Butler's Brad Stevens: Quant Guy

March, 30, 2010
3/30/10
6:45
PM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
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In Sunday's New York Times, Billy Witz had a profile of Butler's 33-year-old head coach, Brad Stevens.

Prior to getting in on the ground floor at Butler as the director of basketball operations, Stevens was on the corporate track as a young marketing exec at Eli Lilly. A decade later, he's applying analytics as the coach of an undersized team that's busting brackets all over America:
Brad Stevens is a believer in statistical analysis, which after heavily influencing baseball is making its way into basketball. At home, he pores over statistics almost as much as he does film in preparing game plans. He refers to the 6-foot-3 forward Willie Veasley as his team’s Shane Battier, the Houston Rockets player whose role as a facilitator is not often reflected in box scores but has made him a darling of the statistical set.

The result is a team that is not gifted athletically and starts only two players taller than 6-3 but that could outrebound Kansas State by 12. And force Syracuse into 18 turnovers. And hold each regional opponent to a season-low point total, neither reaching 60 points.

... In each game, there were key wrinkles in the Bulldogs’ game plan — how they tried to force Syracuse’s Andy Rautins to dribble to his right, for example, or the way they changed the positioning of their screens against Kansas State.

When center Matt Howard was in foul trouble early against Kansas State, Andrew Smith, a husky freshman who had not played in a tournament game, performed as if he had prepared all season for the moment, playing a near-flawless 12 minutes, a season high.

“We know everything we need to about our opponents, all their tendencies are broken down,” the sophomore guard Ronald Nored said. “I honestly believe every time we go on the court, we’re the most prepared team in the country.”

Today on Pardon the Interruption, Stevens expands on the details explored in Witz's story:



Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio is another Division I head coach who uses advanced stats to prepare (hat tip: Kevin Pelton). In January 2009, Gaudio told Basketball Prospectus' John Perrotto that he referred to the Pomeroy Ratings, which measures statistical data on a per possession basis, to retool Wake's defense.

How long before we see Division I assistants hanging out in the back of lecture halls in the mathematics building scouting talent for the athletic department?

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