Q&A – Ken Pomeroy

Posted: February 5, 2013 by DeadBefore50 in 2013, Basketball

Ken Pomeroy is a pioneer in the advanced metrics revolution reshaping the way we view and judge college basketball. If you’re not familiar with his work, take the time to visit http://kenpom.com/. Prior to the start of the 2013 NCAA Men’s basketball season, Mr. Pomeroy was kind enough to share some of his insights:

1. For those not familiar, what motivated the creation of kenpom.com, and what information does the site afford its subscribers?

It grew out of a desire to have a reference for evaluating D-I teams and players. Stats don’t tell the whole story, of course, but often times the eyes don’t either. And if your team is playing somebody obscure, there might not be much eye-based information available on your opponent anyway. So I tried to build something that would bridge that gap and give fans a fighting chance to be experts themselves.

2. Was it an interest in mathematics/statistics or sports which originally started you on the path to converging the two?

I don’t think it’s possible to separate the two. Without one or the other, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing. I love watching the game, but I love the statistical side of it as well, and it’s through that prism that I learn things.

3. The “Four Factors” approach is what originally attracted me to your work. For the uninitiated, what are the “Four Factors”, and how does your site/work apply the combination to college basketball?

The Four Factors are based on a concept that Dean Oliver developed whereby almost all of a team’s offense (or defense) can be explained by four things: shooting, rebounding, turnovers, and free throws. So if you’re evaluating what a team does well, those are the best high-level things to start with.

4. With “one and done” and transfers on the rise, how does your pre-season ratings system account for increased roster turnover?

Basically, the preseason ratings look at who’s coming back, how important they were last season, and their class. As far as transfers and freshman, they aren’t included directly, and the system just assumes any new players are going to play at a level worse that last season’s team (unless they are highly rated recruits).

5. The 2012-13 NCAA basketball season is on the horizon. Which 3-4 teams do you consider most intriguing (and why)?

Usually it takes a month or two for those kinds of teams to wind up on my radar. The most intriguing teams are ones that are underrated or overrated by the media, or teams that are misunderstood. Early on, I’m most intrigued by Kansas State, as there’s some reason to think they’ll be pretty good, but are getting very little interest from national scribes. Lots of similarities there to Missouri last season.

6. I assume the subjective nature of the NCAA Tournament selection process doesn’t sit well with your analytic/objective approach. What, if any, changes would you make to the process?

Eh, it’s not really that bad. My biggest beef is that the basketball committee is charged with selecting the best teams to fill the at-large pool but their methods don’t really accomplish that in that they ignore margin of victory and overvalue performance on the road. The other beef is that they do actually use objective data, but their choice of data and how to use it is fairly bizarre. But even so, they don’t screw up the bracket too badly.

7. Free Throw Rate (free throw attempts / field goal attempts) “captures a team’s ability to get to the free throw line” and is prevalent in your review of college basketball teams. Some analytics have adjusted the formula to factor Free throws “made” as opposed to “attempted”. Why do you prefer the focus on “attempts”?

In general, I prefer separating skills. Using free throws made mixes a team’s ability to get the free throw line with its ability to make free throws. I think if you’re evaluating a team, you’d like to know (a) how often does the opponent get to the line and (b) how good their free throw shooting is, rather than combining the two entirely separate skills into one number.

8. Weber State’s Damian Lillard grabbed the 2011-2012 kenpom.com Player of the Year award (at least 28% of possessions used). Which 3-4 players do you expect to compete for the 2012-13 version of the award?

Actually, Draymond Green won my player of the year award (kPOY), but Lillard was definitely one of the most valuable players to his team. Cody Zeller was 9th in my formula last season and is the highest ranked returning player, so he’s probably the favorite, although it would be close with DeShaun Thomas. If N.C. State is in the mix for a one-seed, C.J. Leslie will be in the race as well.

9. Batting Average was long considered a keystone Major League Baseball stat. Recently, BA has taken a backseat to OPS (On Base % + Slug%) and other “advanced” statistics. Any parallels on the basketball side?

I don’t think there’s a silver bullet like that unless you want to consider points per possession. The main thing about advanced hoops stats is that they always try to account for opportunity and isolate skills, which is something most old school stats don’t do very well.

10. There has been some talk of ending the practice of NBA players competing for Team USA in the next Olympics. If that came to fruition, and you were asked to comprise a two-deep roster of 2012-13 D1 players, who would make the cut (and why)?

Through a mix of scouting and stats, I’d go with Cody Zeller, Nerlens Noel, C.J. Leslie, Andre Roberson, Otto Porter, Deshaun Thomas, Shabazz Muhammad, B.J. Young, C.J. McCollum, and Trey Burke.


Isaiah Bailey

Posted: November 5, 2012 by DeadBefore50 in Uncategorized

Isaiah Bailey is a next-level athlete with clear upside. His recruitment has begun to heat up, and more is expected as he prepares to enter his junior season at Compton High. Isaiah shared a few minutes of his time and commented on his game, a few “rivals”, and a little Meek Mill.

1. For those not familiar with your game, what does Isaiah Bailey bring to the basketball court?

I bring toughness, heart , and a will to win and will always give my all.

2. Rivals.com has you listed as a 4-star and the #68 ranked recruit in the Class of 2014. What are your thoughts on the rating/ranking? Do reviews of your game impact your play or motivate the amount of effort you put into improving?

I mean I’ve always said rankings didn’t mean much to me but, seeing that does gives me this motivation to be better.

3. Which area(s) of your game are you looking to improve, and why?

3 point range, point guard skills ,and rebounding because with better range I feel it would be hard to stick me and I’m not saying I can’t shoot the 3 ball I’m just saying I need more range and my point guard skills and rebounding are for triple doubles I wanna get multiple triple doubles this year that’s one of my goals.

4. Any personal/team goals for the 2012-2013 High school season?

Personal goals would be to average 20 points 5 rebounds 5 assist and my team goal is to win state and CIF.

5. Excluding current teammates, which 2-3 current High school hoopers would you most like to play alongside?

I really like the way Parker-Jackson Cartwright runs his team , I would love to play along side Jordan Bell even though he’s from my rival school , and another one would be my brother that goes to Long beach Jordan Rahshead Johnson who is from another rival school.

6. Which 2-3 current High school players would you most like to go up against? Why?

Stanley Johnson , Aaron Gordon , and Parker-Jackson Cartwright I chose Aaron Gordon and Parker because we lost to them last year and Stanley because I knows he’s competitive.

7. On the recruiting/college front, are you looking to remain close to home (Cali/West coast), or are you fairly open to all opportunities?

I’m fairly open to any college.

8. As of our last conversation (August 21st 2012) you confirmed USC as the front-runner in your recruitment. Does that remain the case? Over the past two months have any new programs expressed interest?

It’s kind of changed I have interest from UConn ,UCLA, Washington St., Oregon, Oregon St. ,Oklahoma , Arizona St., Boston college, and offers from USC, Gonzaga , UNLV, San Diego St., Arizona.

9. What are your long-term personal/basketball goals?

To make money take care of my family and not be average I wanna be great.

10. Your team is down by one and you have the ball in hand for the final possession. Are you looking to setup a teammate, or take the potential game winning shot?

I’m lookin to shoot first and if someone has a better shot I will pass it to them.

11. Ballislife.com approaches you about the official “Isaiah Bailey Mixtape”, and wants you to select the background track. What are you going with?

Meek Mills I’m a boss