Utilities Grapple with Rooftop Solar and the New Energy Landscape

first_imgRooftop solar evolved quicklyRooftop solar has inspired so much contention chiefly because it’s the first DER to enjoy widespread use, experiencing “the biggest, fastest adoption of these technologies,” Jesse Jenkins, a contributor to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2016 report, “Utility of the Future,” said in an interview. “It’s a bellwether of the broader issues that we’re going to be dealing with in the next decade.” Everything about utilities, from their rate structures to their business models to their corporate cultures, is on the cusp of change.For all the conflict surrounding rooftop solar, solar energy last year generated just under 1% of U.S. electricity, and utility-scale solar farms have three times the generating capacity of residential solar installations. That disparity is likely to grow.While the shift to rooftop solar and other distributed energy sources presents a major technological challenge to utilities, their current business models provide them no incentive to meet it. According to the models, utilities are allowed to use ratepayer revenue only to reimburse themselves for the costs of operating the grid. Profits accrue to them as a designated percentage — usually 7% to 10% — of their capital expenditures on infrastructure investments, from new plants to new transmission lines.Rooftop solar is in the vanguard of DERs that promise to upend this business model. Not only do rooftop solar and other DERs divert customers from the utilities, these innovations defer infrastructure expansion by producing decentralized, renewable energy or by improving energy efficiency, thereby threatening utility profits.And as more and more customers install solar panels, utilities earn less and less revenue, which means that rates for remaining customers must increase — which drives even more of them to rooftop solar. As battery storage becomes cheaper, some customers will be tempted to leave the grid entirely. A paper published by the Edison Electric Institute in 2013 famously warned of this vicious circle, giving rise to the expression “utility death spiral.” Nevada Reverses Unpopular Net-Metering RuleLearn How Solar Friendly Your State IsPV Systems That Divert Surplus Power to a Water HeaterDutch Utility Reinvents Its MissionBatteries for Off-Grid HomesFlorida Voters Reject Solar AmendmentWhy a Vermont Utility Welcomes Solar Many utilities see only one solutionHemmed in by their business model and regulators who expect adherence to it, many utilities have concluded that they have only one alternative: stop rooftop solar. In this battle, utilities have sometimes behaved oafishly, sabotaging themselves.Florida utilities, for example, spent more than $21 million last year in support of a proposed state constitutional amendment they touted as a way to expand rooftop solar, but that actually contained provisions to kill it. Three weeks before the election, the policy director of a utility-supported think tank was recorded as he explained the deception at an energy conference. The resulting revelation helped defeat the amendment. Six months later, the Florida legislature unanimously passed laws hastening rooftop installations.Similarly, in 2015 Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission, under pressure from the state’s largest utility, NV Energy, announced drastic changes in rooftop solar rates that caused installers to stop doing business in the state. Even worse for rooftop solar owners, the rates were made retroactive, so that customers who’d been enticed into purchases with generous state rebates and the promise of unchanging rates over their contracts’ 20- or 30-year lifetimes found that they’d been victimized by a bait-and-switch: Under the new rates, they would pay more for electricity than if they’d never installed solar, even though they generated most of their own electricity.But the utility interests underestimated rooftop solar’s appeal. The resulting protest was so strong that in June, Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, signed legislation that restored most of the previous rate structure and enabled rooftop installers to resume operations.For utilities, the issue isn’t solar energy per se, which they like as long as they can sell it themselves. From their perspective, utility-scale solar has some major advantages over rooftop: not only does it enable utilities to keep their customers, but thanks to economies of scale and lower installation expenses, its electricity costs one-third to one-half as much as rooftop’s, according to Michael O’Boyle, a grid expert at Energy Innovation, a San