A Numbers’ Story of Youth versus Experience

As long as teams like the Kentucky Wildcats’ freshmen-laden starting lineup exist, a discussion surrounding Youth versus Experience, often framed as Talent versus Experience, will exist. Forget about the side stories of “rolling the ball out” coaching, actual student-athletes, and universities just being stopping points on the way to the NBA - what do the numbers tell you? And what stories can be made from that?

A smokescreen look at 45 sets of teams tells an interesting story. Spanning 5 years and 9 teams - Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Louisville, Kansas, Florida, and Michigan State - the sample isn’t in-depth, but I believe revealing nonetheless. It includes all 4 past champions, the 2014 NCAA Final Four teams, and a few other perennial blue-bloods of college basketball.

X’s and O’s

The data focuses on two factors: season result and the average years experience of players. If a player was on the court, he was directly impacting the game. If he was directly impacting the game, we want to know the experience they have. So I recorded the class of the top 6 players with the most minutes played per team. Each class is representative of years experience playing ball*; freshman being 1, sophomore being 2, junior being 3, and senior being 4. From there, an average was calculated for player experience among the top 6.

(Not so) Fast Breakdown

How did the least experienced teams do?

Pretty freaking good. The four least experienced teams include:

  • Kentucky 2013-’14 (1.33 years) - still playing in NCAA Final Four as of time of writing
  • Kansas 2013-’14 (1.5 years) - NCAA Round of 32
  • Connecticut 2010-’11 (1.67 years) - NCAA Championship
  • Kentucky 2009-’10(1.67 years) - NCAA Elite Eight

The next 4 youngest include season results of NCAA Championship, NCAA Elite Eight, NCAA Round of 64, and First Round NIT appearance.

So among the eight least experienced teams, that’s:

  • 2 NCAA Championships
  • at least 1 NCAA Final Four (Kentucky’s 2013-’14 team)
  • 2 NCAA Elite Eights
  • 1 NCAA Round of 32,
  • 1 NCAA Round of 64
  • 1 NIT appearance

Lots of success for youthful teams, no?

How did the experienced teams do?

Pretty freaking good, as well. The four most experienced teams include:

  • Florida 2012-’13 (3.5 years) - NCAA Elite Eight
  • Duke 2009-’10 (3.33 years) - NCAA Championship
  • Kansas 2011-’12 (3.33 years) - NCAA Championship Runner-up
  • Louisville 2013-’14 (3.33 years) - NCAA Sweet Sixten

The next 4 most experienced include season results of 2 NCAA Sweet Sixteens and NCAA Round of 64 (Florida 2013-’14 as of time of writing still in the tournament).

So among the eight most experienced teams, that’s:

  • 1 NCAA Championship
  • 1 NCAA Championship Runner-up
  • at least 1 NCAA Final Four (Florida’s 2013-’14 team)
  • 1 NCAA Elite Eight
  • 3 NCAA Sweet Sixteens
  • 1 NCAA Round of 64

Lots of success for experienced teams, yeah?

How experienced were the most successful teams?

Now let’s see what the experience levels were for the most successful teams of the last 5 years in this dataset. We’ll define “successful” as Elite Eight appearance or better. This obviously slims it down, as for some programs reaching the Sweet Sixteen or even just the NCAA tournament is considered a successful year. But these are the best of the best, with many of the fan bases of these teams demanding Final Fours. So I cut it off at the Elite Eight.

Let’s dive in:

NCAA Champions for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013

  • Duke (3.33 years)
  • Connecticut (1.67)
  • Kentucky (1.83)
  • Louisville (2.83)

NCAA Championship Runner-up 2012

  • Kansas (3.33)

NCAA Final Four 2010, 2011, 2012

  • Michigan State (2.83)
  • Kentucky (2.17)
  • Louisville (2.67)

NCAA Elite Eight, 2010

  • Kentucky (1.67)

NCAA Elite Eight, 2011

  • North Carolina (1.83)
  • Florida (3)
  • Kansas (3)

NCAA Elite Eight, 2012

  • Florida (2.5)
  • North Carolina (2.33)

NCAA Elite Eight, 2013

  • Florida (3.5)
  • Duke (3)

NCAA Elite Eight, 2014

  • Michigan State (3)

All over the board, right? The range of years experience averages are 1.67 years to 3.5. Sounds about right.

The story here isn’t that Experience always wins or Talent is always better - it’s that neither are better than the other. Duke’s 2009-’10 championship team was led by 3 seniors, 2 juniors, and a sophomore. Connecticut won the championship the next year led by 1 junior, 2 sophomores, and 3 freshmen. It’s worth noting that Connecticut’s one junior was uber-talented Kemba Walker, but he didn’t do it alone. Nearly half of the points scored in Connecticut’s championship win over Butler came from their freshmen. Freshmen also played 111 minutes in the game, 55% of the total minutes available.

The average years of experience for the most successful teams are 2.62 - the equivalent of sophomore and junior class teams. So you may need experience.. approximately one to two years of it.

How experienced were the least successful teams?

“Least successful” is defined by NCAA Round of 32 or lower. This leaves the Sweet Sixteen in this grey area between Most Successful and Least Successful. For some programs, a Sweet Sixteen experience is expected and anything less is unsuccessful. That said, here we go:

No post-season, 2012-‘13

  • Connecticut (2.33 years)

NIT appearances

  • Kentucky, 2012-’13 (1.83) - NIT First Round
  • Connecticut, 2011-’12 (2.67) - NIT Second Round
  • North Carolina, 2009-’10 (2.67) - NIT Championship Runner-up

NCAA Round of 64, 2009

  • Florida (2.67)
  • Louisville (3.17)

NCAA Round of 64, 2010

  • Louisville (3)
  • Michigan State (3)

NCAA Round of 64, 2011

  • Connecticut (1.83)

NCAA Round of 64, 2012

  • Wisconsin (3)

NCAA Round of 64, 2013

  • Duke (2.33)

NCAA Round of 32, 2009

  • Kansas (2.33)
  • Wisconsin (2.83)

NCAA Round of 32, 2011

  • Duke (2.5)

NCAA Round of 32, 2012

  • North Carolina (2.5)

NCAA Round of 32, 2013

  • Kansas (1.5)
  • North Carolina (2.5)

Noted stand-out among the least experienced team of this entire set is the Kansas 2013-’14 team with 1.5 years of experience on average, the youngest team in the data set. They didn’t even make it past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. But let’s not forget the Louisville team of 2009-’10, knocked out by Morehead State University in the NCAA Round of 64, with over twice the amount of experience per player: 3.17 years. That’s the range of this set of teams, 1.5 to 3.17 years, the equivalent of having a freshmen and sophomore-laden team versus a junior and senior-laden team.

The interesting story here is that it can’t be concluded, given our data set, that the least successful teams are usually the least experienced. In fact, in this set of 17 unsuccessful teams, 4 of them have 3 years or more experience. 3 teams have less than 2.

Game Recap and Caveats

There are some holes in this analysis. The most obvious is that by nature of the dataset selection, successful teams were more populous. A better analysis would be limiting the dataset to the last 5 years most experienced teams and least experienced teams, and comparing their season results (and maybe season record). Maybe for another day.

Nevertheless, the posit that inexperienced teams aren’t as successful as experienced teams is at the very least challenged. We don’t have to listen to the pundits tell us their story anymore; there are numbers that can tell their own.


Data table (Gdoc)


Butler-Connecticut 2011 Championship Box Score

Converting My Wife from Post-Its to Apps

My wife loves sticky notes. She loves writing lists. She loves keeping a notebook in her purse and recording all her ideas for interior designs, things that need to get done before the party this weekend, gifts to buy for nieces and nephews, and groceries for the next trip to Target.

She doesn’t love my incessant nagging for her to stop writing this stuff in one of her many notebooks or on sticky notes that fall off the fridge, but to start recording them in one of the many iPhone apps out there.

Problem is, I haven’t found one that works for both of us, and she has no interest in finding one herself.

So my semi-annual hunt for a list making, to-do tracking, simple sharing app is on once again. Here’s to making this the last one.

UPDATE: It only took a few hours, but we returned to using Wunderlist. We previously used Wunderlist to try planning our wedding and buying our first house, as well as a task list for myself for work. It worked (for the most part), and we found the biggest problem was not crossing things off when they were done and us not communicating when things were being worked on. So while we improve on that, Wunderlist does a great job at making easy-to-read lists, providing a simple method to share them, and offering just enough extra features to keep it from being too minimal (such as comments on tasks, ability to assign tasks, tagging system, easy rearrangement, multi-platform support).

Here’s to getting a lot more shi-, er, stuff done in 2014, and not forgetting anything at the grocery store!

I really, really, really wanna see Flying at Tree Level live, in person.

Really, really wanna.

I love this type of stuff.

The trend in search volume for the query “furlough”, no doubt related to the government shutdown.

No More Multiple Stop Routing in New Google Maps?

Well that’s okay with me. Just more reason for people to switch over to Roadtrippers.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m listening to the Beach Boys at the Roadtrippers HQ, because I work here. But don’t let that stop you from checking out Roadtrippers.

Roadtrippers is Google Maps on steroids - all the multiple destination trip planning from classic Google Maps, plus the place discovery that Google seems to be trying to do, but not pulling off so well.

TL:DR - if you’re looking for multi-stop route planning, Roadtrippers is the best alternative out there to the new Google Maps.


TripAdvisor's Awesome Robots.txt Page →

"Think you have what it takes to join the best white-hat SEO growth hackers on the planet?"

Where are my sale notifications?

I’m not knowledgeable nor do I keep up with the retail industry, but I’m surprised this hasn’t become a standard: notifications from retail stores’ mobile apps when user-selected items go on sale.

Perfect example: I love Arizona Arnold Palmer Iced Tea. When I worked at Walgreens, I had at least one a day, if not two. When they went on sale, typically two for a dollar, I bought cases at a time. I remember buying 6 cases of varying flavors, where, combined with my 15% employee discount, I was paying less than $.45 a can.

I don’t work there anymore, so no more discount. BUT, I’d love if I got a notification - not an email - when it was on sale. I rarely open the Walgreens app on my phone. I forget it’s even installed. Show me a notification whenever my favorite drink is on sale though, and I’ll surely open it.

Why this hasn’t been implemented yet? Beats me. For all I know, some retail stores’ apps already have it. Checking Target’s and Walgreens’, it’s either not there, or buried in the app.

The infrastructure is there. The technology is available. Use it.

What Social Media is Missing (or what I haven’t found yet)

There are two large problems with social media in my humble opinion:

1. Keeping up with it

2. Keeping up with people who use it

Plenty of social media aggregators exist, but none of them solve these two problems. Maybe what I’m asking for is too large of a project, or simply not technically possible. I admit I fall into this trap-thought that anything is technologically possible today.

So what do I ask for? A service (that I’d personally be willing to pay a nominal fee for [re: $20/yr.]) that combines feeds from nearly every social media service, provides very flexible organization of them, and is web-accessible as well as available in an app form.

I don’t care about what’s trending, what’s popular, what’s relevant, or what’s interesting. I want to see what everyone I follow and am friends with are doing. Not what an algorithm thinks I’ll want to see.

Individual social networks already do this to an extent - Twitter’s lists, Facebook’s lists, Google+’s Circles/Groups, etc. - but therein lies the main problem: I don’t want to keep up with all of these individually.

Ideally, this is what I’d love to see Google+ become. They can provide services of their own, but let users add everyone else’s feeds, too. You want me to log in on Google+ regularly? Let me see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Path, Linkedin, and Foursquare, too, and I’ll be there.

Amazon, Google Drive, Dropbox in Per Gig Per Year Price War Per Se

I’ll make this short - I got some folders and files to reorganize. The price per GB per year from Amazon, Google Drive and Dropbox as of April 1st, 2013 are as follows:

Amazon: $.50/GB/year
Google Drive: $.60/GB/year
Dropbox: $1.20/GB/year OR $1/GB/year, depending on billing

All prices are based on 100 GB offering.

I won’t bother giving my $.02 on each, but I will say I use Google Drive and Dropbox (former for work, latter for pleasure) and I… probably wouldn’t use Dropbox at all if I had found Google Drive first. Though GDrive has had its bouts with outages (sometimes for HOURS on end which seems like forever when you practically work within it).

It Pays to be Correct

I think the NBA and NFL are the only (if not one of the few, at least) businesses that penalize its employees for complaining about being errantly judged and evaluated.

In other words, they’ve been done an injustice, they speak about the injustice and who’s responsible, and then they are punished for speaking out.

Let’s face it though - if they don’t speak out (they being the coaches and players), then nothing changes. If nothing changes, the problem usually gets worse. If the problem gets worse, then the product (in this case, the game) suffers. If the game suffers, interest is lost amongst fans. If fans lose interest, they don’t pay to be a part of it. If nothing is paid, then the product doesn’t last.

Now I understand punishing, or at least warning, if the complaining includes vitriol and a certain feeling of hatred or disdain. Those are negative in and of itself, and should be curbed if possible. But when the complaints are not only justified, but delivered somewhat politely and quietly?…

I’d hate to be a ref. It’s a tough job. They’re a supposedly neutral entity with supposedly objective opinions that affect the outcome of two competing entities, under the eyes of thousands, if not millions. One slip-up, and they’re immediately the least favorite person of half the audience.

But I’d hate to be a coach, who can’t speak out about injustices that affect their performance that ultimately affects their employment, even more.