1) The AP revealed yesterday that their Coach of the Year award went to Roy Williams. Here’s how the voting went:
Roy Williams 29 Jay Wright 15 Bruce Pearl 11 Bill Self 7 Thad Matta 5 John Calipari 2 Karl Hobbs 1 Ben Howland 1 Al Skinner 1
My first reaction to this list was, why in the heck would you vote for Al Skinner? BC was picked to finish second in the ACC, and they finished third. Without any injuries or mitigating factors. Way to go, Al. You clearly did the best coaching job in the country.
If you want to be different, which I can relate to, you should have voted for Billy Donovan. Look, I realize that the vote for Skinner was most likely from a Boston writer trying to curry favor with Skinner and that voting took place before the tournament, but couldn’t someone have seen the job Donovan did?
One of the projects I’ll be working on in the off-season is to see how much players improve from year to the next. For instance, there were 186 freshmen that played at least 20 mpg in 2005 that saw action in 2006. The average change in this group’s points per 40 minutes was +11.4%. Al Horford ranked fifth in this group with an 81% improvement. Corey Brewer is in 13th at 49.8%. Joakim Noah and Taurean Green didn’t play as many minutes last season, but they also showed better than average improvement in their scoring per 40 minutes.
In fact, every returning player improved their production significantly. And this is scaled for playing time, so it wasn’t the increased minutes that did it. Florida barely got votes in the preseason poll, but was in the top 10 most of the season. Even without the tournament, there was a pretty good case that Donovan did as fine of a coaching job as Williams, Wright, and Pearl.
2) By now, you know that LSU is last in the nation in three-point production. But the 17.0% of scoring they get from 3s is better than four teams from last season. Yes, 3-point usage increased nationwide again this season.
3) The perception is that this is an all-Cinderella Final Four. And no doubt that talk is justified based on George Mason alone. But the other three teams have been realistic Final Four material for a while. I’ve already talked about Florida’s run near the top of the polls. UCLA snuck under the radar, but their six losses were by a total of 29 points. And over two months ago, a couple of people saw through LSU’s bad luck and predicted big things for them.
It will always sound silly to some people, but whether a team wins or loses is often less significant than how the outcome occurred when trying to assess the future.
4) In non-Final Four news, Jim Boeheim is spearheading an effort to add a few more teams to the tournament. Boeheim seems to infer that he has a lot of other support for this, but I can’t believe any coach in the bottom half of Division I would be in favor of it.
Since all the new teams will be at-larges, and get seeds in the 11-13 range, the low-majors get screwed. Take Winthrop. As a 15-seed this season, they almost knocked off Tennessee. But under the new plan, they would have played on Tuesday in a fun-filled 16/17 game for the right to play a one-seed.
Boeheim defends his plan this way:
This year has proven that teams that just got in, or maybe didn’t get in, can win games.
Yeah, and so did 1986. Come on, it’s common knowledge that the 12/5 game is ripe for upsets. It’s always been that way. The fact is, no matter how many teams you include – 70, 100, or 200 – Boeheim’s statement will always be true. The teams that just miss could win a game or two in the tourney. And the more teams you include, the harder it is to tell what differentiates the last 3 or 4 teams on the board.
This couldn’t have anything to do with him wanting a 7-9 Big East team to have a better shot at a bid, could it?