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Only the big boys go to the big dance.

July 29, 2011 Comments off

* Most of my content is available at the St. John’s blog Rumble in the Garden on SB Nation, but I wanted to make a quick note on this topic.

I share this not because it has much relevance for St. John’s, but because it’s JUST NOT TRUE. Contained in an otherwise sharp and insightful article about new Miami head coach Jim Larranaga – who came from George Mason University, that surprise NCAA Final Four team back in 2006 – is this bit of mythmaking about where a coach/ program needs to be positioned for a real shot at NCAA’s Final Four, the holy grail of the sport, from Andy Katz:

The theory that a coach has to move to a power-six job to compete for a national title seems to have less clout. Larranaga, in large part, helped start the trend that has since been followed by Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart.

Last year’s results were simply improbable:

Multiplying the probabilities together, we find that the 2006 Final Four had a 0.00213% chance of happening based on seeds, the 2000 Final Four had a 0.00092% chance of happening, and the 2011 Final Four had a staggering 0.00008% chance (about 1 in 1,229,650) of happening.

Even Connecticut’s entry was a bit of surprise, as a #3 seed in the tournament; and their regular season Big East record had them in the middle of the league. Still, in earlier years, the Final Four is almost always represented by power conference teams who earn high seeds in the tournament… by beating other power conference teams.

If a coach wants a real chance to get to the Final Four, not just a once-in-a-lifetime luck shot, and that coach isn’t named Brad Stevens, he has to be in a major/ power/ big six conference. Point blank.

Brian Gregory is the new Georgia Tech basketball coach… a dissection

March 28, 2011 Comments off

* I have let this space go fallow while I write on St. John’s basketball (over at SB Nation’s Rumble in the Garden), but I can’t really justify writing on Brian Gregory on a St. John’s blog.

Brian Gregory’s star has fallen. And rightfully so. A few years ago, programs were getting a little excited about possibly hiring Gregory; so much so that he earned a lucrative extension from the Dayton Flyers program in 2009. I always wondered why. The former Tom Izzo assistant has always earned some accolades for his ability to compete, but he took over a program that was already competing under Oliver Purnell after Purnell left to coach at Clemson. More stats, on his teams’ late-season swoons, and a look to the future, after the jump. Read more…

It’s hard out here for a Conference USA coach

October 14, 2010 Comments off

Ah, Conference USA. A conference that, for some reason, held its basketball media day in New York City. I suppose it’s for the media exposure. But why not in Dallas? Or Orlando? Oh, the media exposure thing again. Those schools are nowhere near New York (map courtesy of Thunder Treats). It’s 371 miles to East Carolina from New York City, give or take a few miles. And 475 miles to Huntington, WV, where Marshall University is.

Come on now.  “Look at me! I’m a big time basketball conference too!  Look at me!”

Like the league itself, some of the coaches are peddling for respect (from ESPN):

From March 2006 to January 2010, the Tigers played and beat 64 straight opponents from C-USA. It is tied for the longest Division I conference win streak of all-time. So whether it was fair or not, the national attitude about Conference USA was that Memphis steamrolled through an inferior conference….

UAB‘s [Mike] Davis, who has been on the cusp of getting an at-large bid the last few seasons, said Memphis’ dominance under [John] Calipari completely overshadowed the league. Having the conference tournament in Memphis also curtailed getting a second bid for the league. But a year ago, the tournament was in Tulsa and the league was nearly left with just one again after Houston upset UTEP in the championship game.

“Does this league have the opportunity to be better than the WCC, when it had three teams in with Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and San Diego? My guess is certainly yes, when you see the history of this league with the coaches and the players,” [Tim] Floyd said. “This league has to do what the Mountain West did last year and get four teams in and win.”

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Dan Wolken responds:

Reality: Tulsa, UAB and Houston have underachieved since ’05 split relative to program expectations/history. Has nothing to do w/Memphis.

True words. Conference USA is where major-conference coaches go to lick their wounds.

It’s the witness protection program of college basketball coaching.

From Larry Eustachy‘s “Party Down” days, to Tim Floyd’s dances around legality, to Mike Davis’ sensitivity, and Matt Doherty‘s unproven ability to coach basketball, it isn’t a place for second chances, or some of those coaches would have been fired once more. If it were a place of actual second chances, the coaches would go back to the money, prestige, and NCAA Tournament-worthiness of high major conferences. Or the Atlantic 10.

