North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball heavily influenced by advanced statistics

Women’s basketball heavily influenced by advanced statistics

February 19
22:25 2013

Tim Cato / Senior Staff Writer

Sophomore guard BreAnna Dawkins has started all 25 games for the Mean Green women’s basketball team this season and is usually the one to close them out. However, a game against Arkansas State University earlier this season was one of the few exceptions.

Head coach Mike Petersen wasn’t punishing Dawkins, but in that instance, the statistics showed that the Mean Green (10-16, 9-8) was seeing success with a different lineup.

Most basketball fans understand numbers and statistics like points, rebounds and assists, but over the past decade, coaches and teams are beginning to look beyond the surface. Those statistics are important but do not always tell the whole story.

“I’m not such a nerd that I let the computer run my life,” Petersen said. “But everything we do is at least viewed through the prism of the advanced stats.”

Brandon Miller, director of basketball operations, is in charge of tracking the data and relaying useful information to Petersen, using a computer program developed for basketball teams such as the Mean Green.

“[Teams] will keep running charts of what plays they’re running, what plays other teams are running and what defenses and offenses are being used,” Miller said. “With this program, I’m just plugging in and it’s giving the output. It’s a lot more efficient in my mind.”

At the beginning of the season, Petersen talked about how advanced statistics would help him determine his starting lineup, as he looked for the five players who harmonized with each other to provide the best possible opening to a game.

However, Miller’s role allows Petersen to use the stats in the middle of a game to decide on whom he wants to play and what lineups should be on the floor.

“In the middle of a game, Brandon has the laptop and I will ask him for individual player plus/minus, lineup plus/minus and efficiency of different things we’re doing,” Petersen said.

Plus/minus is a statistic that has become more mainstream in recent years. It records how much a team’s score goes up or down during the time a certain player is on the court. For example, if a player finishes a game with a plus-four plus/minus it means that her team outscored the opponent by four points when she was on the court – even if the team lost by 20.

Although this technology often makes a coach’s job easier, it can also force some tough decisions.

“Sometimes you can have a player who’s scoring some points for you,” Petersen said. “But their plus/minus is a disaster because the offense isn’t functioning as well as a group or the defense isn’t good when they’re out there. [It’s not] a hard decision for me, but fans who are watching go, ‘Why would he take that player out?’”

There are also things like consistency that can’t be measured with statistics.

“It’s hard to change lineups at this point of the season,” freshman guard Loryn Goodwin said. “It just messes everything up. I think we have a good lineup right now.”

Ultimately, it’s a mix of “old school” coaching and new-age technology that will get the job done for the Mean Green. In the end, getting the win is what is important for the team.

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