Francisco-based policy research firm.Equally significant, the value of electricity generated by solar varies greatly depending on time of day and location. The plentiful electricity generated on rooftops at mid-day, when the sun is highest, is much less valuable than late-afternoon electricity, which feeds the daily demand peak formed when both homes and businesses are consuming energy. And the first rooftop solar installation in a given location is far more valuable than the hundredth: the first one may help meet mid-day electricity demand, but the hundredth may help produce a surplus, in which case its chief impact is straining the system. Jacques Leslie is a regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times op-ed page and the author of Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment. This post was originally published at Yale Environment 360. Limits of net meteringThese nuances usually aren’t captured in “net metering,” the common but flawed rate structuring system for rooftop solar owners that has been the focus of most utility-versus-solar company conflicts. Under net metering, utilities compensate rooftop electricity contributions to the grid at an unvarying rate, usually close to electricity’s average retail cost, roughly 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. Utilities argue that compensation should be lower, near electricity’s wholesale cost of 3 or 4 cents per kilowatt hour, because rooftop owners benefit from using the grid without paying for it.Solar companies say compensation should be at least as high as the retail rate because rooftop solar provides valuable unacknowledged benefits such as generating pollution-free energy, eliminating grid transmission losses when electricity is sent long distances, and avoiding the costs of building more power plants and transmission lines.But what is usually lost in the dispute is that no matter what rate a utility sets, net metering fosters energy inefficiency because it does a poor job of reflecting rooftop solar electricity’s varying value depending on the time and location of its generation. At the moment utilities lack the technology even to identify sites where rooftop installations would be most valuable, so they have no way to formulate energy-efficient rates. And without business models that reward them for installing tools to evaluate the value of rooftop locations, they have little incentive to act. In this way, utilities aren’t so much villains as captives of their often somnolent regulators.“The regulators,” said GTM Research’s Kann, “are the keys to this whole transition.”Regulators in a few states are beginning to reshape policies accordingly. California’s Public Utilities Commission is performing the delicate task of supporting the rooftop solar industry while phasing out net metering. Two years ago it introduced time-of-use rates for homeowners with new rooftop solar panels, and will follow up in 2019 with rates that also take location into account.Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission fostered the growth of rooftop solar’s close cousin, community solar (which typically involves placing solar arrays over parking lots and agricultural fields) by abandoning net metering. Instead, it devised a methodology for calculating a fair rate for electricity fed back to the grid by adding up all the components of community solar’s value, including the so-called “social cost of carbon” — the dollar benefit from reduced climate change impacts and air pollution.“What we found is that every year, the value of community solar has been higher than the retail electricity price,” said John Farrell, an energy researcher at the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Which means that customers who produce solar energy were giving more value to the grid than they were receiving in net metering payments.” RELATED ARTICLES center_img But the metaphor begins to break down here, since utility company opposition isn’t the only reason for the slowdown in rooftop solar. According to Shayle Kann, head of GTM Research, a leading electricity market analysis firm, two of the nations’ three biggest rooftop installers, SolarCity (now owned by Tesla) and Vivint Solar, shifted the emphasis of their business models from growth to profitability. In addition, in California, home to nearly half the nation’s rooftop installations, rooftop’s growth has tapered off as solar companies have run out of early-adopter customers. In any case, the decline is almost certainly temporary: GTM Research projects that rooftop solar’s growth in the coming years will rebound to a healthy 10% to 15% annually. Making innovation payNew York’s Public Service