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Thursday, March 21, 2013

S.I.: Butler has found secret weapon in statistical guru Drew Cannon

Yes Guru, Yes Method, Yes Teacher.

Cannon showed an affinity for numbers at an early age, overwhelming his father with questions about slugging percentage, ERA and on-base percentage when reading the sports section as a child. At age 8, he swiped his father’s Bill James books and devoured them.

Cannon put together statistical-based projects while other kids were playing with Legos. At age 13 Cannon developed a formula to compare the statistics of Negro League baseball players to the white Major League players of that era. He began writing former players and asking them questions.

Jim Cannon didn’t even remember his son’s ACC player efficiency ratings at age 15. “I’m sure he did do that, and I say that flippantly because he probably had about 25 other projects going on,” Cannon said.

Through a friend, Jim Cannon met recruiting analyst Dave Telep, now with ESPN, and told him about his Drew’s statistical obsession. Telep was intrigued, as he’d just finished reading Moneyball days before and for years had conducted annual studies on topics like why big men from Africa tend to not meet recruiting expectations.

“There’s this kid in my house that I don’t know what to do with,” Jim Cannon told to Telep at their lunch. “Can you help me?”

Repoz Posted: March 21, 2013 at 09:09 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: March 21, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4393393)
A nice aspect of the story is how Telep took him under his wing and mentored him.
   2. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: March 21, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4393402)
I thought so as well.
   3. Knock on any Iorg Posted: March 21, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4393447)
   4. Tripon Posted: March 21, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4393480)
Butler's rise as a Basketball school is amazing. Within five years, they want from a never was, barely making an invite, to getting to the National Championship game back to back, jumping from the Horizon Leauge to the A-10, and now jumping again to the new Big East.

   5. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: March 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4393493)
Enjoyed my time at Butler even if I didn't do so well academically...
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: March 21, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4393503)
Butler's rise as a Basketball school is amazing. Within five years, they want from a never was, barely making an invite, to getting to the National Championship game back to back, jumping from the Horizon Leauge to the A-10, and now jumping again to the new Big East.


That's not quite accurate. They made six trips to the NCAAs from 97 to 2007, reaching the Sweet 16 twice and sending three coaches on to bigger jobs (Barry Collier, Thad Matta and Todd Lickliter).

That being said, the ascent in the last six years is remarkable. As a Butler fan, one of the best aspects of the move to the Big East is it really gives them a chance to keep Stevens for as long as he wants to remain a college coach. I wouldn't trade any coach in the country for him (and pieces like the linked one is a reason why).

   7. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 11:51 AM (#4393524)
[6] Yeah, Butler didn't come from nowhere, and has been building their program since Collier. They play an interesting style where they can beat anyone, while not always being, overall, that good. KenPom has them as the 7th "luckiest" team in the country this year. I don't subscribe anymore, but I suspect they're consistently "lucky", which speaks to that style.
   8. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4393582)
Butler's rise as a Basketball school is amazing. Within five years, they want from a never was, barely making an invite, to getting to the National Championship game back to back, jumping from the Horizon Leauge to the A-10, and now jumping again to the new Big East.
i'm actually not convinced that the new big east will be all that impressive as a basketball conference. i think it's great that they're being proactive in detaching themselves from the remaining football schools who would sell them out in a heartbeat, but what the conference loses by not having syracuse and pittsburgh and louisville and uconn and cincinnati and notre dame is not just those schools, but also the opportunity for other teams to pad their resume by beating those schools. villanova beat louisville and syracuse in consecutive games earlier this year, and if those wins were over seton hall and depaul instead, i don't really have a doubt that villanova would be a 4 seed in the NIT instead of a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament.

even if they have the same team with the same record and the same players, if they don't have those signature wins there's nothing to separate them from the other 50 teams that are on the bubble going into february.

maybe that won't end up being a major issue, but it is something that could drag down the conference in ways that aren't really being discussed.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4393592)
i'm actually not convinced that the new big east will be all that impressive as a basketball conference. i think it's great that they're being proactive in detaching themselves from the remaining football schools who would sell them out in a heartbeat, but what the conference loses by not having syracuse and pittsburgh and louisville and uconn and cincinnati and notre dame is not just those schools, but also the opportunity for other teams to pad their resume by beating those schools. villanova beat louisville and syracuse in consecutive games earlier this year, and if those wins were over seton hall and depaul instead, i don't really have a doubt that villanova would be a 4 seed in the NIT instead of a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament.


I don't think anyone thinks swapping Louisville, UConn, Syracuse, UC and ND for X, Butler and Creighton is a good trade. But that wasn't the trade they were making. It was UConn, UC and SF for the other three, plus the ability for the seven schools to detach themselves from the football-chasing the others were doing.

