"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Buzz one of most successful 3rd year coaches ever; reloaded roster gives MU shot tonight at 1st Sweet 16 since 2003

Eleven of the greatest coaches of all-time combined to win two NCAA tournament games in their first three years at a major program. Tonight Buzz can top their combined efforts with an upset of Syracuse to send MU to its first Sweet 16 since 2003.

Wonder why Buzz is among the hottest coaches in the country? Quite simply, he has accomplished more in his first three years than almost any of the all-time great coaches.

With the help of Mark Henderson (Class of 1992), I've compiled the records of 12 of the all-time great coaches. This list includes every coach who has 1) won 800 games, 2) taken a major team to the last 10 NCAA tournaments, or 3) is named John Wooden or Al McGuire. Through the first three years at a major program, Buzz has a better record than the 12 combined (.673 to .644). Tonight Buzz can tie the 12th coach on the list, Bobby Knight, with three NCAA wins in his first three years. Only tonight's opponent Jim Boeheim matched Buzz by being invited his first three years. Here are the numbers:




Coach1st 3 yearsNCAA WsNCAAsNITsCareer WCareer LNotes
Adolph Rupp, Kentucky0.864NANANA876190Helms Champ 3rd year
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse0.841130855300Buzz's opponent today
Bob Knight, Indiana0.7653116612403 titles 4th-16th season
Eddie Sutton, Ark/KY/OkSt0.7560107162654th year 1st of 11 Sweet 16s
John Wooden, UCLA0.7300106201471st Elite 8 in 14th season
Buzz Williams, Marquette0.67323066323 bids; goes for 1 Sweet 16
Tom Izzo, Michigan St.0.604112383159Bids 3rd-16th seasons
Rick Barnes, Prov/Clem/Tex0.6000213211221st 9 seasons 0 NCAA wins
Dean Smith, UNC0.5650008792541st 5 yrs=0 bids, next 3 Final 4s
Jay Wright, Nova0.531003203984th year 1st of 10 straight bids
Al McGuire, Marquette0.524001295801st of 8 Sweet 16s in 4th year
Jim Calhoun, UConn0.5050026012282 National titles
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke0.4470008262244 National titles


Most Marquette fans in Cleveland this weekend volunteered shock over the handful of vocal Buzz critics on the blogs, and the occasional blind assertion such as "Buzz obviously isn't a good coach," are truly laughable in light of the record.

The fact that ANYONE could still have any doubts about Steve Cottingham's first major decision three years ago in hiring Buzz is baffling at best. How good did the prospects look for three straight NCAA bids when Buzz took the helm three years ago? Are you kidding me?




Outlook when Buzz hiredWhat actually happened
2009It appeared Crean left Buzz with one year in the tank with Lazar and the Three Amigos back for a finale.Buzz was often mentioned as a potential National Coach of the Year and took MU into the Top 10 until Dominic James broke his foot. Even with that injury, MU came within one bucket of the first Sweet 16 since 2003.
2010With Crean's recruits scattering, it appeared Buzz would have Lazar and no other 3-stars or better - a recipe for dropping to the bottom of the Big East.Instead Buzz coached up two senior guards (Acker and Cubillan) and shocked everyone by reloading immediately with JUCOs (Butler, Buycks, DJO) to make a shocking run to a bid.
2011With no known 3-star or better slated for the 2011 roster when Crean left it appeared this could really be the end.Consecutive top 25 recruiting classes in his first two years and another huge JUCO in POY Jae Crowder, MU is even better than last year according to the computers, and one game from the Sweet 16. And Buzz has developed our first two centers since 2003!
2012It appeared 2012 would be the earliest MU could possibly rebuild to return to the NCAA tournament post Three Amigos.Crowder and DJO will join four players rated among the top freshman and sophomores next year in the country by www.nbadraft.net.


Prospects for win tonight

Will Buzz be outcoached by Boeheim tonight? Could be, as Boeheim is one of the all-time greats. But it's hard to find a 4th year coach who has ever been more prepared.

In just three years Buzz has transformed MU from basically a 4-man rotation of 6-foot-5 and under stars to a team of 11 players who can all contribute and give any combination from tall to fast:




Player(s)Contribution
Darius Johnson-Odom2nd team all-Big East DOMINATED Xavier
Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, Davante Gardner, Joe FulceRated in top 3% of all players in offensive efficiency accordinging to Pomeroy.
Dwight Buycks and Junior CadouganRated in top 10% of all players in assists.
Vander Blue and Chris OtuleEmerged as two of the top defenders in the league, as Vander steals and Otule is best shot blocker in Big East.
Erik WilliamsMove to starting line-up has shored up MUs defense by giving 6-foot-7, 6-foot-11 defense at rim.
Jamail JonesTop rated NBA prospect on the team according to draftnet.
Robert FrozenaEven the 4-year walk on took the court in opening round.


The fact that MU has a 32% chance to go to the Sweet 16 less than three years after learning that recruits were bailing in the wake of Tom Crean's move to Indiana is a tribute to Buzz and the great group he has put together.

Take a look at the final records put together by those 12 great coaches, and how many of them didn't even start to have any real success until their fourth year or later, and it will quickly become apparent that Buzz could build a truly fantastic run at MU.

An upset of Syracuse tonight would put Buzz that much further ahead most of 12 of the greatest coaches of all-time.

1 comment:

Geoffrey said...

Thanks for writing this. I have heard all year that Buzz Williams does not know how to recruit from some people. I have never believed that to be the truth. His team just needed to play together and his big men needed to be recognized for what they can do and how good they can make the team. Learning to play with big men has been difficult for a team that has not had any for many years but they needed to learn how to do this to become successful in the long run.

He took over at a terrible time for recruiting 3 years ago and made the best of it. He has done an incredible job and not just because he just took MU to the Sweet 16.

He picked up the pieces along time ago and turned MU into a winner from the time he got here.