Commission has crafted the most ambitious of state renewable energy regulatory shifts. Its Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, has begun moving away from typical utility compensation schemes including net metering toward programs that reward innovation. Its first venture was Consolidated Edison’s Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program. Faced with increasing electricity demand in the area, ConEd first considered a conventional solution, building a new substation at a cost of $1.2 billion.Then it asked outsiders for alternative proposals, and selected one that meets the increased electricity demand with distributed resources, including rooftop solar — at a cost of $200 million. Under REV provisions, the utility’s reward for fostering electricity efficiency was earning as much profit as it would have if it had installed the substation.“It’s not just the utilities that need to change their business model,” Richard Kauffman, New York’s “energy czar” and REV’s leader, said in a telephone interview. “One of things we’ve been pleased about is the way that the solar industry has demonstrated a willingness to change its business model. The solar sector is beginning to view the utility not as the enemy, but as a customer and partner, in just the way that the utility needs to start viewing the solar industry.”In the long run, utilities are likely to come around, since the rapidly decreasing costs of rooftop solar and other DERs and the expected emergence of cheap batteries promise consumers a chance to leave the grid entirely. “If customers have the choice to cut the cord,” said the ISLR’s Farrell, “the utilities are going to have to either come to the table or they’re going to go out of business.” In the prevailing narrative of the rooftop solar industry, the dominant theme is combat. The good guys are the innovative, climate-positive, customer-pleasing solar companies, which must be nimble to avoid being crushed by the plodding, influence-buying, fossil fuel-spewing dinosaurs of the electricity industry, the utilities.Thus The New York Times headlined a recent story, “Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure from Utility Lobbyists,” while a Vox headline declared contrarily that, “Utilities fighting against rooftop solar are only hastening their own doom.”The combat trope isn’t entirely wrong. The utilities have successfully waged battles to squelch rooftop solar in states such as Arizona and Indiana, mostly by wielding political muscle to reduce compensation to customers for electricity fed back into the grid. This has helped hobble solar companies, and after four years of growth that averaged 63% a year, U.S. rooftop solar growth dropped to 19% last year, and this year is projected to be flat. The truth is more complicatedThe truth is that the combat analogy is misleading. Some utilities do actively oppose rooftop solar. But others have been immobilized by the ongoing paradigm shift toward clean, renewable energy. And a few utilities — most notably, in New York, California, Hawaii, and Minnesota — are taking tantalizing first steps into the new realm of distributed, or decentralized, electricity generation.“The broad characterization of all utilities acting monolithically is highly unfair, highly unsophisticated,” said Tanuj Deora, executive vice president at the Smart Electric Power Alliance, whose members are utilities learning to navigate the renewable energy arena. Most utilities are moving slowly, he says, “not because they have some hatred for rooftop solar,” but because the task of adjusting to the coming renewable energy era is profoundly complex.Both utilities and their regulators have been slow to recognize the tidal wave coming at them. For more than a century, utilities had learned how to send electrons in one direction, usually safely and reliably, from large, centralized fossil fuel and nuclear power plants over transmission and distribution lines to businesses and homes.Now, abruptly, their networks are being asked to accommodate electrons flowing in two directions, to and from consumers, without compromising safety and reliability, as a new generation of electronic devices enters the market. These “distributed energy resources,” or DERs, can be stationed in or near homes and businesses. They include not just rooftop solar, but wind power, batteries, electric vehicles, smart meters, smart water heaters, smart thermostats — on and on. They promise not just emission-free, fuel-less electricity, but far greater energy efficiency, thus reducing consumer costs and environmental damage. Their expanding use increasingly will determine how the grid functions.last_img read more

