Saturday, May 29, 2010

ECB Early Off Season Roundtable -- Some 2nd Thoughts

Reading through the other blogger's responses to Pico's questions -- and more importantly -- some of the answers brought another round of reflection...
The Big East Season Post...
1. My data shows the conference regressed to the mean last season. 2009 was a great season in that the teams in the upper division (#1 - #8) were very good to great. The upper division teams were good to very good, even the third quartile (#9 - #12) were good to ok, and compared to the  rest of the conference, the fourth quartile teams (#13 - #16) were more competitive. I have not charted a "loss chart" to see who received those five additional first quartile losses, but I doubt (UConn's win over Villanova in February notwithstanding) that it was a straight first-to-third quartile transfer. Hoya Prospectus' a "flatter conference" is probably the best description of the conference as a whole, though Pitt Blather ("Not great, but tough and...felt like a grind...") is a close second. The step back from 2009, relative to other conferences, is not particularly pronounced (though Hoya Prospectus might disagree), as evidenced by the seeds allocated to the conference's top 5 - 6 invitees. Receiving three #1 (and two #3) seeds is very unusual, but receiving a #1 and two #2 (and two #3) seeds is a very good showing...and not much of a step back. Individual results might have been disappointing, but the BET injury to Onuaku really hurt the Orange and, like AJ Price's injury in the San Diego game in 2008, largely derailed what might have been a very deep run by Syracuse.
2. Pico's observation about better offense made me go back and take another look at the four factors for conference-only games. Pico's right, the offensive efficiency has gone up in each of the past two season (2008-to-2009, 2009-to-2010). The conference offensive efficiency (efficiency period actually...) was 102.7 in 2008, 104.0 in 2009 and 105.8 in 2010. That is a fairly hefty 1.5 to 2.0 jump in points per 100 possessions each season. The question about better offense or worse defense might be mixed, but the shot conversion efficiency (eFG) did not change much year-to-year. Fouls and getting to the free throw line (FTA/FGA) declined pretty significantly from 2008 to 2009, but then increased in 2010 (more fouling...something Villanova fans can attest to). Turnovers have declined each season (poorer defense?) while offensive rebounding rates (OR%) increased (better offense or poorer defense?) each season.
3. Eye of a Panther's comment about the graduating class reminded me of the 2009 off season, in which the conference also graduated a good many solid (though not universally NBA-bound) seniors.

Rising Programs and Falling Programs...
There was a strong consensus among the bloggers that Connecticut and St. John's were "rising" programs, with a second tier of Pittsburgh and Seton Hall followed by Providence and Georgetown. Funny thing about that -- I have no problem with St. John's and Pittsburgh (heck, they were on my list). Seton Hall and Georgetown were my "last two out", but I wonder if Kevin Willard will need a year to adjust to the Big East. Of the four new coaches, I expect the Johnnies' Coach Lavin to have the easiest adjustment -- he has successfully managed another BCS-level program, has assembled a top notch staff and has a deep, experienced and talented roster to work with. The other three, good coaches all, are lacking in at least one of those three areas.

I felt a jolt however as I looked over Pico's compilation, because two of those "rising" programs, Connecticut and Providence, were on my "falling" programs list. While I have not tallied departing minutes, FGAs, points, rebounds, etc yet, I suspect Providence will be above the conference average in many (if not all) of those areas. True the conference has not announced next year's mirror, home and away opponents yet, but I am skeptical that losing that much offense (and rebounding), coupled with a solid incoming class of recruits (that no one has described as "impact" level) will net the Friars more wins next season than they earned in 2010. Greedy Peterson's dismissal was announced as I was working on my list, and that was on my mind as I sent the list in. Rumors about Connecticut's investigation have been circulating for nearly a year. Coverage has focused on the number of impermissible calls and texts between staff members and recruits and the number of impermissible ticket distributions, but Connecticut fans have to be concerned that the University has already spent nearly $500,000 and the hearing is over 90 days away, and about the NCAA's last two major citations (which the lawyers' fee failed to soften), as each included language ("failed to adequately monitor..." and "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance...") that suggests major sanctions are in the offering. The program hearing is scheduled for next October, decidedly inconvenient timing as the squad may well start the 2011 season knowing no post season play will be possible, or that scholarships may be cut the following season. An inexperienced squad, an aging coach with past health issues, staff turnovers and possible NCAA sanctions in the program's immediate future. Too much to overcome perhaps?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Big East Bloggers Off Season Roundtable Over at ECB

