Stats Vs. Knowledge

I think this is an increasingly divisive topic on this site, so I thought I would post my 2 cents. This site has changed a ton since Ben B. left, some for the better, some not so good. I think the coverage and topics for the most part are outstanding, but the comments section is now split between stat based arguments vs those that use knowledge and experience of the game. Don't think one is more valuable than the other.

I appreciate those that look at stats and bring stats to the conversation. It is valuable to have numbers to refer to when making a case or just to analyze in general. That being said, stats only tell part of the story. They answer the how, but don't address the why. They can help get to the why, and often do help, but stats in a vacuum don't answer the why, which is usually the more important question. Stats in a vacuum only tell half the story. Without context or analysis from people that have played or know the game, stats are just numbers. I mean there's a reason teams don't just have statisticians straight out of MIT, but usually have statisticians that know the game somewhat.

For example, Maryland ranked 254 in total assists out of 351 D1 teams and 257 is Ast/To ratio. What does that tell us exactly? Not much, other than we weren't a very good passing team. It doesn't explain why. The why could be several things. Seth going down early in the season, therefore Dez playing out of position, Roddy being a freshman and not necessarily ready to play big minutes in college. Turge's offense? Substitution patterns not allowing rhythm? Not being fundamentally sound as a team? So many possibilities that the stats alone don't answer or even come close to answering. Because the 2012 season they were ranked 61 with 14.6 APG and 171 in Ast/To ratio with a freshman Seth Allen and recovering Pe' playing point, with Nick in between.

The same thing is true of player stats. Just to compare two freshmen from Maryland.

Seth Allen: 24.1mpg, 80 total ast, 2.4apg, 1.9topg, 1.21ast/to ratio, 34 games played

Roddy Peters: 15.1mpg, 67 total ast, 2.1apg, 1.8topg, 1.20ast/to ratio, 32 games played

Roddy had nearly identical numbers to Seth as a freshman, in less minutes. It still doesn't tell the whole story, since Seth is a far better shooter and provided points. But to the trained eye, it does tell you that Roddy had potential and was likely the reason he was such a highly-touted recruit. It shows that you can just pick and choose stats to support any claim.

So while I appreciate Brendan and Andrew posting stats, without analysis or context they are meaningless and come off as arrogant. I'm sure that's not their intention, but it can sometimes come off like that. So I suggest, if you are going to post stats, give us context or analysis as well, otherwise they're just numbers. Especially to those that don't pay much attention to stats.So again, stats are wonderful when there is knowledgeable analysis to go along with it. Otherwise you may end up looking like Skip Bayless. Arrogant and full of air.

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