Menlo News February 20, 2024

Basketball managers elevate the game

Lowe codes a new stats-tracking program; Xu leads operations

When Menlo junior Aaron Lowe was keeping digital basketball stats during a preseason scrimmage, he thought, “There’s a better way to do this.”

What he found was the stat programs were clunky and took several seconds to get to the data point. So, he went to work and two games later, he had coded a program for the Knights to track points, rebounds, assists and many more statistical categories, such as plus-minus, essential to the coaches.

Lowe and senior Edward Xu, who keeps the scorebook, are part of the varsity boys’ basketball team, keeping alive a tradition of hoops and stats savvy students who love being a part of the game. By taking on operations duties, they free up the coaching staff to focus on training and game day.

Both Xu and Lowe learned of the opportunity to assist the basketball team when varsity boys’ basketball head coach Ben Batory mentioned during the Athletics Opening Day Assembly when all coaches speak about their programs.

“While they are officially managers, Edward and Aaron have been absolutely fantastic “teammates” in the truest sense. Both participate in the practice planning and daily set up and break down” Batory said.

Lowe coded his stat-tracking program in Python and uses Streamlit, a front-end web library for apps, then connects to Google Sheets as the coaches can access. On game day, he types command into the program, for instance “11 made 2”, which would mean that Tate Cohen, jersey No. 11 made a two-point basket, and it automatically updates the live report. That way, he doesn’t have to take his eyes off the court. Lowe is literally assistant coach Matt Pierson’s right-hand man on the bench and will feed him real-time stats as he helps Batory.

“I get to combine my passion for computer science and programming with basketball which is really awesome.’’ Lowe said.

Lowe has had to work out a couple initial bugs resolved in a short time, and now as Menlo heads into the CCS playoffs, he has plenty of practice under his belt, so entering actions into the program is like a reflex.

Xu, who started as a sophomore manager with then-JV coach and Menlo alum Liam Dunn, sits at the scorers’ table, and at home games and is the one officials go to for fouls and to clear any scoring discrepancies.

Their contributions aren’t limited to game day. They keep stats and help at scrimmages and practices, secure opponents’ video

“I do the small things like in practice, bring the balls out, the clock and write up the practice plan,” said Xu, who in years’ past, took stats and did the book. Now Lowe handles that which works perfectly for Xu as he was juggling college apps just as the season was getting under way.

“They also help recalibrate, or sometimes redesign, practice drills and the logistics/rotations because they know I am always trying to keep players moving and to maximize practice repetitions per player,” Batory added.

“Both also have grown in their ability to understand strategy and to help drive actual decisions.

“They have both been fantastic and have helped drive the manager position towards a more modern strategic and analytical consultant position.”