Pico Dulce over at the East Coast Bias Blog has put together an early off season blogger roundtable. Pico shot me some (about five actually) questions and compiled my responses, along with those from 12 other bloggers (10 of the conference's 16 teams were represented) -- our friends from the old I Bleed Blue and White Blog, re-incarnated over at the Burnt Orange Nation as The Nova Blog also participated. Pico has published his compilation of the first two questions, "What was your team’s overall record and Big East record? Did they
" and "Good or bad, who was the most surprising team...?". The responses represent a good capsule on "state of the conference" at this point in the off season.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Departures -- St. John's Thru West Virginia

The Clearing Fog...Part 4 of 4
Unlike the 2009 off season, 2010 attrition from transfer and early NBA entry seems to be low and very school-specific. Of the 12 departures listed for these last four schools, only one is a transfer and two others are early entries in the NBA draft. All of the others are seniors, no small coincidence given that three of the four schools listed were the #1, #4 and #6 seeds in the BET.

St. John's

Omari LawrenceFRGTransf
Anthony Mason Jr.RS SRFGrad

Heralded as an incoming recruit, Mason had a promising freshman campaign, but did not become the anticipated impact player after a series of injuries derailed his sophomore and junior seasons. 2010 was his fifth with the program, but even his re-introduction to the lineup was delayed this season with lingering injuries. He appeared in last 19 of the Johnnies' 33 games, starting 17 of them while averaging 24.7 minutes per game. Lawrence announced his intent to transfer in the middle of May. At 6-4 and 210 lbs, Lawrence found himself in competition with junior Paris Horne and JUCO Dwight Hardy for minutes last season. With the possible return of injured Quincy Roberts, those minutes will get tighter. An 11 day search process established to replace the fired Norm Roberts, tabbed Steve Lavin after several feelers and denials were processed. The administration had a list and worked through their options at a business-like pace. No signs of faltering or indecision/confusion in Queens. Coach Lavin moved with similar decisiveness as he put together his staff and pursued several late spring recruiting prospects. The competition for NYC bballers will increase over the next few years. Let's hope the bold moves translate into results on the court.


Wesley JohnsonJRFNBA-In
Arinze OnuakuSRFGrad
Andy RautinsSRGGrad

The departures of Rautins and Onuaku were expected, even scheduled. Both took redshirts for injuries as underclassmen, and filled significant leadership roles for the team this season. The Orange may have several who may be ready to fill Onuaku's role, but Rautins' role, with his maturity and basketball IQ and deadly outside shot, may be more problematic. Coach Beoheim is the Dean of the Big East Coaching Fraternity. Despite several rebuffed initiatives to secure a line of succession back in the 2008 off season, there has been no word from Coach Boeheim about retirement. If he can repeat the 2010 season a few more times, he may never retire.


Reggie ReddingSRGGrad
Scottie ReynoldsSRGGrad
Russell WootenSRFGrad

I never understood how a player who took the Big East Rookie of the Year his freshman season (2007), was an All big East Team (1st, 2nd or 3rd) virtually every year he played, finished as the #2 scorer in Villanova history, only the second player to score more than 2,200 points in his career, was the #6 assist Villanova all-time leader, was named 1st All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in his last season, could be so controversial, even after he played his last game for the Wildcats. Can the Nova Nation move on? Can the basketball program move on? Also departed is four year (off and on) starter Reggie Redding, who in a few ways was even more controversial than Reynolds. Which is a shame as both were, to all appearances, good players and even better people. Russell Wooten was a walk-on player and a fan favorite who saw minutes in out-of-reach games. Another member of Coach Wright's staff left to take a better job with another program. Despite off season job speculation that almost rivals the buzz surrounding Pitt's Jamie Dixon, the Coach is comfortable on the Main Line and intends to remain there...for the time being.

