College hoop coaches turn to XOS for March Madness

By Carolyn Braff
SVG college video correspondent

As the basketball post-season inches closer, XOS Technologies is making a break for the basket. “When selection Sunday comes around Sunday night, you’ll be able to
download that media and immediately have it available for whoever that
first or second round opponent might be,” says John Castles, XOS basketball product marketing manager.

With several new partnerships making video distribution faster and easier than ever, XOS is upping the ante by consolidating all of its offerings into a single easy-to-use interface that will have coaches scouting opponents minutes after the brackets are announced on Selection Sunday. The sports technology giant is offering coaches the ability to streamline their scouting and video analysis more than ever before.

“We wanted to create a single interface for being able to leverage everything from coaches’ tools to recruiting and scouting, tying everything that we do all into one platform,” explains John Castles, basketball product marketing manager for XOS. “So everything that you use as a coach will be in a single software application.”

A leading provider of coaching solutions and facilities design and integration for professional and collegiate basketball programs alike, XOS came out with the first version of the XOS Basketball platform in 2006. In addition to its Windows Media 9-based editing system, which makes the new platform more compatible, the 2007 version boasts greater efficiency, storage, and affordability.

With the NCAA Tournament just around the corner, many of XOS’ clients will soon find themselves on the national stage with minimal turnaround time in which to capture and log the current game before preparing for the next round. March Madness is not the time to face an opponent blind, so XOS has made scouting capabilities an integral component of its 2007 platform, using efficiency as the key word that ties it all together.

“The platform works for self-scouting purposes, after a game breaking down all the offensive sets that I ran, how efficient I was,” Castles explains. “It also does opponent scout, getting ready to play a team by gathering video footage on that team, breaking down offensive sets and various other elements, and presenting all that video and data to scout effectively the next game that I’ll be playing.

“One of our goals is to create a streamlined process for getting content out to our coaches,” Castles emphasizes. “We’re trying to get away from the capture and logging part of it so that these guys can get the footage, be able to visually break it down and present it to other coaches and players as soon as possible.”

To further streamline the scouting and recruiting process, XOS has teamed up with ESPN to serve high school content to its client teams digitally, cutting out the VHS or DVD middle man.

“It’s already digital media so they don’t have to go through the capturing and logging process,” Castles says. “That’s already done on the front end so our clients don’t have to worry about that.”

XOS also partners with Hoop1, a basketball-specific video distribution service that has provided VHS and DVD footage to its clients for over 20 years.

“What he’s done on his side at Hoop1 is start to post everything in windows media format online, so we have a partnership with him where his media can be injected into our system,” Castles explains. “It creates a very efficient process for our coaches to import media and to be able to break it down.” Instead of waiting for DVDs to arrive via courier, the Hoop1 partnership allows coaches to access video digitally as soon as it is available, eliminating the lag time.

“When selection Sunday comes around Sunday night, you’ll be able to download that media and immediately have it available for whoever that first or second round opponent might be.”

But the technology does not stop there. XOS’ facility design team specializes in expanding that efficient video editing system to work seamlessly across an entire facility, integrating digital signage, coaching software, audio/video, and networking to meet each client’s needs.

“We come in and we do a needs assessment on how to integrate that facility from an overall technology standpoint,” Castles says. “We go in and we determine how they’re going to be using that facility on a day-to-day basis, integrating video and audio, networking that facility in a way that the server talks to clients very efficiently, and making the video coordinator’s job efficient. We then provide all the editing systems, so it all integrates into one platform.”

The University of Kentucky’s Joe Craft Center is one of more than 100 facilities the XOS team has designed and fully integrated, and the Wildcats’ video coordinators could not be more pleased with the outcome.

“The facility is a really good mix of a lot of different technologies,” explains Tim Asher, video coordinator at the University of Kentucky. From meeting rooms equipped with 16:9 high definition projectors to 50-inch plasma screens welcoming visitors to the facility, the Craft center is a practice facility for the next generation.

Aside from providing a nice change of scenery, the digital screens in strategic locations throughout the facility can work wonders for recruiting purposes.

“The ability to customize our digital signage on short notice accommodates the needs of various departments throughout the building,” Asher says. “As a University we host a lot of different events, so more important for us would be the recruiting aspects of this new technology. There’s that wow factor, and that’s one of the things in recruiting that you can’t put a price on.”

High school athletes spending time at Kentucky’s practice facility for summer camps or workout programs will not soon forget having their photo projected on a 50-inch plasma screen, or so the University hopes.

As XOS continues to stay ahead of the curve in developing and integrating new services and technologies, Kentucky continues to reap the benefits.

“Obviously it’s an exciting time for athletics at the University of Kentucky,” Asher says. “We’re not at all finished with incorporating new technologies.” And neither is XOS.