Why Shooting Too Much Coverage Is Bad

first_imgInexperienced filmmakers tend to shoot far more coverage than needed, and they suffer in the editing room as a result. Here are some reasons not to overdo it on coverage.Top image from USAFCoverage is one of the most critical components to any scene that you direct. Unless you’re shooting the next Birdman and want everything captured in one single take, you’re going to need just the right amount of coverage to give you options in the editing room. That said, there’s a point where too much coverage can be a bad thing, both on set and in the editing room.In my opinion, covering your scene well also means knowing when you’ve got enough coverage and should move on. When you’re first starting out as a filmmaker, it can be tempting to just keep shooting in order to protect yourself later on. That can be a very bad decision for a number of reasons.1. Your Actors Will Burn OutImage: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill filming The Wolf of Wall Street via IMDbNo matter how great the actors are that you’re working with, they’re still only human and will only be able to deliver a finite number of perfect takes. If you overwork them by shooting ten different versions of their closeups, they’ll burn out quickly and it’ll show in the work.You need to make sure that every angle counts. The last thing you want is to finally find the right coverage for your scene, but then not be able to get the performance you want since you’ve already beat it to death. Be selective with your coverage and avoid doing too many takes if you want to keep a scene’s energy alive.2. Your Edit Will Take Too LongImage from Peeping Tom ProductionEditing even the most perfectly covered scene can be challenging enough, but editing an over-covered scene can be an absolute nightmare. Too many options are never a good thing in the editing room, and one of the most obvious problems editors will face when handed more footage than they know what to do with is an unnecessarily long editing process.If you shot ten angles instead of the three that you really needed, you’re effectively asking your editor to sift through several times more footage, trying exponentially more combinations of edits than if you had simply gave them what they needed. This will mean they’re going to need a whole lot more time in the editing room… and in the end you’ll likely only use the three best angles anyways.3. The Edit Will Feel ConvolutedImage: Editors Keys Editing Keyboard via DorVal FilmsWhile a great editor will know when to use coverage and when not to, there are going to be times when even the best editor may fall into the trap of cutting too often.Whether it’s because the editor feels responsible for using certain takes (at the discretion of the director), or they need to tap into coverage to smooth over an edit, if too much coverage makes it into the final cut, things can start to look overdone very quickly. Some of the best edited scenes feature only two or three different camera angles, so unless you’re covering an action sequence (or anything else that really calls for a lot of coverage), less is always more.Got any filmmaking and video production tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!last_img read more

Wallsend Touch Football Clinic

first_imgThe representatives will be sharing what they’ve learnt throughout their time in Touch Football on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 when they run a Touch Football Clinic at Wallsend Touch Fields. The clinic will run from 9.00am until 3.00pm.For more information, please click on the following attachment. Related Fileswallsend_-_world_cup_touch_clinic_2011_1__01-pdflast_img

Photo: FSU’s Rashad Greene Trolled Notre Dame With A “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” Instagram Post

first_imgFSU's Rashad Greene celebrates after beating Notre Dame.IG/_rg80_Today is St. Patrick’s Day, so we’ve had plenty of college athletes and teams send out celebratory tweets and Instagram posts. Florida State wide receiver Rashad Greene took a slightly different tone for the holiday. Greene, who racked up 1,365 yards and seven touchdowns this season, posted a screenshot from Florida State’s dramatic 31-27 win over Notre Dame, a clear dig at the Fighting Irish.Greene caught eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame, and caught two big passes on what would prove to be the winning drive for the Seminoles. Well played, Rashad.last_img

Vinalines to Build Two Container Terminals at Lach Huyen

first_imgzoomIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) is looking to build two container terminals at Lach Huyen Port in northern Hai Phong City.Namely, the company has asked for government approval for the project, which would see Vinalines’ subsidiary Haiphong Port JSC build terminals No.3 and No.4 at the port.The two proposed terminals would have a total length of 750 meters and the capacity to handle vessels of up to 100,000 dwt, or 8,000 TEU.The project would cost around VND 7 trillion (USD 300 million), Vinalines informed.Lach Huyen, set to become the only port in the north that can berth ships of up to 150,000 tons, is expected to have nine terminals with a combined length of 3,000 meters by 2020.Vinalines and Hai Phong Port JSC, in which Vinalines owns a 65 per cent stake, also plan to develop a logistics center of around 250 hectare in the area to optimize the handling, storage, processing, and distribution of cereals.The proposed investment is a part of Vinalines’ plan to handle around 30 percent of cargo at ports nationwide by 2020.last_img read more