And while the days of 9 bids will be over, for obvious reasons, the new Big East should remain one of the best conferences in the country for basketball, annually among the Top 3 would be my guess.
   10. bfan Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4393596)
I wouldn't trade any coach in the country for him (and pieces like the linked one is a reason why).


I wouldn't either. I think Stevens will be offered and take the Duke job, when Coach K. hangs it up (1 more title, maybe?)
   11. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:28 PM (#4393599)
Do you have insight there, bfan? That's counter to local scuttle, though I've no sources to the program.
   12. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4393604)
I'd say somewhere around Top 3-6 any given year, which isn't anything to complain about. Right now, I'd put the ACC, Big 10 and Big 12 ahead of the new Big East.

But the national TV deal and tournament and Madison Square Garden will go a long way in making the league and its members continue to be relevant. I know Xavier is looking forward to the recruiting lift from being in such a conference and playing at MSG.

Hopefully the basketball-as-moneymaker state of the league will help continue the regrowth of DePaul, St. John's and Seton Hall.
   13. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4393610)
I can't imagine a situation where a Coach K alum doesn't take the helm, but I have no real insight into that, other than a feeling that the Duke faithful want a continuation of Duke tradition. At this point it looks like it'd be one of the two Associate Coaches Wojo or Collins -- I'd presume one would take the job and the other would probably continue in his role until he gets a head coaching job elsewhere.

But again, I'm pulling most of this out of my ass.
   14. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: March 21, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4393640)
That being said, the ascent in the last six years is remarkable. As a Butler fan, one of the best aspects of the move to the Big East is it really gives them a chance to keep Stevens for as long as he wants to remain a college coach. I wouldn't trade any coach in the country for him (and pieces like the linked one is a reason why).


Is Butler going to be able to pay $4 million a year to Stevens? Is Stevens interested in staying at Butler and make less than half of what he would at a bigger program (not to mention additional resources)?

Seems unlikely to me.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: March 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4393652)
Is Butler going to be able to pay $4 million a year to Stevens? Is Stevens interested in staying at Butler and make less than half of what he would at a bigger program (not to mention additional resources)?


They should be able to pay him much more now that they're in the Big East and have access to much more TV money they'd get in the A-10 (or Horizon before that).

And if he were really not interested in staying at Butler, he would have left by now. The school is in a much better position to keep him now than it was after its first and second trips to the national title game, and he really didn't seriously entertain any offers then.

There's no guarantee he won't bolt - that's what college coaches do. But he probably could have jumped to just about any open job in the country after both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and he didn't.
   16. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4393757)
Is Stevens interested in staying at Butler and make less than half of what he would at a bigger program (not to mention additional resources)?


I think you're right, but I also think that definition of "bigger program" is pretty limited for a coach like Stevens, or VCU's Shaka Smart, or Xavier's Chris Mack.

Tennessee opened the conversation with Chris Mack with $15M for 8 years, and only got as far as a "No" over the phone. And while that's not $4M a year, I think you're going to have to offer $3-4M a year *and* a commitment to a competitive basketball environment. I might be aiming too high, but I suspect the job offers those guys will entertain (if they continue success at their programs) are along the lines of:

Duke
Kansas
Kentucky
Arizona
North Carolina
UCLA
Ohio State
Indiana

I might be missing a few, but we're talking about top-10 to top-15 basketball programs that I think these guys are interested in.

Butler won't lose Stevens to a Iowa or a Xavier
Xavier won't lose Mack to a Providence or a Wake Forest (but could to Ohio St. and Arizona, where their last two coaches have gone)
VCU won't lose Smart to an Alabama or an Oklahoma
   17. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: March 21, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4393791)
Tennessee opened the conversation with Chris Mack with $15M for 8 years, and only got as far as a "No" over the phone. And while that's not $4M a year, I think you're going to have to offer $3-4M a year *and* a commitment to a competitive basketball environment.



I agree mostly, but I think the pool of jobs that these guys would be interested is more like 25-30. I could easily see these guys taking jobs at a major conference school that has not been a traditional power, but now wants to win and is willing to provide big time resources to do so.
   18. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4393799)
Yeah -- I wavered on the "won't lost Shaka Smart to an Oklahoma", because I'm not 100% sure its true, but preferred bombast to nuance.

But if a school offered $20M guaranteed and a commitment from the AD to go along with some historic (but not necessarily recent) success, yeah, I think there's going to be interest.

But yeah, successful coaches like these 3, as well as Mark Few at Gonzaga, and others who will follow in their footsteps aren't jumping at the first BCS school to show them 7 figures anymore. The coaching changes at Xavier make that clear.

