Thursday, March 21, 2013

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Talking Stats with Brad Stevens

by Ray Floriani

Brooklyn, NY Following the former presser it was a chance for a one on one interview. The interviewer nervously introduced himself, fumbling on words. Such was the excitement of meeting one of the best young coaches in the nation. With two NCAA finals on the resume and, of paramount importance, a tempo free advocate. Brad Stevens' Butler Bulldogs had just defeated Dayton in the opening round of the Atlantic Ten Tournament.

Following the somewhat awkward self-introduction, came a calm as the topic turned to advanced statistics. A facet of the game where interviewer and subject both share a passion.

"One of the major aspects of studying tempo free statistics is trends," Stevens said. The next opponent would be LaSalle in the quarterfinals. Stevens would crunch the numbers since the last time the teams played (a 54-53 LaSalle victory on January 23). The idea, to see if there was a marked change in a certain area regarding LaSalle since that meeting. "The numbers give you trends and a good read on styles," Stevens noted.

The numbers would be used to produce and emphasize key points in the scouting report. They serve a purpose of not only evaluating your opposition but your own team as well. "We would look at what we do well and what they (LaSalle) do well," Stevens said. For instance, Stevens pointed out a concern would be LaSalle's guard play. "It is an important part of their attack," he said. "But looking at it closely we are making a decision. We probably will feel it is not as good to pick up their guards 40 feet from the basket. Twenty one feet away is probably better."

During the tournaments you have live scouting. During the regular season, the reliance is on tape. Stevens will integrate tape breakdowns with the numbers he crunches.

The Butler mentor was asked which of the Four Factors in his view is most important. Stevens took the neutral road saying all four (effective field goal percentage, free throw rate, offensive rebounding percentage and turnover rate) are equally important. He did concede, with his present team, "Rebounding is something we look at very closely." In Atlantic Ten play the Bulldogs enjoyed a 35.5% offensive rebounding percentage while allowing opponents A 27% mark. That is a plus 8.5% advantage.

Finally, Stevens was asked how and why he poured himself into the stat analysis. "Just another way, a different way to look at the game," he said. "From the beginning of my coaching I found statistics and numbers very useful. I have been doing (tempo free) stat breakdowns well before there were web sites."

Brad Stevens (Right) with Amdrew Smith (Center) and Rotnei Clarke (Left)
discuss Dayton game

No comments: