College Confidential

SMU’s Larry Brown weighs in on analytics debate

SMU basketball coach Larry Brown says there is a lack of teaching in the college and pro game.
SMU basketball coach Larry Brown says there is a lack of teaching in the college and pro game. Star-Telegram

Charles Barkley created a stir Tuesday night when he called Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey “one of those idiots who believes in analytics” on national television.

Barkley made the comments in response to a post on Twitter by Morey that read: “Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment.”

Barkley’s rant has gone viral in which he rips Morey and those who use advanced metrics in breaking down the game.

“First of all, I’ve always believed analytics was crap,” Barkley said. “They say that same crap in baseball, and they put these little lightweight teams together and they never win.

"They're always competitive to a certain degree and they don't win. It's the same thing in the NBA."

Ironically, earlier Tuesday SMU coach Larry Brown discussed the same subject.

Here’s what the Hall of Fame coach had to say about it:

“This analytics stuff has gotten in the way. Most of these owners are really bright, bright businessman and they got a lot of their success on information. I don’t think basketball is about information.

“It’s about teaching and putting people in position to be successful. I also think – both college and pro – have suffered because there’s not enough teaching going on.”

Brown gave an analytic he remembered about the Oklahoma City Thunder three years ago. Serge Ibaka had a better mid-range shooting percentage (between 10 and 16 feet) than Kevin Durant in the 2012-13 season.

But, as Brown said, “The only thing is Durant took everything harassed with two or three guys on him, and Ibaka benefited by playing with [Russell] Westbrook and Durant. So I don’t think you need analytics to figure that out.”

Brown didn’t completely discount stats and analytics, though. He said he’d been using them since he was 14.

“I knew shooting percentages, I knew who could shoot, who couldn’t,” Brown said. “I knew what was a good shot, what was a bad shot. I knew who I could count on at the end of the game to make a play. I knew if somebody couldn’t guard. You can feed everybody all the information you want, but [it's also] something in here [pointing to his gut].

“I think the fact that if you love the game and are a student of the game, you understand things that are important. And if anybody says old-school guys don’t use analytics, I would say they’ve been using them long, long before these guys compiled all this stuff.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison