Stat Crew Earns a 4.0

by minton on September 19, 2018

Stat Crew announced its fourth year of operation with a research forum in Massengill on September 12. Four students discussed their research projects, involving four different sports. Their research illustrates four sports analytics themes.

Roland Minton, faculty foreman for the Stat Crew, foreshadowed the student presentations with an overview of data collection at the forefront of sports analytics. In the four major sports, player and ball movement are tracked continuously. Division III budgets forbid this level of data collection, and the Stat Crew’s foray into data collection fills in some of the gaps for Roanoke College coaches.

Lexi Denning is a fourth-year mathematics and biology major who is developing an expected goals formula for women’s soccer. Lexi is using women’s soccer data collected at Roanoke home games to develop a formula which forecasts the probability that a shot from a given distance and angle to the goal, with a given defensive pressure, will find the back of the net. Such a statistic is considered the foremost measure of shot quality. It is widely used in men’s soccer, but research into women’s soccer has largely forsaken.

Megan Wheeler, a sophomore sports management and Spanish major, fortifies the “expected points” theme with her basketball research. She will collect data from women’s ODAC soccer games and develop a formula for the probability of making a shot given distance, angle, and defensive pressure. This does not forego the standard basketball heat maps, but does provide an important baseline for comparison of the quality of shots.

Emma Blair is a fourth-year actuarial science, Spanish, and economics major researching women’s lacrosse. This continues the theme of forsaken women’s sports, as there is almost no data available for women’s lacrosse. Emma will be forging season statistics with some game statistics to explore the effect of a 2017 rules change – theme three – in women’s lacrosse. Teams are now forbidden to hold the ball for more than 90 seconds without getting a shot on goal.

 

David Moreau is a fourth-year physics major and pre-engineering student in his fourth year of Stat Crew. His golf research (fore!) moves the new Strokes Gained statistic forward. A fourth sports analytics theme is rating athletes by comparing performance to an “average” performance. Previous Strokes Gained computations have been forced to compare performance on a ten-foot putt on hole 14 at Augusta National to performances on all ten-foot putts. David’s work explores the possibility of formulating meaningful averages on specific courses, or even specific holes.

Stat Crew is fortunate to have these outstanding students collecting data and performing analysis that can help Maroon athletics. For more information or to apply to Stat Crew, please contact Roland Minton at minton@roanoke.edu.

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