Introducing: The Bucket Problem
Building different Michigan football, men's basketball, and women's basketball coverage.
What do Trey Burke, Charles Woodson, and this newsletter all have in common? They are all bucket problems.
I’ll explain in a moment. But first: welcome. Whether you’ve seen my work before or are reading along for the first time, it’s great to have you here. The Ann Arbor area has been my home since I was five years old; the Michigan sports corner of the internet has been my other home since I began blogging in 2007. For most of the last decade, I covered football, hoops, and more at MGoBlog.
I’m ready for a new challenge, even if it covers a lot of the same topics. That challenge is The Bucket Problem.
What Are Buckets, Problems, and Bucket Problems?
I’ll keep this short since we’ll be exploring this topic in detail, including on the first episode of The Bucket Problem podcast. While these terms originate in basketball, they can apply to other sports and even non-athletes.
Bucket: A person who reliably produces (usually in the scoring column) but relies on teammates to facilitate opportunities and do a lot of the dirty work. Freshman year Zak Irvin and the Michigan version of Duncan Robinson are both great examples of Buckets.
Problem: A player the opponent has to gameplan around because of their ability to create havoc in one way or another. Zavier Simpson was a Problem on both ends of the floor. (He was also… not a Bucket.)
Bucket Problem: The rare, transcendent player who combines the best aspects of both Bucket and Problem. To use an example from each of the three programs covered here, think Trey Burke, Naz Hillmon, and Charles Woodson.
Bucket/problem theory is a budding, exciting field of study. We’re still getting a handle on the science and breakthroughs are happening by the day. Yes, we have a team in the lab.
No, I’m not entirely sure where it’s all going, either. Nonetheless, this rather absurd yet oddly serious attempt to analyze sports through a vibes-based lens is, at its core, what this site is all about.
Please subscribe (it’s free!) and tell your friends.
What Is The Bucket Problem?
Much of this project will feel familiar. You can expect:
Essays and analysis covering Michigan football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. Other topics will be addressed as appropriate.
A podcast featuring co-hosts Alex Cook, Connor Southard, and Dan (aka Thicc Stauskas), plus guest appearances from what I hope will be a variety of local and national voices.
Tomfoolery. Incidentally, follow @BucketProblem on Twitter!
Educational GIFs, even. Thank you for the demonstration, Naz Hillmon.
A site that’s as accessible as possible. That means everything from clear explanations of advanced stats used in the newsletter to a good faith (and ongoing) effort to eliminate certain language from our collective vocabulary in the podcasts. If you have comments, suggestions, criticism, and/or suggestions for affordable ways to make the newsletter and podcast more accessible to people with disabilities, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoyment and appreciation. Sports are supposed to be fun. They aren’t always fun; while that’ll be acknowledged, I believe there are ways to follow even the most moribund programs in a gratifying way without turning into a propaganda outlet. Covering the last decade-plus of Michigan football has trained me for this. Hopefully they don’t test this maxim too much.
That should cover the bulk of it. The project will evolve as I get a handle on what it takes, what people want, and the like. I hope to create a community here.
About That Podcast
As a thank you for being here on day one, here’s the first episode of The Bucket Problem, which I’ll also send out in its own post tomorrow.
The podcast is on Spotify, Google, and Stitcher. Apple overhauled their podcast publishing interface this spring with disastrous results, so it’s going to take a little longer to get it on there. In the meantime, you can use the RSS feed link to add the podcast manually, download Episode One directly right here, or listen on Cast’s player in your browser.
How You Can Support The Bucket Problem
If you know someone who might be interested in The Bucket Problem, or someone who might know someone who might be interested in TBP, or—sorry, you get it, here’s the share button.
Email it to your parents; tweet it to the masses; hack your uncle’s facebook account and post it to all his neighborhood watch groups. Every little bit helps. Except maybe that last one.
You can also support TBP while outfitting yourself in the comfiest, mascot dunking-est, retro logo-est, outright best officially licensed collegiate apparel in existence. Use promo code BUCKETPROBLEM at checkout to get 15% off your first order from Homefield Apparel.
Thank you for reading. I couldn’t be more excited to get going. This week, you can anticipate a second episode of the podcast and another edition of the newsletter to hit your inbox and (I hope) your favorite podcast app.
What the world needs now — some insightful analysis, some good vibes, fun and community. Go, Ace.