Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FIBA Americas Cup 2010 -- USA Beats Canada 122-89

The Check List
The post game quotes from Coach Jeff Capel hint at a number of objectives this American squad had compiled coming into the Americas Cup Tournament...
1. They qualified Team USA for the U19 FIBA World Cup on Sunday evening when they drubbed Team Mexico 114-38.
2. They took their revenge for the 2008 Americas Cup on Monday, 88-67. The Argentines beat the Americans in Argentina to take the gold. The American squad had to settle for the silver.
3. By hammering Team Canada 122-89 on Tuesday, Team USA will compete for the gold. They will play the Brazilians later tonight (about 9:00pm Eastern time) to decide who wins the Americas Cup tournament in 2010.

Versus Team Canada
I suspected, based on offensive efficiency stats gathered during group play (and the presence of several well known Division 1 recruits on the Team Canada squad), the Canadians might give the Americans their most competitive game to date. The recap headlines, "USA U18 Men Rain Threes Down On Canada For 122-89 Semifinal Victory" however, suggest Team USA used the three point shot to finish the Canadians quickly. Posting a 62.2% eFG% (to Team Canada's 45.5% eFG%), the Americans jumped out to a 37-10 lead in the first quarter, and through the next three quarters the Canadians were never able to close that gap. The final margin of victory was 33 points.

Player Stats
Some possession-based stats for individual players through the first four games...

Player% MinPoss %Shot %ORtgPPWSeFG%OR%FTA%
Vander Blue43.819.212.785.21.1955.95.029.4
Trevor Cooney43.120.425.7111.81.2663.20.05.9
Abdul Gaddy39.425.317.485.71.0547.63.728.6
Josh Hairston36.920.020.387.60.9747.89.826.1
Kyrie Irving41.330.126.8111.31.2560.33.523.5
Quincy Miller59.422.320.8118.41.467.111.023.7
Tony Mitchell41.321.315.0137.91.3960.522.8105.3
Le Bryan Nash33.826.826.186.51.0551.94.329.6
Jereme Richmond48.819.914.7148.01.6479.520.854.5
Austin Rivers51.928.130.1123.51.5577.12.822.9
Amir Williams25.613.17.658.00.7733.35.766.7
Pat Young35.017.116.8147.11.3866.724.827.8

Those familiar with Ken Pomeroy's Team pages will recognize the stats. A quick refresher is available here for those who may not recognize a few of the calculations. I included PPWS -- PPWS = Pts/(FGA + (0.45 * FTA)) -- to indicate how each player used the free throw line as part of his offensive arsenal. Some of the "background" offensive stats and defensive stats for the squad...

Player Name
Vander Blue12.
Trevor Cooney5.
Abdul Gaddy22.827.812.00.02.8
Jose Hairston0.
Kyrie Irving30.713.418.51.45.4
Quincy Miller10.314.624.84.81.4
Tony Mitchell8.56.328.58.20.7
Le Bryan Nash4.512.315.70.00.8
Jereme Richmond18.214.314.50.03.4
Austin Rivers8.311.
Amir Williams2.432.918.46.62.2
Pat Young8.

While Austin Rivers has garnered headlines with his 35 point outing against Team Canada, St. Patrick's (of NJ) graduate and Duke-bound freshman-to-be Kyrie Irving has raised eyebrows with his quiet but effective performance as the offensive keystone for Team USA. Irving's 30.1% possession rate, combined with his 26.8% shot percentage suggests he is one of the primary offensive options for the team when he is on the court. His 60.3% eFG% indicates he can convert when he takes the shot, but his 30.7% assist rate tells everyone watching his game that when Irving touches the ball points will follow, either as a direct result of his shot, or because he has identified the open scorer, and delivered the ball at the point where the player can convert. Abdul Gaddy, the team's point guard, has had a tough tournament. His shooting is off (eFG% is 47.6%), but worse, his assists (22.8%) are negated by his propensity to turn the ball over (27.8%). Coach Boeheim should like what he sees in Syracuse-bound Trevor Cooney. Cooney has had several very effective shooting outings, but the coach also knows Cooney has work to do. The Delaware native has been effective at stealing the ball and limiting turnovers, but does not seem to get after rebounds.

USA Takes Gold
Although the box score has not been posted, game trackers at the FIBA Website is reporting the USA has beaten Brazil, 81-78 for the gold medal. Congratulations Team USA!

