I heard a ton of raves and very few complaints about the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. (Although, worth noting ... roll through Twitter coverage of the event, and you'll find scattered gripes about how there was only soda, and not bottled water, at lunch. What's amazing is that in 2010 the tiniest of inconveniences for a very few people is now a quasi-media event.)
But what here mattered? Probably a lot. There was more going on than one person could see. Many people have suggested that next year it might make sense to make this event two days long.
Certainly in the days to come there will be a lot of great coverage from all over the place. An early list of key moments, as told by TrueHoop Network bloggers:
Bias in officiating This academic paper was presented late in the day. It didn't get a ton of attention, but oh, it will. Basically, the authors are making a strong data-based case that some things fans say happen with referees (superstar treatment, swallowing the whistle late in the game) really do happen. NBA executives have addressed similar research in the past, and have strenuously objected, saying their own unpublished internal research shows otherwise. More to come on this topic, for sure.
The value of a blocked shot John Huizinga and Sandy Weil have a gift for doing fresh basketball analysis that gets everybody talking. Last year it was the hot hand. This year it's the fact that some blocked shots are not so valuable, while others are tremendous. Worth digging in.
How NBA teams use analytics Remember when Andre Miller scored 51 in Dallas? Mark Cuban and Kevin Pritchard remember what Cuban says was the real statistical anomaly of that night: Juwan Howard's game-winner.
Performance enhancements This is a very tough issue, and this panel had the chance to be extremely vanilla and safe, but people like Steve Kerr were impressively frank -- for instance Kerr says that late in his career, he took Vioxx which he found to be performance enhancing.
Will coaches listen to stat heads? Avery Johnson was frank about the role Wayne Winston played in his time at the Mavericks, and it's fascinating.
What geeks don't get: The limits of Moneyball The signature panel of the event was hilarious and insightful. It's a "Moneyball" event, so it's great to have the book's author on the stage, with Bill Simmons, Mark Cuban, Daryl Morey, Bill Polian and Jonathan Kraft.
The price of anarchy This academic paper digs into the effect whereby teams are best when their superstars don't do everything themselves. How much is just right?
The future of management and ownership It's really about globalization, revenues, getting into the business and such, but you don't want to miss the story about Red Auerbach and the cheerleaders.