Presenting the Easy Intrusive Coach Detector

What would the EMCD have to say about Coach Dale? (That's a rhetorical question. There was no three-point line back then.)

Five passes before every shot? Sounds intrusive, Coach.

If Mike Krzyzewski gets his way and college basketball really does name a commissioner to oversee the sport, I already have a credo picked out to inscribe above the Commish’s cool new office: “The Game is Coached Too Much.”

Take the three-point shot. Left to their own devices, players would shoot threes on occasion, but some coaches decree that their teams not do that. Depending on the team, that decree can either be a no-brainer or highly intrusive.

So, in the tradition of Drew Cannon’s Easy Bubble Solver, I’m pleased to unveil the Easy Intrusive Coach Detector, a fool-proof way to determine whether your head coach is carrying this whole authority thing to an extreme and actively harming the performance of his offense. It’s fast, simple, and effective. 

Every AD’s going to be using this simple two-step process:

1. Does your team shoot very few threes? If “yes,” proceed to next step.

2. (2FG% – 3FG%) x 3FGA/FGA (%)

For instance if your team is Plain Vanilla U, it won’t even get past step (1). Maybe it’s shooting about 49 percent on twos and 34 percent on threes, while devoting about 33 percent of its attempts to shots from beyond the arc. So your PVU EICD would look like this:

(49 – 34) x 33 = 495

Your head coach at PVU may indeed turn out to be needlessly intrusive someday, but we just don’t have the goods on him yet.

On the other hand, take a gander at this set of numbers from major-conference play last year:

(42.5 – 36.2) x 26.3 = 166

Yikes! Reading from left to right, that team was terrible at making twos and pretty good at making threes, yet they hardly ever shot threes. Sounds downright despotic if you ask me. Yes, if I were that coach’s AD I might start rummaging around to see if there may be any incriminating video of abusive behavior at practice before this whole thing spirals out of control and becomes something of a scandal. Just a hunch.

The EICD has been designed with painstaking craftsmanship to recognize that sometimes it’s correct and proper to stay away from threes. For example Larry Brown had an SMU team last year that was pretty good at making twos but not so good at making shots from beyond the arc. Consequently the Mustangs never shot threes, and that, of course, was the correct call (EICD in C-USA play: 372). Coach Brown, I salute you! It’s like you’ve won a national championship or something.

To calibrate the EICD I road-tested it against the best offenses from recent years that didn’t (need to) shoot threes, meaning quite obviously Calhoun-era UConn (318 EICD in Big East play in 2009) and Hansbrough-era North Carolina (261 in ACC play in 2008). Those teams were so stocked it didn’t matter how few threes they attempted.

Again, this is for use only with teams that don’t shoot many threes. And within that subset, the toughest case for the EICD that I’ve been able to come up with thus far is Texas A&M seven years ago. I certainly won’t presume to find fault with that team, whose performance elevated its coach into perhaps Division I’s most prestigious gig. In Big 12 play in 2007 the Aggies had an excellent offense even though they posted an EICD of just 192, meaning A&M was very good inside the arc and superb outside it but chose not to avail themselves of the latter.

Maybe Texas A&M in 2007 simply reflected a chance intersection between an intrusive coach and really good three-point shooters. Maybe the all-knowing all-seeing EICD knew all along what that coach’s fate would be. Or maybe that coach could have made the EICD look silly if he’d just been nicer to sideline reporters. Only time will tell.

In summary, any EICD too far below what A&M showed a few years back should perhaps be thought of as a rumble strip along the side of your evaluative road. When you hear that tell-tale rumble, it’s time to do away with any distractions, look around, and make sure your program’s still on-course to reach its destination safely.