St. Ignatius
'We Can Revolutionize SI Sports': Sports Analytics Club Helping Women's Basketball

Eddy Dudum ’23 opened a new window on his laptop and displayed a series of numbers listed in columns alongside St. Ignatius Women's Varsity Basketball players' names. As founder of SI's Sports Analytics Club, this is the heart of the work he does on behalf of the team.

"The coaches already get all the traditional statistics they could want, but we're also producing statistics that try to measure players' instincts and habits on the court, particularly when they're on defense," he said.

SI's Sports Analytics Club members Eddy Dudum ’23 (fourth from right), Ethan Qua ’23 (fourth from left) and Michael Veit ’23 (second from left), pictured with SI varsity team managers.

Dudum and other members of the club pore through game video, track various actions on the court and collect that data all in one place. Those numbers are available to coaches, but they go beyond that. From there, they apply admittedly somewhat arbitrary weights to the different actions on the court to arrive at a rough holistic defensive rating for each player. Dudum also produces a written analysis of the team's performance based on the club's video study and the statistics they gather.

"A good example of what we're tracking, specifically, that doesn't show up in traditional statistics is help defense," Dudum said. "If you're going to be a good team, you need to have good help defense. So, we'll track whether a player is able to recognize situations where they're supposed to provide help defense. We watch the video and try to count all the times they properly helped or failed to help. A few other things we track include box outs and something we call PAPS, or points allowed per shot, which is an attempt to measure how many points a defender gives up while they're guarding the ball."

All of this is meant to provide more information for the coaching staff, and Dudum is quick to emphasize the limitations of the operation as it is right now.

"I had a chance to speak with the head coach, Coach Maya Fok, early in the season, to pick her brain about her philosophy on the game, and we've exchanged emails, too. I think if you go too deep into analytics, it's easy to get away from focusing on basketball basics," he said. "For instance, simple math suggests it's better to shoot three-pointers because making them at a 33% rate is the same as making two-pointers at a 50% rate. But Coach Maya also likes to emphasize the importance of shooting with confidence. So, for instance, a confident two-pointer can be more valuable. It's not just a simple math equation."

Women's Varsity Basketball Assistant Coach Angelique Bocarra ’04 is the moderator of the club. She said the statistics they provide have already helped the team in planning and coaching.

"It's another way for us to evaluate whether we're playing the way we want to play," Bocarra said. "As coaches, we are present and engaged during games, but we can't see everything, so we deeply appreciate those extra sets of eyes and minds providing fresh observations backed by  data. This data has already helped us in developing strategy, managing personnel, skill development, and planning practices. Also, the data provided, in a way, gives us insight into what our competitors may see in scouting us — our tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. These students are making us better coaches."

Looking forward, Dudum is hoping to recruit more students to the club, expand their capabilities, and perhaps branch out to other sports.

"I'm not a coder, so if we could find someone to help make this work go faster, that would be great," he said. "We have big goals. I'm happy that Coach Bocarra is our moderator and we have support in the Athletics Department, because I think we can revolutionize SI sports. This can be something special, since I don't think many other high school athletics programs are doing what we're doing."
 

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