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Senior Project Research Paper

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Senior Project Research Paper

1. 1. Crissy 1Ben CrissyMs. TilleryAP Literature18 November 2011 Sports Statistics What is the correlation between a basketball team’s performance at a home and an awaygame? Few people would know the answer or even how to solve for the answer. This questioncould only be answered by thorough research from a sports statistician. Sports statistics are usedevery day to represent teams’, players’, and coaches’ performances in sports. The ever expandingrealm of sports statistics is structured by the statistician’s responsibilities, statistical categories,and the analysis of the statistics. Most important to sports statistics is of course the statistician. The responsibilities of thestatistician can be grouped into eight different duties: Recording statistics as events happen, auditing stats with play-by-play, preparation of final stats for league records, serves as official scorer for both teams, computer data entry, preparation of final and midgame summary reports for the media, keep up to date on changes in statistical scoring rules, and involvement in resolution of disputed calls (“Team Statistician”).The most obvious duty of a statistician is to observe the game and periodically record statistics asthey occur. For example, basketball includes many statistics such as: field goals, blocks, steals,fouls, assists, rebounds, and countless more. When sports were first introduced, statistics wererecorded by hand on a scorecard. In today’s world, some statisticians still prefer to manuallyrecord statistics, while many have downloaded programs on laptops or other hand-held devices
2. 2. Crissy 2to minimize the time it takes to record so they can focus more on the game. Sports statisticiansneed to be able to multitask and operate quickly in order to meet the demands of the press, theteams, and the fans. In the same way that statisticians report to the media, the media reports to the fans.Fantasy sports have become increasingly popular as of late; they engage the fan byaccompanying points to real life statistics in separate stat categories. Although the fans do notneed to calculate the data, most of the statistics can be easily determined: For most statistical categories - points, rebounds, blocks, steals - thats simple: add em up. But for the percentage stats - most commonly field goal percentage and free throw percentage - its not that easy. For those categories - and any others that consider a teams percentage as opposed to a teams total - you tally the numbers that make up the percentage, and then divide (Zegers).Statistics such as points, rebounds, and blocks should be commonplace to any basketball fan.The already easy to observe statistics become even more user friendly with fantasy sports.However, statistics can create a facade to disguise glaring defects, for example “[Juwan] Howardwas 10th in the league in scoring average, but fourth in minutes per game and third in field-goalattempts. These numbers suggest that he wasnt really making the most of his time on the court,something the Washington organization would have noticed if they had been looking at the rightmetrics” (Turbow). At a glance, Howard would appear to be an outstanding player by viewinghis core stats that are recorded during the game. Upon further evaluation, it can be revealed thatmany players, as in Howard’s case, are not always as successful as they may seem at first.Evaluating all of a player’s statistics as a whole is the only true way to identify a player’sstrengths.
3. 3. Crissy 3 Furthermore, there is more to sports statistics than what is on the surface. In a recentstudy, Jaime Sampaio, Eric Drinkwater, and Nuno Leite studied the effects of season period,team quality, and playing time on basketball players game-related statistics: While playing time was significant in almost all variables, errors were the most important factor when contrasting important and less important players, with fewer errors being made by important players. The trends identified can help coaches and players to create performance profiles according to team quality and playing time. However, these performance profiles appear to be independent of season period.After a devastating loss, teams can often wonder what they should have done to achieve victory.With this discovery, coaches can better prepare their teams for games by adding focus to ballhandling, control, and passing. Evaluating statistics such as this can greatly affect future gameresults and philosophies. Defeats can be demoralizing to players, coaches, and fans. On the otherhand, sports statisticians can use data from losses to expose areas that need improvement. “Analso important finding was that, in best teams, the nonstarters performance was worse in thegames that the team lost, whereas in worst teams, it was the starters performance that was worsein the games that the team lost” (Gomez et al.). Not surprisingly, teams that are deemed bad losegames mainly due to their starters’ lack of talent. On the contrary, coaches of talented teams maybe shocked to discover that losses can be a result of poor game play by players who do not start.Normally, coaches are quick to place blame on the starters. Thanks to this detection by sportsstatisticians, coaches can better prepare their teams as a whole to improve their game play. Additionally, the specific statistics that are analyzed produce different insights. Sportsstatistics have evolved over the years to include various perspectives of players. “The new math
