Wednesday, July 1, 2015

NCAA Women's Basketball 2014-15 : How Tall, How Small

I've gathered up some statistics from, which is a great site for women's basketball statistics.  Sometimes their stats might not be accurate, sometimes the data has formatting issues, sometimes a certain school doesn't supply height data (I'm looking at YOU, Grambling State) and you just have to sigh.

It's interesting looking at the height data.  Yes, we all know that in basketball, you never know anyone's real height until you're standing next to them - sure, Ivory Latta is 5-6, if she's standing on a box.  So here are some interesting facts and figures about player height in the 2014-15 season.

The shortest player is listed at 4-8:  Missouri State's Kori Farmer.  She'll be a sophomore in 2015-16 if she hangs around, assuring her the title of shortest player for at least a few more seasons.

The tallest player is listed at 6-8:  Nevada's Mimi Mungedi.  She was a senior in 2014-15 and was drafted in the third round by the Tulsa Shock.  Height will certainly get you a look in the pros.  But she was the first player cut by Tulsa.


We have 4,322 heights ranging over 5 positions:  Guard, Guard/Forward, Forward, Forward/Center, Center.

The average player height in Division I is 70.4 inches, or around 5-10 1/2

There are 2,350 guards listed, the most common position.  The average guard height is 68.2, or 5-8.
There are 226 guard/forwards listed.  The average guard/forward height is 71.1, or 5-11.
There are 1,306 forwards listed.  The average forward height is 72.7, or 6-0 1/2.
There are 140 forward/centers listed.  The average forward/center height is 74.2, or 6-2.
There are 300 centers listed.  The average center height is 75.0, or 6-3.

Here is how player heights break down:

4-08:  1 player
4-09:  0 players
4-10:  0 players
4-11:  1 player
5-00:  0 players
5-01:  2 players
5-02:  14 players
5-03:  41 players
5-04:  71 players
5-05:  141 players
5-06:  206 players
5-07:  366 players
5-08:  437 players
5-09:  470 players
5-10:  475 players
5-11:  343 players
6-00:  473 players
6-01:  462 players
6-02:  386 players
6-03:  250 players
6-04:  126 players
6-05:  45 players
6-06:  8 players
6-07:  3 players
6-08:  1 player

Since we know so much about player heights, what about team heights?  Is there a way to determine the tallest team in women's basketball over 2014-15, or the shortest team?

We have to be very careful here.  Just because a team has a tall player, does that make the team tall?  If all the short players get lots of minutes and the tall player barely plays, we really can't say that the team is tall?  We have to weight player heights by minutes played.  Basically, the more a player plays, the more credit her height will be given in the final calculation.

Here are the top 11 tallest teams in NCAA Divsion I last season. 

1.  Duke, 73.8 inches
2.  Oregon State, 73.1 inches
3.  Gonzaga, 72.9 inches
4.  California, 72.7 inches
5.  Utah, 72.6 inches
6.  Penn State, 72.5 inches
7.  Colorado, 72.3 inches
8.  Harvard, 72.2 inches
9.  Wisconsin, 72.2 inches
10. West Virginia, 72.2 inches
11.  Nevada, 72.1 inches

I chose 11 instead of 10 teams, because these 11 teams are the only ones with an average weighted-by-minutes-played team height that was greater than 6 feet.

Here are the 10 shortest teams in NCAA Division I last season.

1.  Lamar, 67.9 inches
2.  Northwestern State, 68.0 inches
3.  Southeastern Louisiana, 68.2 inches
4.  North Carolina-Wilmington, 68.2 inches
5.  Sacramento State, 68.2 inches
6.  Farleigh Dickinson, 68.2 inches
7.  North Carolina-Asheville, 68.3 inches
8.  Norfolk State, 68.3 inches
9.  California-Riverside, 68.3 inches
10.  Kennesaw State, 68.4 inches.

Last year's national champion, Connecticut?  They ranked #24 in height at 71.7 inches.

The smallest team among "Power Five" conferences?  North Carolina State, which is ranked #265 out of 348 teams with a weighted height of 69.5 inches.

Does height matter?  Of the top ten teams in height, five of them - Utah, Penn State, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Nevada - had losing records.  One, Harvard, had a .500 record.  The statistical correlation between team height and win percentage is +0.20 - at best, a weak correlation.  Having height might be nice, but it's no guarantee to win games. 

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