BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Basketball players used to be judged on points, rebounds and assists. Now there are stats like effective field goal percentage (EFG) and offensive efficiency rating (OER). It’s the world of analytics some call a complete waste of time, while other credit it as key to their success.
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is not a fan of analytics. He made that clear with a recent rant on TNT.
“Smart guys wanted to fit in so they made up a term, analytics. Analytics don’t work!” Barkley proclaimed during an NBA post-game show. “They are a bunch of guys that never played the game, that never got the girls in high school and they just want to get in the game.”
Ron Rossi coaches high school girls basketball at Holy Family in Broomfield, and he disagrees with Mr. Barkley.
“Absolutely it is part of the game,” Rossi says. “Just like baseball is a lot of numbers, basketball is numbers.”
Rossi’s Tigers have won six of the last seven 3A state titles, and while Barkley argues dynasties in the NBA are built around superstars, Rossi says he can’t always count on that at the high school level.
“I don’t have talent all the time,” Rossi says. “I have to find an edge and part of the edge is improving kids’ basketball IQs as well as their skills.”
Rossi says relying on numbers is nothing new, and Nuggets coach Brian Shaw agrees.
“It has always been a part of our game,” Shaw says. “It is just a different name attached to it: statistics, analytics, advanced analytics.”
Rossi teaches math at Holy Family, and he says using advanced stats has never been easier. He uploads game film to a program called Krossover, and the advanced scouting service does the rest.
“This is how many points we scored, around the rim, in the paint, mid-range,” Rossi says as he shows off an 8-page printout from a recent game. “How many times we went left and right, all the tendencies that you have that I could never spend the time to go through film to do that manually.”
It also breaks down how successful the Tigers were in certain situations, like against a zone defense, or when running a certain play.
“Piston only worked 5 out of 20 times,” Rossi reads from the stat sheet. “I am like ‘Wow, why do I keep calling that play? I like it but it is not working!’ ”
The Krossover program can also sort video by player, and the girls can even watch from home.
“It is weird watching yourself,” says junior Katie Chavez, the reigning 3A player of the year. “You think that was a great play and then you watch it and you are like oh, that was an alright play.”
“For me, it showed that I need to step in more,” says senior Jalyn Hall. “On 3 pointers I make a few but percentage wise it is not the greatest.”
And for those thinking a team might waste too much time worrying about the numbers, Rossi says the team’s film sessions are actually shorter and more focused than in the past trying to watch a game on DVD or VHS.
So while Charles Barkley says he is only speaking the truth with his bashing of analytics, it is hard to argue with the numbers — and titles — the Tigers are producing.