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Sports and analytics combine for sound Stat Crew at RC

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Article by Robert Mangum

Roanoke College’s Stat Crew is making a name for itself as one of the college’s go-to sources for sports analytics. On Sept. 12, several members of the crew explained what they do and why it’s important during a talk sponsored b Roanoke’s Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics department.

Dr. Roland Minton, professor of Mathematics, and Stat Crew members, Lexi Denning and David Moreau, spoke during the evening event, called MCSP Conversation, held in Massengill Auditorium.

Minton specifically discussed the history of sports analytics, with its origin in baseball in the late 1800s, and successful expansions into basketball and soccer, as well as unsuccessful expansion into the NFL. Minton spoke in further depth on Billy Beane, a pioneer of baseball analytics and the author of “Moneyball,” which served as the inspiration for the college’s Stat Crew.

Denning explained the crew’s soccer analytics. She specifically focused on the notation used when doing analytics of a soccer game. She also discussed the inherent difficulty in keeping track of passes while the game is in play, and how the issue is rectified through the use of multiple observers.

According to Denning, two Stat Crew members are present at each game. One observes the game and dictates the passes to the other student, who records the information using a program specially designed by Dr. Adam Childers, an associate professor in Roanoke’s Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics department.

Moreau provided similar commentary on lacrosse analytics, pointing out that lacrosse analytics are a rare find.

The Stat Crew shares its analytics with each sport’s coach so that they can sue the information to improve the teams’ performance.

Minton encouraged students who have an interest in both sports and statistics to fill out an application for the Stat Crew. Students can obtain an application by contacting Minton at minton@roanoke.edu.