Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Josh Eilert is a believer in what analytics say and how he’s used them this season at WVU

MORGANTOWN — In the most simplistic terms, analytics are tons of stats from things that have already happened that coaches use with the hope of predicting the future.

And the usage of analytics has grown tremendously across all sports in recent years.


“It’s certainly a tool in getting your point across to players,” WVU men’s basketball head coach Josh Eilert said. “They’ve got to understand it. It’s so prevalent in today’s game. You see it every day.”

The usage of analytics explains how a baseball manager yanks his pitcher in the fifth inning after he went the first four allowing just two hits and striking out eight.

Why? Because the analytics suggest that hitters begin to tee off on that pitcher once he reaches the later innings.

It can be a little more subtle in basketball, yet you’ve already seen analytics come into play with the Mountaineers (2-1) this season when Eilert decided to start freshman Ofri Naveh last week.

“That was more of an analytics thing,” Eilert said. “We’ve really spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right lineup combinations. From a defensive rebounding perspective, he gave us a lot more there than Seth (Wilson) did.”

WVU travels to the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip-Off at 8:30 p.m. Monday to face SMU (3-1), a deep and athletic team whose one loss was against No. 13 Texas A&M. WVU’s second game of the event is scheduled for Wednesday, against either Virginia or Wisconsin.

“They have a lot of veteran talent on that team,” Eilert said of SMU. “They have good size, and they have really good athletes. They’re really deep. They’re playing 10 guys, and the way they play is they kind of get up in you. They might turn the pressure up a little more on us, because they know we’re shorthanded.”

Eilert is a believer in analytics, more so than former head coach Bob Huggins ever was.

“It’s a great tool to figure out where your advantages are and where your disadvantages are,” Eilert said. “The data out there is so prevalent, and we subscribe to three or four different analytical programs that we use on a daily basis.”

That goes as far as how he rotates his players in and out of games, as well as keeping in mind what the analytics say about the lineup he has on the floor at any given time.

“Right now, you can see which guys play well together and which guys don’t,” Eilert said. “There’s a very telling stat between two guys who do not play well together, even going back to the Vanderbilt scrimmage. That combination of two guys, we’ve tried to avoid at all cost to try and make ourselves more efficient.”

What exactly is found on those analytical pages? Honestly, just about anything you can think of, down to such details as which players shoot better against a zone defense as opposed to man-to-man.

“The data, it’s almost like you don’t have enough time to digest it all,” Eilert said. “You have to pick and choose what analytics work for you, because you can go down a deep dark hole and really spend all your time trying to figure out the analytics and the data and how it can help you. Over analysis equals paralysis, I’ve heard that a number of times over the years.”


WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Suncoast Credit Union Arena, Fort Myers, Fla.
TV: FS1 (Comcast 271, HD 857; DirecTV 219; DISH 150)