Edit: Also, 2 of those 4 (including Few) _are_ at major conference schools now, and that might be 3 of 4 if the Big East wants to add VCU.
   19. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: March 21, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4393806)
Are we still considering the Big East a major conference? They have quality programs, but not big time money that the SEC, PAC, B1G, Big 12, and ACC schools are getting.
   20. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4393827)
Hard to say, without knowing how much of the conference's TV money is going towards basketball. The TV deal is a reported $500M over 12 years, or about $4M per school/year
   21. Jason Michael(s) Bourn Identity Crisis Posted: March 21, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4393857)
At age 8, he swiped his father’s Bill James books and devoured them.

Neither his father nor his digestive tract have ever forgiven him.
   22. JoeHova Posted: March 21, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4393872)
Hard to say, without knowing how much of the conference's TV money is going towards basketball.

All of it, was my impression. It's going to be a fairly decent raise for Georgetown and Marquette and all the rest. So, if they were considered major programs before, I don't think this TV deal will be a reason not to still consider them majors. (One interesting note, Marquette has been in the top 15 nationally in attendance for each of the past 6 seasons. That probably overstates their fanbase a little because some schools with huge fanbases do not have very big arenas (Duke, for example) but I feel like they don't get a lot of respect as a big program.)

Actually, looking at the list of teams in the top 25 in attendance, it's mostly huge state schools, along with Syracuse, Marquette, Creighton, Vandy and BYU. It kind of illustrates why the Big East wants Creighton.
   23. smileyy Posted: March 21, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4393876)
In [20] I meant to say "without knowing how much football-driven TV money is going to basketball in other conferences"...when I was editing the post as I wrote it, I totally obliterated that important point >.<
   24. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 21, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4393883)
That probably overstates their fanbase a little because some schools with huge fanbases do not have very big arenas (Duke, for example)


Duke has a big national fan base. It doesn't have a big attendance base.

   25. hokieneer Posted: March 21, 2013 at 11:15 PM (#4394009)
i'm actually not convinced that the new big east will be all that impressive as a basketball conference. i think it's great that they're being proactive in detaching themselves from the remaining football schools who would sell them out in a heartbeat, but what the conference loses by not having syracuse and pittsburgh and louisville and uconn and cincinnati and notre dame is not just those schools, but also the opportunity for other teams to pad their resume by beating those schools. villanova beat louisville and syracuse in consecutive games earlier this year, and if those wins were over seton hall and depaul instead, i don't really have a doubt that villanova would be a 4 seed in the NIT instead of a 9 seed in the NCAA tournament.


The new look Big East will be a much better version of the top half of the A-10. I would guess the A-10 consistently has 5-6-7 teams that could play in any major conference, puts 4+ teams in the tournament annually, and fields a few more in the NIT. I"m fairly confident the new 10 team BE will easy pull 5 if not 6 NCAA bids a year, which is on par with the current Big12 ratio. They will always be behind the ACC and Big Ten going forward, but I see no reason why they couldn't rate just as high as the BIG 12 or PAC 12.

Plus they are keeping the name, MSG, getting good money given it's basketball only, and as someone alluded to up thread, they have easy expansion targets with VCU, St. Joe, Charlotte, etc.
   26. JoeHova Posted: March 22, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4394044)
Nate Silver wrote an article a few months ago about the possible strength of the basketball-only Big East. Using his numbers to add in the 3 teams that are joining, the new Big East will be just about tied with the SEC for 4th best basketball conference, behind the ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12. And the gap between them and the conferences ahead of them wouldn't be huge. Of course, this is all subject to change as it's not yet apparent what kind of recruiting hits (or possibly benefits) will come along with the new league. Nor is it apparent who the 11th and 12th teams will be, although St. Louis and Dayton seem to make the most sense. Those two would drag down the league's Sagarin ratings a bit but VCU doesn't really seem to be an institutional fit, Gonzaga & St. Mary's are way too far away, and it seems unlikely that Villanova would be enthused about St. Joe's joining.


i think it's great that they're being proactive in detaching themselves from the remaining football schools who would sell them out in a heartbeat, but what the conference loses by not having syracuse and pittsburgh and louisville and uconn and cincinnati and notre dame is not just those schools, but also the opportunity for other teams to pad their resume by beating those schools.

Four of the six schools you mentioned were already leaving the Big East, which is what precipitated the split of the conference. The only teams you mentioned that the "Catholic 7" would have played in the future were UConn and Cincy. And UConn made no secret of their desire to leave for the ACC, they were just beaten out by a more aggressive Louisville. The basketball schools saw their opportunity to not be shackled to a bunch of dead weight and they took it. If they had waited for UConn to actually leave at some point, the split would have been messier because the new schools would have had voting rights by that point. Plus, is playing UConn once in awhile really worth having to play Tulane and SMU and UCF and USF? Yes, Memphis and Temple are pretty good programs, but are they really much better than Xavier and Butler?

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