4. 4. Crissy 4is not just for evaluating individual player value. Its also a useful tool in scouting teamtendencies” (Ballard). Advanced statistics such as player efficiency ratings can be extremelyhelpful in deciding which player to start and who to bench. However, these statistics can also beuseful if they are used to scout the matchup and determine the opposing team’s strengths andweaknesses. Statistics are commonly inspected to review past events. On the other hand, statscan be used to forecast future results. “One of the dangers [of evaluating statistics] is to draw onhistorical information that seems to be telling you something will happen and forget that’s whythey play the games. I know it’s a cliché, but things reach cliché status for a reason” (PeterHirdt). Statistics do not only display what happened in a game; they can also be used to predictwhat will happen in a game. Companies such as the Elias Sports Bureau that have been in thebusiness for numerous years can predict the outcome in a game based on past games. Statisticsthat display mind boggling information such as the probability of a basketball team winningwhile down by 10 points in the fourth quarter frequently appear on the television to inform fanswatching of the rarity of such an event occurring. Statistics not only tell about the past, but theycan also determine the expected outcome of a game. Thoroughly evaluating statistics after games can prove to be beneficial for preparation offuture games. Successive games can really take a toll on a team and affect their performance. “Adiscriminant analysis allowed identifying the two point field goals made, the defensive reboundsand the assists as discriminators between winning and losing teams in all three games” (JaimeSampaio, et al.). This study was compiled in an effort to study the recorded statistics of winningand losing teams that played in consecutive games. With this information, a sports statisticiancan conclude that shot selection, ball control, and passing are essential to a team’s performance
5. 5. Crissy 5when playing consecutive games. Analysis of statistics such as this can aid teams who are facingsuccessive games to perform better and achieve victory. Many coaches are interested in what stat categories are the most likely to yield season-long success. Sports statisticians have conducted studies to determine which of the core statsproduce successful seasons: The results allowed discrimination between best and worst teams performances through the following game-related statistics: assists (SC=0.47), steals (SC=0.34), and blocks (SC=0.30). The function obtained correctly classified 82.4% of the cases. In conclusion, season-long performance may be supported by players and teams passing skills and defensive preparation (Ortega).While a lack of scoring may appear to be an obvious reason for a losing season, statisticians haveproven that this is not the only factor. The most successful teams of the ACB League hadsignificantly higher rates of assists, steals, and blocks as compared to teams with poorperformances. Coaches can utilize this data to improve their teams’ passing by sharing the ball,and to produce more blocks or steals by revising defensive strategies. Likewise, statisticians havestudied data based on the location of games, the outcome, and the statistics produced.“The multivariate analysis showed that winning teams differ from losing teams in defensiverebounds (SC = .42) and in assists (SC = .38). Similarly, winning teams differ from losing teamswhen they play at home in defensive rebounds (SC = .40) and in assists (SC = .41)” (Palao).Teams may often be flustered when they leave their safe haven to play an away game. When inthe opponent’s building, teams often have to face the dreaded “6th Man”, the fans. Sportsstatisticians have found that there is not much discrimination between stats for the away teams toworry about. Teams have only seen small fluctuations in the defensive rebound and assist
6. 6. Crissy 6categories when playing away games. In order to be victorious on the road, coaches only need totweak their game plan a little to favor rebounding and assists. In summary, sports statistics are the central component to the success of sports today.Behind every single statistic is a dedicated statistician who works for the benefit of the fans andthe players. Sports statistics are based upon the statistician’s responsibilities, various statisticalcategories, and the analysis of the statistics.
7. 7. Crissy 7 Works CitedBallard, Chris. "MEASURE Of Success." Sports Illustrated 103.16 (2005): 60. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2011.Gomez, Miguel et al. "Discriminative Game-Related Statistics Between Basketball Starters And Nonstarters When Related To Team Quality And Game Outcome." Perceptual & Motor Skills 103.2 (2006): 486-494. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2011.Hirdt, Steve and Peter. "Seven Questions with the Hirdt Brothers of Elias Sports Bureau." Interview by Ryan Stellabotte. Fordham. Ed. Ryan Stellabotte. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.fordham.edu/images/whats_new/ magazine/fall11/sevenquestions.pdf>.Ortega, Enrique et al. "Basketball game-related statistics that discriminate between teams season-long success." European Journal of Sport Science 8.6 (2008): 369-372. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.Palao, José et al. "Differences In Game-Related Statistics Of Basketball Performance By Game Location For Mens Winning And Losing Teams." Perceptual & Motor Skills 106.1 (2008): 43-50. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2011.Sampaio, Jaime, Eric J. Drinkwater, and Nuno M. Leite. "Effects of season period, team quality, and playing time on basketball players game-related statistics." European Journal of Sport Science 10.2 (2010): 141-149. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.
8. 8. Crissy 8Sampaio, Jaime et al. "Effects of consecutive basketball games on the game-related statistics that discriminate winner and losing teams." Journal of Sports Science & Medicine 8.3 (2009): 458-462. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 17 Oct. 2011."Team Statistician." Statistics in Sports. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.amstat.org/sections/SIS/Careers%20in%20Sports%20Statistics/ team.html>.Turbow, Jason. "Settling The Score." Popular Science 273.2 (2008): 66-70. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Oct. 2011.Zegers, Charlie. "Fantasy Basketball 101: Understanding Percentage Stats." About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://basketball.about.com/od/fantasygames/a/percentage-stats.htm>.