Sports Data: NHL’s Evolution, Luck’s Stats, WNBA Attendance Drops

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Hockey, like any sport, is a game of innovation, and few advancements have provided such a lasting impact as the curved stick blade and the butterfly style of goaltending.

In the 1960s, two popular stars on the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, supposedly discovered they could shoot a hockey puck harder and with more control using a stick with a curved blade.

According to the Toronto Star, Mikita made the discovery after his flat stick partially broke during practice. He showed Hull how easy it was to get the puck off the ice, and, although the two were probably not the first NHL players to use the curved stick, they popularized the design.

When Mikita and Hull began using curved sticks, the average NHL game saw around three goals scored during it. Less than two decades later, however, the league averaged almost four goals per game, an increase of one goal.

Many of the offensive statistical leaders in NHL history, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario LeMieux and Mark Messier, played during this era.

The curved stick did more than just enable players to score, though. Seemingly simple facets of today’s game, like saucer passes, snap shots and clearing the defensive zone by chipping it high off the glass, would not have been possible without the controlled ability to lift the puck provided by the curved stick.

As physics has told us, however, for every action there is an opposite reaction, and for hockey this arrived in the shape of a feisty French-Canadian goaltender by the name of Patrick Roy during the 1985-1986 season.

Instead of simply kicking at pucks, Roy dropped to his knees and used his flexibility and quickness to kick his legs out and cover the bottom part of the net more effectively than any goalie before or, arguably, since.

While it may seem contradictory to cover the lower part of the net in the age of the curved stick blade, when Roy broke into the NHL he said he looked at the stats and saw something like three-quarters of all goals scored at the time were low, off rebounds or loose pucks in front of the net, according to the New York Times.

The butterfly style allowed Roy to first control rebounds off of shots better, but also position himself in such a way that reduced angles and made it harder for second-chance shots to beat him, no matter how quickly the shooter could lift the puck.

Although Roy was not the first goalie to drop to his knees in such a style, his popularity in Quebec and successful career in the NHL (during which he won two Stanley Cups each with the Canadiens and the Colorado Avalanche, as well as two Conn Smythe trophies as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs) soon prompted scores of young goalies to adopt the butterfly style.

This countered the increasing goal totals produced by the curved stick blade, and by the end of Roy’s career in 2003, the average goals scored in the NHL was below pre-curved stick levels.

Few, if any, goaltenders in today’s game reach higher levels without adopting at least a hybrid butterfly style.

Roy also happened to be one of the most — colorful — characters in NHL history, as this video from TSN reminds us.

And yes, that was Gretzky, the Great One himself, that Roy faked out at the blue line at Madison Square Garden in moment No. 10. — Zach Klonskinski


By the Numbers: Andrew Luck

Quarterback Andrew Luck has been with the Indianapolis Colts for five seasons, bringing his team to the playoffs three times. Luck signed a six-year contract with the Colts that locks him in through 2021. This chart displays his rushing and passing yards during his time with the team. — Connor DeMill


WNBA Attendance Drops

The WNBA marks its 20th anniversary this year, but the league’s attendance numbers don’t beg for celebration.

Since its inception, average attendance has dwindled, but that’s only one numerical marker of the typically subordinate position of women’s basketball in the United States: The highest-paid WNBA player currently earns around one-fifth of the salary of the lowest-paid NBA player, and the NBA draws millions in viewerships that hardly compare to the WNBA’s six-digit television audiences. — Cassidy McDonald


Patrick Kane’s Surge in Stats

The Chicago Blackhawks have clinched the NHL Central Division and home ice in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup playoff. Over the past 10 years, they have been Stanley Cup champions three times.

One big reason: Patrick Kane has consistently been one of the best players on the Blackhawks. Yet over these 10 years, his number of goals has yet to succeed his number of assists. — Claire Radler


Where Were Indiana’s Current MLB Players Born?

April 2 marked Opening Day of the 2017 MLB season. Of the 750 players on active rosters, 25 come from Indiana while three more were recently cut. Where are they from? This map has the details. — Joe DiSipio


How Archie Miller’s Winning Percentage Compared to Tom Crean’s

With Indiana firing head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean after nine seasons with the Hoosiers, it is clear that a new voice is needed to guide the team in a new direction. His 166-135 record at Indiana is not necessarily a bad tally, but a historic program accustomed to winning expects more than four NCAA Tournament appearances in that span.

As Archie Miller arrives from Dayton to take the reins, will he be able to lead Indiana back to its winning ways? His history at Dayton says he can, and fans in Bloomington will look forward to next season when a new face is leading the Hoosiers onto the court at Assembly Hall next winter. — Juan Jose Rodriguez


Crean’s Run Ends in Bloomington

As the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament began on March 16, Indiana University announced that it had fired head basketball coach Tom Crean.

Indiana hired Crean in 2008, and he compiled a 301–166 record in nine seasons. In the 2016-17 season, Indiana went 18-16 and missed the NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round of the NIT Tournament to Georgia Tech.

This chart breaks down Crean’s rise and fall as Indiana’s basketball coach. — Kevin Culligan


Notre Dame by the Numbers: Breakdown of Fighting Irish Sports Statistics

By Staff • April 6th, 2017

Notre Dame hockey’s regular-season average attendance hit its lowest point since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena in October 2011.

Despite the low turnout, the program is having one of its most successful seasons in years. The fourth-seeded Irish topped both Minnesota and second-seeded UMass Lowell to head to the Frozen Four this weekend for the first time since 2011 and the third time in program history.

The following chart tracks the average attendance since the opening of the Compton Family Ice Arena six seasons ago. — Teagan Dillon


Disparities in Irish Men’s Basketball Scoring

On a 13-member team, four Notre Dame men’s basketball players scored 2,140 of the season’s 2,783 points:

  • Bonzie Colson (639)
  • V.J. Beachem (522)
  • Matt Farrell (506)
  • Steve Vasturi (473)

Four players scored nearly 78 percent of the team’s points, so the key to next year’s success could be a fifth starter who can score in the 400-point range. Temple Gibbs, this year’s fifth starter, scored 168. — Erin McAuliffe


NBA Stats: Breaking Down the Russell Westbrook and Paul George Factors

By Lucas Masin-Moyer and Daniel O'Boyle • April 6th, 2017

With only six games left to play in the NBA season, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has all but assured he will average a triple double — with double-digit totals in points, assists and rebounds. As of April 7, Westbrook was averaging 31.9 points per game, 10.4 assists per game and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Barring any unforeseen drop in form, Westbrook will be the first to accomplish this remarkable stat line since Oscar Robertson did it for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1961-62 season.

What is equally remarkable is how quickly Westbrook was able to increase his output. Westbrook began his career averaging only 15.3 points per game, yet with the departure of teammates James Harden (2012) and Kevin Durant (2016) allowed Westbrook to shoulder more of the scoring burden, increasing his points per game to 31.9.

Westbrook’s increasing playmaking ability to increase his assist output over the course of his career — he finally broke the double-digit barrier during the 2015-16 season.

Perhaps the area of Westbrook’s game which saw the most growth was rebounding. The improvement of this final aspect of his game finally put Westbrook over the top in 2016-17.

Westbrook’s 2016-17 season has been nothing short of remarkable. As the sole superstar on the team following Durant’s departure, he has upped his game to levels unseen in 50 years, the result of years of improvement. — Lucas Masin-Moyer


Data: George Holds Key to Pacers’ Postseason Success

It’s an oft-repeated fact that to succeed in the NBA you need stars who will perform in the postseason.

But which NBA star has been the most important to his team when it counts?

According to on/off stats, it’s not LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. Nor is it Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard or James Harden.

It’s Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George. And by quite some distance.

George is certainly a a top NBA player who is known for his ability to step up his game in the postseason. But the extent to which the Pacers have relied on the former Fresno State star in the playoffs may surprise you.

Among players with 2,000 playoff minutes played, George leads all players in net on/off rating, with a rating of 19.0. That means that the Pacers are better off by 19 points per 100 possessions when George is on the court compared to when he sits on the bench.

That stat is driven mostly by his astonishing defensive on/off rating of 15.4 — the Pacers’ opponents score 15.4 less points per game when they have to face George compared to facing lineups without him. Yet with an offensive on/off rating of 3.6, George helps his team score too, as shown by his career total of 18.4 playoff points per game.

Ranked second is Warriors power forward Draymond Green, who has proven invaluable to the most successful team of recent years. But with a net rating of 14.6, he still sits far behind George. In third is point guard George Hill, formerly of the Pacers, which perhaps shows that a lack of depth in Indiana is behind George’s on/off stats.

With the playoffs approaching and the Pacers tied for 7th in the Eastern Conference, history suggests George will again be the key to how the team performs. If the Pacers can find a way to perform with George off the court, they may become a dark horse candidate to make a deep playoff run. — Daniel O’Boyle


George Leads Pacers in Base Salary

Small forward Paul George has the highest base salary for the Pacers in the 2016-2017 season. George has played with the Pacers since 2010, and is in a five-year contract.

By the 2018-2019 season, George will have a base salary of $20.7 million compared to this year’s $18.3 million. The next highest base salaries of the Pacers are held by Thaddeus Young, Monta Ellis and Al Jefferson. — Lauren Fox


Olympic Swimming: 2008 Set the Gold Standard for Records

By Caelin Miltko • April 6th, 2017

Swimming features some of the most well-known athletes in the Olympics. Michael Phelps, Jenny Thompson and Mark Spitz were some of the superstars from their given Olympic years.

