Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel—yeah, that Pete Thamel, but get past the name and you'll find it enjoyable and informative reading—has the story of Drew Cannon, a graduate assistant for Brad Stevens at Butler, who at the age of college players, 22, is at the leading edge of college basketball's next breakthrough: statistical analysis on a player-by-player, match up vs match up, team vs team basis, and that includes practice and drills: Brad Stevens, himself with an economist degree, seems to be the perfect coach to fully embrace the statistical approach:
The first thing Stevens did to prepare for the national title game against Duke in 2010 was call up KenPom.com, an advanced statistical site that Cannon wrote for at one time, to figure out Duke's weaknesses. Stevens trusts what he sees with his eyes but says, "The numbers bear themselves out pretty accurately over the course of time." NBA front offices are filled with numerical experts, a change that's trickled through the league for the past decade. Stevens predicts that college basketball will be seeing a more tangible statistical movement. "I think whenever you publish this article," Stevens said, "it's going to change."
One would think that with John Calipari's innovative thinking and next year's talent-loaded roster—one that will require abundant substitution, score/clock and match up decisions, not to mention keeping players content with their minutes played—it would be the perfect time and place for, if not the Drew Cannon, a Drew Cannon.