In the past 5 years, Conference USA hasn’t ranked higher than 8th in adjusted average rating of conference teams by Ken Pomeroy’s system. And that was with a dominant Memphis team. Before last year – and after the poaching of Conference USA teams by the Big East – the only other team worth a hot damn was Mike Anderson‘s UAB (Alabama-Birmingham) squad in 2006.

One would think that with all of these big coaching names, they’d be able to get enough non-conference quality wins to get another team into the NCAA Tournament, wouldn’t you? The selection committee would happily take another C-USA team… if the numbers didn’t match the perception – mediocre.

Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle, doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias. Add the East Coast Bias to your rss link.rss feeds; or follow by email linkemail.

Ernie Kent let go at Oregon: link to press conference

March 18, 2010 Comments off

He may have lost a bunch of games in the last few years, but he’s not a bad gamble for a school who might like to pick up some Chicago-area talent… youth and lax defensive principles did his team in.

But as he says in his tearful press conference, he was offered the chance to step down in February, btu thought it would be hypocritical for him to walk out on his guys after what they had done in terms of player development and teaching them how to play like men.

Bobby Knight could take a lesson from Kent here. The DePaul fans would howl if they got Kent, but he might just be the right kind of coach for them – Chicago AAU connections, hungry to prove he is better, a coach with a winning record and some Elite Eights on his resume, and I don’t think there were any off-court player incidents, just some on-court player moments (remember Aaron Brooks and Ryan Appleby? That Appleby kid DID use his lanky elbows a lot).

Kent’s a good coach. Here’s a timeline and recap.

Watch the press conference.

Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle, doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias. Add the East Coast Bias to your rss link.rss feeds; or follow by email linkemail.

2010 Coaching Carousel: More teams hand out pinkslips

March 12, 2010 Comments off

An update on the coaches on the hot seat:

Auburn‘s Jeff Lebo, after a 15-17 season, is gone.

Oregon‘s Ernie Kent has told his players that he is not returning.

Iowa‘s Todd Lickliter might “resign.” Under duress.

The hot seat rumors were pretty accurate.  See my earlier post on each coach’s record at their school, in conference, and overall. Also see the post on evaluating up and coming coaches.

Addendum – and one I didn’t hear much buzz about before a week or two ago – Boise State fires coach Greg Graham.

Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle, doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias.

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2010 Coaching Hot Seat: Hawai’i’s Bob Nash fired

March 9, 2010 Comments off

Bob Nash, longtime player and assistant coach for the Rainbows (or Warriors, as they call themselves now), was 34-56 in his 3 seasons as head coach.

Links

Pomeroy Page

Honolulu Advertiser: Nash fired as UH basketball coach

Aloha UpdateUH Coach Nash Fired After Disappointing Results

KHON: Offsetting the Cost of Coach Nash’s Contract Buyout

Hoop Dirt: Candidates at Hawai’i

Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle , doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias.

Add the East Coast Bias to your rss link.rss feeds; or follow by email linkemail.

Binghamton staying home from America East conference tournament

March 2, 2010 Comments off

Binghamton University has decided not to continue playing the season after all the well-documented turmoil:

“With the controversy currently surrounding the program it is not appropriate we play in this year’s post-season,” Binghamton president Lois DeFleur said in a news release Monday night.

“This action is being done voluntarily as part of our commitment to move forward as we develop a comprehensive plan to address the recommendations of the recent review,” DeFleur added.

The New York Times indicates that the move was not voluntary on Binghamton’s part.

Transplanted New Yorker and now Midwesterner Peter a/k/a Pico writes for Johnny Jungle , doing the Calm Before the Storm posts and also for the Church of Bracketology. Pico is also on Twitter, @ECoastBias.

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Brett Favre, primadonna or…

December 23, 2009 4 comments

I’m much too biased against Brett Favre to really delve into this question, but his tiff with Vikings coach Brad Childress about whether he can call plays/ change plays at the line on a regular basis does bring up questions about how the modern NFL game is played. In the past – as in the 1960s – QBs were expected to make calls on the field, which makes sense. With some coach guidance, most of the major team sports require the on-field talent to do some, if not all, of the decision-making when one player has the ball in their hand.

Baseball, of course, has its micro-managers, but the veteran pitchers are expected to have a sense of what to call or what they can throw when pitching. In soccer and basketball, there is less of a single decision-maker, though point guards often are entrusted to see that the team gets into their sets and can call a different play, especially on the professional level.

An NFL QB’s job, though, involves them on the field with a different and limited vantage point. Should that change the level of coach’s control? Should the ability of a 40-year old Hall of Fame QB – who has, by the way, had some egregiously bad passing games in his career – come into question?

Again, I am too biased to talk about Brett Favre’s beef, but it does bring up the question of how the game is played.

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Categories: coaching, football, Sports

Bye bye, Lawrence

November 30, 2009 Comments off

I suppose after a coach goes 0-17 in the NBA, a firing is in order. But New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank got screwed, and screwed hard, by a team and an ownership more concerned with clearing money for this supposed move to the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn than with putting a competitive team on the floor.

There is a little talent on the Nets. A little. There are a lot of injuries as well. And a lot of backups. Josh Boone and Rafer Alston – as much as I love the guy from my neck of Queens – shouldn’t be logging major minutes. Every trade shouldn’t be to cut space. Courtney Lee is not a starting 2-guard without some high-volume shooters around him.

And while Lawrence Frank may not have been a miracle worker, he was a good soldier, and a decent coach. A man with a lot of energy. He’ll land on his feet – take some time off, stop losing hair, sleep 8 hours in one night. Maybe he will coach college… that Rutgers job could use a tactician…

Links: College Football’s Opening Day

September 3, 2009 Comments off

Levi Johnston dishes on life with Sarah Palin and speaks ill of her marriage to Todd in a Vanity fair article – wow, kid, milk that gossip… The US Senate, with less nepotism… Brazil’s racial problems are deep… will the lobbyists for the health care status quo – like the “Million Med March” (aka “protect the doctors’ salaries above all else”) – even listen to a possible bipartisan health care plan that triggers a public option if the insurance companies can’t meet quality/ cost benchmarks? And why is that called a “compromise” as opposed to “bipartisan” in the article? Should tort reform be in the health care bill?… On lighter notes: The end of “Reading Rainbow“… the Fast Food as the Mafia (graphic, funny, non-political)… and 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.

diamond iconIn honor of the beginning of college football, two fun images. First, a billboard bought by former Notre Dame player Tom Reynolds:

Charlie Weis billboard 5th Year of Coaching Internship

diamond iconAnd if you haven’t seen this year’s Oregon Ducks uniforms, check them out when they play Boise State tonight… or look at the winged shoulders here:

Oregon Ducks uniforms

diamond iconIn what will be a hotly-followed story, Rich Rodriguez is named in a lawsuit about a Virginia condo development… he’s been connected to a banned booster… he’s accused of violating NCAA rules on how much time coaches required players to spend working out… so of course there’s a Fire Rich Rodriguez site.

diamond iconThe Quad blog from the New York Times has Florida as… #2!  So Texas is their #1…


diamond iconNebraska gets an extra basketball scholarship (14 total), based on an NCAA mix-up on eligibility standards.

diamond iconJim Larranaga’s leaving Twitter after poking fun at a silly NCAA rule about being able to give student-athletes bagels but no condiments/ spreads.

diamond iconMets third base coach Razor Shines, perhaps, doesn’t scout the throwing arms of the opposing outfielders.

diamond iconScout.com has their Top 75 basketball players in the nation (and Canada) for 2011.

diamond iconSupposedly Nets’ owner Bruce Ratner is looking to make bank by selling the Nets at a premium price and THEN wants to get the new owners to pay him a hefty fee for the right to play in the Brooklyn Barclay’s Arena… whenever it happens. He’d then get the profits of the stadium without the financial drain of owning the team.

diamond iconAnd now, the first of many St. John’s coach Norm Roberts job “may be” on the line if he doesn’t win this year. Of course, someone has to speak to why this year is so different than any other year, and what “get it done” actually means. NCAAs? NIT?

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