... Because the numbers speak for themselves, folks.
There has been a large amount of turnover of men's head basketball coaches in the ACC. In the past three seasons, eight of the twelve ACC schools will have changed coaches (BC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest). For the purposes of this study, I am going to ignore the first year coaches (Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, NC State) as they have not had enough data with which to analyze their performance.
I propose to look at the before and after results of these four coaches (Steve Donahue, Brad Brownell, Tony Bennett, Jeff Bzdelik) compared to each other and to the three year history prior to their arrival. To do this, I will look at the Ken Pomeroy efficiency, Rivals recruiting rankings, and key departures to assess each current coach's outlook with the previous coach. At the end, I will compare the various trajectories on which these programs find themselves.
All the normal disclaimers apply. This is a relatively small look at data, and as such likely would hold little statistical value in itself. The trends themselves will hopefully provide insight.
All stats for this season are through Friday.
KenPom national rankings are taken from Ken Pomeroy's website.
Recruiting rankings are taken from Rivals, with the number of stars for each recruit and a national ranking if in the top 150 recruits nationally. Recruits without stars were not rated by Rivals (and are typically considered below high-major quality). For reference, a three-star recruit is considered an average/below average recruit for a typical high-major program. NCAA Tournament First Round is considered the round with 64 teams.
Scorers are players who average 8.0 or more points per game. Rebounders are players who average 5.0 or more rebounds per game. Passers are players who average 3.0 or more assists per game. All per-game stats taken from ESPN.
Former coach: Al Skinner (fired March 30, 2010)
2007-2008: 14-17 (4-12 ACC), 89th national KenPom rank (76th offense, 113th defense)
Rebounders: Shamari Spears (6.1)
Passers: Tyrese Rice (5.0)
2008-2009: 22-12 (9-7), 69th (34th, 139th), NCAA Tournament First Round
Departures: Shamari Spears, John Oates
Scorers: Tyrese Rice (16.9), Joe Trapani (13.4), Rakim Sanders (12.9), Corey Raji (9.9)
Rebounders: Joe Trapani (6.6), Corey Raji (6.1), Josh Southern (5.1)
Passers: Tyrese Rice (5.3)
2009-2010: 15-16 (6-10), 62nd (49th, 82nd)
Departures: Tyrese Rice
Scorers: Joe Trapani (14.1), Reggie Jackson (12.9), Corey Raji (11.4), Rakim Sanders (11.3)
Rebounders: Joe Trapani (6.4), Corey Raji (5.8), Reggie Jackson (5.7)
Passers: Reggie Jackson (4.5), Biko Paris (4.1)
Current coach: Steve Donahue (hired from Cornell, April 6, 2010)
2010-2011: 21-13 (9-7), 68th (17th, 204th)
Departures: Rakim Sanders, Tyler Roche, Evan Ravenel (transfer)
Scorers: Reggie Jackson (18.2), Joe Trapani (14.8), Corey Raji (12.1), Biko Paris (10.3)
Rebounders: Joe Trapani (7.0), Corey Raji (6.7)
Passers: Reggie Jackson (4.5), Biko Paris (3.5)
2011-2012: 8-16 (3-7), 240th (287th, 157th)
Departures: Reggie Jackson (NBA), Joe Trapani, Corey Raji, Biko Paris, Josh Southern, Dallas Elmore (transfer)
Scorers: Matt Humphrey (10.3), Ryan Anderson (9.6) Patrick Heckmann (9.1), Dennis Clifford (9.0)
Rebounders: Ryan Anderson (6.8)
Additions: Oliver Hanlan (***), Joe Rahon (***)
Departures: John Cahill
Notes: Boston College has really struggled this season, and it's not difficult to see why. Donahue lost his top five scorers from his 2010-2011 team, and has had to replace them with middling (three-star) recruits.
Outlook: Given the up and down nature of Al Skinner's time - and given that he tended to do it with a deliberate system, strong player development, and the occasional star (Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, Tyrese Rice) - I'm not sure that BC under Donahue will ever return to such a strong level, but if Donahue can continue the tradition of developing underappreciated recruits, then he should be able to field moderately successful, middle-of-the-pack ACC teams.
Former coach: Oliver Purnell (left for Depaul, April 6, 2010)
2007-2008: 24-10 (10-6), 13th (29th, 12th), NCAA Tournament First Round
Rebounders: Trevor Booker (7.3), James Mays (6.8), K.C. Rivers (6.3)
Passers: Cliff Hammonds (3.9), Demontez Stitt (3.0)
2008-2009: 23-9 (9-7), 22nd (16th, 52nd), NCAA Tournament First Round
Departures: Cliff Hammonds, James Mays, Sam Perry
Scorers: Trevor Booker (15.3), K.C. Rivers (14.2), Terrence Oglesby (13.2), Demontez Stitt (8.7)
Rebounders: Trevor Booker (9.7), K.C. Rivers (6.0), Raymond Sykes (5.1)
Passers: Demontez Stitt (3.8)
2009-2010: 21-11 (9-7), 20th (44th, 15th), NCAA Tournament First Round
Departures: K.C. Rivers, Raymond Sykes
Scorers: Trevor Booker (15.2), Demontez Stitt (11.4), Andre Young (9.2), Tanner Smith (8.7)
Rebounders: Trevor Booker (8.4)
Passers: Demontez Stitt (3.1)
Current coach: Brad Brownell (hired from Wright State, April 13, 2010)
2010-2011: 22-12 (9-7), 22nd (66th, 11th), NCAA Tournament First Round
Additions: Cory Stanton (***)
Departures: Trevor Booker, David Potter
Scorers: Demontez Stitt (14.5), Jerai Grant (12.4), Andre Young (11.1), Milton Jennings (8.3), Devin Booker (8.1)
Rebounders: Jerai Grant (6.7), Devin Booker (5.5), Milton Jennings (5.2)
Passers: Demontez Stitt (3.3), Andre Young (3.0)
2011-2012: 11-12 (3-6), 98th (130th, 71st)
Departures: Demontez Stitt, Jerai Grant, Noel Johnson (transfer)
Scorers: Andre Young (13.7), Devin Booker (11.0), Tanner Smith (10.9), Milton Jennings (9.2)
Rebounders: Devin Booker (6.9), Milton Jennings (5.5), Tanner Smith (5.4)
Passers: Tanner Smith (4.0), Andre Young (3.4)
Additions: Jaron Blossomgame (***, 119th), Adonis Filer (***, 117th), Landry Nnoko (***), Jordan Roper (***), Josh Smith
Departures: Tanner Smith, Catalin Baciu, Bryan Narcisse
Notes: Clemson is another team struggling this season, and it's again not hard to see why. Clemson has been hit with attrition more gradually than most, but a look at the names that have matriculated reveal a significant chunk of the teams that were so successful under Oliver Purnell (and it should be noted again that, depending on your viewpoint, he either created a series of very good teams in his final years at Clemson or underachieved based on his early tournament flameouts). Brownell managed to continue Purnell's success last year largely thanks to the emergence of Demontez Stitt, but with Stitt gone this year Clemson has not developed the next generation of stars to maintain its success.
Outlook: It is worrisome for Clemson that the stellar recruiting class of 2009 has not assumed leadership and star roles. Instead, the current iteration of the Tigers - like most before it - has been built on balance. While that's fine if you're proving capable of attracting top recruits or developing players like Purnell, it's less fine if you're bringing in three-star recruits and your older players have not lived up to their recruiting hype. While Brownell's won wherever he's gone, it seems as if Clemson is headed for a bit of a downturn, particularly given the standards set by his predecessor.
