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By Joshua Lloyd | 2017 U16 National Championships From the Stats Bench

Preface by Janx....

The first year of was an immense amount of effort. It has been a great ride, with many new friendships made, most importantly seeing the guys I have coached achieve the next step of their goals and it will be even more rewarding once they start playing and winning with their respective programs. The relationships with the featured athletes, their families, college coaches and the partners and supporters in this platform makes it worth the effort.

We’ve always known the why we do what we do but we are now determining the what (Blog: I have no idea "what" but I can tell you "why").

Now our platforms are in place, there is a high level of trust and credibility in our brand and platform, we are looking to get more efficient and share the load in what we do. We are not going to stop and seeking to diversify this platform further to include a greater level of support for our featured athletes whilst they are at college. To do this we simply need more volunteers, but only the right people. Joshua Lloyd is someone that we identified and vetted quite heavily before accepting him as a partner in this platform. He has not let us down. He is precise, efficient in his work, excellent knowledge on game analysis and breakdown and very good IT knowledge.

Josh recently attended the U16 Australian National Championships in Perth as a Scorebench Official (Stats). Blogs on national Championships (Blogs: Men's Rankings (PER) from U18 National Championships. By Paul Mesecke, Men's rankings from U20 National Championships. By Paul Mesecke, Our story and journey to become National Champions. By Scott Whitmore, The greatest collective talent at U18 Australian National Champs in history: Perth, Year 2012. By Andrew Jantke) are always very popular. We have decided not to provide any rankings from 16 Nationals but still thought it would be very interesting to provide commentary around the event. Josh’s perspective as an official will also gives us some different insights than we would otherwise have access to.

Pictured: For the first time ever, the Stirling Senators hosted the Helloworld Under-16 Australian Junior Championships in the City of Joondalup in Western Australia from July 8-15, 2017.

Over to Josh....

Pictured: Josh on the stats bench.

Background – How and why I got into Stats

I have been involved with basketball since I was eight years old, playing socially, with school basketball and various levels of district through my teen years and early 20’s that included selection in a National Christian Schools Team that toured the USA in 2003. Once I started Physical Education teaching and had kids my available time to be involved with basketball decreased outside of school where I was fortunate to coach and be assistant coach of several state Christian Schools Teams at National Tournaments, but wanted to still keep involved with basketball in some way. Growing up, sport, maths and stats have always been of interest, including watching basketball and football matches taking my own stats. I had a focus on sport and skill analysis in my Human Movement degree which included a year of statistics and video data collection with the Sturt Football Club (South Australian National Football League Team). Just over two years ago this made me start looking into what is involved with being a statistician within basketball as I would love to be involved in high performance sport. I was pointed toward my local club (Eastern Mavericks) and Peter who has been an amazing person to learn the skills of statistics from. Over the past two and a half seasons I have helped out with the statistics for the Premier League home games and earlier this year put my name forward to be the South Australian representative on the Stats Bench at the Under 16 National Basketball Championships in Perth. I was chosen in this role and the tournament was a fantastic opportunity to see the up and coming talent, meet others from other states in a range of roles and further my knowledge and understanding of statistics within basketball and the game itself.

Tournament in general

This was my first National Tournament of this level that I have attended so it was interesting to see how the tournament was set up and run, particularly from an officials perspective. The tournament was held at the Warwick Stadium, home of the Stirling Senators in Stirling, Perth. It is an eight court stadium with three being used for games, courts 1, 4 and 5. Court 1 is the main show court with built in seating as well as additional seating that was erected for the championships (and regularly set up for Senator games. Court 4 had seating brought in for the tournament and Court 5 was an older court that had in built seating and some additional chairs added to the far side of the court. Courts 7 & 8 were available for courts to use for practices and warm downs by each states teams.

It was a very well run tournament with Renee Narcis and her team having all aspects of each game ready and fine-tuned to ensure everything ran to plan and nothing went wrong. Marcus Langshaw and Adrian Holmes were in charge of the statisticians and worked extremely hard to ensure all games were covered to the highest possible standards, ensuring the live stats were accessible to all online and coaches received the relevant information during and after games as quickly as possible. The referees were a very well structured group with several referee coaches brought in for the tournament, ensuring there was feedback to each umpire pair after each match helping their development, while also trying to ensure the standards were maintained throughout all games on all eight days that included nightly meetings with all referees. I had the pleasure of sharing a room with two other stats guys and three referees, so it helped provide a different aspect of the tournament, while also allowing some robust discussions regarding individual games or umpiring standards as a whole from our perspective as well as from the feedback they were receiving.

