‘Divine’ help for hoops bettors

Nov 8, 2005 3:28 AM

Two of the most sought-after references every year for those who bet college and pro basketball have arrived at Gambler’s Book Shop. They are the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook (383 pages, paperbound, $21.95), edited by Chris Dortch, and Killer Sports’ NBA Annual (153 pages, spiralbound, $34.95).

The Blue Ribbon compilation, now in its 25th year, was originally produced by Chris Wallace. Wallace was so knowledgeable about basketball that he was hired to be general manager of the Boston Celtics, where he still presides.

The work, used by bettors, coaches, players, scouts, sports talk show hosts, sports services, sports book directors and recruiters, as well as just plain fans of the game, offers in-depth analysis including strengths and weaknesses of virtually every major college team.

But don’t expect spreads, trends or betting analysis. It’s not that kind of publication. This is purely a book for getting ready for the upcoming season, telling you how teams improved, how well they recruited, the impact of an injury, how good the backup players might be, where the "sparkplugs" or defensive aces might be located, and coaching approaches. In short, there’s not an aspect of the game that isn’t covered.

With more than two-dozen individuals responsible for research, this book is fresher and more up-to-date than most basketball magazines, and it’s more in-depth.

Part of the book’s strength lies in the answers to questions about a squad’s offensive and defensive improvements. If a team has a weakness, how has it been addressed? The book has great value in the first part of the season before teams get into conference play, while they are "gelling" and star players begin to emerge.

The colleges begin play in mid-November, a week or two after the pros get into action. Blue Ribbon often alerts readers to sleeper teams which have quietly shored up their bench and to those who may be over-ranked.

The Killer Sports’ NBA Annual by Ed Meyer, is a combination of betting angles, three years of regular season spreads and totals, and perhaps the most important section — room to keep records, plus a schedule with a "twist."

Meyer and crew brilliantly alert readers to situations in which a team has had rest or no rest between games, factors that are vital where travel and fatigue play a role in scheduling, and sometimes when teams go to a high altitude arena, those legs get a bit weary in the final quarter.

One of the most dedicated and astute compilers in the game, Meyer includes "player-based trends" which often impact the outcome of a game. For instance, if a particular player is injured or if he has more turnovers than assists or if a shooter scored so many points, how has his team performed in the past? Simply, what is the impact of the loss or return of a specific individual on team performance?

In addition to these two popular texts, basketball fans can choose from a variety of logbooks and workbooks to help them keep an accurate record of the ensuing season.

RME Sports Investments, for instance, has produced an NBA Workbook (95 pages, spiralbound, $14) for the first time, which allows a bettor to record the results of every pro game, and includes about two-dozen betting trends. There are no pointspread records or totals from past years, but for those who just want to track streaks and keep scores, it’s an excellent time-saver.

Finally, the Sporting News Official NBA Guide (765 pages, paperbound, $18.95) allows you to see the score of every pro team last year, rosters, team records from every past season, past playoff histories, schedules, and much more.

The companion volume from the Sporting News is the 2005-06 Official NBA Register (488 pages, paperbound $18.95). In this you can find players in alphabetical order along with bios, playing history and the like.

Plus, for the nostalgia or trivia buffs, there are great retired all stars, present and past coaches and a section on promising newcomers. Both books are a good source if you’re in a fantasy league, and they make an excellent gift for a bartender who must settle arguments.

All the books are at the Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in downtown Las Vegas. You can also order through www.gamblersbook.com.