For instance, the data showed that, of forward Sylvester Ogbonda’s misses on a particular set of shots, 62 percent were short, and he missed to the left twice as often as he missed to the right. Ogbonda can be mindful of that as he shoots, and coaches can work on his form to get his shots centered up.
Assistant coach Eric Reveno, a technology-minded type who urged the purchase of the system, said he hoped it could help guard Justin Moore, whom Reveno is hard on himself for misses. Having Moore focus more on making his shot arc more consistent rather than on the end result could make him a better shooter.
“So it’s basically helping him focus on being more process oriented vs. result oriented,” Reveno said. “The game has enough result orientation to it.”
Georgia Tech assistant coach Eric Reveno demonstrates the team's new shot-tracking system, which was developed in part by a NASA scientist.
Noah’s data of more than 21 million shots that have been tracked and uploaded into its cloud indicates that a shot that approaches the basket at a 45-degree angle is optimal. If Moore – or any player – can commit the feel of a 45-degree angle shot to muscle memory, his time shooting alone in the gym figures to be much better spent than simply tossing up hundreds of shots.
“It’s not just make or miss where you just kind of zone out and shoot,” Reveno said. “It gets them to concentrate. Then there’s the technological component where some of the guys get into it and dork out a little bit.”
If you’re wondering, Noah’s data also indicates that shots that go through the basket at a depth of 11 inches from the front of the rim (the basket’s diameter is 18 inches) have the best chance of going in. A scatter-plot diagram of shots positioned on a map of the rim seems to confirm this. As Reveno showed the system to visitors to the practice gym recently, the preponderance of green dots, indicating makes, clustered heaviest about two-thirds of the way to the back of the rim.
“The swish isn’t the perfect shot,” Reveno said.
A scatter-plot diagram of a set of shots taken by a Georgia Tech basketball player, compiled by the team's new shot-tracking system.
Reveno envisions potential uses for the Noah system when shots are tracked in McCamish Pavilion during games this season. Do players’ shot angles flatten later in games? Do they miss differently in games than they do in practice? Players also wear heart monitors during games and practice, which offers the possibility of pairing the two sets of data.
The system has perhaps an unintended benefit. Because data from each shooting session is recorded and available to any member of the team or staff, coaches can know which players are shooting how many shots on their own, and how many they’re making. (Players log in for an individual shooting session. In a scrimmage or game situation, shots are tracked manually on a tablet.)
“I like it a lot,” Okogie said. “It forces you to be accountable in the gym.”
Reveno was familiar with Noah, having used an earlier product as coach at Portland before his hire at Tech in 2016. A Stanford grad who grew up in Silicon Valley, he has long sought to find uses for technology in basketball and has embraced his employer’s spirit of technological innovation. He has had conversations, for instance, with faculty at Tech’s Wearable Computing Center about a sleeve that could track the movement of a player’s shooting arm to determine if he is cocking and releasing the ball on a straight trajectory to the basket.
“I like to kick this stuff around, but there’s people on campus who are doing amazing stuff,” Reveno said.
Going into his second season, Pastner might not need shooting that is amazing. But if a shot sensor can help the Jackets win games, he might be tempted to call it a modern miracle.