There was a great team of volunteers who were invaluable in making sure that all score bench and stats personnel who had long days at the stadium were well looked after with lunches, dinners, snacks and hydrated each and everyday. They were greatly appreciated especially when things got hectic or on the longer days.

There will always be aspects of tournaments that could be adjusted or done differently, but overall, things were run very efficiently in all aspects and any adjustments that needed to be made in order to make it a successful and enjoyable tournament for all. There were four stats people from interstate, a Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and myself (South Australian) representative as well as numerous Western Australian locals who were available for different portions of the week.

Unfortunately, the interstate representatives of the Stats Bench were not able to make it to the opening ceremony due to a lack of transportation to the venue and umpires were the priority. We made it for the first game, but were unable to see any of the initial festivities.

Stats Technology/Processes

On the Stats Bench, we generally had three personnel for each game (there were a handful of games where we only had two due to a lack of available people) with a ‘caller’, ‘inputter’ and ‘spotter’. We use a program called ‘FIBA Livestats’ which is the recognised FIBA program used for all FIBA recognised games of all levels. In order to get the statistics into the program, the ‘caller’, calls the events within a game to the ‘inputter’ who inputs the relayed data into the program that allows the live stats to be visible via the webcast. The ‘spotter’ is responsible for keeping track of substitutions, recording all subs and the times they occur as well as helping to be another set of eyes in case the ‘caller’ was blindsided to a players number or an event. They also help with recording any times and events the ‘inputter’ may ask them to record in order to correct mistakes with their inputting or events they may have missed. It is very important that all three statisticians work collaboratively in order to get accurate information to allow coaches, spectators and perspective scouts get the information they are after during and after the game. Within a game, an inputter will only see about 40% of the game, so it is very important that the ‘caller’ and ‘spotter’ call clearly and accurately so that all statistics collected are correct. In order to do this, we were all wearing headphones that allowed us to communicate regardless of how loud the crowd or game noises were. This was very handy particularly on Court 1 and 5 as we were positioned in the grandstands among the crowd in order to get the best view of the court.

In order to get consistent data across games FIBA have standards as to what is an assist, rebound, steal or other stat in order for accuracy across the world. With some of these stats there is still an element of interpretation needed by the team. A ‘controlled’ tap to a team mate off a missed shot is a rebound, if the pass sets up a made basket an assist is awarded, the player who initiates a change of possession that results in a change of possession is awarded with the steal, with a turnover was it the passer that caused the ball to be turned over or was the pass catchable and the recipient of the ball was the one who made the error. Each of these plays may be interpreted differently depending on where the ‘caller’ is sitting, the angle they have on the play or the how the individual interprets what has occurred in the play.

A couple of new rules FIBA have brought in with their statistics are; if any player receives the ball in the keyway, regardless of what they do to create a shot or how long it takes them to shoot, the passer receives an assist. Also, any live ball turnover must have a steal awarded to a player – this has changed from a steal being awarded to a player who actively ‘creates’ a turnover through their actions. This lead to a greater number of assists to players passing the ball into bigs inside the key as well as more steals being awarded as any player who even had the ball ‘fall in their laps’ were awarded with a steal.

As much as we tried to make the statistics for the tournament accurate, the score bench is the official sheet, which meant that regardless of what we thought was correct, we need to match the scores and foul count with what is recorded on the scoresheet. In most of my games, there were no or only minimal adjustments at half time or the end of the game to the number of points scored or fouls gained by players, but some games had some big discrepancies, which caused some frustration and may have been different to what players or coaches thought had happened.

Within a game, coaches were given a printed box score at the end of each quarter showing the key stats that appear on the live stats available to the general public. After the game, coaches received a validated box score (that included any changes that needed to be made after checking with the stats bench), a landscape box score, printed shot areas and quarter by quarter breakdown. We also exported video files from the game as we entered the live stats that most coaches then used in conjunction with videos they had done of the games in order to analyse their games or their opponents. In giving these sheets to coaches or their assistants, it allowed me to get to know some of the coaches and at different points allowed me to have conversations with them after games about how the game went, how they are seeing themselves in the tournament or what is next on their schedule.

