Throw around the word "analytics" in a conversation about sports, and the mind probably jumps to Moneyball , the book about the Oakland A's and how their use of advanced statistics changed the way many think about baseball.
That's not what's happening with Kentucky basketball.
"This isn't Moneyball," said UK director of analytics Joel Justus. "We're not going to take what we find and go into a game and say, 'All right, we're going to play this way because this is what the numbers say.' That ain't what we're doing.
"We're using the numbers, we're using the analytics to help our players become better. To help our coaches understand how to coach our players better."
Sabermetrics have become a useful building block in baseball, but the manner in which advanced stats are used in that game doesn't translate across the sports spectrum.
A practical application of analytics in basketball would be to tailor a player's individual routine around what that player needs to work on. Or what he doesn't.
Justus recounted a preseason conversation with an NBA analytics guy who told him that one of their star players was taking only a handful of three-pointers from below the free-throw line extended per season. Yet, that player worked on the shot all the time.
The takeaway: If you're never going to use that skill, you should spend your practice time doing something more useful.
Justin Zormelo, who has worked with dozens of NBA players using analytics, has been given some of the credit for Kevin Durant taking the next step in his career.
"People noticed that he was changing his game, and he decided to mention me," Zormelo said.
Examples of those changes: Zormelo looked at Durant's performance numbers in specific situations such as isolation and pick-and-roll plays. They worked in those areas, and the Oklahoma City Thunder star improved his stats and, ultimately, his overall game.
Durant finished last season as the NBA's "most efficient" player for the first time, according to ESPN's player efficiency rating.
Justus planned to spend the early part of this season looking for specific areas where UK's players needed work — or simply needed to change their approach — so the coaches could tailor some of those workouts to them once they got more time between game days.
That part of the season is here.
"That's what I've been targeting toward: Finding a period like that where you almost have a mini-preseason," Justus said. "We're going to have a significant amount of data that gives us an opportunity. ... And I think it will be something that will help our players."