As a Virginia Tech student during the early 1990s, Ken Pomeroy was struck by the Hokies' new-found football success. He attended home games and applauded the likes of Frank Beamer, Antonio Freeman and Maurice DeShazo.
But Pomeroy was most attuned to Tech basketball, back-to-back 10-18 seasons notwithstanding. He returned to campus early after the holidays, lest he miss marquee encounters with the likes of Morgan State, and saw his loyalty rewarded as a senior when Ace Custis and the Hokies won the 1995 National Invitation Tournament.
Pomeroy majored in civil engineering at Tech and earned a master's degree in atmospheric science from the University of Wyoming. He became a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Those grown-up credentials notwithstanding, Pomeroy couldn't shake his affinity for basketball and analytics. College coaches nationwide couldn't be happier.
Pomeroy's website, Kenpom.com, has become daily surfing material for coaches, media and fans interested in new-aged, tempo-free statistics that rate teams' and players' efficiencies in myriad categories.
Virginia ranks fourth nationally in the old-school metric of scoring defense, but given the deliberate pace of most Cavaliers' games, just how good are they defensively?
Virginia Tech's Erick Green leads Division I in scoring, but when you factor in shooting percentages, minutes played and turnovers, where does he rank as an offensive threat?
Pomeroy endeavors to provide answers and, like Nate Silver in politics, forecast results.
"It wasn't like there was one moment where the light bulb went off," he says from his Utah home. "I'd always been into sports ratings and stuff, like the Sagarin ratings (in USA Today), what Bill James was doing with baseball. It took awhile for me to think about college basketball in that way. It kind of took off in the early 2000s."
Then New Mexico's head coach, Ritchie McKay was among Pomeroy's early disciples.
"If you're happily married and you want to stay that way, you can't take this home, because you could legitimately spend hours on this deal," says McKay, now Virginia's associate head coach.
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas uses Pomeroy's site to study the teams he's scheduled to broadcast.
"It allows you to just dig in and find what a team is good at and not good at," Bilas says.
For example, Pomeroy's site will reveal what percentage of a team's possessions result in turnovers, and where that ratio ranks nationally. Kenpom.com also computes "effective field-goal percentage," which takes into account the extra value of a made 3-pointer.
"When you're filling out your (NCAA tournament) bracket," Bilas says, "Kenpom is helpful to see how teams' strengths and weaknesses match up."
Pomeroy's most basic ratings are free, but delving inside the numbers costs $19.95 a year. He politely declines to reveal total subscriptions, but says wryly, "I quit my day job last summer."
"That's been the cool thing about this," Pomeroy adds. "A lot of coaches have bought in. I don't know how many programs subscribe to my service, but I'm guessing it's over half of Division I coaches. And that, to me, gives my work tremendous validity.
"I knew it was pretty useful … but the coaches are ones whose jobs are basically on the line."