Talent/Playing Styles/Trends

Within the eight days, I did stats – either calling, inputting or spotting for 26 games, generally averaging three to four games per day, but I did have one day where I had five games in a row (out of a possible six timeslots) and then on Finals day, just had two games – one was the honour of calling for the Men’s Gold Medal match. This was an even bigger honour for me as most of the other stats people had some experience with NBL games in their home state, which I am yet to have the experience of yet, but also some have had experience at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and I have merely two and a bit years experience.

With the 26 games, it meant that I had the opportunity to see a range of teams throughout the week, but also had some teams on multiple occasions so was able to see trends in their play, work out if key players were having good or bad days or if players had been scouted well by oppositions and shut down. When I had breaks, I tried to see a number of different teams to get as much perspective on the players and teams in the tournament and their game styles. This also helps in calling for stats as it may help to determine if a player has a tendency to tap the ball on a rebound instead of collecting the rebound, so as to give players credit for actions they do as accurately as possible. The downside to this was that there were some teams I did not get to see much. Two key teams in this situation were SA Metro in the Men’s competition (who finished in 5th position overall) where I only managed to see a half of their semi-finals game due to their schedule not matching to mine and Queensland North, the eventual winners in the Men, who I only saw play in the Gold Medal Match. Throughout the tournament, this is what I noticed regarding teams, their trends, players to watch into the future and their attributes:

The standard of basketball has was high with some amazing players displaying great athleticism, game smarts, and fundamental skills. Most games played out as predicted with the favourites generally winning and in most cases, but there were a handful of upsets and a number of close games won in the final minutes.

Teams that did well have all had similar attributes. In the men, they have been running the floor hard for four quarters, taking any opportunity from a steal or rebound to put up fast break points. The top tier teams have had bigs that have also been running the floor, making all five players on the court a scoring threat on the break, while also the ability to move the ball to the open player for the easy layup or dunk. Once in the offensive set, the good teams have shown good structure with all 10 players knowing their role within the offence and being able to make good decisions consistently as to when to drive, pass, shoot or relocate in order to maximise efficiency and increase the chance of taking the ‘best’ shot. Defensively these teams have the same consistency in their structures, working hard to put as much pressure on their opponents both on and off the ball. There may be a couple of trap options that would be used to mix up the defence and try to get some cheap points, but also were able to put consistently high levels of pressure on players when they have the ball in hand. These players were able to deflect a lot of balls, but were also smart enough to know when to just play straight up defence, either forcing a bad shot or 24 second team violation.

The women were very similar in a lot of ways, bringing a high level of intensity on both ends of the floor. One of the main differences was the athleticism with males having a greater level of it, but this generally meant that the women had a greater focus on the fundamentals of the game such as boxing out and positioning on the court. For some of the women’s teams, they were more structured in their offensive and defensive sets with each player knowing exactly what they were on the court to do. The top teams had particularly strong traps that transitioned well through help defence into great one on one defence. This strong defence enabled cheap points on the offensive end or gave them confidence to move into an offensive set as they were well drilled and had great movement on and off the ball.

Key Players in the Men’s/Women's

Janx: Josh has provided a detailed review of key players across the board in the tournament. We have decided not to publish these but will keep these on file to continue to monitor and track talent and how various kids progress.

Finals/Closing Ceremony

In the finals, all form guides went out the window as teams gave it their all, taking their game to the next level. Most of the games were very close contests, even if on paper they were tipped to be blowouts. At this point of the competition injuries and fatigue also started to play a part in the results, but it was also more evident that teams had become more efficient in how they executed set offences and defences. This meant that the team that won each game was able to produce most consistently, particularly down the stretch and under the increased pressure that was applied in finals matches.

PICTURED: The highly talented South Australia State metro men managed a 5th place finish with lots of upside for the future as one of the most talented U16 groups out of the state in many years. Many of these young men hoping to follow in the footsteps of our recent U20 success and featured athletes on this site.

