Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good News: Point Shaving Still Exists!

I guess it technically isn't good news, but when I first saw the headline on ESPN.com, I was bent over in prayer in hopes that it was a former Tech player. But alas, the alleged scandal was actually headed by a University of San Diego (USD) player and a former San Diego assistant coach (San Diego plays in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga and St. Mary's and ironically enough, is a private Catholic school).

Brandon Johnson, who played for USD from 2006-2010, and is the school's all-time leading scorer, was the player indicted along with former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown (2006-07), and Brandon Dowdy, who played for USD during the 2006-07 season and with UC-Riverside from 2008-10.

The report alleges that one of the games in question occurred in February of 2010 (while Johnson was still there) and another one occurred in January of this year (while he was not there). Also, Brown and Dowdy are alleged to have solicited a person to affect a UC-Riverside game in February of this year.

The whole investigation stemmed from a Marijuana probe in San Diego.

Now for the fun part: trying to figure out which game in February of 2010 was the game in question. Here are all the USD games played during that month with the point spreads and Brandon Johnson's performances during those games:
  1. 2/4/10 -- home vs. San Francisco. S.F. won 72-70 in OT and USD was an 8.5 point FAVORITE. But Johnson had 25 points, 5 assists and only 3 TOs. Also, the total for the game was 130.5 which went OVER.
  2. 2/6/10 -- home vs. Santa Clara. S. Clara won 59-43 and USD was an 8-point FAVORITE. Johnson only had 6 points (2-8 FG) 3 assists, and 1 TO. Total was 124.5 which went UNDER. Red flags all over this game.
  3. 2/11/10 -- USD lost 70-56 at Portland as a 10.5 underdog but Johnson didn't play because of a groin injury.
  4. 2/13/10 -- USD lost 82-65 at Gonzaga but they were 17-point dogs (a push) and Johnson scored 21. Nothing crazy here.
  5. 2/18/10 -- USD lost 61-49 at home to St. Mary's but were 8.5 point dogs anyway. Johnson scored 15. The total was 134 which went way under.
  6. 2/25/10 -- USD lost 72-69 at home to Loyola Marymount as 3.5 point favorites. Johnson had a bad game though, as he only scored 4 points and had 5 TOs.
  7. 2/27/10 -- USD won big over Pepperdine 65-48 and covered the 9.5 point spread easily. Johnson had a modest 11 points and 6 assists.
So, I would say game 2 is a prime candidate for point shaving. It's not easy to score 43 points at home and lose by 16 as an 8 point favorite. Game 6 is also a little sketchy because Brandon Johnson had such a poor game, and game 5 could be a "over/under" candidate.

What is most disturbing about this is how flukey it was that that were caught. Through a marijuana probe authorities found out about the point shaving. And for the record, point shaving doesn't result in "three years probation" or "post-season ban". It results in "spend years in federal prison" and "pay a gazillon dollar fine if caught". Kind of makes you wonder how many people don't get caught.

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