Dec 12, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT
For college students and college basketball fans, Exam Week is the worst week on the schedule. For students, this week is the culmination of three months worth of procrastination, cliff notes and Wikipedia. For college basketball fans, it’s the lightest week of hoops action we will see all season.
With so very little going on this week in terms of action, the staff at College Basketball Talk is going back to school. Over the next five days, the CBT Staff will be responsible for answering an essay question in one of five different subjects.
Today we have the dreaded math exam.
The use of tempo-free and advanced statistics has become more commonplace in recent years thanks to the work of guys like Ken Pomeroy and Dan Hanner. What is your opinion on the use of advanced statistics as analysis aids. What value do these metrics add to post-game evaluation in your opinion. Please use at least one example of accurate or misleading statistics in your response.
By Rob Dauster
The advent of advanced statistics in college basketball is incredibly useful.
Between Kenpom’s efficiency profiles, the in-depth player and team breakdowns available on Synergy and all of the other sites doing yeoman’s work to try to enlighten us about and dispel myths about our favorite teams, there’s no shortage of data available for a college hoops junky to get their fix.
The key, however, is understanding how to use that information in concert with what actually happens on a basketball court.
Advanced statistics have really taken off over the last decade in all sports, not just basketball. The most famous case is that of Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics GM that was the subject of the ‘Moneyball’. He used sabermetric principles to find value in players that others had cast aside, and as a result was able to build the A’s into one of the best teams in baseball despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league.
But focusing on stats works much better in baseball than it does in hoops because baseball is a game made up of a series of events involving individuals. A pitcher throws a pitch, the hitter swings and puts the ball in play. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Basketball is a much more free-flowing, one that requires five players to work together both offensively and defensively. So much of what happens on the court — Who can execute offense effectively? How well does a team communicate defensively? Is a player a good rebounder because he’s simply bigger and more athletic, or does he understand how to box out? Who is a team’s leader? — doesn’t show up on a stat sheet or a Kenpom page.
The perfect example is the argument involving Marcus Smart.
Smart, a freshman, is Oklahoma State’s starting point guard, a top ten recruit and, thus far, the difference maker for the Cowboys. He’s averaging 13.0 points, 7.4 boards and 5.0 assists for the Pokes, but what he’s done setting a tone defensively and in the locker room is why Travis Ford’s club currently owns wins over Tennessee and NC State. He’s played like an all-american, and was called the best player in the country through the first month of the season by Mike DeCourcy.
DeCourcy doesn’t believe in advanced analytics, however, which is why he’s probably unaware that Smart has an effective field goal percentage of 39.7% — he’s shooting 20.6% from three and 43.9% from two — and an offensive rating of 99.3 (he averages 0.993 points per possession used, which isn’t very good) despite using 28.0% of Oklahoma State’s possessions when he’s on the floor, a very high number. Those ugly numbers are why John Gasaway, one of college basketball’s leading ‘stat nerds’, has Smart ranked as the 14th-best freshman thus far this season.
And, as I wrote yesterday, neither of these gentlemen are right, because you simply cannot ignore a) the effect that Smart’s presence on the floor has had for Oklahoma State this year, or b) just how inefficient Smart has been with the ball in his hands. He may be a great leader, a great defender and a better-than-we-thought creator, but that doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t shot the ball well at all and he’s turned the ball over far too often.
Advanced statistics are most effective when they are used to help quantify trends that your eyes tell you exist or as a way to determine what to watch for when a certain team takes the floor.
It’s inarguable that understanding efficiency breakdowns and possession-based logs, like Synergy’s database, make you smarter about basketball and what a specific team or player is doing on the court.
But it’s also impossible to use those number correctly without being able to watch a game and understand what is happening and why it happens that way.
The two schools of thought are not mutually exclusive. But if they aren’t used correctly, they are misleading and unnecessary.
Professor’s Notes: I really wanted to give you a bad grade. The rise of #DausterMath gave me little reason to believe that you would be able to handle this question. But you nailed it. Kudos for the use of words like “advent”, “yeoman”, and the ‘Moneyball’ reference was sublime. You were on pace for an A+, but points are being docked for starting a sentence with “And”.
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
Jun 18, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 3:03 PM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT
Florida head coach Billy Donovan made the final cuts to the U19 Team USA team on Monday night, getting the roster down to 12 players. The best known player on the team? Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, who will likely enter the 2013-2014 season as a preseason first-team All-American. Duke sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon, incoming Arizona freshman…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 9:58 AM EDT
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Jun 18, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT
Through 12 games in the 2012-13 season, Lehigh senior guard C.J. McCollum had done nothing to dispel the notion that he was one of the nation’s best players. With averages of 23.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game to that point in the season, McCollum was leading the country in scoring and well…
Jun 17, 2013, 11:01 PM EDT
Keith Hornsby, the sophomore guard from UNC Asheville, took to Twitter to announce where he will spend his final two years of eligibility. #letsGeaux!!!!!!! – tweeted Hornsby on Monday night The 6-foot-4 sophomore picked LSU almost three weeks after announcing he would be leaving UNC Asheville following the departure of head coach Eddie Biedenbach. Hornsby was…
Jun 17, 2013, 10:13 PM EDT
One of the nation’s top rising seniors Rashad Vaughn has decided to leave Robbinsdale Cooper High (Minn.) in favor of prep school for his final season. Vaughn has been debating about whether or not to leave Cooper for months. “The kid has to move on and do what’s best for him,” Vaughn’s mentor Pete Kaffey told the Pioneer…
Jun 17, 2013, 8:50 PM EDT
North Carolina guard was arrested on June 5. It’s been almost two full weeks since the incident occurred in Durham, and for the first time since the arrest, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams spoke about his leading scorer. “We are doing one thing: We are waiting until all the information comes out,” Williams told…
Jun 17, 2013, 7:40 PM EDT
Florida has already started its incoming class for the fall of 2015. On Monday evening, sophomore center Kevarrius Hayes (Suwannee High/Live Oak, Fla.) committed to Billy Donovan and the Gators. This early commitment was first reported by Evan Daniels of Scout and then later confirmed by coach Martin McCann of Nike Team Florida — Hayes’ AAU team. According…
Jun 17, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT
The championship rings of former Kentucky Wildcat Walter McCarty are now up for sale on eBay. McCarty, a member of the 1996 National Championship team is having both the ring given to the team by the NCAA and the ring presented to the Wildcats by the University of Kentucky are both being auctioned off with…
Jun 17, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT
Alabama’s second-leading scorer Trevor Lacey has decided to transfer to North Carolina State, according to PackPride.com. He will have to sit out the 2013-2014 season per NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility left. In April, Lacey had elected to leave the Crimson Tide program after two seasons. He was considering Wolf…
Jun 17, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
Renard Phillips began his new job on the DePaul coaching staff today, head coach Oliver Purnell announced through a school statement Monday afternoon. Phillips joins the Blue Demons following a 20-7 season with Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C. Phillips had made stops at Arlington Country Day (Fla.), Progressive Christian Academy (Md.) and Georgetown Prep (Md.) in the…
Jun 17, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
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