multivariate regression analysis to be fruitful in intepreting these results. While the statistical sample is smaller than I would have liked (a little over 34,000 games), I'm fairly confident standing behind my finding that a made three-point shot is worth approximately 3.01624 points to the scoring team (rounded to the nearest hundred-thousandth).
9. How many officials referee a college basketball game? (a: 2, b: 4, c: 6, d: 3)
I always thought the dudes who refereed were called refs. Maybe some of them are called officials, though, so I'll say "A."
10. How many teams are in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship Tournament? (a: 48, b: 64, c: 65, d: 32)
Only one that matters, baby: The Georgia Bulldogs! Yeah, baby! Go Dawgs! Woof! Woof! Sic 'em!
11. What is the name of the exam which all high school seniors in the State of Georgia must pass? (a: Eye Exam, b: How Do The Grits Taste Exam, c: Bug Control Exam, d: Georgia Exit Exam)
The only test I had to pass was the state semifinal game.
12. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in home games? (a: White, b: Red, c: Black, d: Silver)
13. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in away games? (a: Pink, b: Blue, c: Orange, d: Red)
Red. Hey, coach, these are more like it.
14. How many minutes are played in a college basketball contest? (a: 20, b: 40, c: 60, d: 90)
Well, let's see, on almost every possession in college basketball, the offensive team spends about the first 20 seconds of the 35-second clock walking the ball up the floor, then aimlessly dribbling or passing the ball pointlessly around the perimeter before going into its offense. Figuring the typical number of possessions in a game and subtracting for fast breaks, early fouls and the like, I'd say about 16 minutes of a college basketball contest are spent doing nothing, which leaves 24 minutes for actual playing. The closest answer is 20, so I'll say that.
15. How many minutes are played in a high school basketball game? (a: 15, b: 30, c: 32, d: 45)
They play minuets at high school basketball games? Our band always just played pop songs.
16. Diagram the 3-point line.
17. Diagram the half-court line.
I (This includes a few inches of sideline, for reference)
18. How many fouls is a player allowed to have in one Basketball Game before fouling out in that game? (a: 3, b: 5, c: 7, d: 0)
It's a trick question! The answer is four! You're allowed four fouls before you foul out of a game, which happens on your fifth. Coach, you are trying to trick us! I can't believe it! Don't you want us to pass and stay eligible?
19. If you go on to become a huge coaching success, to whom will you tribute [sic] the credit? (a: Mike Krzyzewski, b: Bobby Knight, c: John Wooden, d: Jim Harrick Jr.)
I have to give all credit to my savior, Jesus. That is, Jesus Lopez, the rich Georgia booster who slipped me $150,000 this summer so I could afford, uh, books.
20. In your opinion, who is the best Division I assistant coach in the country? (a: Ron Jursa [sic], b: John Pelphrey, c: Jim Harrick Jr., d: Steve Wojciechowski)
Well, I never heard of those other three guys, coach Harrick, so I'm going to have to say I don't know.
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