We're pleased to welcome Dr. Blackheart back to the blog for an historical overview of the coaching carousel. Originally, this was scheduled for last week, but then "stuff" got in the way. Regardless, the content in this post is well worth revisiting after yet another road loss.
Back in 2008, right after Tom Crean left Marquette for the “Quadruple I”, the Bleacher Report published an article on fast risers in the college coaching profession. Among the names listed at the time were Anthony Grant of VCU, Brad Brownell of Wright St., Sean Miller of Xavier, Tony Bennett of Washington St. and Keno Davis of Drake (who had just been named National Coach of the Year). All were rumored to have been potential candidates for the vacant Marquette job. Absent from the list was one Brent “Buzz” Williams, a virtual unknown even to ardent MU followers.
Fast forward to February 2011, and each of these names have assumed the head coaching throne at a new, top BCS-level job: Grant to Bama, Brownell to Clemson, Miller to Arizona, Bennett to UVA and Davis to Providence. Also on the list with MU connections besides Crean were former assistant Darrin Horn (who had just taken the South Carolina spot at the time of this article) and Kevin O’Neill, former head coach, who has now assumed the USC lead. And, of course, Buzz has moved down the hall to the corner office in “The Al”.
Recently, blogger Dan Hanner of the Yet Another Basketball Blog (YABB) revisited the coaching hires over the past three years to evaluate which of these head coaches have made a difference. Hanner used Pomeroy efficiency statistics to rate these new coaches versus their predecessors. The surprising results:
- Besides John Calipari and Mike Montgomery, no other 2-3 year head coach has improved the lot of their new teams more so than “The Buzzer”. Considering that the other two have NBA experience and past high NCAA success, Buzz has been able to move the needle in the right direction for MU—past the “Three Amigos+Zar” era and now with his own recruits—and Crean had left him with a much higher bar to beat than either Coach Cal or Montgomery inherited.
- Yet, the shadow of doubt and his predecessor still seems to hang over the one not on the 2008 list. Quoting Hanner: “Is Buzz Williams a better coach than Tom Crean? His teams have had better efficiency margins than Crean’s did. And this data includes Crean’s team with Dwayne Wade. Until Williams gets to a Final Four, I think the answer is no. But I will say this: Buzz Williams' teams almost never get blown out. (editor's note - the next Cracked Sidewalks t-shirt will have the "no double-digit losses" banner on the back)
- Three first year Big East Coaches made the “Positive Impact” list including former MU assistant Mike Rice—along with Steve Lavin of SJU and Kevin Willard of Seton Hall. Each of these also was left with seasoned upperclassmen. The question will be if any of these three will be “one hit wonders”, a tag that Buzz is starting to put behind him?
- On the “Negative Impact” list are eleven names with 2-3 years on the job at their current gig, including four of the rising stars mentioned with MU in 2008, and MU coaching alumni Crean, O’Neill and Horn. Brownell, in his first year at Clemson after taking over for Oliver Purnell, is near break even. Grant seems to have Bama on the right path with defense, as the Crimson Tide is 8-2 and contending in the weaker SEC West.
Excellent post, Dr. Blackheart. Thank you very much!