By: Edward Egros

Previewing the Great Lakes Analytics in Sports Conference

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Next month, I will be speaking at the Great Lakes Analytics in Sports Conference. This event features the latest and greatest in sports analytics, with speakers from across the country discussing their unique research. My talk will be about my own research and how I incorporate these complicated concepts into easily digestible reports for television. The conference will be July 13th at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For more information, click here.

To listen to this podcast,
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The Numbers Behind Hitchcock's Return to Dallas

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The Dallas Stars are bringing back a familiar face, hiring Ken Hitchcock for a second tenure as their head coach. As with all head coaching changes, the team isn't just changing a person, it's changing a philosophy.

Its last coach, Lindy Ruff, was an offense first person, and that is not a "bad" philosophy. As we've shown in our research, hockey teams can win emphasizing offense. But with so many injuries last season to forwards and not having necessary backups to win low-scoring games, the Stars are now emphasizing defense.

Ken Hitchcock does just that.

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What is Good Team Chemistry, Anyway?

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We wrap up our unofficial series on the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference discussing something that may not seem analytical at all: team chemistry. What are the intangibles that make players work better together, how do you quantify and recognize the unspoken communication between athletes and how can a team maximize its chemistry by finding the right combination of people?

To explain the theories behind quantifying team chemistry, I spoke to one of the study's authors, Kevin Roberts, of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

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To read the paper, click here.

Analytics and the UFC

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It may not seem like a natural relationship: analytics and mixed martial arts.  But one research poster at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference discussed how different fighting styles can be more or less successful in a given bout.  Sean Hacket and John Storey put the research together.  I wanted to ask a couple of UFC fighters about the research, so I spoke to the two competing in the main event at this May's UFC 211: Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos.

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A Better Way to Compare Athletes?

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Walker Zimmerman of FC Dallas earned an invitation to play for Team USA and has already logged international acclaim. European clubs are also reportedly interested in his services. It is safe to say he has impressed enough around the world to be considered one of the more talented American-born soccer players currently playing.

Comparing soccer—as well as basketball and hockey players—has often been an inexact science. Some refer to their approach as the "eye" test while others use more analytical approaches. For instance, basketball has "
wins produced per 48 minutes played", hockey has "goals versus threshold" and soccer has "goal probability added". But one of the problems one data scientist poses is it is difficult to compare athletes who play different positions, have different styles of play and may emphasize different skill sets.

At the 2017 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference,
Shael Brown, an undergraduate student at Dalhousie University in Canada, proposes a new metric based upon the PageRank algorithm, the way Google's search engine ranks websites in its results. His presentation discusses how players' "relative ranks" when it comes to the flow of their game, can better help us compare the best in each sport.

To listen to this podcast,
click here.

To read Shael Brown's paper,
click here.