FIBA U18 America's Cup -- 2010

Home Court Advantage?
The FIBA America's Cup is the last U18 American Zone qualifying tournament for the U19 World's Cup play next summer. Tournament sites have varied over the years, but Argentina and San Antonio, TX have become favored sites over the past decade. This year was San Antonio's "turn", and the USA squad has capitalized on the home court advantage to clear Group B play with a 3-0 record. But the record is only a hint at the level of domination exercised by the Americans. The scores -- 131-63 over the US Virgin Islands, 114-38 over Mexico, 88-67 over Argentina -- convey a much better sense of how the Americans have handled the field so far. International basketball competition tends to produce either very close or very large margins of victory for USA teams, at times in the same tournament, but the Argentina scoring difference (a 21 point margin of victory) is a strong indication that this USA team is here to win. The Argentines beat the U18 American team in the 2008 America's Cup, held in Formosa, Argentina, in July. The Argentines, led by Temple guard Juan Fernandez, handed the Americans a 77-64 defeat...and a silver medal. A "four factors" look at the tournament through Group play...

Puerto RicoA81.9-23.576.838.531.521.1
US V. IslandsB85.7-

Puerto RicoA81.9-23.5100.351.633.341.1
US V. IslandsB85.7-33.1112.153.739.839.8

the USA, Argentina, Brazil and Canada will advance out of group play to compete (single elimination rounds) for the gold, silver and bronze medals. Those four teams all qualified for the 2011 U19 FIBA World Cup with victories on Sunday night (a full round before the end of group play). The Efficiency Difference is calculated by subtracting the Defensive Efficiency from the Offensive Efficiency (ED = OE - DE). Pace (possessions) are calculated using Oliver's basic formula (FGA + TO - OR + (0.45 * FTA). I have tweaked the free throw constant (0.45) a bit over the college game because the teams seem to get to the line less frequently than their American Collegiate counterparts. Like the 2008 American's Cup, nearly everyone, host team excepted, has shooting problems.

The Medal/Placement Rounds
The USA will play Canada, the #2 seed out of Group A, while Argentina will face Brazil. The possession-based stats suggest the Canadians are the stronger team in Group A, but the Canadians lost their last pool game to Brazil, 83-78, to draw the USA in the medal round. Puerto Rico will face the US Virgin Islands and Uruguay will play Mexico to kick off a two round series that will determine places #5 through #8 in this field. If the Group B results are a true reflection of the field, the Argentines may well have been team USA's most competitive game. The Americans may see them again in the Finals Round. Of course single elimination tournaments have been known to produce surprises...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Big East Efficiciencies -- An Aerial View of 2010

The Bird's Eye View
The early preseason Roundtable moderated by Pico over at East Coast Bias piqued my curiousity about offensive/defensive efficiencies in the conference last season. Pico suggested that conference offense improved over the past 2+ seasons and a second looks backs up his observation -- since the 2008 season, the (confernce-only) efficiency has jumped from 102.7 to 105.8. The conference aerial view for last season's conference-only games looks like...

The pattern looks a lot like the 2008 Aerial view. That aerial also had 10 of the conference's 16 teams (62.5%) distributed between the "Good Offense/Good Defense" and "Bad Offense/Bad Defense" quandrants. As in 2008, the distribution was also 6:4 (good/good:bad/bad) and 2:4 (bad offense/good defense:good offense/bad defense)...Louisville's defensive difference of 0.0 notwithstanding. The breakdown for each team...

Notre Dame113.5109.77.7-3.9
Seton Hall106.0107.80.2-2.0
St. John's98.2103.5-7.62.3
South Florida103.5109.2-2.3-3.4
West Virginia112.4100.36.65.5
Std. Dev.5.944.79

13 of the conference's 16 schools participated in post season invitational tournaments. Eight schools, including all of those in the "Good Offense/Good Defense" quadrant plus Louisville and Notre Dame (from the "Good Offense/Bad Defense" quadrant) played in the NCAA Tournament. While only two survived the first weekend, five were seeded #1, #2 or #3. Five schools -- those closest to the intersection of the X and Y axis (for those who have difficulty with spatial relations, Connecticut, St. John's, Seton Hall, South Florida and Cincinnati) -- participated in the NIT, none advancing beyond their second round matches.