Two people dead after South Surrey house fire

first_imgSOUTH SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Surrey RCMP say two people are dead after a major fire in South Surrey.Emergency crews were called to a home on 28B Avenue near 176 Street for reports of a house fire just before 2:45 Thursday afternoon. When they arrived, Mounties say two victims were found inside.The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in and the deaths are considered suspicious.“Our investigators are at the scene right now, and are working together with the Surrey RCMP to gather evidence,” Cpl. Frank Jang with IHIT says.Investigators are still trying to identify the two victims. It’s still too early to say whether either of them lived in the home.Officers are gathering more evidence from the scene and say the area will be closed off for a “significant amount of time.”#IHIT in 17400 block of 28B Avenue in #SurreyBC for a house fire with 2 victims found inside. Deaths appear suspicious. #IHIT and @SurreyRCMP working together to gather evidence. Call IHIT w/ info. Presser at scene w/ Cpl Frank Jang at 7:30pm tonight.— IHIT (@HomicideTeam) January 26, 2018“Our investigators… are going to be working with the Surrey RCMP and also specialists, fire investigators to really determine what exactly happened, what the nature of the fire was,” Jang explains. “And what exactly caused the deaths of our two victims.”Crews are also looking to speak with witnesses and neighbours to gather more information.“One of the priorities also for our investigators will be to do the door-to-door canvassing of all the residences in the neighbourhood,” Jang adds. “So people in the neighbourhood should expect a knock on the door by a member of IHIT sometime tonight.”Video posted from the scene shows smoke pouring out from the top storey of the home.last_img read more

