3 on 3 hockey – blazing fun,  but how to play it well? 

In hockey today,  3 on 3 is all the rage. From youth Mites to the NHL overtime contests, and now to your old-timers’ beer league, the trend is clear.  3 on 3 gives players more touches,  more ice, more scoring chances, and a major workout in less time. And it’s a flat-out blast to play.

A big part of the allure of 3-on-3 is its emphasis on playmaking and creativity.  Think pick-up hoops, streetball action, on ice,  with the minimum bit of structure, the good essentials of hockey  in rinks.

Once you do get your team playing, the question arises of how you are supposed to play as a team on the ice.  We’ve all been taught the do’s and don’ts  of positional play for 5 on 5, but not 3 on 3. However, just going with the flow,  when you are matched up with a comparable team that is outplaying you, does not cut it.

So what are the stripped-down strategies and tactics that work best for teams and players to cover the ice and compete best in 3-on 3 hockey?

On strategy and tactics, below are a few insights and  links I found in my first look into this on the Internet.  Oddly, however,  these sources appeared a bit dated,  from around 2011. Our  studio rink in Madison,  Wisconsin being on the small end of 3-on-3; some of the positional schemes may not work, though designating a D-man is interesting. But I found the individual strategies and team tactics dispensed most relevant:

1. It is not 3 on 3, it is 1 on 1 three times

2. If your team doesn’t have the puck, take a man

3. When your team gets the puck, escape the man

4. Forecheck aggressively in 0-zone on the puck and the puckcarrier






Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Minding the pitfalls of high-tech teaching

What?!? Interactive teaching technologies are not an automatic template for conjuring wonder and effective learning among students?

Shocking. You mean there isn’t an app for that?!

Seriously, I found a recent Chronicle of Higher Ed profile of a leading classroom innovator to be quite useful and interesting (see the link below). Its classroom anecdotes suggest we embrace our classroom innovation with a good measure of precautionary sense.

Jeffrey R. Young, “A tech-happy professor reboots after hearing his advice doesn’t work,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12 February 2012.

Rarely do we hear of high-tech classroom innovators linked to failure. Naturally, no one wants to brag about their failed experiments. Beyond that, there is the big industry-led push to add technology whereever possible — which I am fully engaging in my own teaching. Technology is, after all, exciting and new. And it does offer us educators any number of new ways to help students learn.

The article posits as chief alternative to the high-tech interactive teaching template the “authoritarian,” old-school lecture approach. The successful cases it cites and describe have two or three decades of teaching experience – in which they honed their lectures. From the article’s comparisons, I take away three main points or observations:

  1. Keep working on the lectures. The effectiveness of the happy, comfortable authoritarians reminds us to keep working on our lectures. Good lectures– knowledge-rich, inspired, contextualized to time, campus, student audience needs — will always be a timeless coin of the realm.  Developing good lectures takes years of practice combined with pre-class updating and reviewing.
  2. Stay with the technology. The notion that non-use of technology breeds effectiveness would obviously be flawed. We have major selection bias here due to the IT/communications revolutions. Left out are cases of teachers with two or three decades of teaching experience who have been honing their interactive approach and material for a comparable period. The cases do not exist because today’s web 2.0 is only about a decade old.
  3. To conjure wonder about the world is a worthy aim. I like the way the author and his subject conclude with this. This art of teaching is not exclusive to either approach or toolkit.  Connect and turn on the students. No set recipe. Go with whatever tools will work.

Yesterday I saw a survey feedback data of MATC student comments. Two of the three most common comments expressed a desire for more effective use of technology by instructors:

  • more frequent email contact with instructors
  • more extensive use of Blackboard course learning system.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

economic democracy, Republican baggage

Gingrich yesterday: “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money?”

Me at breakfast today: WOW. Potent rhetoric … Gingrich?? … hilarious … pathetic.  Aggrieved, cornered Newt is desperately channeling . . . what exactly?

