Day 2 of the Acıbadem Sport Science International Symposium on Basketball Science was filled with more international speakers than the first day and that much more focused on specialist fields. Both the coaching and injury prevention aspects as much as the true science elements were all well covered in the final day presentations.
For Advance Pro Basketball and myself, all too naturally two major presentations that I had interest in were by Harri Hohteri the CEO of SportIQ the developer of the Wilson Connected basketball and the presenter of the “Smart Courts Are On The Way” titled panel. The second was “Indoor Tracking as an External Load Management” which was presented by Xavi Reche Royo of Barcelona FC a specialist in his field of data analysis.
Before digging further into both presentations and what I got out of them, I also managed to catch the panel led by moderator Merve Toy, the panel included excutives, a coach and a player; Turgay Çataloluk of Banvit Basketball, İbrahim Kutluay of Daruşaffaka Doğuş Basketball, Ufuk Nalbantoğlu of the Turkish Basketball Federation, Ufuk Sarıca Head Coach of Beşiktaş Sonpo Japan and Sinan Güler of Galatasaray Odeabank Basketball.
The overall resounding view was that Turkish basketball has a bright future as long as instilling a long standing culture of progress is established and generations that are currently in youth development are taught that basketball can fundamentally be used as a jumping board for personal improvement. Mr. Çataloluk especially mentioned in rural Anatolia where Banvit locally supports Bandırma and its surrounding try to instil that basketball can help individuals at a young age and its also through screening of thousands of players that they are able to support the development of the basketball community of Turkey in general in Anatolia. Ufuk Sarıca, was sceptical at points especially with the fact that stating that if Turkish basketball keeps on utilizing the current foreigner rule that is in place (5+1) it will eventually suffer in attempting to raise local talent and the general basketball consumer/enthusiasts will not be able to familiarize themselves with predominant U.S. players that are currently in the majority of the Turkish basketball leagues. (my personal view: I agree with coach Ufuk Sarıca, I feel that Turkish basketball will highly likely suffer if this trend will continue the way it has…) Prof. Dr. Nalbantolğu raised awareness of how medical staff surrounding the basketball community were tirelessly working to prevent injury as well as support the sport overall and Sinan Güler touched on the topic of how players shift focus during their pro. career as well as his experience during his college years of when he was in the U.S. as a JUCO player.
To sum up the panel “PANEL: FUTURE OF BASKETBALL” while there are many bright points to focus on treading carefully on certain points needs to be looked out for.
It would have been good to see a bit more of a data science focused perspective on the panel and how for instance data driven focuses or solutions are effecting coaching, executives and even players as this shift has already been in effect in the U.S. for the last couple of years very key in changing the way the game is being played. Is European basketball still to behind on the heals of global trends in basketball in terms of switching over to a more science based perspective. While we see lots of on court action taking place that still focus on fundamental elements of basketball, its rare to see and hear that coaches in Europe utilize or adapt to lineup analysis instead of focusing on endless edits of play sets and playbooks of opponents as they try to analyse and try to react to what would happen instead of trying to create 360 degree strategies that are include data driven outcomes and deliver crisp reasoning that can help determine in game developments.
So now, to dig deeper into the two panels that were of key interest to Advance Pro Basketball, Harri was amazing in explaining how far things have come over the last decade since the first use of scorekeeping has initially triggered an interest in how data can initially help and ease the way basketball is perceived as well as developed as a strategy driven sport between two sides.
Its a fact that basketball analytics as lots to offer in European basketball, in the U.S. predominantly in the NBA and NCAA analytics has become a well established bit of work that helps coaching and executives at various levels.
Key take aways from Harri’s presentation that stick out and that should be at the center of every analytical based solution are as follows:
- Reduction of added manual labor (taking weight off assistant coaching staff especially and creating an opportunity to relay information much more effectively)
- Helping scorekeepers and coaches that deal with edits and video (for individual player scouting or opponent breakdowns)
- Automation of play by play statistics
- Standardised and consistently collected play by play statistics
- Completely new play by play statistics
- New Data enabling the study of completely new aspects of the game (advanced metrics development)
- Better player assessment (individual and within team circumstances)
- Assistance for front office personnel in trades and player acquisitions (the Moneyball phenomenon)
- Better Analysis of alternative tactics (offensive and defensive strategy layouts self scouting and opponent scouting)
- Aid for coaching staff or comparing effectiveness of tactics
- Measuring physical load on the player (also the key point of Xavi’s presentation!)
- Optimizations of practice and playing time (rotation analysis)
- Minimizing risk of injury of players (injury prevention a major topic of the entire morning of the final day!)
- Improving the EXCITEMENT of BROADCASTING
- Flashy visual graphics
- New narratives and talking points for fans, consumers and the entire basketball community
Aside from the above major points of how analytics really helps basketball Harri additionally mentioned that SportIQ are currently developing a consumer application that would allow for live player tracking of statistics which would be a great leap for the sector of basketball analytics overall.
Moving on to Xavi’s amazing presentation on “Indoor Tracking as an External Load Management” gave listeners in depth information on how Barcelona FC as well as how Xavi manages various external loads and how from an academical stand point things are translated to the court as well.
Seeing various outcomes of how various positions even reacted to various loads was good and the fact that a club such as Barcelona FC utilizing this type of data to manage its personnel and be able to act on it was great.
There definitely were many more take aways I might have missed on from either session but overall the strides made through European basketball with the assistance of science needs to grow more and more. Its a fact that there is a gap of at least 5 – 7 years but thinking innovatively and pushing to strive for greater goals that one day data driven solutions will be able to give instant feedback to coaches on the court is what all of us in basketball analytics and those that work in the background are after.
Once again, I can not mention enough that more and more of these type of symposiums need to happen across Europe. Not just around major basketball events but during key times during the season where we can hopefully see how data minded people could effectively assist in the improvement of the game.
One point that did stick out to me was that there was no-one from the STATS end at the symposium. While SportVU are doing the data capture of the Euroleague Final Four in Istanbul for the first time ever and with hopes that the data becomes public would be of amazing stride and help in the analysis of times to come the fact they were not present brings in question marks to why?
Another sore point is that data overall in a majority of Europe is still private and STATS, Genius Sports as well as other service providers ask for extra-ordinary amounts of funds in order for raw or partially formed data to be sold.
FIBA Europe as much as the rest of the European basketball community deserves improvement and data needs to be public for interpreters and analysts to be able to work with.
I do hope that you enjoy the Euroleague Final this evening that will shortly start and that you have enjoyed my reporting on what I consider to be a great event I took part in.
Looking forward to connecting very soon!
Always, Advance Pro Basketball