This is nothing new, of course. Butler coach Brad Stevens has openly cited the importance of Ken Pomeroy's web site in past interviews. He's written the foreword in recent editions of Basketball Prospectus. Only those that haven't been paying attention to Butler's 10-2 record in the past two NCAA tournaments -- culminating in two straight runner-up finishes for the tiny Indianapolis mid-major with the 4,000-student enrollment -- would be surprised to learn that Stevens uses advanced statistics to prepare his teams for victory.
Still, David Woods's story in the Indianapolis Star is worth your click, if only to see one of the greatest photos of Stevens you'll ever see. He's standing next to a white board, smiling that familiar smile. The white board is covered with the typical tempo-free statistics -- effective field goal percentage, offensive rebounding percentage and the like. And then there's "E=MC2."
Someone's having a laugh there, because I'm pretty sure a body's mass as a measure of its energy has relatively (sorry) little to do with scouting and stopping basketball opponents. "Ha, you're a nerd, coach." "Yes, I am, and that's why we win."
The main takeaway here, other than the nerdy delight one feels at seeing a successful hoops coach talk about basketball statistics so eagerly and fluently, is that advanced statistics aren't just something Internet People do in their free time. They aren't confined to basketball nerds anymore -- if they ever even were. The combination of Pomeroy data and Synergy scouting information can be a potent combination for basketball analysts like yours truly, but it can be even more important for coaches. There's this massive range of detailed data available about basketball teams. Why would anyone, at this point, choose to dismiss it? And if your favorite team's coach did so, how confident would you feel about your favorite team's coach?
I'm not sure that needs to be said anymore; there's no real "battle" here, at least nothing like baseball's SABR types seemed to wage for mainstream acceptance for so long. (People quote OPS on SportsCenter now. We've come a long way.) But if you want to know why Stevens seems so preternaturally prepared, why his teams have frustrated so many in spot situations in the past two NCAA tournaments, why he is regarded as the nation's brightest young basketball mind -- well, that chalkboard photo pretty much sums it up.