Gingrich went on: “I want free enterprise that is honest. I want a free enterprise system that is accountable.”

Alas, we have here a monumental problem of incongruence. My factcheck confirmed that three of Gingrich campaign’s top five economic policies are to extend the Bush tax cuts, eliminate capital gains taxes, and roll back market regulations against bank speculation and pollution. His few democratic reformist planks are buried beneath the “mainstream conservative” Republican package, which I call “back to the 19th century.” Gingrich wants to strengthen the dollar (?!?), and he lauds Congressional Republicans for thwarting the Consumer Financial Bureau and the President’s moderate nominee Cordray (?!?).

Newt’s zinger could have real edge — with a different messenger and different policies. It won’t stick against his own positions and South Carolina’s pro-business Republicans. Too bad: the notion of an accountable free enterprise system is a principle capable of anchoring the rhetoric and building a campaign around. Coming from Gingrich now, it’s a sad joke. It need not be, and we should think about that. Realizing a democratic opportunity society — with access for all, truly competitive markets, minimum national standards, and a premium on hard work and individual responsibility — will take something much more profound.

But the sudden attack from the left points out a major vulnerability of candidate Romney. Thus far, Mitt’s main promise has been prospective, in his potential to restore confidence and optimism: understanding business and market psychology, Romney could succeed (where Obama has stumbled) in emulating the successful recovery leadership of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan and Clinton. But with Republican policies that de-industrialize the economy and automate the workplace, what good is market confidence?  You boost profits — and immiserate the people.


Reverse the notion of Romney as mainstream candidate: Republicans and conservatives will grumble but ultimately get behind Romney. But it’s hard to imagine such narrow economic vision winning more than 45% of the vote in these times. Depressed turnout, third party runs, and/or incumbent predominance look more likely to characterize foreseeable horse race scenarios. There will be room for others to substantiate Gingrich’s message. This in turn will push Romney, Obama and others to compete over populist themes with moderate and socially progressive economic policy planks, each awkwardly and with solutions of the “lite” variety.


1. Tom Raum, “Romney’s practices split GOP,” Associated Press, Wisconsin State Journal, 12 January 2012.

2. Newt 2012. Solutions: Jobs and the economy.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hit harder on greed, corruption in sports

Letter sent 12/20/11 via email to the editor, Sports Illustrated, Time Inc.

Sports Illustrated                                                                                            20 December 2011

Dear Editor:

Please cancel my subscription to Sports Illustrated and refund the balance of the renewal payment automatically debited from my PayPal account against my intentions.

Putting Brad Pitt on the cover (“The New Moneyball,” 9/26/11) sent a disturbing message, in my view, and convinced me not to renew my subscription. Moneyball was a good book – in 2005. Since then, baseball’s money business has coopted any underdog theme entirely. More importantly, the whole money business is sickening the world of sport. In celebrating the movie, Sports Illustrated appears either unaware or just too cynical to care.

To be fair, the article on Theo Epstein shone light on baseball’s state of the art in statistical-financial evaluations of players. Week in and week out, the writing and particularly the photography in your magazine remain good. But there was still that celebrity cover – and something missing in the magazine’s cohesiveness, every week. Good articles are sandwiched in with random content in a tired format- while the sports world is coming apart. Consider Epstein’s Red Sox. For any reporter with the slightest moral awareness, Boston’s shameful collapse should have been as predictable as its players’ behavior was outrageous. But it seems that the editors of SI have a blind spot about the sickening effect of greed on sport.

As I see it, SI has hitched itself to professional sports and its mindset of big money business and TV broadcasts for couch potatoes—far too uncritically for my taste. I am not sure when this happened, but it is sad. The model is closer to moral bankruptcy than at any time in my 34 years as a fan. Free agency has eroded enduring associations between a player and his team and thereby destroyed meaningful rivalries. Owners have made it unaffordable for average fans to regularly attend the games. The leagues have removed the games from the public airwaves for cable revenues; the NFL will now charge cable subscribers additional fees to further inflate its grotesque monopoly. Eye-popping contracts, which have fueled amazing feats of individual athleticism, exert a larger cost of corrupting sport in so many ways.  Corruption slides downhill from the pros, polluting college football with its foul tide. From Bonds and Braun to Boogard and BCS, 2011 saw new levels of greed, cynicism, and mindless consumerism in big-time sports.