The record for most Olympic gold medals earned in a single Olympics has been held by two swimmers. Spitz earned it in 1972 and Phelps earned it in 2008.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics was an especially fast year for swimming. It was the year of the LZR Racer suit, which has since been banned from competition. The suit increased buoyancy and compressed the body. Some competitors wore more than one to increase the effect.

The 2008 Olympics were called the ‘fastest ever’ in swimming because of these suits and a look at the numbers seem to prove it. More swimming records were broken at that Olympics than any since 2000.

The United States generally dominates Olympic swimming, as illustrated in the map below.  A chart showing the full data set can be found at the bottom of this post.

Individually, Americans also dominate. The two most decorated Olympic swimmers, Michael Phelps and Jenny Thompson, are both American.


Studies: Indiana Ranks in the Middle Nationally for Religiosity

By Claire Radler and Grace Watkins • April 6th, 2017

A recent study by Gallup found that Mississippi is still the most religious state in the United States, 59 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.” Mississippi has been the most religious state in the U.S. for the past nine years, while Vermont remains the least religious state. According to the study, just 29 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.”

Indiana falls just around the average, coming in as number 22 on the list, with 41 percent of its residents saying they were “Very Religious.” Vice President Mike Pence hails from Indiana, and is known for his commitment to Evangelicalism, yet this is not the trend for the majority of Indiana residents.

This infographic uses data from Gallup and the Pew Research Center to bring religiosity into focus. — Claire Radler


A Deeper Look at Indiana …

Vice President Mike Pence is known for his evangelical faith. His commitment to the “Billy Graham Rule” made national headlines last week. Pence’s home state of Indiana is also widely regarded as religious.

Do Indiana residents really live up to this expectation of religiosity, and can we learn anything about Pence by examining his home environment? — Grace Watkins

Indiana Starting to Make Strides in the Exploding Craft Beer Market

By Teagan Dillon • April 6th, 2017

The craft beer industry is experiencing tremendous growth in the U.S. in recent years.

According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry now represents 12 percent market share of the total beer market, more than double than what it was in 2011. The following infographic shows where Indiana ranks among the nation in this craft beer craze.

Indiana Unemployment Rate Continues to Dive, Lowest Since 2001

By Joe DiSipio • March 3rd, 2017

An analysis of monthly reports of the Indiana unemployment rates during the Obama administration illustrates the lingering recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics captures the sharp increase of joblessness as the Great Recession hit hard in 2009. But it also shows that despite political rhetoric, Indiana may have reached a level of recovery under President Obama.

Much of the 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric centered on the economy, specifically on the creation of jobs in the industrial Midwest.

Jobs were an issue of particular interest to voters in Indiana. At the height of the Great Recession, unemployment levels reached a high of 10.9 percent in June 2009.

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Compared to the BLS national averages, Indiana started at a lower level but once the effects of the crisis set in, it averaged an unemployment rate of almost a full percentage point higher than that of the country as a whole.

Voters didn’t forget that feeling of desperation between 2009 and 2014. The “America First” candidate Donald Trump was able to capitalize on that lingering feeling while the data shows that Indiana unemployment levels actually fell to below 2009 rates by the end of President Obama’s term.

 Trump based some of his candidacy on bringing back jobs. He followed through  with his controversial Carrier deal during the transition in November 2016.

Study: Indianapolis Among Top 10 Cities for School Choice

By Cassidy McDonald • March 2nd, 2017

School choice —a movement to provide alternatives to public school — is sure to be a top priority for President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, during his first joint address to Congress, Trump called for a bipartisan school choice bill which would aim to help disadvantaged children trapped in failing schools. Indianapolis is one of the top U.S. cities for giving parents a choice on where to attend schoo.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made headlines this week, however, when she called historically black colleges and universities — which were created in response to racial segregation — “pioneers” of school choice.

She later backpedaled on this statement, but continued to draw parallels between school choice and historically black colleges and universities.


Take a look at the top 10 cities that currently allow some form of school choice, as graded by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an ideologically conservative research organization.

These cities have seen mixed results in their alternative education programs, but offer the policies, public support and programming most conducive to school choice:

(City rankings from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

Map: Indiana’s Affordability Ranks Among the Best in America

By Manny DeJesus • March 2nd, 2017

Ever wonder how much it costs to live in the lovely state of Indiana? Luckily, according to Graphiq.com, the largest cities in Indiana, which was ranked the eighth most affordable state in the country, are all relatively very affordable for married couples with one child.

Graphiq took data from the Economic Policy Institute, The Council for Community and Economic Research and The Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure up the cost of living in some of the largest cities in Indiana.

Considering housing costs, healthcare, transportation and taxes, the cost of living is also compared to the national average. It’s also important to note that when you click on each city on Graphiq’s website, you can see the adjusted cost of living for a single person or family with four children.