By Drew Luther
On Dec. 1 at 5pm in Massengill Auditorium, Dr. Roland Minton and the Roanoke College Stat Crew gave a talk on what they do as a part of the MCSP Conversation Series.
Dr. Minton started by defining analytics as the use of statistical techniques to find patterns, adding that sports analytics do that for various sports. He led the audience through a very brief list of important people in the history of sports analytics.
Once the background was given, the students of the Stat Crew took turns explaining what they do. Currently, the Stat Crew has only done sports analysis for the men and women’s soccer and basketball teams, but they are planning on also analyzing games for the lacrosse team as well.
When the students were introduced, they cut out the lights in Massengill and had people in the audience use flashlights like spotlights, and Scotty Smith announced the entrance of each member with a little bit of information on them set to dramatic background music.
The RC Stat Crew is made up of students ranging from freshman to seniors in diverse majors. Joey Miller, Taylor Ferebee, Connor Simpson, Matt Prince, David Moreau, Kristi Bowman, and Andrew Feeny make up the RC Stat Crew, and they are ‘coached’ by Dr. Roland Minton.
Originally, they attempted to use game tapes to gather data, but the tapes weren’t good enough, because it was impossible to see where the ball was or the numbers on the backs of jerseys. As a result of this, the Stat Crew has to personally collect all of the data.
The system they came up with was to have two people go to the games. One student calls out what is happening and while the other record what they hear using a shorthand they developed.
The basic statistics that the crew gets from games for soccer are: passing charts listing the efficiency of passes per person, how many passes they attempted, and how many of the attempted passes are completed. The Stat Crew also tracks where the passes occur on the pitch by splitting it into three parts.
They want to add in tracking the time each of the passes happen, split up the field even more, and analyze specific players more. If they can get the funding, the Stat Crew is planning on getting GPS chips to put in the players’ cleats for more detailed spatial tracking.
For basketball, the data collection results in heat maps for shots based on location and average points per shot along with a plus-minus score for each player based on how well the team does while they are on and off the field.
The Stat Crew is planning how they are going to collect data and what analysis they will do for the lacrosse teams based on what the coaches want. These could include possession efficiency, passing efficiency, and hustle stats.
The talk ended with an explanation of the various ways to get involved. Interested students can do sports analytics with the Stat Crew for independent studies, class projects, or research and should send an application to Dr. Minton at firstname.lastname@example.org.