This has all happened on your watch, SI!! Where is the outrage?!

Austin Murphy recognizes how the BCS system stains college football, but his article “So I went to Vegas” reads like garbage and shows lame editing.  After much effort and a page of stupid photos, I recognized the format: an essay advocating a college football tournament wrapped in a Vegas weekend travelogue. Trivial and pointless! Call me a bore, but why hide the meaty stuff in your pages? Preferably, spare the fluff and just show the darn argument, with beefier reporting.

Fortunately, the world of sport goes far beyond pro sports. The money business of the games demands tougher coverage and a more incisive lens — throughout the magazine. An investigative look into how pro and college sports betting works, how the boosters and leagues manipulate fans and governments into financing exorbitant projects, what kind of amateur and local sporting activities have arisen in reaction to the cost of pro sports, and how local, amateur athletes are drawing on the revolutions in strategy and training to excel and enhance sport at the community level – well, that would all be much more worthwhile than more fantasy football updates and routine coverage. The New York Times series on Derek Boogard by John Branch is exemplary. SI has its own distinct tradition of love of sport – but I do not find that coming through in the magazine any more. The season previews, strikes and signings, and recurring scandals – to me it is all so boring and gross. The spectacle of greed disgusts me. I do not want to read any more.

I plan to read your sportsman/woman articles on Coaches Summitt and Kryzszewski, then take a hiatus from SI in 2012 and get back to basics in my own sporting life.  I hope you all can improve your magazine. I will check you out in a year or so.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew A. Lieber, Ph.D., SI subscriber on and off since 1978

Madison, Wisconsin


1 Comment

Filed under Sports

Third-party scenario 2012

Consider this hypothetical scenario — not altogether implausible – that I have tasked to my American Government students analyze on their final exam. It adds color to the question David Gregory posed to Ron Paul on Meet the Press (12/11/11). The key question is bolded in #2 below. COMMENTS WELCOME!

June 2012. A lengthy, divisive primary contest concluded, Romney wins narrowly to clinch the Republican candidacy for President in 2012.  Undaunted, Rep. Ron Paul announces he will continue his campaign through the general election as the Libertarian Party candidate, together with billionaire Mark Zuckerberg (CEO on leave from Facebook) as his Vice President candidate. The Libertarian ticket of Paul/Zuckerberg (PZ) enjoys strong support from fiscal conservatives and libertarians sympathetic to the Tea Party movement. It appeals to many Occupy Wall Street supporters including young, unemployed males and affluent professionals. With Republicans divided over their nominee and Democrats less enthusiastic about Obama than ever, the environment appears promising for the third party campaign.

Assignment: PZ Campaign Manager Carol Bartz (ex-Yahoo CEO, UW-Madison grad) has hired and tasked YOU to write a strategy memo based on your knowledge of American government. The Libertarian party aims to build a national organization capable of impacting the 2012 election, expanding its support without losing its core, and winning the Presidency in 2016. The U.S. political system presents certain challenges and obstacles to this sort of campaign. Analyze these challenges and obstacles, and assess Libertarians’ prospects for success, as realistically and precisely as possible, as follows: 

  1. Generally, what has been the history of third party campaigns in 20th century U.S. elections?
  2. What role do political parties play in American elections? What would the Libertarian party need to do to endure as a major force beyond 2012? Assess the chances for success.
  3. How does the Electoral College (EC) work? What does a third party need to do to win EC votes? Polls show 15% of US voters now support PZ. Consider which areas, demographics to target.
  4. In what ways does today’s media environment offer opportunities and/or pose challenges for a third party Presidential candidate?


