Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coaches Part #3

Today I continue to average the tempo free performances of active BCS coaches over the last seven years. Again, context is important. Is Jamie Dixon really an excellent coach of offensive rebounding, or did he just happen to recruit one of the greatest college rebounders of all time in DeJuan Blair? But with that caveat, I think we can still learn a lot from these numbers.

No one has been better able to put his players in a position to make shots than Billy Donovan whose teams have averaged an eFG% of 55.2% over the last seven years. But Donovan’s teams have not been dominant in any of the other factors. There are plusses and minuses to the eFG% strategy. On the plus side, eFG% is consistently the best predictor of overall offense. You can lose the rebounding battle, the FT battle, and the TO battle, but if you make your shots you can still win. So give Donovan credit for teaching players to take good shots. But even a good shooting team can have off nights. And by depending less on the other factors, Billy Donovan’s teams can often appear inconsistent.

John Thompson III’s teams also have an extremely high eFG%, but here you can see where style of play matters. Thompson is willing to incur more turnovers in order to get cuts and open lay-ups near the basket. So while his teams shoot almost as well as Donovan’s they do so at the expense of being a high turnover team.

On the flip side, Bo Ryan and Bobby Gonzalez’s teams might not always get the best shot, but by never turning it over, they stay in the hunt. Interestingly, they do it in a different way. While Bo Ryan’s teams will patiently wait for an opening and take a tough shot at the end of the shot clock if no opportunity presents itself, Bobby Gonzalez’s teams will often take the first halfway decent look to avoid the turnover.

Furthermore, while it is true that eFG% is the most important factor, the second most important factor is probably offensive rebounding. Jeff Bzdelik’s teams have shot well, but he hasn’t had a good offense because his teams have been horrendous at getting second chances.

On the flip side, Frank Martin has made his offensive living, by having good offensive rebounding teams. And this isn’t just a Michael Beasley effect. His teams have had good rebounding wings and guards since Beasley departed.

Frank Martin and Jim Calhoun have also used that rebound aggression to get more free throw attempts. But the bigger surprise is the number of free throws Sean Miller’s teams have earned. He’s traditionally done it with wing players like CJ Anderson at Xavier. And this year is no exception. Few people have noticed Arizona freshman Derrick Williams because the Pac-10 is so down this year, but Williams is a perfect fit for what Miller is trying to do in Arizona. Williams has the second highest free throw rate in the country among BCS players.

In fact there are a number of new BCS coaches who rely heavily on the whistle. Pat Knight, Dino Gaudio, and Craig Robinson excel at getting their teams to the line.

Perhaps they can tell Bruce Weber. Free throw attempts remain his team’s biggest offensive weakness. Other good coaches with clear weaknesses include Thad Matta whose Perimeter Oriented attack doesn’t get enough rebounds, Tom Izzo whose turnover rate remains a frequent trouble spot, and Bob Huggins whose teams miss too many shots.

The next table shows the key information as at Kenpom.com.
eFG% is FG% but it gives 3 / 2 weight to made 3’s.
TO% is the percentage of possessions lost to turnovers.
OFFREB% is the percentage of offensive rebounds pulled down.
FTA/FGA is the rate at which free throws are drawn.
RK represents the rank out of 72 active BCS coaches for each category.
YRS represents the number of years of tempo free data available for the coach at multiple schools.