Some Things Never Seem to Change
Cincinnati, Syracuse, West Virginia, Marquette, Notre Dame and St. John's, through three consecutive aerials, did not move out of their original (2008) quadrants. For the Orange, the Mountaineers and Warriors that constitutes a tribute to their programs (and staff). Buzz Williams, promoted to the first chair after Tom Crean moved over to Indiana before the 2009 season, has made the Marquette administration look very good. St. John's inability to cure a chronically anemic offense cost head coach Norm Roberts his job. Notre Dame under Coach Mike Brey's Notre Dame teams are consistently ranked among the best offensive units in the Big East, but defense has been a challenge. The more successful Irish teams manage to get close to the X-axis (though none has managed to rank better than "average" in the past 4 - 5 seasons). A quick cross-check of the 2008 and 2010 aerials shows Cincinnati in nearly the same spot in both, an almost-respectable defense coupled with a clearly struggling offense. The Bearcats' stable of bigs have allowed them to consistently control the boards and limit lane penetration on defense, but even with the triple-threat of Deonta Vaughn, Lance Stephenson and Yancy Gates, Coach Cronin's teams were unable to consistently convert possessions into points. Dan Hanner's The State of Coaching post last weekend (6/20) suggested Coach Cronin may find himself on the hot seat this season. Given the Bearcats' Loss of both Vaughn and Stephenson (winner of the Big East Rookie of the Year) at season's end, prospects for a stronger offensive showing in 2011 are dim.

Other Notes & Observations
1. As Marquette managed to negotiate the transition from one coach to another, so too did West Virginia. While Coach Huggins' resume, as long as it is impressive, suggests (many) fewer uncertainties with his hire, he nevertheless came with some risks. Huggins' success in keeping West Virginia in the "Good Offense/Good Defense" quadrant reaffirms his reputation as an outstanding recruiter, strategist and developer of talent.
2. South Florida's 9-9 conference record seems inconsistent with the Bulls' placement in the "Bad/Bad" quadrant. So too Louisville's record (11-7) and placement, especially when compared to Georgetown's 10-8 record (and "Good/Good" placement). Are these quirks the product of unbalanced schedules or untimely games? For Georgetown, who went 4-5 over the second half of their conference season, some very "uncharacteristic outcomes" (losses at home to South Florida & on the road to Rutgers; a double-digit road win at Louisville) are the culprits. That Georgetown can be applied to South Florida as well. Louisville used the early part of February to put together a strong 5-1 run, but closed out their regular season slate with a 2-2 record. Both losses, a 10 point home loss to Georgetown (the Hoyas again) and an embarrassing 21 point road loss to Marquette were only partly offset by a 10 point win over conference leader Syracuse. The Cardinals then dropped their next two games, each of which halted tournament runs in their first rounds. Four of their last five losses (going back to February 11's loss to St. John's) were by 10 or more points, suggesting very untimely (and persistent?) defensive lapses.
3. From 2008 to 2010 Connecticut has drifted across the "Good/Good" quadrant, boasting solid defense, into the "Bad Offense/Good Defense" quadrant this past season. True Jerome Dyson had disastrous senior season, accounting for 31% of the Huskies' possessions while converting those possessions at a disappointing 0.951 (points per possession) rate, but Connecticut's decline lay more with the unreplenished out flow of offensive talent over the past three seasons, most notably AJ Price, Craig Austrie, Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien.
4. Villanova has matched Connecticut's three season "drift", but in the opposite direction. The Wildcats have seen their offensive efficiency improve in each of the last three seasons, even as their defensive efficiency has settled closer to the conference "average". If the 2011 season hints at an improved defense, the fans will no doubt hope that nothing is lost on offense.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Balancing an Unbalanced Schedule -- A10 Conference Opponents 2011

Conference Match-ups, Agendas & Objectives
In the days before 14 and 16 team super conferences, a typical conference had no less than eight and no more than 10 members. The "regular conference" season consisted of each team playing every other conference member twice, once at home and once on the road (at the other member's home). These were often referred to as "balanced schedules" because (at least in theory) each team played every other team in the least and most favorable circumstances. As 11 and larger conferences became the norm schedule makers were faced with the challenge (or opportunity?) to develop schedules that met objectives other than "balance" (each team plays every other team twice, etc.). The schedules invariably involve play at least one game with every other team in the conference, and often two (mirror) games with one or more opponents. The mirror games provide the conference with opportunities to...
1. Develop attractive TV packages. Conference elites are matched to provide good TV story lines and interest beyond conference/team fan-bases. The 2006 Big East mirrors (the first season with 16 teams) matched Connecticut, Louisville and Villanova in a mini-round robin that was supposed to settle the #1, #2 and #3 seeds for the Big East Tournament. Louisville however lost three starters to injury and was hammered by their mirror opponents.
2. Preserve traditional rivalries. As Chris De Santis over at College Chalk Talk pointed out in his article "Win, lose or draw: A look at the A-10 pairings..." from last month, "... schools and coaches are not allowed to request partners. Schools are permitted to 'protect' one rival...", which allows Dayton and Xavier (cited by Chris) to renew their annual series, even as the conference's Big 5 Trio (La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Temple) typically have multiple home-away games, with the game that counts in the City Series (until recently) played in the "neutral" Palestra (Penn's home court).
3. Limit travel. The northeastern-based conferences (the Atlantic 10 & Big East in particular) have very large footprints. For the A10 Conference, which relies largely on D1 basketball to underwrite the varsity championships awarded by the conference in 21 separate (men's and women's) sports, stretches across eight states and the District of Columbia, from New England, south to Charlotte, North Carolina and west to St. Louis, Missouri, travel expenses are a considerable part of the Athletic Department budget. Biasing toward nearby opponents for mirror games can limit travel, especially during the winter months.

