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Just The Sports: Coaching Carousel Report Cards

Just The Sports

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coaching Carousel Report Cards

When Roy Williams departed from the University of Kansas after the 2002-03 season, he set in motion a coaching carousel that when the ride ended left Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina, Bruce Weber at the University of Illinois, and Bill Self at the University of Kansas. With each coach having had three seasons at their new universities, now is as good a time as any to do progress reports to see how the coaches have done individually and more importantly when compared to each other.

Besides the obvious connection between the coaches, there is also the matter of how the programs were before the coach got there. After taking their new jobs, none of the three found themselves walking in a program with a bare cupboard because it had been well stocked with star recruits by their predecessors. Because of this each coach had the same nucleus of stars for at least two years before losing the players to the NBA and graduation; Bruce Weber was the sole coach to have two star players (Dee Brown and James Augustine) for three seasons. To the credit of this trinity of college basketball coaches, each program improved both in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency from the first year to the second year.

Not only do Roy Williams and Bruce Weber improve their team offensively and defensively in year two of their tenures, their teams improved both record wise and NCAA Tournament-wise. Under Williams in his first year, the Tarheels won their first round game and bowed out of the 2004 NCAA tournament in the second round, losing to the Texas Longhorns and then won the 2005 NCAA Tournament championship, giving Wiliams his first ever NCAA title. Weber's Illinois teams experienced a similar like rise, going to the Sweet Sixteen before losing to the Duke in 2004 and then making it to the 2005 championship game where they lost to the aforementioned Tarheels. Self and his Kansas Jayhawks went the opposite route, his team making it to the Elite 8 in 2004 and then barely even making their presence felt in 2005, suffering a first-round defeat.

Now to the meat of this post. Which coach's teams have performed the best? Since I don't know how to do significance testing with three different sets of data, I had to pit two teams against each other in three different ways (UNC-Illinois, UNC-Kansas, Illinois-Kansas). First, the offenses and then the defenses.

Stacking up UNC and Illinois, the two teams have been very comparable during Williams's and Weber's reigns. They are basically even in offensive efficiency, floor percentage, field percentage, true shooting percentage, and assist rate. Where Illinois has had the advantage is in not turning over the ball as often as UNC (.175 TO/Poss. to .215 TO/Poss). Conversely, UNC edges out Illinois in offensive rebounding percentage (.388 to .350). Basically, it is a toss-up between these two schools.

The same can almost be said for UNC under Roy and Kansas under Bill, but not quite. While UNC is not better than Kansas in every category, the Tarheels do possess both a higher offensive rating (113.1 to 108.4) and higher offensive rebound percentage (.388 to .351).

In the spirit of redundancy, the Fighting Illini also are significantly better than the Jayhawks in offensive efficiency (115.1 to 108.4) and taking care of the ball (.175 TO/Poss. to .214 TO/Poss.)

As far as defense goes, again it is more of the same. No team has an overwhelming edge over any of the other teams. UNC and Illinois are deadlocked defensively. Kansas is much better than UNC and Illinois in getting opponents to miss shots (48.4 TS% against to 51.7 TS% against and 50.6 TS%, respectively), but not much better at any of the other statistical categories.

At the end of the day, each program is just as well if not better off with their new coaches, although none of the programs can be said to be significantly better under one coach over the other two. Whatever grade you want to give one coach you had better be prepared to give the other coaches the same grade even if one has a national championship ring and the others do not.



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