Can An NHL Player Finally Score 50 Goals In 50 Games Again

Scoring 50 goals in 50 games is the crowning achievement of an NHL goal scorer. Players who do so join a club of legends including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Maurice Richard. The club is exclusive — it has only five members, and it hasn’t accepted a new application in 25 years. There are dozens and dozens of active NHL players who weren’t alive yet the last time someone scored 50 goals in 50 games, when Brett Hull did it during the 1991-92 season.As with throwing dead octopuses onto the ice and shaking hands with the opponent after a playoff series, the 50 in 50 club is like many things unique to the NHL: steeped in history and perhaps devoid of logic. The attention bestowed on the exploit dates back to the days when there were only 50 games on the schedule. So when Richard became to first to do it in 1945, it meant he averaged a goal a game for a whole season. When the schedule expanded to 60 games — and then to 70 games, and then 74, 76, 78, 80 and 84 games, finally settling at 82 games — 50 in 50 remained a thing. Because, you know, why not?Like with many exclusive clubs, there are also a lot of rules. To gain access, you must score 50 goals in your team’s first 50 games, not your own. Alexander Mogilny scored 50 goals in his first 46 games in 1992-93, but an injury forced him to miss three weeks at the beginning of the season. Mogilny’s 50th tally came in his team’s 53rd game, so he’s not allowed in. No exceptions!It’s not easy to sustain a goal-per-game pace for 50 consecutive games, but so far this season, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is doing almost exactly that. With 14 goals in 15 games, the young Russian with a hellacious shot has set himself up to make a legitimate run at hockey’s goal-scoring holy grail.Of course, many others have started the season on a similar tear in recent years — and all of them ended up way short of the benchmark. Here’s how every player who notched at least 14 goals in his team’s first 15 games post-lockout stacked up against the last three 50/50 players. Amazingly, only one of these players (Jaromir Jagr in 2006) exceeded 50 goals on the season, let alone in 50 games. In the 2005-06 season, winger Simon Gagne scored 17 in the Flyers’ first 15 games, but he ultimately scored only 17 more in the next 35. In that same season, both Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson had 15 goals through the first 15 games. They both cooled, too — like Gagne, they each netted 17 goals in the following 35 games.But there’s reason to believe this year might be different: The league itself seems different.So far this season, goalies are stopping pucks with less success than they have since 2008-09. But not all of the blame can be placed on lackluster goaltending — a number of rule changes have led to an increase in power play opportunities per game. More power play opportunities equal more high-quality scoring opportunities, which means more goalies left hung out to dry.It’s not shocking to see an analog in the 2005-06 season, when Jagr, Gagne, Heatley and Alfredsson each flirted with a goal-a-game pace: The league instituted rule changes in the wake of the 2004-05 lockout with the express purpose of increasing the number of goals per game, which had tanked in the NHL of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Chief among those rule changes was the elimination of the two-line offside pass. Defenses were slow to adjust to the rule change, which led to a preponderance of breakaways and two-on-one situations.In the 1980s and early 1990s, the NHL was a wide open league, and goaltending often seemed like an afterthought. From 1980-81 to 1993-94, the goals against average for the league never dipped below 3.0 — and the 50 in 50 was accomplished seven times.1Mike Bossy, Gretzky (three times), Lemieux, Hull (twice). From 1994-95 to the present, the goals against average has risen higher than 3.0 in only one season. It hasn’t climbed quite that high this season, but it’s close.2It currently sits at 2.89.Kucherov isn’t the only one taking advantage of the increase in scoring. Like during the 2005-06 season, this year’s NHL has a handful of players vying for NHL legend status. Alex Ovechkin has also started the year on fire (13 goals in 16 games), while Islanders’ captain John Tavares has 12 goals in 15.Of course, a goal scorer is nothing without dime-dishing linemates, and Kucherov has benefited from playing with the league’s leading point getter in Steven Stamkos (who missed 65 games last season, and the Bolts missed the playoffs). Stamkos is known best for his goal scoring prowess — he’s a two-time recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goal scorer — but this year it’s his passing that has him at the top of the NHL’s scoring list. He’s still scoring goals, but his 18 assists pace the league. And 10 of those helpers have come on goals scored by Kucherov.Every player to hit the 50-goals-in-50-games milestone played on a line with one (or two) very good passers. Lemieux — who also unofficially scored 50 in 50 in two other seasons3Super Mario scored 50 goals in his first 50 games in both the 1992-93 and 1995-96 seasons, but neither exploit came on or before his team’s first 50 games. Sorry, Mario: Hockey conservatives say this doesn’t count. — played the bulk of his career on lines with some combination of Jagr, Kevin Stevens and Ron Francis. Hull played on a line in St. Louis with Adam Oates. Gretzky had Jari Kurri, Mike Bossy had Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, and Richard had Elmer Lach and Toe Blake. And it’s not a stretch to place Kucherov and Stamkos among these all-time great duos and trios.Kucherov’s gaudy numbers aren’t surprising — he’s scored no fewer than 29 goals in each of his three full NHL seasons and has an astounding career shooting percentage of 15.1. But that historically good shooting percentage is up dramatically this season: At the moment, Kucherov is scoring on 24 percent of the shots he’s taking. That’s destined to regress to the mean, but for now, Kucherov’s shot looks damn near unsavable.Who knows if Kucherov — or Ovechkin or Tavares — can sustain a goal-per-game pace for all 50 games. Even if they don’t, they’ve already made the NHL feel a little bit like the wild old days of the ’80s and early ’90s. And they’ve given every hockey nerd something to pull for. read more

Basketballs Other 3Point Revolution

The Steph Curry Pull-Up Vigil has been going on for weeks now.Curry is the pagan god of long-range pull-ups, a shot that doesn’t seem to have a place in a league obsessed with efficiency. But over the last three seasons, Curry has made it work anyway, leading the league in pull-up threes — taken and made — and hitting them about 40 percent of the time. But this season he got off to a slow start, making 21.4 percent of his pull-up threes in December, and today he’s sitting at 33.3 percent, just a hair below Russell Westbrook’s mark. Curry’s swoon is hard to explain, but he’s shooting 43.3 percent in his last 10 games and 48.5 in his last five. Smart money says he’ll be just fine.Glance at that pull-up leaderboard, though, and you’ll notice that Curry’s seat hasn’t been vacated, it’s been overtaken. Where just a few years ago Curry was the unrivaled king of pumping efficient points out of a traditionally inefficient well, today an armful of players are doing convincing Steph impersonations off the bounce.The logic against the pull-up three is simple: It’s far, far easier to shoot a spot-up jumper than it is to shoot off the dribble, and it’s far, far easier to find an open look by moving without the ball than it is while holding the ball. This is why most modern offenses are built to work the ball around to players in motion off the ball, looking for an open catch-and-shoot three, preferably from the corner. If the goal of an offense is to seek the most efficient shots, and the best offenses are chasing spot-up threes, then the alternative is clearly less than ideal.The argument in favor of the shot is somehow even simpler: If it goes in, it’s unstoppable. For a player with a certain set of skills, it’s a shot that’s both always available and always open.For the last three seasons, Curry has been unstoppable. For all the intricacies and nuance built into the Warriors’ offense, the single most unguardable piece of it was always Curry pulling up from 30 feet or sliding around a ball screen and flicking up a jumper. Fans, announcers and coaches all learned to recite the Steph Curry mantra: That’s a bad shot if anyone else takes it. Except, increasingly, it isn’t.This season, 26 players are taking at least two pull-up threes per game, up from 17 in 2013-14 and 21 last season. Of the guys taking at least two per game this season, 12 are hitting at least 36 percent (the league average for all threes), up from five in ’13-14. Kemba Walker is taking 4.5 per game and hitting 37.3 percent; Kyle Lowry is taking 4.1 per game and hitting 41.5; James Harden is making less than 32 percent of his, but he’s taking 6.4 a game, tied for the most in the four years the NBA has kept track of pull-ups. We can’t write off this wave of Steph-like gunners who have emerged as mere early-season noise this deep into the schedule. These players aren’t just taking Curry’s signature shots — they’re making a good number of them as well. And that says something about the way teams are approaching modern offense.Not many players can approximate the totality of Steph Curry, but they can emulate him piecemeal. The Rockets, for instance, are shooting from the parking lot this year, distorting the basic shapes of NBA defenses. And while not many teams can duplicate the ball movement of Houston or Cleveland — movement that sets up all those open threes — a good number of them have a guy who can shake his man and rise up for a three. In a league dominated by the long ball, teams seem to be coming around to the idea that sometimes one player can make his own shot, especially if the guy can hit it regularly.The shift in the league’s approach is noticeable at the team level as much as at the player level. In 2013-14, teams averaged 5.1 pull-up threes per game; by last season, that had climbed to 5.9 per game, and this season we’re up at 6.6. A shot and a half per game doesn’t sound like a lot, but that represents an increase of about 30 percent. For context, compare that to what’s happened during the league’s “scoring explosion” — that has come with just a 25 percent rise in overall 3-point attempts over the same four seasons. As teams try to cram ever more threes into each game, a little revolution within the revolution is changing the ways that these shots are created. Hero ball is allowed back on the court, so long as it’s at the 3-point line.This spike in pull-ups isn’t just about the NBA’s faster, rip-and-run style of play these days. When I looked at numbers for the traditional image of a pull-up three — a point guard dribbling the leather off of the ball 30 feet from the rim for ages, only to pull up from deep without ever sniffing the paint — I still saw an uptick in volume and performance. Eleven players are taking at least one three per game on plays where they took seven or more dribbles before the shot (that’s the proxy we’re using for half-court, rather than transition, shots). Six of them are shooting at least 40 percent. Back in 2013-14, those numbers were seven and three.Because the NBA only has reliable data on pull-ups for a few seasons, it’s tough to say how much of this comes down to luck from year to year, like a player’s BABIP in baseball. Walker went from shooting 31.9, 25.6, and 32.2 percent on pull-up threes in years past to 37.3 so far this season; Lowry was a mid-30s guy until this season, when he’s jumped up to 41.5 percent; Kyrie Irving has consistently been in the high 30s to low 40s, except last season, when he slumped badly to 29.1. The individual players peaking from season to season can and likely will shift around. But even with a revolving-door cast, the trend can live on. If it does, it might just give the 3-point revolution a little more flavor.Whether it’s the razzle-dazzle of Curry’s Shammgod or Kemba’s UTEP two-step, or Westbrook hitting the handbrake and going from top speed to perfectly perpendicular in one bounce, or LeBron and Harden casually walking into an unblockable shot, the pull-up done right is a beautiful thing. And if its most proficient practitioners have reached a point where we can reclaim it from the analytics-say-it’s-bad graveyard, perhaps NBA fans won’t be so quick to mourn the next time Steph Curry has a bad December. read more

