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Duke basketball debuts new SAP-powered statistics site, just in time for NCAA tournament

Blue Devils fans are avid consumers of player statistics on Duke's site, powered by SAP HANA, and a revamped site is revealed in conjunction with March Madness.

Just in time for the NCAA tournament and March Madness, Duke University is unveiling a revamped online statistics site so that Blue Devils fans can better access player stats, team records, and individual game box scores for its men's basketball teams dating back to 1906.

The site's first version came out in 2014, and the most recent update is more streamlined. It is built on a SAP HANA database platform and it mirrors the offerings that SAP provides to its business customers. The key difference being instead of giving business data, it's aimed at fans who want to know, for example, how many field goals Christian Laettner made during the 1991-92 basketball season and post-season. The answer? He made 54 out of 99 attempts, including the infamous shot against the University of Kentucky Wildcats in the East Regional finals that put Duke in the 1992 NCAA Final Four. The result was a 25-year rivalry, with Kentucky fans still cringing at the thought of the game.

SEE: March Madness: 5 data sources that could predict the 2017 NCAA championship (TechRepublic)

Coincidentally, the University of Kentucky is also one of SAP's customers, but for business purposes, not player stats. "We got a chance to talk to someone in the athletic department for Kentucky and they said, 'oh, it's great that you have this project with Duke, have you seen our basketball team lately?'"

"Fans of Duke are always looking up stats. All of those player comparables is something we see a strong demand for," said Frank Wheeler, region vice president and general manager for SAP Sports and Entertainment North America. "You want to have this element of stickiness and building on the technology so when a fan goes there to look up one thing, he's now hooked. Ultimately, the time spent on the site is going to improve."

SAP has similar sites for the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

"When the NBA released their first site with us in 2013, it resulted in a 40% increase in traffic, and a 50% increase in the amount of time actually spent on the site," Wheeler said.

The reason SAP creates these sites for sports teams is because it shows off what they can do for business customers.

"First off, it provides value to our customers and gives Duke a great platform, and for us to tell that story resonates across industries. It doesn't mean we're going to do a lot of business with other universities, although we could. It resonates with people dealing with similar challenges that want to get data out to customers through a HANA cloud database," Wheeler said.

Duke's basketball statistics were integrated using LSI Consulting's hosted SAP HANA platform and UI5 repeatable solution. The new site works on a laptop or mobile device and has multi-platform social media integration, shot charts, and printer-friendly box scores.

Students at Duke were part of the core project team behind the solution. They don't get class credit, but they get recognition for their work, and it opens up job opportunities for them, said Ryan Craig, executive director of digital strategy for Duke.

The next update for the site will come within the next 3-6 months, and will allow for computational journalism and the ability to look up a question such as: "When was the last time someone scored 30 points four games in a row," Wheeler explained.

Wheeler expects the site to continue to draw a strong audience. "Duke men's basketball has a rich history that predates the internet age. For years, historical player data was laboriously hand-collected off of microfiche. Now, by harnessing the power of the SAP HANA platform, Duke fans are able to collect the fruit of that labor and view vast amounts of data in one easy-to-use tool."

Three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. Duke University is unveiling a revamped online statistics site so that Blue Devils fans can better access player stats, team records, and individual game box scores for its men's basketball teams historically.
  2. The site is built on a SAP HANA database platform and it mirrors the offerings that SAP provides to its business customers.
  3. The next update for the site will come within the next 3-6 months, and will allow for computational journalism.


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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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