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Men's Basketball Visualizations - K-State/North Dakota Game Flow

Let's try something new today.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Suppose your team just played a basketball game, but you weren't able to watch. You check the box score, which gives you an idea of who played well and who was off. But maybe you want a sense of the flow of the game, who was hot when, who had to sit due to early foul trouble, etc. Various sources publish a full play-by-play, but it's just a wall of text and not the easiest to parse through. Is there a better way?

I've been working recently on game visualizations, and I feel I have something interesting enough to share with you all. Here's a quick explainer: The horizontal axis of the chart gives the game clock. Initially, all you see is two faint lines showing how each team's score progressed. To the right, you see a list of players that entered the game at some point. Click on one of them, and a bunch of little dots fill the screen. Each dot belongs to a category as indicated on the vertical axis. Hover over any dot to get more information; generally, green dots are good and red dots are bad. You can also see when your selected player was in the game by observing where the score lines have darkened. You can choose any combination of players to display simultaneously.

Sound like fun? Here's K-State's chart from yesterday's game. You'll need to have javascript enabled on your browser (which you probably do) for this to work. You should be able to interact with it directly on this page, but there are various errors that could keep this from happening. In that case, you'll need to click through to see it on the plot.ly site.

Kansas St. Game Action

Some things I saw:

  • The midrange game was not working at all. By my count, the Cats made one of 14 two-point jumpers.
  • Pretty nice first half for DJ, and an even better second half for Barry Brown.
  • Lots of dots on the chart for Justin Edwards and Kam Stokes, so they were both very active. Too many of those dots are the wrong color, though.

We can take a look at North Dakota's chart as well.

North Dakota Game Action
  • Just call Drick Bernstine the possession killer. That goes both ways: His defensive rebounding work kept K-State from second chance opportunities, but his eight turnovers cost his own team some possessions as well.
  • Poor Bryce Cashman managed to foul out in just eight minutes of play, and his best trick came midway through the first half. In one sequence, the reserve big man checked into the game, got whistled for a foul, and was subsequently pulled from the game. All in a span of one second!

What do you guys see? Let us know in the comments. I would also appreciate any feedback you have on the charts, or any other visualizations you might like to see.

For a deeper analysis of the K-State's game against North Dakota, be sure to check out Luke's recap from yesterday.