Mens Basketball Ohio States shortcomings remain the same in Michigan State matchups

Ohio State freshman guard Luther Muhammad (1) joins teammates after the game in the second half of the game against Michigan State at the Big Ten tournament on Mar. 14 in Chicago. Ohio State lost 77-70. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorCHICAGO  — With 10:02 to go in the game down 56-46, Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann stood courtside with his arms crossed. He looked toward his bench, saw sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson sitting and watching, already with four fouls to his name. He looked out onto the court to see redshirt senior guard Keyshawn Woods and senior guard C.J. Jackson, who combined for seven fouls at the end of regulation. He looked out on the court at Michigan State. Junior guard and Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston had already heated up, erasing his two-point start in the first 18 minutes of the game with six points in the final two minutes of the first half. Even with junior forward Nick Ward back in the rotation, sophomore Xavier Tillman used his size as the one of two guys for Wesson and Ohio State sophomore forward Kyle Young to focus on. Holtmann saw what his team has never truly had in any of the three matchups against the Spartans: depth. Even without the depth of the Spartans, the Buckeyes found a way to remain close in each of their three matchups against what Holtmann considers to be the best conference opponent he has seen in his two seasons as head coach. Holtmann said he feels Ohio State matches up better with Michigan State than other teams in the league, giving his team an advantage and ability to keep the score close, finding halftime leads in each of the first two games against the Spartans. But the storyline has remained the same for the Buckeyes in each of these matchups against the Spartans. “In the first half, we play them tight in the post and we stay at it and then we have spurts in the second half where we drop off,” Wesson said. “With a good team like Michigan State, a top-10 team in the country, you can’t have a drop off. That’s when they take advantage of the mistakes we make.” But leaving the court at the United Center, coming off its third loss in three games against the No. 6 team in the country, Ohio State had confidence. Maybe it was the run. Trailing by 21 points with 4:21 left in the game, Woods hit a jumper, beginning a 17-0 run that may have been too late, but followed a recent trend, one Ohio State saw late in the second half of its final regular season game against Wisconsin. “Our whole motto is not giving up and Duane, Luther, Musa, Dre, all those guys that were out there were still playing hard and not giving up,” Woods said. A 21-point drubbing turned into a seven-point loss, the closest of the season between Ohio State and Michigan State. Instead of leaving the court with heads down, the players and coaching staff walked to the locker room quiet, but confident. The Buckeyes knew what was likely coming next: the NCAA Tournament. The general consensus was that Ohio State earned a spot in the Tournament after its second-round win against Indiana Thursday. But scoring 17 unanswered points against what many consider to be a Final Four contender may have secured it in the minds of the players. “If they do, they do. If they don’t they don’t, but I feel like our body of work speaks for itself,” Wesson said. “We played hard throughout the year. I feel like anywhere we go, we will play hard.” Wesson still stands by the comment he made after the team’s first loss to Michigan State on Jan. 5: when the team is at full strength, Ohio State can compete with anyone in the country. Ohio State has two days before Selection Sunday to try and get to full strength and remedy the late-season fatigue that had a clear effect on the roster. Moving forward, the Buckeyes’ focus should be on consistency, something it never had in its four games against Michigan State. “We needed to make them work 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes, 38 minutes,” freshman guard Luther Muhammad said. “I feel like we always play hard for three-fourths of the game, but we just have to put a whole game together as a group.” But after the Buckeyes’ 17-0 run at the end of the game, heading into the Tournament with a loss and some sort of momentum, Muhammad said Ohio State was heading in the right direction. read more