Atlantic 10 Announces Conference Opponents...Early?
Having covered the A10 for Rush the Court last season, a posted note over at Soft Pretzel Logic drew my attention. A bit early for schedule announcements perhaps, but I thought with more than a season's worth of comparative data, and a history of fair predictive capabilities using the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (among other stats), I wanted to see if applying a few quantitative measures might provide insight into the match-ups and how the regular season might play out. I also wanted to try out a variation of the Pythagorean Winning percentage that filtered for home games only and away games only.

The Mirrors -- Welcome to the A10 Alan Major
Reviewing the mirrors, it occurred to me that travel and distance may have been a criteria, since mirror games account for 37.5% of the conference schedule. Richmond has George Washington and Charlotte (and a Philadelphia-based team). Rhode Island has Massachusetts, a Philadelphia-based team and St. Bonaventure. Dayton has X, St. Louis and Duquesne, and so on. I averaged Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency ratings, and sorted from the highest Pythagorean winning percentage (most difficult -- on average -- opponents) to lowest (least difficult -- on average -- opponents) the match-ups sorted out in a decidedly "unbalanced" way...

Pythag WP
Charlotte0.826Same as 2009
St. Louis0.805Day & Duq
Xavier0.789Dayton only
Fordham0.781URI & Bona
Saint Joseph's0.773TU & UMass
Duquesne0.752Same as 2009
Dayton0.748Same as 2009
La Salle0.703Same as 2009
George Washington0.701Same as 2009
Richmond0.621Char & GWU
Massachusetts0.613Same as 2009
St. Bonaventure0.509Duq & FU
Rhode Island0.419FU & UMass
Temple0.384LSU & SJU

Pomeroy's conference-wide average for the A10 last season was 0.7114, so 0.673 suggests the schedule maker came fairly close to balancing the mirrors conference-wide, but the standard deviation (0.139...) from most difficult (Charlotte) to easiest (Temple),suggests that travel may have taken priority over balance. Temple's Fran Dunphy will no doubt include this schedule maker on his Christmas card list for 2011, as all of Temple's mirror opponents, Fordham, La Salle and Saint Joseph's, are not only very close but, having logged a collective conference record of 9-39, struggled in conference play. I have no doubt (regression to the mean...) that Fordham will be good enough to win at least one conference game next season. I suspect it won't be one of those games with Temple. Perhaps the scheduler believes the 55 year old City Series rivalry between La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Temple will make their games with Temple more competitive than the Hawks' and Explorer's collective 9-23 record suggest. The large number of all-repeat mirrors is surprising -- six conference teams (43% of the conference members) will play the same three opponents as 2009. If the bias is distance, the repeats make sense. Tannenwald's lamented "...Still, I wonder if someone in Newport News could have figured out a way to get all the Big 5 teams to play each other twice." could be solved by the three Big 5 Brethren without the active intervention of the schedule maker if each used their single "protected opponent" option (per Chris DiSano) in a round robin fashion. La Salle "protects" Saint Joseph's; Saint Joseph's "protects" Temple; Temple "protects" La Salle.

Home & Away Opponents -- Different Strategies & Circumstances
An elite conference team would most likely want to host their single meeting with other elite teams, and take the weakest conference opponents on the road if possible. For those teams a higher Pythagorean WP for home opponents would make sense. A team struggling to break the conference upper division however would most likely prefer to have it most "beatable" opponents at home and largely concede games with the elite teams by taking them on the road. An "activist" scheduler might want to use home-road game pairings to "rebalance" the schedule from the mirror games, and give a truer picture of the relative strengths/weaknesses of the members. Or the conference may simply flip the home-away opponents from the previous season (home opponents become road opponents, etc.)...

