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Computer program aids court performance


January 5, 1996
Web posted at: 2:08 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Dan Ronan

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- As if multi-million dollar players aren't enough to win basketball games, National Basketball Association coaches are now turning to high technology. Computers with sophisticated data bases can tell a coach which play has the best chance of working against the opposing team.

They call NBA basketball "the best versus the best." Coaches and players are always looking for an edge; and before each game, scouting is how many teams find it. Now they can improve their scouting reports by using IBM's "Advanced Scout" program.

"Two things that every coach does: They look at statistics and they look at video," said New York Knicks assistant coach Bob Salmi. "And essentially what 'Advanced Scout' is, is a merger of those two." (85K AIFF sound or 85K WAV sound)

court screen

"Advanced Scout" is a data-mining program. In spreadsheet form, it shows mounds of game information and identifies statistical patterns -- player-by-player and team-by-team. And it works in coordination with a team's videotape system -- the time-coded tape can be matched to a scout's notes in the computer.

"It actually suggests to the coach that there are certain interesting patterns which he may have missed," said IBM researcher Inderpal Bandari.

With a laptop computer and a VCR, all the NBA teams can have their scouting records organized so coaches can follow their club and -- more importantly -- their opponents. "Advanced Scout" can analyze a team's previous performance and statistics, giving the head coach, players, scouts and assistant coaches valuable information for making a game plan.


"We can have three or four decisions made on how we can defend things. We start with one way and maybe change it to another," said Atlanta Hawks assistant coach Jack Nolan, who said he never travels without his laptop.

"I type up notes on different players and deliver that to the team," he said. "We talk about it, watch some tape on it and discuss different tendencies of players."

"Advanced Scout" is in its infancy. Eventually, IBM wants to make it, or a similar program, available on the Internet for arm-chair coaches.

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