Monthly Archives: March 2014

The hiring process for coaches is somewhat primitive, and it may not matter all that much

(Thinks to himself: "Wait, did he just call me 'Sean'?")

Thinks to himself: “Wait, did he just call me ‘Sean’?”

Tomorrow night Stanford will play Dayton for a spot in the regional final, meaning either Johnny Dawkins or Archie Miller is about to add “Elite Eight” to his resume. Ironically both coaches have been the subject of the time-honored “This Is a Big [Insert Clock Time Here] for Coach X” constructions that some of my friends in the field love to use, albeit from opposite ends of the employment-cycle spectrum.

When the Cardinal played at Connecticut in December it was said that “This Is a Big [Insert Clock Time Here] for Johnny Dawkins,” meaning if Stanford lost that game maybe at the end of the season the coach would be fired due to a perceived lack of quote-unquote quality wins. And, of course, when the Flyers played Syracuse in the round of 32 it was said that “This is a Big [Insert Clock Time Here] for Archie Miller,” meaning if Dayton won the game the coach would possibly be hired by a major-conference program.

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Is a post-McBuckets Big East still “a major”?

He will be missed.

He will be missed.

You think I’m going to pick on the Big East because it received four bids but didn’t put any teams into the Sweet 16. You think I’m going to pick on the league because it alone among the major conferences will be unrepresented at the regional semifinals.

I’m certainly not above grabbing a handy news peg like that, but for now you can keep your “small sample size” and “single-elimination tournament randomness” powder dry. If anything I’m more interested in Buzz Williams leaving a program that has won 13 NCAA tournament games this century to take the head coaching job at a program that (with apologies to my friend Ken) has won one tournament game in the 2000s. Williams voted with his feet, and, as my colleague Jeff Goodman has pointed out, the coach made quite the statement.  Continue reading

What we talk about when we talk about building brackets

That's me, eighth from left, at the 2012 mock selection. My portrayal of Ron Wellman was termed "Brando-esque."

That’s me, ninth from left, at the 2012 mock selection. My portrayal of Ron Wellman was termed “Daniel Day Lewis-esque.”

The NCAA men’s basketball committee has done its work, and the bracket is now set. Before critiquing the committee’s handiwork, let it be said that any ideal bracketing system we would design would of course duplicate the overwhelming majority of what the NCAA just did. Our Perfect Bracketing Machine would have given No. 1 seeds to Florida, Arizona and Wichita State, would have had teams like Nebraska just barely making the cut, and would have buried the nondescript likes of Memphis and Kansas State in 8-9 games. The NCAA gets things mostly correct annually.  Continue reading

Players may need coaches and colleges less than we think

Correct response of Division I head coaches and the NCAA to this graphic: Uh-oh.

Proper response of Division I head coaches and the NCAA to this graphic: Uh-oh.

The evergreen topic of the NBA’s age limit has popped up again in the news, as it is wont to do every couple of years. Whenever this discussion recurs, it’s informed and to a certain extent framed by two implicit assumptions:

1. Player development is a gift waiting to be bestowed by wise college coaches if only blue-chip Division I programs can get the nation’s best young prospects in-house for a season or, even better, two.

2. College ball and the NBA together comprise a closed-loop pipeline that elite players will always have to navigate, international prospects and the occasional Brandon Jennings notwithstanding.  Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Final Reality

Welcome to the season’s final installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 127 teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences did against their league opponents on a per-possession basis. For a tidy little homily on why this stuff is so very awesome, go here.

American: How the upper half played
Through games of March 9, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville       15-3   68.7    1.16    0.91    +0.25
2.  Cincinnati       15-3   63.2    1.05    0.94    +0.11
3.  Connecticut      12-6   65.8    1.07    0.96    +0.11
4.  SMU              12-6   66.5    1.04    0.95    +0.09
5.  Memphis          12-6   69.3    1.08    1.02    +0.06
6.  Houston          8-10   67.1    1.04    1.13    -0.09
7.  Rutgers          5-13   68.7    1.00    1.11    -0.11
8.  Temple           4-14   67.5    1.02    1.14    -0.12
9.  UCF              4-14   66.6    1.00    1.14    -0.14
10. S. Florida       3-15   65.3    0.95    1.12    -0.17

AVG.                        66.9    1.04

Louisville will be in the ACC next season, and new American members East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa will arrive in time for 2014-15. But in its one-season incarnation with these 10 members it can fairly be said that the American had five good teams and five bad ones. So a question naturally arises:

How good is Louisville, really? And, with all due respect to UCF and Rutgers, how did the five good teams fare purely against each other?  Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Perfection Edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 127 teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis. For a tidy little homily on why this stuff is so very awesome, go here.

In honor of Wichita State’s 31-0 regular season, today the key word is perfection.

American: A perfect dichotomy
Through games of March 3, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville       13-3   68.5    1.16    0.91    +0.25
2.  Connecticut      11-5   65.7    1.09    0.94    +0.15
3.  SMU              12-4   65.9    1.06    0.94    +0.12
4.  Cincinnati       13-3   62.5    1.03    0.93    +0.10
5.  Memphis          11-5   69.0    1.08    1.01    +0.07
6.  Houston           7-9   66.8    1.03    1.11    -0.08
7.  Rutgers          5-11   69.2    1.00    1.12    -0.12
8.  Temple           2-14   67.7    1.01    1.16    -0.15
9.  UCF              3-13   66.3    0.97    1.14    -0.17
10. S. Florida       3-13   65.1    0.95    1.12    -0.17

AVG.                        66.7    1.04

Five teams from the American will make the NCAA tournament, and five teams won’t. There’s a larger performance difference between Nos. 5 (Memphis) and 6 (Houston, which by the way is playing better lately and really shooting the rock) than there is between 6 and 10.  Continue reading