George Washington0.4390.639
La Salle0.3090.706
Rhode Island0.4360.710
Saint Joseph's0.4060.551
St. Bonaventure0.3690.739
St. Louis0.2330.538

I used the raw efficiencies to calculate a Pythagorean winning percentage for home and away games. Charlotte will host Dayton, Fordham, La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Massachusetts next season, in addition to their mirrors. Of that group, only Dayton had a Pythagorean Winning Percentage above 0.500 for it's conference road games last season. The 49'ers road slate by contrast, will be fairly challenging, as they face Duquesne, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, St. Louis and Temple (in addition to their mirror), all of whom, excluding St. Bonaventure, had a >0.500 Pythagorean winning percentage in their home conference games. Massachusetts drew the most challenging set of guests (Dayton, Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond and Temple -- 0.518), though Duquesne (Charlotte, George Washington, Rhode Island, Temple and Xavier -- 0.499) and Temple (Charlotte, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure and St. Louis -- 0.463) It does not appear the schedule maker simply flip home and road games however, as only Dayton, Duquesne and La Salle have no repeat home/road opponents. Every other team has at least one (Rhode Island has four, George Washington, St. Louis and Xavier have three) repeat home/away opponent. For the teams that will compete for top seeds in Atlantic City next March (Dayton? Richmond? St. Louis? Temple? Xavier?) the strong guest/weak host match-ups are not there, though for teams that may celebrate a middle seed in Atlantic City (Fordham? La Salle? St. Bonaventure?) the weak guest/strong host match-ups appear to be in place.

Limitations, Exclusions & Exceptions...
The conference received three bids to the NCAA Tournament, two bid to the NIT (both Rhode Island and Dayton advanced to the Final Four, Dayton won) and three bids to the CBI (St. Louis advanced to the Finals), a good (but not great...) season relative to the conference's history. Regression to the mean suggests that Temple, Xavier and Richmond will not be quite as good, nor Fordham and La Salle quite as bad. Sequence matters too, La Salle was better in December, when Ruben Guillandeaux, Yves Mekongo Mbala and Kimmani Barrett were healthy, than in February.

Thanks to Jonathan Tannenwald over at Soft Pretzel Logic for his post on the A10's home/away opponents for next season late last month. Jon's interest, largely all matters Big 5, writes for and blogs about Big 5 and Ivy League sports.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coaching Carousal Part 2010-03: Trends

Spring Signing Benchmark
The closing of the spring signing period marks the end of the most active phase of the coaching cycle. Between May 20 and the Fall Practice there may be, depending on how badly coaches behave in the off season, between one and nine(?!) additional vacancies.

Like Father, Like Son
Hardly a new trend, but four more sons of D1 head coaches have come into their own programs; two in the Big East alone this off season. Kevin Willard, son of Ralph Willard (Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Holy Cross) took his second D1 head coaching job last month when he moved from Iona to Seton Hall. Willard is the second son to follow his father as a Big East head coach. Jason Capel took the Appalachian State job on April 21, following in the footsteps of his father Jeff II (Old Dominion) and brother Jeff III (Virginia Commonwealth, Oklahoma). Chuck Driesell, son of Lefty Driesell (Davidson, Maryland, James Madison, Georgia State) took the head coaching job at the Citadel a week after Jason Capel took the Appalachian State. Davis and Willard join three other sons-of-coaches in the Big East head coaching fraternity. Keno Davis (Providence) followed his father Tom Davis (Boston College) back in 2009. Mike Rice (Robert Morris), the son of Mike Rice Sr. (Duquesne and Youngstown State) who coached D1 ball 9 years before moving into broadcasting. The John Thompson's, father and son, have coached at Georgetown for 33 of the last 39 years. And Bob Huggins, head coach at Cincinnati (pre-Big East) and later at West Virginia, is the son of Charlie Huggins, a longtime High School basketball coach in south central Ohio.

Head Coach to Assistant?
Sprinkled among the news stories and blog-generated speculation about super conferences and big-time TV football paydays are stories of schools, not among the BCS-blessed, making hard choices about D1 collegiate athletic programs. The New York Times speculated in May of 2009 that D1 universities across the country might cut up to 130 sports programs over the next year (2009-10). Since February the University of New Orleans and Centenary College have both reassigned themselves to the NCAA's Division 3 (Centenary voted last August to leave the Summit Conference and drop their status to D3). In the past 6 months Hofstra, University of California-Bakersfield, Seton Hall, Northern Iowa, Tennessee Tech, California State-Northbridge, Duquesne, Delaware State and Northeastern have all eliminated sports programs. I suspect the recent decision of three D1 head coaches to swap their #1 chair for a seat farther down on the bench at higher level schools may well be part of the same trend. Going from the Head Coach of a Division 2 (or Division 3) program to an Assistant Coach at a Division 1 program is a common career pathway for a (prospective) Division 1 Head Coach, especially if the candidate was very ambitious. Voluntarily leaving a head coaching position at a D1 school for an assistant coaching position is rare, and almost always elicits an explanation. Buzz William's 2008 move from New Orleans to the assistant's job at Marquette was accompanied by six months of explanations and a law suit. Ralph Willard drew headlines last summer when he left Holy Cross to rejoin his long-time friend and mentor Rick Pitino at Louisville. The career move received nearly as much press notice as a move to a head coaching job receives. With this off season having three D1 head coaches resign (not fired...) to take assistant jobs elsewhere makes the move more "usual". Columbia's Joe Jones, who left New York City's Ivy representative to join fellow ex-Ivy League Coach Steve Donohue at Boston College (as Associate Head Coach), had improved the Lions' standing in conference, but was stalled at the middle-level, unable to get over the 0.500 mark. Hartford's Dan Leibovitz brought energy to the NEC-based Hawk program and managed to record two winning season (18-16 in both 2008 and 2009) in his four year tenure, but he decided to return to his roots in Philadelphia (where he was an assistant to Temple's John Chaney) to join Jerome Allen's staff (Assistant Coach) at Penn. Leibovitz, whose move allows him to team up yet again with an old classmate, finished his tenure at Hartford with a 57-72 record. Orlando Early invested seven years in the Louisiana-Monroe program, compiling a 60-92 (0.395) overall record, with a single winning season (2008, 18-14). He decided to join Darrin Horn's staff (Assistant Coach) at South Carolina. Andy Katz's 5/25 blog, about Donnie Jones' move from Marshall to Central Florida, makes a similar point -- the move may seem lateral (or backward), but the destination offers better opportunities. UCF has better facilities and a larger resource pool (student body, public funding, bigger Athletic Department budget) to draw from.

In Season Vacancies
I wrote an earlier post that explored the reasons for the in season changes this year. 2010 was not, however, unusual for the number of vacancies created while the teams played their regular season schedules. In 2007 & 2008 about 18% of the D1 teams turned out their head coaches, while in 2009 & 2010 that percentage declined to the 10%-12% range. If the numbers are hardly unusual in 2010, the reasons and locations were. From 2007 through 2009, half of the in season vacancies were created in BCS conferences (the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10) in regions outside the Northeast. In 2010 all but one vacancy came in the Northeast and in mid-low major Division 1 programs. That two programs in the Ivy League, a conference which historically limited the influence money in their athletic programs, saw coaching changes during the regular season enforces the perception that the entertainment influence is pervasive.

By the Numbers...
From the open of Fall Practice to the last day of the Spring Signing Period, there have been 51 vacancies among Division 1 programs. The cycle is well established -- 65% of the vacancies were created before the National Championship game was played on April 6, with the largest number created at the initiative of the employer...

%age of
Reg. Season80.0%20.0%9.8%
Before NC78.6%21.4%54.9%
End of Spring Sign.16.7%83.3%35.3%
n = 51

The current cycle follows a well-established trend -- the most "dangerous" period for a D1 coach is before the National Championship game, while the most volatile phases tend to fall between the end of the regular season and the end of the Spring Signing Period. The tournament (especially the Final Four) is a Job Fair for both employers (Athletic Directors and Hiring Consulting firms) and employees (Head & Assistant Coaches and Agents), and most likely exaggerates the effect of the annual phases. The desire to resolve the direction of the program and allow a successor coach time to assemble a squad for the following season would naturally occur during the early off season. The cycle in 2010 is more consistent with the off seasons for 2007 and 2008 -- the most active phases occurred during the post season tournaments (conference and invitationals), rather than during the season or after the Spring Signing Period (usually around May 20). 2009 then, with a single job change during the five or so weeks after the National Championship and before the end of the Spring Signing Period, but six between late May and Fall Practice, was the outlier, a secondary effect I believe of the economic uncertainties of the spring 2009.