Analytics in Sports: Gut instinct vs. data

Analytics in Sports: Gut instinct vs. data
March 11, 2014, 7:00 pm
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There's been much debate on when too much analytical data becomes a bad thing. At some point you have to say "screw the numbers!" and go with your gut, right?

Hey, you won't find the analytics crowd disagreeing with you. Balance of the two is key to success.

"You use your gut on the game, and you also use your numbers to validate that as you're going through it," Brad Stevens said. "Play calls, what you're running sometimes out of bounds. Most of those things are from film, it is from your preparation and less from numbers, but your gut comes into play in those moments, there's no question about that."

Football is said to be a game of instincts. Of course coaches and staff use numbers and data available to them, but it's not solely used without looking at the other factors involving plays and personnel.

"Data statistically and analytically is good," Falcone head coach Mike Smith said, "but I think there's factors that go into that decision-making process outside of the actual formulas that are put together to allow you to make that decision. There's so many things, there's human factors, there's matchup factors, there's the health factor. So you have to take all of those decisions and information for you to make those decisions."

Rockets GM Daryl Morey says data isn't just in numbers - it incorporates your gut feeling as well.

"Well your gut says data too," said Morey, "it's your lifetime of experience built up over time and how you've interpreted that. So at the end of the day your gut is a valuable thing. I've watched a lot of basketball, and I've seen the patterns of what works and what doesn't. That's a good piece of data, plus what most people think about data, the zeros, and ones, and blocks, and steals and deflections and what they've one on the floor. You add that all up and you try to make the best decision."