It's no secret that numbers and advanced statistics are becoming more widely accepted - the primary focus of talent evaluation, really - across both professional and college sports.
Kenpom.com, Basketball Prospectus, StatSheet.com; there's a bevy of exceptional resources for players, coaches, fans and the media to bear hug as a means of developing either a competitive advantage or just better understanding of the game.
As an economics major at DePauw whose coaching a program that's raising the bar in overachieving, Butler's Brad Stevens has adopted this latest method of coaching with alacrity.
Facing significant talent disparity between his Horizon League school and many of the BCS-conference foes he's outsmarted in recent NCAA Tournaments, the Bulldogs precocious head coach is taking his scouting reports to the next level.
More than just the eye test and what you get out of a box score, Stevens goes far beyond describing tendencies of an upcoming opponent and their offensive sets. Instead, he's busting out numbers and algorithms that are essentially predicting how the game's pace will play out. His uncanny accuracy makes it valuable to players when they're on the court, not just to give them the "I told you so treatment" after the final buzzer sounds.
One of the reasons Butler players have approached NCAA Tournament games with such confidence is trust in the game plan. Stevens has often told them what would happen in a game . . . and players have watched action unfold exactly as he described.
"There's no one in the country who pays closer attention to the details than him," senior guard Ronald Nored said.
It shouldn't shock any of us that Steven's appears to be the biggest change agent among his coaching brethren, and it's nearly impossible to look back and determine exactly how much of an influence he's had on Butler reaching the last two national championship finals.
Heck, you and I have been surfing pace-adjusted websites for years now. We could do his job!
I don't like using the obvious comparison to Billy Beane, but if you're smart enough to get a bunch of overlooked players out of high school to force a #1 seed to its lowest Offensive Efficiency rating of the season, or beat Pittsburgh by holding Brad Wanamaker to a near season worst 2-9 shooting, it may be the only fair comparison.