Friday, May 25, 2012

The Concept

It has been a few years since I first conceived of this project, but I have been waiting until I had the motivation to actually take a crack at it. Arizona basketball is one of my obsessions in life. I was fortunate to have entered graduate school at the University of Arizona in the Fall of 1995, about 18 months before the Cats won the National Championship game on March 13, 1997. That event forever attached me to this team. I never miss a game, although I rarely see them in person. It is a 1,000 mile drive from my home to the McKale Center, and I have made that drive a few times. Last season, I was in Boulder to watch them lose a heart breaker.

My intent is to write about the team but not from the usual perspective. I am not much of a basketball player or tactician. I am not much of a historian of the team, as my experience only goes back about 17 years when I, probably like many others, jumped on the Cats' bandwagon. What I hope to bring to anyone willing to read is a statistical perspective. Numbers are another of my loves in life, a passion I recognize that is not widely shared, although statistical analysis of all aspects of all things are increasingly in vogue. If you like college hoops and things quantitative, I think you'll probably find something of interest here, especially if you are an Arizona fan.

I spent a few years writing about the statistics of bowling, and most often, of my incredibly unskilled bowling team in Laramie, Wyoming. That was both an amusing and intellectually satisfying endeavor. Generally speaking, when one thinks of bowling, they do not think of quantitative analysis. I was inspired by people like Bill James, Nate Silver and Ken Pomeroy, the last of whom perhaps not surprisingly is a friend of mine from high school. We graduated from the same class and even played basketball against each other as kids. What I intend to write about will share many similarities with Ken's work, although the scale of my analysis will be different, as I intend to focus only one team.

My intent is simply to better understand the game and world of college basketball. The Arizona Wildcats will be my case study. In the Information Age, the amount of data available to anyone who is willing and able to ask questions of the world has grown substantially. That said, databases of basketball statistics that are widely available still do not have great temporal depth. So, as time goes on, I will be compiling whatever data I am able to glean from various sources, and as that database grows, so will the kinds of things I will be able to write about.

I will begin with a few posts that put the upcoming season (still six months away) into better perspective, and I will move on from there. No doubt, I will have something to say after every game, but I will not be able to write with the frequency of Bruce Pascoe or Greg Hansen. In addition to writing blogs in my underwear in my mom's basement, I do have other things to worry about, like a job.

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