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Thursday, August 31, 2017

USING ANALYTICS TO CHART INTANGIBLES AT PRACTICE

There has been so much talk in recent years about analytics and how each of us utilize them to best benefit our program.  But I came across an article from last year about how Buzz Williams of Virginia Tech goes as far as charting intangibles in practice.  Here is an excerpt from the article in Collegiate Times written by Faizan Hasnany:

With the stakes as high as they had been all season, Buzz Williams and his staff didn’t let the moment distract them, relying on something that has been an integral part of Williams’ coaching philosophy since his earliest head coaching days at the University of New Orleans: data analytics.

“He’s been using (analytics) ever since I’ve known him. I would say since he’s been a coach, he’s been a numbers guy. He’s really, really smart and he’s really, really good with numbers,” said Devin Johnson, who worked with Williams as an undergraduate assistant at UNO, at Marquette and now as the Hokies' director of player personnel. “I would say he’s been using it since day one.”

Analytics are not just at the core of how the Hokies scout and prepare for other teams, but are used in everything that they do, from practices, to recruiting and everything in between.

“In practice we count touches. So if me and you high-five each other, how many touches did you have at the end of the day? We feel that your touches and your high-fives motivate your teammates to get through that practice,” Johnson said.

Bringing quantitative value to things like effort, communication and teamwork has allowed the Hokies’ coaching staff to objectively reward its players for those extra efforts. It has also helped to establish the tough and hard-working character for which Williams’ teams have always been known.


“At the end of each week, for practice, we have something called a belt winner,” Johnson said. “That comes from analytic numbers from the touches, from the dives on the floor, how much talking and how many times you put your hands on your knees, which shows signs of weakness, so we count that and that’s a negative analytic that we take into account.”

You can read the article in it's entirety here.