Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Butler has found secret weapon in statistical guru Drew Cannon
Thanks to Lincoln for passing this along.
The formal basketball career of Drew Cannon ended in eighth grade as the sixth man of his junior high team. In college at Duke, Cannon's only hoops experience came from an intramural team called the Norse Forse.
When Cannon graduated with a degree in statistics last spring, he had modest expectations of finding a job right away. "We were hoping he would not be living in the basement," said Jim Cannon, his father. "That was our goal. And his."
Instead of toiling in the basement, Cannon spent the season on the Butler bench and will be with the team when the Bulldogs play Bucknell in the NCAA tournament on Thursday. Cannon's experience interning with recruiting analyst Dave Telep and his advanced writing about basketball analytics gained the attention of Butler coach Brad Stevens, who offered him a job as a graduate manager this summer.
Cannon takes MBA classes at Butler and makes just $1,000 per month, but his work has significantly impacted how Butler uses lineups and helped him emerge as a potentially transformative figure on the college basketball landscape. Cannon is considered to be the first pure statistics-based hire on a college basketball staff. When Stevens called to offer Cannon a job, Cannon's father said to his son, "Does he realize you are monumentally under qualified for this position?"
In reality, Cannon's experience in scouting and analyzing data has made him the perfect match with the numbers-savvy Butler program. Stevens, a longtime proponent of advanced statistical metrics, said if he had unlimited resources he would create his own statistics division. For now, he has Cannon and gushes about how his research has shaped lineups, substitution patterns and converted the staff's statistical skeptics.