West Virginia

Da'Sean ButlerSRG/FGrad
Devin EbanksSOFNBA-In
Wellington SmithSRF/CGrad
Jonnie WestSRFGrad

Butler was arguably the Big East Player of the Year, especially during February. The Mountaineers advanced to the Final Four due to a team effort, led by the always-reliable Da'Sean Butler. Wellington Smith, a John Beilein-type (ie undersized and mobile) center, started all 38 games his senior season and logged 20+ minutes per game in a front court rotation of Kevin Jones, Devin Ebanks, John Flowers and Deniz Kilicli, all starters or regular substitutes. Ebanks' departure creates a need for front court help, something addressed with a late April signing. Jonnie West averaged 3.6 minutes per game in his 20 appearances last season. The program administration is solid and staying in place. Coach Huggins looks for all the world as if he has taken his last job. Morgantown is again a desirable destination for basketball talent.

Still Pending...
Ignoring for a moment the 900 pound gorilla, there is a "regular" ebb and flow to off season roster moves...
1. the coaching carousal -- the end of the spring signing period (May 19 this year) generally signals the end of the most active phase of coaching job turnovers among Division 1 schools. It is not in either party's interest to create (or take) a vacancy this "late" in the recruiting and hiring cycles. If any of the "untouched" positions turns over now, the catalyst will be a crisis -- life, health, propriety -- among the most likely causes. As Tim Welsh's tenure at Hofstra illustrates, these situations tend to develop and resolve quickly. Age may be a question with respect to Coach Boeheim, but given his attempts to develop a succession plan several seasons ago, I doubt he will would simply put in his papers and walk away. Especially now. Only Coach Calhoun at Connecticut has known health problems. Coach Pitino's moral crisis from the 2009 off season lingers, as the lady whose alleged extortion demands triggered his fall from grace is scheduled to go on trial this summer. The defendent's motion to change venues was denied, so Louisville (and the national press) may well mull the details and allegations one more time before the next school year. The Louisville program may be other shoes to drop, but most likely the worst has passed. Since 2007 (three cycles), the turnover rate after the Spring Signing period has ranged from 2% of the vacancies up to 18% of the vacancies, so expect a few more vacancies to open before Fall Practice.
2. Post regime house cleaning -- four coaching jobs turned over in the season/off season. The coaching jobs at DePaul and Rutgers have been "on the clock" for the past 2+ seasons; those programs have been bled dry by the prolonged process. Bobby Gonzalez almost casually turned over his rosters as players, exhibiting signs of burnout, routinely transferred to less stressful (lower major) programs. Omari Lawrence might be an early sign that some more of the St. John's roster will be heading out as Coach Lavin, alone among the new hires, is out of scholarships at this point.
3. Academic dismissals -- confidentially makes these difficult to keep track. Student-athletes on the brink often register for summer classes to clean up transcript/gpa problems. Summer school reports trickle out beginning in early July and running through late August. Given there is no Division 1 requirement or procedure for reporting and tracking academic qualifiers, we will not have a definite count of players until the rosters are published in September and October.

About That 900 Pound Gorilla...
Conference realignment speculation flew around the internet and in the national media just three weeks ago, but has largely died down in the wake of "no action" after the Big Ten ADs meeting last week did not result in any (public) offers. For the Big East programs that may receive invitations, the deadline to notify the conference of plans to withdraw pass at the end of June. Even should the Big Ten stage (and complete) a full-scale "ACC style" raid, the resulting realignment will happen after the 2010 basketball season.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three Easy Pieces

Reflections on Coaches, by Sports Writers...
Most of that which I read these days is located on the internet. The writing ranges from straight reporting, to gossip (speculation and rumor), to analysis -- which seems to be rarely quantitative and too often laced with commentary. I have not found many good profile pieces, so when I ran across these, I felt a need to share. The approach allows the reader to get a bit closer to the subject, no mean feat considering each subject, celebrated for much of their respective careers, suffered (to varying degrees) a rather public fall from grace, and with that fall, a measure of controversy. Each homage was precipated by a specific event; something served as a catalyst to both motivate each writer to spark his own recollections and weave them into the narrative.

John Feinstein on Jim Valvano
Posted near the end of April on his blog, Feinstein on the Brink, John Feinstein's "Seventeen years later, Jim Valvano’s memory lives on" drew a number of internet comments & post-back links on other sites. I remember Valvano as a young and energetic coach who (literally) exploded onto the D1 stage when his Wolfpack, possibly the first Cinderella story of the NCAA Tournament (that CBS had the opportunity to sell a few ads on). Valvano became a a "good interview" and received a ton of publicity in the ensuing years. Villanova's 1985 win over Georgetown may have eclipsed Valvano's limelight, but as Feinstein suggests, Jimmy V was eager to be regarded as "more than a coach" by that time. Whenever I read about Valvano I cannot help but remember that both he and Mike Krzyzewski took up their ACC coaching jobs in the same year, 1980-81. Coach Valvano returned the Wolfpack to the NCAAs the next season, and won the National Championship the season after. Coach K did not return Duke to the NCAAs until 1984 (lost in the second round), and did not win his first National Championship until the 1990-91 season. Jimmy V built a personna and became a celebrity; Mike Krzyzewski built a program that became a dynasty.

Joe Posnanski on Bob Huggins
A Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated, Posnanski authors the Curiously Long Post blog, and posted "Huggs" near the end of March, about the time the Mountaineers won their regionals and moved on to the Final Four. Posnanski counts himself among those who are not Huggins fans, but penned a very readable and oddly endearing piece about the once controversial coach. West Virginia's run ended (rather badly at that) at the hands of Duke in the National Semi-Finals. Unlike a number of earlier character studies, Posnanski shows little interest in apologizing for Huggins, and strangely that approach makes Huggins a bit more sympathetic to the reader.

Dan Wetzel on Nolan Richardson
Wetzel wrote a loose, memory-laden review of Rus Bradburd's Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson, an overdue look at the career of Arkansas' winningest basketball coach. Francis Schmidt (1923-29, 0.839) and Eddie Sutton (1976-1985, 0.776 -- yes, that Eddie Sutton) may have higher winning percentages, but neither stayed as long (17 years) nor won as many games. Wetzel has authored several books, and his skill is on display again in this book review. Unlike Feinstein and Posnanski, Wetzel moves his personal narrative to the background, allowing Bradburd to take the lead. Richardson, like Huggins (and Valvano?) has been at times a hard person to like. But always one to respect for his achievements. I was happy to hear he was back to coaching, this time in the pros -- the Tulsa Shock of the WBA.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Departures -- Providence Thru South Florida

The Clearing Fog...Part 3 of 4
Attrition through the first eight (alphabetically speaking) teams was primarily graduation/end of eligibility. If Lance Stephenson, Greg Monroe and Samardo Samuels left early for the NBA, Stanley Robinson & Jerome Dyson, Edgar Sosa, Luke Harangody and Lazar Hayward finished out their college eligibility and helped their teams earn NCAA invitations. The teams in this, the third (alphabetically speaking) share a common thread of loss through transfer, draft and dismissal.


Sharaud CurrySRGGrad
Ray HallSRCGrad
Johnnie LacyFRGTransf
Brian McKenzieSRGGrad
Russ PermenterJRFTransf
Jamine PetersonJRFDismsd
James StillFRFSuspd

The Friars, without the inside presence provided by the Class of 2009, struggled to a 12-19 (4-14) record last season. Coach Davis sacrificed scouting and preparation time for teaching fundamentals and installing his system. Ray Hall, Brian McKenzie and Sharaud Curry's departures were known (and no doubt planned for), but losing two transfers who each spent a single season in the program, given they were Davis' recruits, is troubling. It is one thing to clean out your predessors' recruits, quite another to see players you invested time and effort to recruit to the school and program, leave so quickly. Lacy and Still were arrested after allegedly assaulting another Providence student in early April. Lacy, who had previously announced his intent to transfer, was, along with power forward James Still, suspended pending the school's investigation. Still's status remains "suspended" for the time being. Jamine Peterson was dismissed last week after an undisclosed violation of team rules. Greedy's departure, unanticipated, was painful given his emergence last season as the team's leading scorer and rebounder. Coming on the heals of the April incident are making Davis' early years reminiscent of his predessor's first years.


Patrick JacksonSOFTransf
Hamady NdiayeSRC Grad
Mike RosarioSOGTransf

The Fred Hill Experiment in Piscataway is over. His departure was not enough to deter all-purpose scorer Mike Rosario from transferring to Florida where he will sit next season before resuming play in 2012. Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice has stepped in and assembled a staff for next season. Rice has picked up a few recruits in the last two weeks and has, in the long run, a good opportunity to build a program at Rutgers. But in the short run, the Scarlet Knights will be hard pressed to replace N'Diaye and Rosario.

Seton Hall

John Garcia5 SRF/C Grad

The Pirate list is dominated by the names not present, rather than John Garcia, a good, but often injured center, whose eligibility ran out last season. Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez will not be back. He was fired following the Pirates' first round loss to Texas Tech in the NIT. Iona Head Coach Kevin Willard hired in early April, has a staff in place and several recruits in the fold already. After a brief flirtation with the NBA draft, prolific scorer Jeremy Hazell and mobile forward Jeff Robinson decided to give the South Orange school another season. Herb Pope, a talented if erratic, #4 continues to rehabilitate from a collapse (and subsequent hospitalization) during a pre-draft workout. He too pulled his name from the draft pool and will, pending a recovery, return to the Hall next fall.

South Florida

Chris HowardSRG Grad
Dominique JonesJRGNBA-In
Ryan KardokSRG Grad
Mike MercerSRG Grad
Alex RivasSRC Grad

Jones, co-winner of the Big East Rookie of the Year in 2008 and named to the Big East All First Team last March, will be missed. Chris Howard, once he was healthy, started for four seasons, dishing 485 (or so) assists over his career. He averaged 10.3 points per game in 35.8 minutes in his senior season. Mike Mercer, a Georgia transfer played a single season for the Bulls (plus four games in 2009 before he was injured), logging 944 minutes in 33 games. Advertised as a prolific scorer, he never found the groove with the Tampa school, averaging 9.2 points per game while hitting 20% of his 3 point attempts. Alex Rivas, a JUCO with two years of eligibility, was a fixture in the rotation who provided rebounding and depth.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Departures -- Louisville Thru Pittsburgh

The Clearing Fog...Part 2 of 4
Before attempting to predict the shape of teams (and the conference) going into next season, I want to catalog the departures (graduating seniors, transfers and NBA draft hopefuls) and then consider the impact the departing players (and coaches) will have on the offense and defense of each program. If I have overlooked or misclassified anyone, please let me know. Identifying academic casualties will have to come later; schools are reluctant to make official announcements about grades (privacy issues), and summer school has yet to run it's course.


Reginald DelkSRGGrad
Edgar SosaSRPGGrad
Jerry SmithSRGGrad
Samardo SamuelsSOFNBA-In

In addition to solid rotation player Reginald Delk, the Cardinals lose three starters from the squad that finished 20-13 (11-7) and went to the NCAAs (eliminated in the first round, 77-62, by California). Were Edgar Sosa and Coach Pitino ever on the same page? Fans may debate whether Sosa is addition by subtraction, but there is near unanimous opinion that Samuels to the draft will hurt the front court. Jerry Smith never seemed to get on track in 2010. I will leave to Louisville fans to speculate whether his and Terrence Jennings' arrest in Jeffersonville, IN proved to be the "one too many distraction" for the team. Terrence Jennings will have the best opportunity to show what he can do in the low post next season, as will rising sophomore Payton Silva at the point. To this point the veterans have been complement players to two very talented classes (2009 and 2010); the staff will no doubt look for leaders from among those who will return next season. Coach Pitino brought in long-time friend and one-time assistant Ralph Willard to reshape the Cardinals' defense. Next season may be the best opportunity to see if the veteran pair still have their touch.


Maurice AckerSRGGrad
David CubillanSRGGrad
Lazar HaywardSRFGrad
Yousoupha MbaoFRCTrans

Acker and Cubillan have been servicable rotation players, each of whom has had a good game or two to remember in years to come. But Lazar Hayward is a huge loss for the Golden Eagles, as virtually every game last season was a big game for him. Marquette may well continue to be plagued by the absence of a Big East-level low post player, but they will be well stocked with back court players and wings. Coach Buzz Williams has had two very (and, I have to confess, for me very unexpectedly) good seasons. He is a favorite, to fans of Marquette, the administration, and to fans of Big East basketball. The style is constant motion and energetic; Williams has players who will play that style again next season.

Notre Dame

Tim AndreeSRFGrad
Ben HansbroughSRGGrad
Luke HarangodySRFGrad
Tory JacksonSRGGrad
Jonathan PeoplesSRGGrad

Tim Andree emerged to have a solid senior season, while Hanbrough and Peoples were both solid rotation contributors. Tory Jackson and Luke Harangody, four year starters will be hard to replace. Harangody was the Big East POY in 2009, but returned to lead the Irish (with teammate Jackson at the point) back to the NCAAs after a year in the NIT. Coach Mike Brey listened to offers from Oregon in April, but will return to South Bend to retool the team for next season. During his tenure at Notre Dame, Coach Brey has fashioned Notre Dame into one of the most consistently efficient offenses, and toughest home court opponents in the Big East. Expect it again next season.


Chase AdamsSRGGrad
Jermaine DixonSRGGrad

Adams transferred in from Centenary late in August. While Coach Dixon worked him into the rotation, he was, as was understood at the time of his transfer, more an insurance policy than an impact player. Jermaine Dixon was a well regarded contributor, mostly on the wing. Gilbert Brown and others will be available next season. Coach Dixon continues to be one of the "most dropped" names whenever a BCS coaching position opens, and this off season was no different, as ADs from DePaul to Oregon "checked" with him before moving on to their eventual choices. Coach Dixon has a lot returning next season.

Villanova Football Team Honored with the Wanamaker

Announced earlier today, Villanova's D1AA football team, winners of the FCS National Championship in December, will receive the John Wanamaker Athletic Award on June 29. The team finished 14-1, defeating the top seeded University of Montana 23-21 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Congratulations to the Wildcats and
Coach Andy Talley!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Departures -- Cincinnati Thru Georgetown

The Clearing Fog...Part 1 of 4
I do not understand how, with the air thick with rumors (and news) of coaching changes, underclassmen putting in for the NBA draft or of transferring, analysts can make a projection of next season's Top 25. Even if the roster is inert -- staff and players stay in place and no new faces in the rotation for next season -- player development and life altering events remain the variables in the team dynamics.

The deadline has passed for pulling out of the NBA draft, and (for now) all head coaching positions in the Big East are staffed. A pause, to enumerate those departed and consider the changes, may in order. I have listed the losses to each team (seniors and NBA draft hopefuls, academic casualties and late-breaking coaching turnovers may affect each team's standing.


Lance StephensonFRFDraft-In
Steve ToyloySRCGrad
Deonta VaughnSRGGrad

Vaughn and Toyloy were known, but the loss of Stephenson, especially after he announced he would return for his sophomore year, was surprising and a frankly disappointing. Vaughn was a scoring point guard who tended to be more efficient when someone else (Jamal Warren for example) ran the point and let him come off screens. Cashmire Wright should get a long look at the #1, but someone (or a combination of someones) will have to supply the instant offense that Vaughn and Stephenson did last season. Coach Mick Cronin finished his fourth season and touts a 61-68 (0.473) record, with two trips to the (non-NCAA) post season to show for his tenure. Any in the Bearcat Nation looking for a speedy bounce back from the aftermath of Huggins/Kennedy have to be disappointed now.


Jerome DysonSRGGrad
Gavin EdwardsSRF/CGrad
Alex HornatSRFGrad
Jonathan MandeldoveSRCGrad
Stanley RobinsonSRFGrad

The first time in three (off) seasons the program has not had an early entry into the NBA draft...a good sign. The second time in the past four seasons the Huskies have not made the NCAAs either...a bad sign. The program is under investigation over the Nate Miles recruitment. The specifics, though undisclosed, have warranted the (additional) expense of a Kansas City law firm that specializes in NCAA-related offenses, retained to represent the program as they work to answer the charges. The fees, according published reports, will exceed $300,000. Coach Calhoun, who has missed games in each of the last three seasons, has recently signed a new contract that promises to keep him in Storrs through the 2014 season. Though he will be 73 in that contract's last year, the new contract was welcomed as a sign to potential recruits, that the long-time coach expects to continue. Whispers from the staff suggest the senior losses are addition by subtraction, and Coach Calhoun raved about the incoming class, generally regarded as second in the conference to Syracuse's, at a recent press conference.


Mac KoshwalJRF/CDraft-In
Will Walker SRG Grad

Walker and Koshwal were the team's most reliable/prolific scorers. The Demons come through a tumultuous season, one that saw five year head Coach Jerry Wainwright fired in December, and the interim coach, Terry Webster, not retained when Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell, took over in early April. Reaction to Oliver's hire and Webster's termination was (at best...) very mixed, with some area Public League coaches appreciative of early telephone contact, and AAU coaches unhappy about Webster's fate. Purnell's offense system is very different from Wainwright's, hopefully DePaul's administration and fan-base are not expecting a quick recovery.


Greg MonroeSOCDraft-In

The Hoyas have no graduating seniors and lose Greg Monroe to the NBA draft. Coach Thompson signed a contract extension last season, and though Georgetown took an unexpected quick exit from the NCAAs (97-83 first round loss to #14 seed Ohio University), continues to have the confidence of the administration and fans. The Hoyas are penciled into a few preseason Top 25s and a watch list or two.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Any Culture Changers at Villanova?

Program Changers Defined
Over on a stats blog -- SR/College Basketball (CBB Blog) -- Neil Paine posted (back in March) a list of 120 coaches, "program changers", whose influence, he suggested, were responsible for "Changing the Culture" of their respective programs. Fans of the Big East will recognize more than a few of the names (the Big East portion of the list is reproduced below), especially given the large write-up he devoted to Louie Carnesecca of St. John's. Filtering his results to focus on those who coached at least 120 games in a program that had played at least 120 games before he arrived, Paine presented his list of 120 culture changeing coaches (based on their winnig percentages versus their predecessor's winning percentage). Among Big East programs, the list includes (note a few predate the creation of the Big East conference)

Record Before...Coach's Record
Coach FinalYr School Gms WLPct.Gms WLPct.Pct Diff
Peck Hickman 1967 LOU 4381892490.4326264431830.7080.276
James Freeman 1936 STJO 3812191620.575208177310.8510.276
Al McGuire 1977 MARQ 9505054450.532375296790.7890.258
Jamie Dixon 2010 PITT223712499880.558242188540.7770.219
Ed Jucker 1965 CIN 10095894200.584141113280.8010.218
Fred Schaus 1960 WVU 8915253660.589183146370.7980.209
Edmund Dollard 1924 SYRA 13770670.511210151590.7190.208
George Smith 1960 CIN 7994353640.544210154560.7330.189
John Thompson 1998 GTWN 12216615600.5418225892330.7170.175
Hugh Greer 1963 CONN 5532982550.5393862741120.710.171
Tom Young 1985 RUTG 10795515280.5113552391160.6730.163

Pitt's Jamie Dixon may surprise a few, but Pitt fans know he has not only sustained the winning mentality instilled by his mentor Ben Howland, but has managed to maintain a high level of performance for nearly a decade. [Note -- I revised Dixon's numbers to reflect results in 2010].

Citizens of the Nova Nation may wonder why the Mainline is so under represented -- zero Wildcat coaches made the list. I was, so I compiled the records of Villanova's coaches going back to the program's first season of record (1921), and applied the same criteria as blogger Paine. My numbers look like this...

Record Before...Coach's Record
CoachFinal YrGms WLPct.GmsWLPct.Diff
Michael Saxe19260NANANA9464300.681NA
Rube Cashman19299464300.6814721260.447-0.234
Doc Jacobs193614185560.60311862560.5250.079
Alexander Severence19612591471120.5686144132010.6730.147
Jack Kraft19738735603130.641333238950.7150.042
Rollie Massimino199212067984080.6625963552410.596-0.119
Steve Lappas2001180211536490.6402841741100.6130.017
Jay Wright2010208613277590.636302203990.6720.060

And there, at the beginning of the list, is the answer -- Michael Saxe -- Villanova's first men's basketball coach set the tone for his successors by compiling a 0.681 winning percentage. Had the program maintained a 0.681 winning percentage through it's history, the 'Cats would rank #7 on the All-time list by winning percentage. Through seven successors, only one managed to tally a losing record (and his tenure lasted three seasons) while five managed winning percentages within 100 points (+/-) of Coach Saxe. Having eight coaches over 90 (or so) seasons is uncommon (though not extraordinary); having a single coach in that period with a losing record is unusual.

How to Classify?
The Big Blue News blogger used three categories, "game changer", "solid former assistant..." and "rock bottom" to describe the cycles at Kentucky and how they fit within Neil Paine's original framework. Villanova does not appear to follow the Kentucky pattern. Lack of losing records, or even a pronounced (or prolonged?) downward regression did not really happen in the period after Coach Severence. Doc Jacobs seemed to have steared the program (back) into proper direction, with Coaches Severence and Kraft building on the foundation re-established by Jacobs. Coach Severence, on the other hand, comes very close to the "culture changer" described by Neil Paine, though he falls just short of the 0.160 percentage bump identified in the SR/Blog posting. Coach Kraft logged a winning percentage of nearly 0.072 above the program winning percentage when he took over, the second highest among Villanova's eight coaches, as he led the Wildcats to the post season in 11 (six NCAAs & five NITs) of his 12 seasons. Coach Massimino's winning percentage ranks him #6 out of Villanova's eight coaches, but he is ranks considerably higher in the Nova Nation because he delivered the National Championship that eluded his two predecessors. Coach Lappas may be even more of an enigma than Coach Massimino. Though he notched a winning percentage better than Coach Mass, while bringing Villanova a Big East Tournament Championship (the only one earned in Villanova's 29 years in the conference) and an NIT Championship, making Villanova one of 18 Division 1 programs to have earned both an NIT and NCAA Championship. Though he did not match Coach Kraft's winning percentage, Coach Lappas led Villanova to seven post season tournaments (four NCAAs & three NITs) in his nine seasons, nearly matching Coach Kraft's post season efficiency. Through nine seasons, Coach Wright has a winning percentage that nearly matches Coach Severence's. 25 seasons may be much to ask, but Coach Wright has been running a very hot streak since 2005, compiling a 151-53 record, good for a 0.740 winning percentage, approximately 25 points above Coach Kraft's mark for his Mainline tenure.