Today at Insider I’ve written about Memphis and why I think the Tigers will be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s American race. And by “force to be reckoned with,” I mean “about as good as if not better than any other team that we think will still be in the league next season.”
Having zeroed in on this season’s team, I want to take a step back and consider Josh Pastner’s career and specifically what his example may be able to tell us about how college basketball is customarily narrated. (Something like a person facing backward on a train and describing the terrain as it goes by with feigned “I knew this was coming” omniscience. But I’m getting ahead of myself.) Continue reading
Not every hire can work out this well. He probably promised a faster pace.
All new-coach hires are alike; each coaching departure is unhappy in its own way.
For example at Missouri the past couple years, Frank Haith’s been turning things around:
Haith was an instant positive energy on the sidelines and on the practice court. Practices were higher intensity and more structured. Film sessions became analytic. The strength and conditioning program went from a team perspective under [Mike] Anderson to an individualized approach under Haith.
Haith replaced Mike Anderson, who was hired by Arkansas in 2011. When he arrived in Fayetteville, Anderson promptly started turning things around: Continue reading
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. Continue reading
If athletic directors were better briefed, they wouldn’t say every new coach will play “up-tempo” ball.
I know from personal experience that fans on occasion will harass the last few remaining holdouts among Division I coaching staffs who do not as yet use reliable information. I’m willing to grant a special exemption that will allow you to continue such harassment if it occurs with respect to your own beloved team, but as a general question of methodology this type of censure has now more or less crossed the line into “Wear the ribbon!”-variety bullying.
At a certain point it becomes a question of simple autonomy. I say let a few paleos track rebound margin in peace, and focus instead on the wide-open vistas provided by those coaches’ bosses. In terms of familiarity with accurate information, athletic departments in 2013 are about where coaching staffs were in 2003.
Courtesy of my ESPN colleague Dana O’Neil, here is what currently constitutes state of the art in terms of performance measurement for new head-coaching hires: Continue reading
Left: a fan. Right: athletic director about to make a hire.
Hiring a coach is like throwing a paper airplane. You can persuade yourself that your design is the best, and you can even solicit the advice of self-proclaimed paper airplane experts. But at the moment of release you have no idea what will actually happen. And an athletic director’s job performance is more or less defined by one or two such throws, because every team’s most vocal fans possess unsurpassed omniscience on the subject of throwing paper airplanes. Continue reading
The conventional wisdom holds that athletic directors are hiring younger and younger basketball coaches with each passing year. Certainly Brad Stevens and Shaka Smart showed what can happen when you hand the reins to an up-and-comer, right? And following in this same wake we now see precocious youngsters like Richard Pitino (head coach of Minnesota at the tender age of 31), Brandon Miller (Butler, 34), and even a familiar character like Josh Pastner (who, after all, is still just 36).
Verily, it is said, tomorrow belongs to these social-media-savvy cool guys. They “relate” to today’s recruits. They jump on the practice court and ball with their players. They blog. They tweet.
Those may indeed be good qualities for a coach to have, but it turns out the texting hipsters you’ve been hearing about are exceptions to an increasingly geriatric rule. If anything this is the golden age of geezers. There’s never been a better time to be a really old coach.
Consider the following active members of the coaching fraternity: