Student Spotlight: Matt Hanamoto

Matt HanamotoMatt Hanamoto is a graduating senior in Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. In his time at Cal Poly, he has been a Week of Welcome (WOW) leader, worked as an intramural sports supervisor, and served as a manager for Cal Poly’s Men’s Basketball team. He has spent the better part of his junior year and his entire senior year figuring out how to incorporate advanced metrics into Cal Poly’s basketball programs, a study that he turned into his senior project with Professors Ziemowit Bednarek and Pratish Patel. The focus of his study was to determine which groups of players on Cal Poly’s Men’s Basketball team performed the most efficiently together.

Matt recognized how data analytics have emerged as a tool to help teams analyze nuances of the game that could not be previously explained. He used hours of game film, score logs and substitution records to quantify the team’s success based the game’s purest elements of scoring and defending.

His research shows that a basketball team’s substitution trends, strengths, and weaknesses can be understood by tracking a team’s plus/minus statistic (net value of points that have accumulated while a player is on the floor) on a possession basis. Hanamoto tracked each player’s plus/minus rating in context with the performance of his teammates on the court. Hanamoto’s data tracking methods and easy to interpret analyses have enabled Cal Poly’s team to gain an advanced understanding of team tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses.

“I know that analytics will never be able to take the place of a coach, replace basketball instinct, or guarantee the success of a team,” said Hanamoto. “But I hope that this framework can help basketball programs understand the basics of advanced metrics and provide the building blocks for finding strategic advantages.”

Currently, Hanamoto is training a team of students to take over his research and apply his techniques for both the men’s and women’s teams next year. He is graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in business administration, concentration in financial management and minor in statistics. After graduating, He will be moving up to the Bay Area to work for Grant Thornton LLP as a business advisory associate.