Former coach: Dave Leitao (resigned March 18, 2009)
2006-2007: 21-11 (11-5), 45th (30th, 59th), NCAA Tournament Second Round
Rebounders: Jason Cain (6.3)
Passers: Sean Singletary (4.7), J.R. Reynolds (3.7)
2007-2008: 17-16 (5-11), 79th (51st, 123rd)
Departures: J.R. Reynolds, Jason Cain
Scorers: Sean Singletary (19.8), Mamadi Diane (11.8), Adrian Joseph (9.9), Calvin Baker (8.6)
Rebounders: Adrian Joseph (5.7), Mike Scott (5.3)
Passers: Sean Singletary (6.1)
2008-2009: 10-18 (4-12), 105th (165th, 64th)
Additions: Sylven Landesburg (****, 66th), Assane Sene (***), John Brandenburg (****, 81st)
Scorers: Sylven Landesburg (16.6), Mike Scott (10.3), Calvin Baker (8.4)
Rebounders: Mike Scott (7.4), Sylven Landesburg (6.0)
Passers: Sammy Zeglinski (3.0)
Current coach: Tony Bennett (hired from Washington State, March 31, 2009)
2009-2010: 15-16 (5-11), 76th (97th, 65th)
Departures: Jamil Tucker, Mamadi Diane, John Brandenburg (transfer)
Scorers: Sylven Landesburg (17.3), Mike Scott (12.0), Sammy Zeglinski (8.9)
Rebounders: Mike Scott (7.2)
2010-2011: 16-15 (7-9), 94th (145th, 69th)
Departures: Sylven Landesburg (NBA), Jeff Jones (transfer), Tristan Spurlock (transfer)
Scorers: Mike Scott (15.9), Mustapha Farrakhan (13.5), Joe Harris (10.4), K.T. Harrell (8.0)
Rebounders: Mike Scott (10.2), Assane Sene (5.5)
Passers: Jontel Evans (3.5)
2011-2012: 19-4 (6-3), 18th, (81st, 7th)
Departures: Billy Baron (transfer), Mustapha Farrakhan, Will Sherrill
Scorers: Mike Scott (17.0), Joe Harris (12.7), Sammy Zeglinski (8.5)
Rebounders: Mike Scott (8.3)
Passers: Jontel Evans (3.7)
Additions: Justin Anderson (****, 35th), Evan Nolte (***, 120th), Mike Tobey (***, 109th), Teven Jones
Departures: Assane Sene, Sammy Zeglinski, Mike Scott
Notes: Finally, a success story. Leitao's teams were highly dependent on Sean Singletary. Even his most successful team (2006-2007) was vastly overrated - to put this in perspective, Virginia placed ninth out of twelve teams in the ACC in the KenPom rankings that year, including behind two teams that missed the NCAA Tournament, yet got a 4 seed. When Singletary graduated, the bottom dropped out. However, Bennett has gradually improved this team based around his defensive structure. While people are viewing this as the big breakthrough year, what strikes me is that in 2010-2011, Bennett managed to keep Virginia about on par with its previous year's performance (and actually win two more ACC games) despite losing all three of his returning top 100 recruits. That is ridiculous, and he should've won ACC Coach of the Year last year.
Outlook: Everything's coming up Wahoo. Obviously, Bennett's got the coaching chops to succeed. He has a set system, he recruits reasonably well, and he develops his players to be useful contributors in their junior and senior seasons. Absent being able to consistently recruit top notch talent like John Calipari or Roy Williams, that's about the most consistent method of sustaining success in college basketball. My one concern lies with the graduation of this class. While Joe Harris looks capable of stepping into the lead scorer role, Mike Scott has developed into such a singular talent that replacing him is a bit of a question mark, regardless of how qualified other players appear to be capable of doing so. Still, if I had to wager on it, I'd guess that Virginia will continue to develop and become a consistent ACC title contender for as long as Bennett stays there.
Former coach: Dino Gaudio (fired April 7, 2010)
2007-2008: 17-13 (7-9), 68th (84th, 63rd)
Rebounders: James Johnson (8.1), Chas McFarland (5.8)
Passers: Ishmael Smith (4.7)
2008-2009: 24-7 (11-5), 25th (43rd, 23rd), NCAA Tournament First Round
Scorers: Jeff Teague (18.8), James Johnson (15.0), Al-Farouq Aminu (12.9), Chas McFarland (8.7), L.D. Williams (8.0)
Rebounders: James Johnson (8.5), Al-Farouq Aminu (8.2), Chas McFarland (5.8)
Passers: Jeff Teague (3.5), Ishmael Smith (3.4)
2009-2010: 20-11 (9-7), 58th (96th, 32nd), NCAA Tournament Second Round
Departures: James Johnson (NBA), Jeff Teague (NBA), Harvey Hale
Scorers: Al-Farouq Aminu (15.8), Ishmael Smith (13.2), C.J. Harris (9.9), L.D. Williams (8.7)
Rebounders: Al-Farouq Aminu (10.7), Chas McFarland (7.0), L.D. Williams (5.6)
Passers: Ishmael Smith (6.0)
Current coach: Jeff Bzdelik (hired from Colorado, April 13, 2010)
2010-2011: 8-24 (1-15), 251st (235th, 256th)
Departures: Al-Farouq Aminu (NBA), Ishmael Smith, L.D. Williams, Chas McFarland, David Weaver, Konner Tucker (transfer)
Scorers: Travis McKie (13.0), J.T. Terrell (11.1), Gary Clark (10.9), C.J. Harris (10.3), Ari Stewart (8.5)
Rebounders: Travis McKie (7.7)
Passers: C.J. Harris (3.5)
2011-2012: 11-13 (2-9), 203rd (210th, 196th)
Departures: Melvin Tabb (out of school), Ari Stewart (transfer), J.T. Terrell (transfer), Tony Woods (transfer), Gary Clark
Scorers: C.J. Harris (17.2), Travis McKie (15.8), Tony Chennault (9.6)
Rebounders: Travis McKie (7.2), Ty Walker (5.1)
Passers: Tony Chennault (3.0)
Additions: Cody Miller-McIntyre (****, 70th), Arnaud Moto (***, 118th), Tyler Cavanaugh (***), Devin Thomas (***), Aaron Rountree (***), Andre Washington (***)
Departures: Ty Walker, Nikita Mescheriakov
Notes: Three things leap out at me from this data. First, Wake has consistently outrecruited the other schools on this list. Pick your statistic, and Wake dominates. Five-star recruits? Wake has three, the others have one combined. Top 50 recruits? Wake still has three, while the others also have three (and one of those will be arriving next year). Top 100 recruits? Wake has nine, the other schools combine for ten. Basically, by any metric, Wake has been the best recruiting school of the bunch (with Virginia surprisingly the second best). However, the second thing that is readily apparent is the sheer volume of turnover that Wake has had during the time period in question. In the four seasons that I tracked the departing scholarship athletes, Wake has averaged four departures a year, compared to a little less than three for the other schools. In particular, the turnover during Bzdelik's tenure has been extreme. The third thing that leaps out at me is the effect that that turnover has had on the Bzdelik-era teams. The 2010-2011 team essentially started from scratch; C.J. Harris returned, but none of the other key players. And that team struggled mightily. This year's team, while still not good (and to the growing disgruntlement of the BSD faithful, apparently getting worse), is still significantly better than last year's team statistically. That's more a testament to how bad last year's team was, but improvement has still occurred, and should be noted.
Outlook: This is by far the murkiest outlook of the bunch. On paper, Wake should have had the best results of these teams over this period by virtue of the superior recruiting. At the same time, Wake has also suffered extreme roster turnover, so very few of those recruits still play for Wake (there will be as many Wake top-100 recruits playing for Southern California next season as top-100 recruits playing for Virginia). While other schools have suffered a turnover due to coaching change (Virginia had a number of transfers over the course of Bennett's first two seasons), none have experienced two such wholesale change seasons in a row. At the same time, however, no other school has suffered two consecutive horrendous seasons either. In short, and this will no doubt irk many of the BSD fans calling for blood (myself included), it seems as if it's still too early to tell about Bzdelik. He deserves a season with a settled roster.
So, in the end, what to make of this? I know it's not going to be a popular answer, but the roster turnover that Wake has endured has been extreme enough to serve as a legitimate (if unpopular) excuse to Wake's performance of the past two seasons. 11 scholarship players, including two five-star recruits, three other top-100 recruits, and the heart and soul of a largely successful senior class have left during a two year period. That is, quite simply, staggering. Hopefully things will straighten out, and we can get an accurate read on Bzdelik next season (as much as people want to tar and feather him right now). And if things don't straighten out, then I think it's safe to say that the accurate read is that players don't enjoy playing for him, and that's sufficient reason to fire him (or not renew his contract).
What will that read be? I think it's safe to say that a Tony Bennett scenario is out of the question. Bennett, if you recall, managed to keep his team afloat despite the defections of a good portion of his highly recruited players. It's pretty clear that Bzdelik has not done that, and he's arguably had more to work with this season than Bennett did during the 2010-2011 season. It's also a bit disconcerting that Wake isn't pulling in the same class of recruit to which it is accustomed, which could have an adverse effect down the road regardless of Bzdelik's X's and O's coaching ability.
Unfortunately for Bzdelik, he's going to need a Bennett-like emergence next season if he wants to stay around into the 2013-2014 season and times beyond.