How Much Does Experience Matter?

When it comes time for the start of basketball season, every coach in the Big 12 will talk about experience.

More specifically, each coach will talk about whether his team has it or not, and how it affects his expectations for the upcoming season. But is roster experience really that big of a deal? Ken Pomeroy tracks experience for his basketball Web site, and the results from last season might surprise you.

School: Average Years of Experience on 2011 Roster — 2011 Big 12 Finish

1) Texas Tech: 2.41 years (19th nationally) — 11th

2) Kansas: 2.01 years — First

3) Colorado: 1.92 years — Fifth

4) Nebraska: 1.90 years — Eighth

5) Texas A&M: 1.84 years — Third

6) Iowa State: 1.81 years — 12th

7) Oklahoma State: 1.77 years — Ninth

D-1 Average: 1.73 years

8) Missouri: 1.69 years — Sixth

9) Baylor: 1.56 years — Seventh

10) Kansas State: 1.52 years — Fourth

11) Texas: 1.47 years — Second

12) Oklahoma 1.18 years (309th nationally) — 10th

So is there any real correlation? Teams appear to largely be scattered with two exceptions: Texas Tech and Oklahoma. Tech was by far the league's most experienced team, and used that experience to finish second-to-last in the league. Oklahoma was last in experience by a large margin and finished near the bottom as well, claiming the 10th spot in the 12-team league.

Neither of those figures should come as a surprise. A team stacked with experience can simply mean that none of the team's players were good enough to enter the professional ranks early. And while experience isn't necessarily a requisite, it does hurt to have a team totally lacking in the category, as Oklahoma found out.

But the next two spots were arguably the most interesting. Kansas was the league's second most experienced team and won both the league and conference tournament title. Texas was the second least experienced team and took second in both. Both make sense, as well.

Kansas won the league thanks in large part to a trio of juniors in the starting lineup in Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and Tyshawn Taylor, and senior role players like Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar. In a way, it's the best kind of experience: a pair of NBA early-entry players in the Morris twins who bided their time as top options behind other NBA early entries like Cole Aldrich.

As for Texas, it's no secret that the Longhorns have loaded up with some of the league's best talent. And that talent has often left early, leaving Texas with a young roster year after year, but also with a roster that ranks among the league's best. In 2011, early entries Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph followed the example set by previous year early entry Avery Bradley.

The rest of the league appears smattered all over the place. Of the top six league finishers, three were in the top half of the league in terms of experience, three in the bottom.

Every coach in the league would prefer to have an experienced roster entering the season. But at least in 2010-2011, experience couldn't be used as an indicator of Big 12 Conference success. So when picking teams for future success, talent remains the best indicator, rather than players who have been around for a while.

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