March Madness: MSDS Basketball Team Makes Buckets in AWS and on the Court

Nicholas Kalinowski
March 16, 2023
Data Science Basketball Team

Students in the Master’s in Data Science Residential program don’t just make buckets in Amazon Web Services. The MSDS co-ed intramural basketball team–aptly named the “S3 Buckets” after the popular cloud storage resource–finished the spring regular season with a perfect 4-0 record and is looking to win the coveted t-shirt that comes with a championship victory. 

Success on the court didn’t come immediately, though; many of the same players participated in the Fall intramural basketball season, where the team only won a single game. That being said, members of the team used their fall experience to adjust and grow before the spring season began. “Just like [in] deep learning, it takes a couple of epochs (games) to fully learn each other's tendencies and skills,” starting forward Eric Tria mused, comparing his experiences on the court to the neural network course in which members of the cohort are currently enrolled. 

Intramural Team Prepares for A Game

 Maximizing their strong team chemistry and tight-knit bond, the S3 Buckets stormed through their opening bracket on a successful run which included multiple half-court shots, ferocious blocks, and even a last second buzzer beater. However, the team hasn’t just become better basketball players; they have also extended their increased understanding of data science topics to improve their performance in-game. “The general idea behind data science is to effectively gain insights from information (“data”) in order to increase the potential of efficient and quality results/output,” said guard Anneda Rong, “The principle of analyzing the probability of an opponent team performing a certain way—for example, observing our opponents during warm-ups and collecting information as simple as how or where their favorite spots on the court are to shoot—allows us to analyze and adjust where we should defensively position ourselves in order to increase the probability of  preventing our opponent from scoring.” 

As the S3 Buckets eye a possible championship game appearance, they remain confident that their shared skills and friendship will be the keys to victory. Regardless of the result, the season has helped the team members grow closer together and has become a highlight of the Residential MSDS experience. Rong says, “While I enjoy learning beside my team in the classroom, being able to connect on a personal level with them on the court is always fun and a favorite part of my week.”