Madness beyond March

While the Thunder are on the road, the ‘Peake will be overrun with March Madness: four first-round games in the West will be played here in OKC, and everyone watching will presumably have access to all manner of statistics for the duration.

Then again, that’s the men’s tournament. The women’s tournament, not being held here but going on at the same time, presumably won’t draw as much interest. But what’s maddening, to me at least, is that so many of the metrics are gone:

Until recently, the one repository for advanced statistics such as usage, true shooting percentage, pace-adjusted player statistics and adjusted team ratings for women’s college ball was WBBState.com, a vertical of data company National Statistical. But that source disappeared Feb. 29, when ServerAxis, the company that provided server space to National Statistical’s hosting company, suddenly took all its equipment offline. There are reports that ServerAxis was having financial problems, but the company has so far not responded to requests for comment. National Statistical also declined to comment on the situation on the advice of lawyers as it works to recover its data and bring the site back online.

Exactly how a web hosting company pulls up anchor, ditches its Miami headquarters, and ends up 1,300 miles away in Chicago, allegedly waiting for its servers to find their way home, is almost certainly a fascinating story, but it’s secondary to the reality that an entire sport’s advanced metrics wing can be wiped off the map by a few nerds absconding with a few hard drives and turning off their phones. This is a corollary to the more global lack of statistical interrogation of women’s basketball — the data isn’t just shallow, it’s scarce, and that scarcity makes it fragile.

Okay, you may not be a stats freak. I’m not that much of one. But I have to believe that there’s a demand for this sort of distaff data:

In the landscape of women’s sports, college basketball in general and the NCAA Tournament in particular are enormously important. The nation’s attention has turned to college basketball, expecting rich, compelling and thorough analysis, and the women’s side, already handicapped by neglect, has lost one of its legs to a freak woodchipper accident. This leaves the writers who cover the tournament, missing servers be damned, in quite the lurch.

One might argue, perhaps, that if the audiences were equal, statistical availability would be maintained in some sort of equal measure. But if these numbers aren’t available, it becomes harder to build that audience.

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