How the Benedictine Ravens leverage data to fly to new heights

Recently named NAIA DI Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, Ryan Moody of Benedictine College cites several reasons for his team’s stellar 2018-19 campaign — and one of those reasons is ShotTracker. He is getting more out of his team than ever before by harnessing the power of instant stats and analytics.

The Ravens went undefeated in conference play, earned a 1 seed in the tournament, and finished with a final record of 31-4. They accomplished this by spreading the floor and taking better shots than ever before. “The analytics say that this is the best way to win with the talent that we have,” Coach Moody says. “ShotTracker drives home the point: ‘This is what we’re good at, and here’s why.’”

But knowing why is not enough. The Ravens depend on ShotTracker to ensure that they’re meeting their 10,000-shot per week goal. Whether Coach Moody is splitting up guards and bigs for shooting drills at four different baskets or running a live scrimmage in his practice, ShotTracker is measuring every player’s output. This data informs the Ravens staff come game-time. “If we’re taking 30 shots by halftime and 18 of them are 3s. In the past, we’d be going, ‘That’s way too many,’” Moody says. “But now, because we can trust in the data, we know this is who we are.”

Coach Moody and his staff are continually finding new ways to take advantage of this cutting-edge tech — as a recruiting tool, a time-saver, an individual skill-enhancer and the perfect means to forging close bonds between him and his players.

RECRUITING WITH AN ACE UP YOUR SLEEVE
Every high school recruit who stops by Ralph Nolan Gymnasium gets a first-hand look at how instant stats and analytics can help him become a better player. Their first reaction is always the same: “Wow.” “ShotTracker gives us a big advantage in recruiting,” Moody says. “It’s been great to say that we were the first ones [to get ShotTracker installed]. At one point, we were the only ones. Now, there’s a lot more schools out there, but we’re not battling KU and Michigan State for players. We’re a smaller institution. So, as a coaching staff, when we can say we have something that the other schools at our level don’t, that’s big.”

FORGING A CLOSER CONNECTION WITH YOUR PLAYERS
ShotTracker represents an extension of young athletes’ daily lives, in which they have never not had instant access to all the information in the world. “They think it’s cool and cutting-edge because that’s where things are going,” Moody says. “Does a high school player come into a college program understanding points per possession? Effective field goal percentage? Things that have become very prominent in our game over the last 5-10 years? Probably not, but ShotTracker helps them make those connections. These players are used to getting instant information, so it’s a matter of processing that information to show them how it can make them better as an individual player — and then how it can make us better as a team.”

PRACTICE MORE EFFICIENTLY
With ShotTracker, drills are running more efficiently than ever, automatically yielding invaluable data. “Being able to get information to players without breaking down film for hours and hours is a huge relief for everybody,” Moody says. In practice, Benedictine often runs a competitive shooting drill with four players at four different baskets, yielding revealing shot charts and zone maps. Scrimmages serve up even more actionable intel for gaining an edge on the next opponent. “Sometimes you get so far into preparation and worrying about your team and the other team’s scheme you forget that this all comes down to dribble-pass-shoot,” Moody says. “ShotTracker is phenomenal because now you can play twenty minutes of live practice and instantly recognize that you’ve got certain players making shots from certain spots — and certain guys that aren’t.”

INSPIRING PLAYERS TO PUT IN EXTRA WORK AT THE GYM
With the ability to grab a sensor and track their stats whenever they want, Benedictine players are hitting the gym on their own more than ever before. “Ninety-five percent of these kids are driven to be as good as they can be in this sport,” Moody says, “so what better tool is there? ShotTracker gives them the instant feedback they need to stay focused on the task at hand. They don’t have to keep track anymore. They can look at their phone and know exactly what they got done, or even be given some things to do. And it gives us a level of accountability because we can look at ShotTracker and see who’s getting in the gym outside of practice and how much they’re getting done.”

Installing ShotTracker in their practice gym has proven to be a game-changer for Benedictine. Providing Coach Moody and his staff with a superabundance of data that translates into victories. “Without a doubt, ShotTracker has changed the way we look at analytics,” he says. “We are now way more in tune with the numbers and what works for us.”

Where a high tempo team that’s running and gunning might get 80 shots up over the course of a game, Benedictine averages between 65-72. That’s why one stat Coach Moody pays particularly close attention to is Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%). “For us, shot selection is everything. Other teams play so fast that they can take 15-18 terrible shots and it doesn’t matter. We’re using ShotTracker to really hone in on great shots.”

ShotTracker’s zone maps reveal the spots on the floor where Benedictine shoots most efficiently, and the coaching staff in turn drills their players in practice until taking shots from those spots becomes second nature to them. “Anybody who plays for us knows there are five spots on the floor that we want to get 3’s from. We want those five spots to be the hottest, with hopefully some orange and red in the corners and slots.”

With a data boost from ShotTracker, Coach Moody built a terrific program full of players who buy in and work hard. His staff leverages every tool possible to help their players succeed. It’s no surprise that the Benedictine Ravens put together one of the best seasons in program history. Watch out for their continued growth in 2019-2020… #StatsDontLie