I watch a lot of college basketball from November through April. Games on games on games.
But, truth be told I haven’t caught a whole lot of Stephen F. Austin, Boise State, Valparaiso, or Murray State games over the past couple of seasons. Typically that is totally acceptable but when Iowa State is launching a coaching search and the head coaches for those teams may be targeted to replace Fred Hoiberg it suddenly becomes a problem.
But thanks to tempo free stats and other advanced numbers we can glean some trends for strengths and weaknesses for these coaches as well as some stylistic components for how they have had their teams play.
All stats below are via kenpom.com and allow the ability to profile coaching tendencies. For each stat the listed value is the ranking for that given season to try and keep the comparisons as apples to apples as much as possible.
I went back four seasons and put Hoiberg in the middle to compare prospective coaches to him on each side. The values are color coded for the better the ranking to be red and gradually transition to blue. Keep in mind too, that comparing some of these numbers can be spotty in some areas when looking at guys that led mid-major programs as compared to Hoiberg in the Big 12 and Dana Altman at Oregon.
The candidates: Leon Rice – Boise State, Steve Prohm – Murray State, Brad Underwood – Stephen F. Austin, Bryce Drew – Valparaiso, and Dana Altman – Oregon.
Now, the quick and dirty profile of the above coaches to try and explain that jumbled mess above.
Leon Rice has trended toward a much slower pace than we’re accustomed to but his offenses have been respectably efficient scoring the ball. They largely have accomplished that by shooting pretty well and avoiding turnovers. At the same time they have rarely cashed in on the offensive glass or by getting to the free-throw line. Overall that is very similar to Hoiberg’s methods in the general sense.
His Bronco teams haven’t shot the ball all that well inside the arc but they have from 3-point land and they haven’t been afraid to sling it from beyond the arc (3PA% is the percentage of total field goal attempts that came from beyond the 3-point line). Though one very stark offensive contrast is the very low assist percentages for his teams.
Defensively his squads have been subpar and even below that of the standard Hoiberg-led Cyclone team. The one area that they have done very well is keeping opponents off the offensive glass by finishing in the top 13 each of the last four seasons, which is truly remarkable.
However, opponents have shot at will inside the arc and outside both with success of their attempts and ability to get off 3-pointers.
Steve Prohm has some tendency to play a bit uptempo but not beyond last season and not to the pace that we have been watching in Ames. Last year was a banner season for scoring efficiency with the previous three being solid at best. His Racer squads have a track record of shooting the ball well, rebounding on the offensive end, and getting to the free-throw line.
Last season they did well with turnovers but the previous three were all pretty rough. Another outlier last season was that they ranked middle of the pack in the country in percentage of field goal attempts from beyond the arc. That, while shooting the 31st best percentage outside the arc in the country. Simply put, that is far too few attempts for a success rate so high. It was a similar story in 2012.
Again, we have another instance with much lower assist percentage rankings than we are used to which is often an indicator of ball movement and crisp and effective offensive sets.
Prohm’s defenses have also left plenty to be desired except for the 2012 Racers that finished 15th in the country in scoring efficiency. They don’t seem to have an obvious fingerprint to their numbers other than they have really struggled on the defensive glass.
Otherwise they have had spotty success on shooting accuracy defense, most especially from beyond the arc. Interestingly their last four seasons have a pretty strong link between 3PA% and 3P% rankings. For the most part in comparison to all of the other coaches here they are largely middle of the pack in most of the components except for some strong numbers across the board in 2012 and 2014. And to me it looks like that was mostly based off of their 3-point defense.
Brad Underwood has just two years under his belt and the lacking data points will be a bit of a struggle. But, his offenses have scored very well in the past two seasons and the hallmarks of that have been their effective field goal percentage and ability to get second chances from the offensive glass. That shooting success has been fueled by their accuracy inside the arc, a familiar look for Cyclone fans. That is coupled with a season of good 3-point shooting and another of mediocre shooting with slightly more than average attempts from deep.
The one other area that compares favorably to Hoiberg’s teams are the outrageous assist percentage rankings the past two years.
His defenses haven’t been spectacular but when they’re compared to this group of coaches’ rankings around 100 get a decently dark shade of red. They haven’t done all that well in shooting defense or especially free throw rate but the Lumberjacks were 5th and 7th the past two seasons in turnovers forced.
The other very impressive part of his defenses is that they haven’t allowed teams the space to shoot the long ball by finishing 17th and 12th in 3PA%.
Bryce Drew and his offensive success and tempo profile of his teams is, ummm, less than stellar. Especially in contrast to Hoiball. The most consistent trait of success for Valpo has been their ability to get to the free throw line. That and they have been willing to chuck 3-pointers when given the opportunity.
His defenses have been okay with the greatest strength being the ability to limit other teams and their eFG percentage. That has primarily been fueled by their shooting defense inside the arc.
Dana Altman is the last coach on the chart but the first that has a consistent record over the past four seasons of playing somewhat uptempo. Again, it’s not what we’re used to but relative to the rest of the list it stands out. That, and three of his past four seasons have been top 17 in scoring efficiency. In those years they shot the ball very well and rarely turned it over. They also shot the 3-pointer well in those three seasons, though they are another example of not shooting enough of them based off of their success rate.
Defensively Altman’s teams have been all over the map. Generally they have been average or just better in limiting shooting accuracy. In their two best seasons in scoring efficiency (2014 and 2013) they were consistent across the board but most notably they did well in forcing turnovers and having 3-point success by opponents either missing or by limiting attempts of their opponents.
There are a million factors at play here that I don’t have the off-hand knowledge to evaluate or even the ability but I’m hoping this chart gives some sort of concept for how some of these coaches have had their teams playing in the past and how that can be contrasted to the Hoiball we have become used to.
Unfortunately we can’t easily add Jeff Hornacek and his tendencies to this chart or especially TJ Otzelberger. One would assume that Hornacek would have many similar principles on offense with quick hitters, utilizing ball screens and spacing, and attack mismatches while defending by icing ball screens, playing conservatively off the ball, and funneling opponents to intermediate jump shots.
This isn’t meant to be persuasive in who should be hired but hopefully it is informative to you in prospective coaches and their prospective styles.
NOTE: Kirk contributed this article before CycloneFanatic.com publisher Chris Williams reported Wednesday that Jeff Hornacek and Leon Rice should be crossed off the list of potential candidates.