A Statistical Study of Basketball Coach Prospects

Who will lead us to the Promised Land? And by Promised Land, I mean above-.500 conference play in basketball. So let's put all of the Fire Ernie arguments aside and acknowledge the inevitable by looking at a statistical comparison of the potential replacements. I've included the more common names on everyone's coaching wish lists as well as one or two of my own personal favorites.



The NCAA maintains an online stat archive database for basketball dating back to the 2001-02 season. What I've done is compiled lists of how each of these coach's teams performed in main statistical categories. The categories I looked at were: Scoring Offense, Scoring Margin, Rebounding Margin, Blocks Per Game, Assists Per Game, Steals Per Game, Scoring Defense, FG% Defense, Turnovers Per Game, FG%, 3-pt %, FT%, and 3-pointers Per Game. I included stats from this season current through games played as of 2/21.

I broke the team statistical rankings down by calculating each coach's average team ranking per season in each of these categories. I rounded up to eliminate decimals, because decimals hurt my eyes. Here is the list, in alphabetical order...



1. Steve Alford, New Mexico

(380-207 overall, 173-123 career conference record)

Alford's teams' highest stat ranking average was in Scoring Margin (72nd) and 3-pt % (72nd). Alford's Lobo teams have shot the 3 much more frequently than his Iowa teams: the last 3 seasons, the Lobos have ranked 41st, 90th, and 32nd in 3-pointers made per game. The previous high for this category at Iowa was 161st. Alford's lowest team average was in SPG (163rd), although New Mexico has improved in this category each season under his watch. His current UNM team takes care of the ball and boxes out, as they rank 17th in Turnovers Per Game and 29th in Rebounding Margin this season.

I can easily see Alford making the move from one Pit to another. My only concern is that he never got over the hump at Iowa. He choked posted sub-.500 conference records in five out of his eight seasons with the Hawkeyes. He also only has three NCAA Tournament bids in fourteen seasons.

Possibility of becoming the new Oregon MBB coach: Very possible.




2. Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's

(177-203 overall, 76-48 conference)

Bennett's teams' highest average category was Rebounding Margin (58th). His teams know how to crash the boards: since 2003, the Gaels always beat us have ranked 29th, 51st, 29th, 40th, 62nd, 12th, and 43rd in Rebounding Margin. The last two seasons, they have ranked in the top 15 in Scoring Offense, and in the last four seasons, they've ranked in the top 30 in BPG. His worst category is SPG. Sure, this year's Gaels rank 13th, but their average in this category is at a lowly 212nd

I could see Oregon making a move for Bennett. We wouldn't have to pay him as much as we'd have to pay some of the bigger names, and I have no doubts he'd build Oregon into a basketball team consistently competing in the upper half of the conference. Alas, we have a new arena to fill, and I just don't think Bennett has the buzz and the namepower needed to fill the seats. Also, I'm sure I don't need to point this out to you, but our last stint with a former Gaels coach makes me disown basketball... ahem...

Possibility: Very possible.




3. Scott Drew, Baylor

(112-109 overall, 38-72 conference)

Other than his one year coaching Valparaiso and his last few years coaching the Bears, the stats are skewed against Drew due to the Bear-on-Bear violence absolute disaster he inherited in Waco. Due to that, his overall category averages aren't that great. So let's narrow the sample size a bit to look at his recent Baylor teams. Since 2006, they've ranked in the top 100 in Scoring Offense, BPG, and 3-pointers Per Game. This year's team is impressive in several categories: 34th in Scoring Offense, 17th in Scoring Margin, 6th in Rebounding Margin, 4th in BPG, 9th in FG% Defense, 14th in FG% and 19th in 3pt %. Since his one season at Valpo, none of his teams have broken the top 100 in APG, although this year's team is close at 101st.

I would love this hire. Drew has undoubtedly accomplished one of the most impossible program turnarounds in recent history, bringing Baylor's program back from its deathbed to NCAA Tournament bid competition. He's a great recruiter, his teams play hard, and he knows what it takes to build something from the ground up. But I question if he would leave Baylor, mostly because he's literally built it from scratch. He also just signed a 10-year contract extension a few seasons ago.

Possibility: Somewhat possible.




4. Mark Few, Gonzaga

(285-70 overall, 135-15 conference)

Few's teams are statistically awesome. Their average in Scoring Offense is 18th, their average in Scoring Margin is 20th, 31st in Rebounding Margin, 17th in FG %. They shoot the ball incredibly well: they've ranked no lower than 22nd in FG % since 2002. Few's teams have no lower categorical average than 191st, which is much higher than the other candidates' lowest average. This year's Bulldogs are terrible from the line, ranking 245th, but it looks like an anomaly. Since 2001, their average in this category is 67th.

Few puts out very well-coached teams who are sound in almost every single statistical category including shrooms year in and year out. Opponents of this hire would claim that Few inherited an Elite Eight program, which is true. He also has never made it past a Sweet 16. Personally, I'm not sure if he could live up to the hype of a Mark Few-coached Oregon program. He's created such high expectations wherever he ends up coaching (if he leaves the Zags) because of his dominance of the WAC? Sun Belt? Big Sky? Big West? What conference are they in again? WCC. I'm not a big fan of the "We Must Hire A UO Alum" strategy, but the biggest question is: if he turned down Kilkenny, would he turn down MB?

Possibility: Very possible.




5. Tubby Smith, Minnesota

(443-175 overall, 213-94 conference)

Tubby's teams know how to pass the rock and defend. Their strongest averages are in Scoring Margin (46th), FG% Defense (55th), BPG (60th), APG (64th), and Scoring Defense (72nd). His teams have ranked 66th or higher in Scoring Offense in six of the past nine seasons. Since Smith's arrival in Minneapolis, the Gophers have ranked 23rd, 27th, and 20th in SPG. In the past nine seasons, his teams ranked in the top 100 in FG % Defense for all but one season. They will shut you down. Smith's weakest category is FT %, where his teams average rank is 161st since 2001. They've only ranked in the top 100 from the line in one season out of the past nine.

Yes, my contrast in pictures speaks the truth: Tubby is kind of old would be my pick to be the new Oregon basketball coach. He gets results. In 18 seasons, he has 15 Tournament appearances. Out of these 15 Tournament appearances, he's advanced past the first round 13 times. He has a National Title, three Elite Eights, and five Sweet Sixteens, two of which came at Tulsa. Tubby has the kind of namepower that would sell seats, and his hiring would create a huge buzz along with the opening of the new arena. He does make a million a year, so it wouldn't be cheap, but I think it if we sweetened the deal enough for him, he'd gladly leave the frozen tundra for greener pastures.

Possibility: Somewhat possible.




6. Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M

(222-148 overall, 111-94 conference)

The bread and butter of Turgeon's teams is Rebounding Margin, with an average rank of 45th since 2001. This is the first season in the past nine that Turgeon's team has ranked outside the top 100 in this category (102nd). His last two seasons at A&M, they've ranked 37th and 8th in Rebounding Margin. His team's worst average is in SPG, where their average rank is 282nd. Last season, the Aggies ranked 312nd in the country in SPG.

It almost sounds too good to be true: a former Oregon assistant returning home to usher in a new era of non-bipolar basketball results. And it is too good to be true. Turgeon makes $1.2 million a year, so we'd probably break the bank to bring him to Eugene. I'm also skeptical he would leave A&M for Oregon. He inherited a good program which has become an upper echelon Big 12 team. The Aggies are a joke in football get great fan support and will consistently compete in that conference. For him, I just think it'd be a downward move, and I don't see it happening.

Possibility: Unlikely.


So below is a direct comparison of the average team stat rankings of these six coaches since 2001, plus a BONUS! Our very own Ernie, and the categorical average ranking overall of his teams since 2001.

Random outburst: this season, we rank 276th in attendance assists per game. 276th in dimes! What the Tajuan Porter hell is going on? There. I feel better.

                SCO    SCM    REB   BPG   APG   SPG   SCD   FGD    TO      FG%    3PT%    FT%    3PG
Kent        89      121      144     214    124     201     217    201    124     104        93        110        69       Kent
Few         18      20         31      103     74       191     141     49       91       17         46          67       149     Few
Turgeon 118    84         45      199     111     282     105    105    107      89         90        122       137     Turgeon
Smith      82      47         80      60       64       101       72       55     125     80        144       168       151     Smith
Drew       141   153     176      113    179     148      206    179     162    120      105       146         88       Drew
Alford      121    72         83      106     75      167      100      78      129    105       72        149        163      Alford
Bennett  118    75         58       88      212    205        81       93      172    139      121      123        147  Bennett

SCO= Scoring Offense; SCM= Scoring Margin; REB= Rebounding Margin; SCD= Scoring Defense; FGD= FG % Defense; TO= Turnovers Per Game; 3PG= 3pointers Per Game


Thanks for reading this long schpiel. I'm done now... guess I should go play more Dynasty Mode so I can taunt UW fans and go for 2 after every touchdown find something else to do with my day. Vote in the poll and leave your comments below.

As always, GO DUCKS!

P.S.- I rarely post on here, and have no idea what I'm doing, so apologies for the giant numberf*** above. If any of the editors would like to fix that for me, I'd appreciate it.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or the Addicted To Quack Moderators. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable Oregon fans.

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