Finding Wisdom in Your Scorebook and Old Data

I know terms like “Advanced Analytics” and “Advanced Metrics” are the new hotness in basketball and certainly the NBA, but there is plenty of great wisdom that can be gleaned by analyzing data you probably already have in a different way.  For example:

Slow starts: My first year coaching I remember sitting in the bleachers pre-game flipping through the score book.  Our scorekeeper was cool enough to write our score of each quarter at the top of the book and when I was flipping through them I noticed a pattern.  We scored significantly less points in the first quarter in comparison to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  After pondering the finding for a bit and discussing with the team it finally hit me.  Our warm-up routine sucked!  After adjusting the routine to make it more intense our first quarter scores improved.  I never went back and checked but I’ll bet it was worth at least a few points per game.

Turnovers: I hate turnovers.  I know every coach does but as an ex-point guard with limited athleticism that needed to take care of the ball to stay on the floor I would argue I hate them more, but I digress.  To decrease turnovers and prevent myself from popping a blood vessel in my eye I asked my dad to track the type of turnovers like shitty pass, travel, double dribble, step out of bounds. We found that there were two types that were a bit high and could be easily remedied.  Traveling after a catch when trying to drive and stepping out of bounds.  (The latter still pisses me off because they played in nice , large gyms so there was really no logical explanation.) After working on catching with two feet in the air and hammering home the idea of court awareness we trimmed a few TOs per game again likely resulting in a few points per game.

Glue guys:  Run a simple +/- experiment. Do you have a player that you believe makes the team better when on the court but doesn’t quantify it in the box score?  Have an assistant track the score when they are on the floor versus when they are off. If they check in when the score is 10-10 and check out when you are up 20-14 they are +6.  Do this a few times and you might come up with some simple evidence that is enough to shut up a crazy parent or fan complaining about glue guys lack of stat production…….but I doubt it.

Points per Possession:  Take an old box score and figure out how many possessions were in a given game for you and your opponent.  The most common formula used for possessions is:

(FGA – OR) + TO + (0.44 * FTA) = Total Possessions

Calculate your points scored per possession and your points given up per possession.  Figure which one needs more attention and start focusing on it!

I know there are plenty more nuggets of truth in your old data….I am just sick of typing. Let me know some other ones and I will add them to the post.

Any Thoughts, Coach?