  1. Fundraising: We will need $150 million to fund our campaign operations through November. Please advise on the legality and political advisability of each of these four potential avenues that we are considering:
    1. Industry PACS (petroleum, bankers groups, Chamber of Commerce). Advisable?
    2. Mark (Zuckerberg) is worth $17 billion. Is it legal for him to give $150 million? Smart?
    3. Find 150 donors among the 1% of wealthiest Americans. Soros, Gates, etc. can easily do $1 million. But is it legal? How can we make that work for the campaign?
    4. Grow small donor base. Which segments to target? What positions to attract them?

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics

The fascinating and mysterious case of Jim Thompson

A new Foreign Policy profile on the CIA-linked American expat who galvanized the start of Thailand’s silk industry and established himself as social and cultural  in Bangkok before disappearing in Indonesia in 1967.

Joshua Kurlantzick, “The End of The Innocents,Foreign Policy, 3 November 2011.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Supper clubs piece

Wisconsin made the New York Times travel section again, this past Sunday 11/27/11:

David McAninch, “JOURNEYS: In Wisconsin, Supper Clubs Open to All,” New York Times


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What democracy looks like: Students un-silenced

Good news arrived yesterday for 400,000 Wisconsin technical college students.

Clay Barbour, “Election officials reverse selves, allow tech college IDs,” Wisconsin State Journal, 10 November 2011.


Here is a flier that I picked up at MATC West atrium cafe Tuesday evening.


Looks like someone was advocating on behalf of their voting rights.


Looks like they were effective.


I dig their propaganda.


Stark and a little bit scary.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Madison, Wisconsin in the New York Times

These two nice reviews partially make up for the recent heartbreaking losses suffered by the Badgers on the last two weekends at Michigan State and Ohio State:

Frugal Traveler, “Bikes, Brews, Burgers, And a B&B,” by Seth Krugel, 25 October 2011


Cultured Traveler, “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin,” by Deborah Solomon, 30 October 2011.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MATC: Matt @ TECHnical College

I have been having a field day lately with tech applications as I make the most of my institutional toe-hold in Madison.

Madison Area Technical College is a public community college with over 15,000  students, a string of 8 or 9 campuses across south and central Wisconsin, and a deep bench of IT and human resources for technology.

A few of the innovations I am working on in my teaching:

  • In my course on American Government, we use Cisco Telepresence so that I simultaneously teach to two classrooms at West Madison and Watertown 45 miles away. In each of the two identically designed classrooms there are three giant screens below cameras with mikes throughout  and controlled audio so that two-way video-conferencing works quite well. I am learning the ins and outs, virtues and pitfalls of this technology. It has great potential, I think, particularly for global studies.
  • I am training to design and teach Hybrid courses, which combine online education and traditional “face-to-face” teaching. This is a hot trend in higher education, since it saves money for the institutions and is popular with students and faculty alike. Supposedly many students have been learning more effectively when not required to warm seats in lecture class for 40+ hours a semester – egad!
  • The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at MATC has a fabulous team of educators. Experts in all things Teaching and Tech. They have been teaching me how to work Google, Windows and iPad programs – as well as all the rest here – with great patience and indulgence.
  • Virtual visitors: I aim to develop a capacity to “Skype In” guest speakers to my class. For example, let’s say I want to have Mark Nichols talk to my class about his new work on India’s foreign policy (I always think of Mark for this because he is such an insider and such a good talker). But Mark is in Washington and not in Madison. The idea is to have him video-call in live to present to and converse with students. I am keen on finding a way to give the virtual visitor a video of the class,  to enable him or her to see the students and directly engage them.  My CETL friends tell me that we can do this on the phone using Telepresence and get a live two way feed between the Virtual Visitor and the classrooms at both of the two campuses – but that is just for a phone call, not yet with a video link. I am sure it is technically possible, and bet it would be quite easy. Does anyone have any ideas or know anyone who is working on this?

Your thoughts and comments welcome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized