Friday, June 17, 2011

Coaching Carousal: Part 2011-04: Effects, Hits, Misses & Numbers

Effects -- Butterfly, Ripple or Domino?
When Villanova's Assistant Coach Chris Walker accepted a similar position on Billy Gillispie's Texas Tech staff back in April (announced formally only last week) Villanova Coach Jay Wright seized the opportunity to reorganize his staff. Though the process took just under two months and affected three coaches and two positions, Coach Wright's first step, completed in just over two weeks brought Navy Head Coach Billy Lange back to the Mainline as an Associate Head Coach. Lange, in his second stint on Coach Wright's staff, has taken an increasingly well-traveled road of head coach in a non-BCS program to assistant in a BCS program, the second to do so this off season alone. Lange's exit triggered a three job shift among D1 head coaching positions Villanova (Assoc. HC) <-- (Lange) Navy (HC) <-- (DeChellis) Penn State (HC) <-- (Chambers)Boston University (HC) <-- ?. The shift was unusual for the timing, coming so late in the cycle, but even more so for the number of head coaching positions opened, initiated by a head coach-to-assistant shift. Last season the Patriot League was ranked 24th of 32 D1 conferences by by Ken Pomeroy, the level where one would expect a coach to be named from a pool of assistant/associate coaches, rather than BCS-level head coaches. The circumstances of DeChellis' situation in Happy Valley played a large role in his decision to take a pay cut and change jobs. Clearly this was not the Butterfly Effect at work. Juwan Staten was slated to transfer from Dayton to Penn State prior to DeChellis' move, but instead signed with West Virginia, is an example of the Butterfly Effect (especially if he hits a shot that eliminates Villanova from the 2013 BET for example). The quick movement diagram (above) illustrates the moves as a chain reaction that typifies the Domino Effect, but given the number of coaches associated with the Philadelphia coaching fraternity, I would also suggest there was a Ripple Effect involved. Would Pat Chambers considered a BCS-level job this late in the cycle had it been located in Washington state? Would Penn State have looked at Chambers if Happy Valley were located in upper Minnesota? The influence exerted by the six D1 coaches coaches at Philadelphia schools (Drexel, La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova) extends beyond the Delaware Valley and the state of Pennsylvania (to Madison, Wisconsin actually).

Hits & Misses?
The ACC saw an unusually high (four) number of vacancies this off season, 50% of the attrition can be attributed to terminations at Georgia Tech (Paul Hewitt) and North Carolina State (Sidney Lowe). Both coaches were on the hot seat going into the 2011 season. Interestingly, feedback about Paul Hewitt's and Sidney Lowe's replacements (Brian Gregory and Mark Gottfried repsectively) is (charitably at best) mixed. By general knowledge, Georgia Tech, with a large buyout on Hewitt's contract and huge capital expenses (facilities related) looming, may have been reluctant to go after a namebrand coach. North Carolina State AD Debbie Yow apparently believed a whispering campaign limited her pool of available replacements after she fired five year veteran Sidney Lowe, making Mark Gottfried, himself fired (in mid-season no less) from his last job (Alabama), the most attractive of the available candidates. She seemed to conveniently forget that the Wolfpack faithful practically ran off Lowe's predessessor Herb Sendak, and after a very public search marked by an embarrassing series of courtships and rejections, then AD Lee Fowler settled on Sidney Lowe, an NCSU graduate who was unable to translate consistently good recruiting into an NCAA bid in any of his five seasons at State. Sendak, with less attractive recruits, managed an NCAA bid in each of his last five seasons in Raleigh. Do the numbers support or contradict media perceptions that Gregory and Gottfried were basically misses? I dusted off Dan Hanner's Average Efficiency Margin method to compare the ex-coach and his successor...

Average Adj.
P. Hewitt, Ga Tech/2004-2011109.191.4+17.7
B. Gregory, Dayton/2004-2011104.794.7+10.0

Those seeking an explanation for Tech's selection of Gregory -- beyond expense -- cannot look to an efficiency margin better than Hewitt's. Though Dayton's ex-coach boasts a positive double digit margin through his last seven seasons, it is well off (see above) Paul Hewitt's efficiency margin (in fact Hewitt's efficiency margin was better -- by 8.4 points per 100 possessions -- than Jim Larranaga, the GMU Coach whose move to Miami created the opening at George Mason). Fans at both Georgia Tech and Dayton shared a similar view of their respective former coaches -- good recruiters who seemed to do less with more. Hopefully each will find greater acceptance (and success) at their next stop.

Though Coach Gottfried had a ten year run in Tuscaloosa, Ken Pomeroy provides data for only six of those years (2003-08). I decided to compare the last five years of Lowe's and Gottfried's tenure at their respective schools. Though Lowe never made the NCAA tournament, Gottfried did in three of his last five years at Alabama (2003 -- Elite Eight, 2004 -- Round of 32, 2005 -- first round)...

Average Adj.
S. Lowe, NCSU/2007-11109.798.1+11.7
M. Gottfried, Alabama/2004-08115.596.0+19.5

Gottfried might be the D1 coaching equivalent of Wally Pipp. The Crimson Tide of 2007 and 2008 had slumped from the high-water mark of 2003, the circumstances of Gottfried's "resignation" and the enthrusiasm surrounding Anthony Grant's early success have certainly combined to allow the Crimson Tide faithful to quickly forget about Gottfried's accomplishments. Being the third of three schools in the Research Triangle will be a challenge, but the circumstances at North Carolina State (public institution, football-centric) are similar to those at Alabama. Gottfried should do well there.

Radford Selects Jones, Boston University is on the Clock...
Despite speculation that focused on several former head coaches, the search to replace Brad Greenburg at Radford University settled quickly on the usual suspects -- assistant coaches from higher-level conferences within the region. 27 days into the search, Athletic Director Robert Lineburg introduced Mike Jones, an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University out of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) as Radford's sixth Division 1 men's basketball coach.

Despite assertions that Boston University's search for Chamber's replacement would only take days, the process is now two weeks old with interim head coach Brian Daly (Assistant Coach under Chambers), announced June 3, holding down the fort. The post-Chambers press announcement candidate pool was an eclectic mix of ex-head coaches (Al Skinner), high-ranking assistant/associate head coaches (Mike Jarvis II & Orlando Vandross -- both of whom deny being contacted for interviews -- along with media favorite Richard Pitino, son of Louisville head coach and former Terrier head coach, Rick Pitino) and local sports names (Walter McCarty, former Celtic & Louisville assistant coach & former BU player Scott Spinelli) among others. When BU Athletic Director Mike Lynch fired 15 year veteran Dennis Wolff in March of 2009 he hired a search firm and took just under a month (26 days) to select and deliver Pat Chambers. Lynch did not initiate the process this time, did not hire a search firm and named Daly very quickly when Chambers left. Given how late in the cycle the opening was created, I would not be surprised if Daly leads the Terriers through the next season with the interim label attached to his title. Nor would I be surprised if Lynch tabs a head coach in the next week or so. I would be surprised, given Boston University's competitive standing in the American East Conference, if Lynch names a replacement after the start of the July recruiting period.

By the Numbers...
A single vacancy has been created since the last Coaching Carousal post, a bit unusual for me to post so quickly. The Villanova connection was too tempting to pass on however. The ebb and flow to this point...

Regular Season*02/26/1123.6%
Conf. Tourn.**03/14/111832.7%
NCAA Tourn.04/07/112341.8%
Spring Sign05/18/11916.4%
Post Spr. SignToday...35.5%
n = 55

* Regular season ending was arbitrary; I used the start of the earliest conference tournaments to mark the transition from regular season to post season play.
** Selection Sunday, March 14 this year, marks the end of conference tournaments & the beginning of post season program evaluations.

Turnover peaked during the NCAA tournament, typical given that most vacancies are initiated by the employer and conference tournaments and the NCAAs (and NIT, CBI, CIT, etc) mark the end of the season for viturally all of the Division 1 programs. 55 vacancies mark 2011 as the third busiest since 2002. Projecting a few more openings is not unreasonable, though the vacancy will be created by exigent circumstances (coaches behaving badly for example), with the AD either conducting a very quick (days, not weeks) search or tabbing an interim. 57? 58? Stay tuned.

No comments: