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Why do advanced statistics?

Sometimes just looking at the standard box score numbers isn't much use in telling you what really happened.

Xavier's best defensive rebounder and Matt Stainbrook.
Xavier's best defensive rebounder and Matt Stainbrook.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is a game meant to enjoyed passionately. Unlike the summer-long 162 grind of baseball, basketball is taken 40 minutes at a time in roughly 35-40 chunks a year. You get no more than that, so each game can feel like it's very own beginning or end to something. Frequently, the narrative changes inside the 40 minutes allotted for play. This leads to heightened emotions, and that means the tow most extreme emotions, love and hate. In this series we'll have a look at things that Xavier fans spend their winters loving or hating.

Advanced statistics have taken over baseball by this point. A good way to know that the person you are talking to about your team's latest signing or burgeoning star has no idea what he is talking about is if he references batting average. Conversely, an intelligent fan can reasonably expound on xFIP and WRC+ without batting an eye. Basketball is lagging behind, but thanks to Ken Pomeroy and a growing legion of basketball sabermetricians, that's changing.

The simple premise behind digging past the triple slash of points/rebounds/assists and the usual field goal/three point/free throw shooting line is that the surface level numbers lie. A player may pour in a ton of buckets, but if his offensive efficiency number isn't high, his scoring may actually be hurting his team. Semaj Christon was left carrying the load in 2013, and averaged 15.2 points per game. By looking at his offensive efficiency (a number reached by compiling the sum of a player's scoring possessions, missed field goals and free throws that the defense rebounds, and turnovers) we can see that the 95.9 he posted indicates that he was less efficient than the average college basketball player.

Rebounds are another number that can be skewed. Frequently, pundits will talk about winning the rebound war. That's certainly important, but the rate at which rebounds are gathered frequently tells more about who is actually pushing the averages in their favor. The percentage of rebounds grabbed actually tells far more than the raw number. A team that shoots 30% from the floor and gets 20 offensive rebounds will appear to have rebounded better than a team that shoots 60% from the floor but only grabs 14 offensive boards. In reality, however, the second team hit the offensive glass at a much higher rate, and thereby increased the efficiency of their offense.

There's a lot more that we could go into, but suffice to say that advanced metrics play a large part in the writing at Banners on the Parkway. Throughout the season you'll see offensive rating, rebounding rates, and things like usage percentage and TO rate referenced frequently. Why? Because we love advanced metrics for telling the real story of the game.