Noteable Finals Matches

Men’s Semi Final -

crossovers (New Zealand (1st Pool A) vs Queensland South (2nd Pool B) – this was one of the cleanest and free flowing games I saw of the championships. Both teams played straight up defence and it was very much a shootout. By halftime it was 44-43 with both teams shooting about 45% from behind the arc and only a handful of fouls total. The game continued in the same manner for the 2nd half with Queensland being able to continue their consistency with their shooting to take the win and advance to the finals 87-80.

Men’s Classification (winner to 5th place match, loser to 7th) –

New South Wales Metro vs New South Wales Country – this was a fantastic grudge match between the two New South Wales teams. Neither team wanted to lose and the defence played by both teams led to a very even match. It was a back and forth affair with neither team giving an inch. In the end New South Wales Metro won in a nail biter 58-56.

Men’s Classification game for 13th and 14th (Northern Territory vs ACT) –

although playing to avoid last position, both teams were gunning for their first win of the championships and both wanted it badly. Partway through the last quarter NT looked like they had it in the bag with a 14 point lead, but the ACT fought back to make it a 2 point game with one offence left where the ACT had the ball and the chance to win. They were unable to make the shot leading to a 62-60 NT victory.

Men’s Gold Medal Match (Queensland North vs Queensland South) –

neither team was favourite to make the Gold Medal matches against the top finishing teams after the minor rounds in Victoria Metro and New Zealand, but both managed to win through with 6 and 7 point wins respectively. Unfortunately, this game was not another close game like the semi’s with Tamuri Wigness taking over early to put the game heavily in Queensland North’s favour – he finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. They would then hold on to take an easy 88-63 victory and the championships.

PICTURED: Fantastic effort by the state of Queensland in the men's side to have both their metro (QLD South) and regional (QLD North) in the championship game.

In the women’s, I did not get to see many of the close games, but some of note:

Women’s Semi Final (New South Wales Metro vs Victoria Country) –

Victoria Country coming into the finals were placed 3rd in their pool, so with the crossovers were not expected to advance much past the first round. They did advance past the first round playing a great team game to beat New South Wales Country 68-55 where they would face New South Wales Metro the top seed of their pool who had taken care of Queensland South 71-58 and were tipped to advance to the Gold Medal match. This game was not going to be a one sided game though with both teams playing high pressure defence that forced low percentage shots and led to a low field goal percentage. After a tough contest, Victoria Country came out on top with a 60-54 victory to advance to the Gold Medal Match vs Victoria Metro that was a fantastic game. New South Wales went on to play South Australia Metro in the Bronze medal match, which was also a tight tussle.

Women’s Bronze Medal Match (New South Wales Metro vs South Australia Metro) –

This game was tipped to be a tight match between two evenly matched teams and it didn’t disappoint. Statistically these two teams were equal with steal (11 each), turnovers (19 each) and very similar with blocks and assists, but SA managed to get more offensive rebounds and consequently more shots. They were not able to capitalise on this advantage and combined with a very skewed foul shooting stat (9-14 for NSW and 1-1 for SA), it was a close encounter. In the end, NSW was able to hang on and win the Bronze medal with a 53-50 victory.

Women’s Gold Medal Match (Victoria Country vs Victoria Metro) –

Based on previous results through the finals, anyone would have been forgiven for thinking this would be a one sided white wash in favour of Victoria Metro. Once again, like with all of their finals games, Victoria Country fought hard putting aside any previous form to make this a game that had everyone on the edge of their seat. For most of the game Victoria Country held a narrow lead that at times they extended out close to double digits, but neither team was going to go down without a fight. Late in the 3rd quarter, Victoria Metro made their run that would tighten the game before taking the lead. The last quarter was basket for basket with many both teams looking like they could win the game. Within the last minute the game was tied and both teams had their chance to win the game. In the end, neither team could hit the game winner to force the game to extra time with the scores tied at 69. In overtime, Victoria Metro put their foot down and went on to win 87-73. Erin Riley led Victoria Metro with 23 points and 7 rebounds with Georgia Baldwin chipping in with 19. For Victoria Country, Alisha Knights led the way with 29 points and 6 rebounds, supported by Jade Melbourne with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Following these games the two Gold Medal winning teams cut down the nets before the medal ceremony’s to the winning teams, umpires of the medal matches and thank yous to all those who made the week possible. Teams then were able to mingle with those they had become friends with amongst other states over the championships. It was a great way to finish a great week of competition with some fantastic basketball. I had a great time and am very grateful for the opportunity.

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