TDS employees Darren L., Wayde H., Rich S., and Scott S. make up a quarter of the personnel who do statistics for Wisconsin men’s and women’s basketball. Six people work every home game and record the official box scores for the NCAA. The statisticians record everything from points to rebounds.
To accommodate all this information, and the fast-paced nature of basketball, they use a special code to communicate. The stats crew agreed it’s difficult to learn, but once you know it, it’s like riding a bike—it comes back to you every season.
The six statisticians are split into two teams of three—one primary team and one backup. Each team consists of one typist, one home-caller, and one away-caller. The backup crew sits on the second level, while the primary team courtside at the scorer’s table.
As big Badger basketball fans, the TDS stats crew says these great vantage points are the best part of working the games.
“You’re literally right next to the action if you’re in the courtside group,” says Rich. “You can hear what they’re saying in the huddle—which is awesome.”
Each person’s calling affects the subsequent calls made by other members of the team, as home and away calls are made in chronological order.
“If the home caller is waiting for the visitor caller to make [a] call, and there are four calls he needs to make after the [visitor call], it could easily slip the home caller’s mind because some teams will push the ball hard [resulting quickly in action on the other end of the court],” said Darren.
Another big challenge the team faces are the television networks. When a game is televised, one person is in contact with the telecast producer and is in charge of ‘official stats’ for TV.
“If there’s a 10-2 scoring run or something, he tells the producer and that’s what shows up on the TV screen,” says Rich, “but the stressful part is they’ll sometimes want the information while you’re handling other responsibilities.”
Despite these occasional challenging scenarios, the stats crew thoroughly enjoys working the games. Over the years, they have all experienced several priceless memories.
Scott’s favorite memory was during the 2010-2011 season when Wisconsin defeated number one Ohio State. Wisconsin mounted an improbable 15-point comeback in the second half.
Rich’s favorite memory was during a game against Purdue. Their head coach at the time was Gene Keady and he was very colorful. Richard remembers laughing a lot because the coach was so animated.
Darren’s favorite memories include the two times Duke visited the Badgers, along with the two loses Wisconsin experienced to Illinois when they were number one in the country. Darren’s colleagues joke the reason the Illinois games are Darren’s favorite is because he made it into the background of a two-page Sports Illustrated spread.
Wayde’s favorite memory was when Bo Ryan won his first Big Ten Championship. It was the last home game of the year and senior day, which made it extra special. Wayde says the stats crew drafts which games they want to work every year, and the last home game is a very popular one for this reason.
These common basketball experiences connect the members of the Wisconsin Basketball stats crew.
“The crew is a great group of people who sincerely love Badger basketball,” says Scott. “We take the job seriously, but we have a lot of fun doing it.”
It is clear that doing statistics for Badger basketball proves to be a lot more than just the numbers for the four TDS members of the team.
Guest Blogger: Luke Brooks
Luke is the intern for the Corporate Communications team at TDS and does a lot more than brew coffee and make copies. He is called on for anything from press releases to multimedia projects. Luke is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Communication Arts and Journalism and Mass Communication. His strongest passions are movies and sports.