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Wisdom of Crowds -- Midseason Update

Villanova Crystal BallLast summer, inspired by the best selling book, The Wisdom of Crowds, we set out to test author James Surowiecki’s central thesis that by averaging the individual predictions of a group of independently thinking people, groups can make more accurate predictions than experts working alone. We conducted our test by polling the VUHoops readers, asking them to predict the minutes per game (MPG) of each player on Nova’s roster for 2009-10 season.

Nova is now a bit more than half way though the regular season, and we thought it would be interesting to see how our W.O.C. predictions compare with actual results so far. The table below summarizes predicted vs. actual MPGs.

Player Predicted
R. Redding 24.1 30.6 6.5
M. Sutton 7.4 12.8 5.4
A. Pena 21.9 26.7 4.8
T. King 18.5 22.5 4.0
M. Wayns 14.7 16.7 2.0
C. Stokes 24.7 26.4 1.8
J. Colenda 1.8 3.0 1.2
R. Wooten 1.8 1.5 (0.3)
D. Cheek 15.8 15.5 (0.3)
I. Armwood 10.0 8.6 (1.4)
C. Fisher 28.5 26.8 (1.8)
S. Reynolds 31.5 29.5 (1.9)
M. Yarou 23.1 13.5 (9.6)

Of course, the mid-season results need to be interpreted with caution.  The soft early season games provided more opportunities for the non-starters.  As the Big East season grinds on, those opportunities could diminish and MPG averages normalize.  That said, a recent statement made by Jay Wright to Dick Jeradi,, may suggest otherwise.  Said Coach Wright, ""  We really learned a lesson in the Temple game," referring to the team's only loss.  "We didn't play the bench as much and we got worn down.  We realized we need to play [all eleven] guys." 

Generally I'm impressed with the accuracy of our predictions so far, but there have been some surprises.  The biggest are listed below.


REGGIE REDDING: … ▲6.5 MPG… predicted 24.1 MPG; actual 30.6 MPG

What we were thinking last summer: (Stan) … “I just don’t see that many minutes for Reggie. We have too many guys coming in who can do things well. They are going to get their chance because Reggie is out until December 18.” (Nick ’09) … “If you get a chance to look back at the tournament games, Redding was absolutely dynamic. If he works on his shot and his confidence, I think there’s more than decent chance that he becomes a “go-to-guy.” 

Mid-Season Report:  Reggie has been back only seven games, and his season has been up and down so far.  That said, he is still a glue-guy for this team, and his defense and size remain key ingredients for Jay’s winning formula.


MAURICE SUTTON: … ▲5.4 MPG… predicted 7.4 MPG; actual 12.8 MPG

What we were thinking last summer:  (Brian 06) … “This kid has the height and instincts to be a good player. He’s just got to get his body ready to deal with the big men in the Big East.” 

Mid-Season Report:  Sutton benefited from Mouph’s hepatitis B illness and saw significant minutes in the early season.  However, his time has vanished since the Big East season began, and his is now the eleventh man in a ten-man rotation.  


ANTONIO PENA: …  ▲4.8… predicted 21.9 MPG; actual 26.7 MPG

What we were thinking last summer:  (Regred) … “Pena is perhaps the most interesting player going into next season. He seems ripe for a breakout season and certainly has the tools to accomplish it. He just needs to get it together mentally. I hope he learned from Dante and put in the work over the summer.”

Mid-Season Report:  Pena started strong with a newfound offensive game and a nose for rebounding.  However, he has faded a bit since the Big East season began, and may see fewer minutes as Mouph continues to develop.  


TAYLOR KING: … ▲4.0 MPG… predicted 18.5 MPG; actual 22.5 MPG

What we were thinking last summer:  (Chad) … “Definitely an unknown how King will fit in with the team.  However, he was one of the best players at last year’s Hoops Mania scrimmage.  Having another long-range option is great in the event that one of the other bombers is off on a given night.”

Mid-Season Report:  We expected a pure three-point shooter, but got a gritty, tough, smart player who rebounds and passes well and makes the players around him better.  He is a legitimate candidate for Big East Sixth Man of the Year.  


MOUPHTAOU YAROU: … ▼9.6 MPG… predicted 23.1 MPG; actual 13.5 MPG

What we were thinking last summer:  (Colt) … “Mouph’s biggest adjustment will be with the speed of the game at the next level. Jay won’t be limiting Mouph’s minutes as much as cheap fouls will. Mouph will have to figure out how to stay in the game as much as play it.”

Mid-Season Report:  Mouph’s development has been slowed by allegations that he was a 25 year-old masquerading as a freshman, followed by a bout with hepatitis B that caused him to miss a chunk of the season.  He shows signs of being the player that we expected, but clearly has much to learn after watching his play against Georgetown’s Greg Monroe and Louisville’s Samardo Samuels.  As predicted by Colt, cheap fouls are hurting Mouph's MPGs at this point.


We'll take another look at how we did at the end of the season.  Until then, let us know what surprised you the most.