Category Archives: NCAA

Terence Morris

Terence Morris’ draft stock shot up after he was probably the best all-around player on a 1999 Maryland team that featured future NBA star Steve Francis. Said one NBA scout of Morris in 1999:

“He’s outstanding. I don’t know if he’s the best player in the country, but he’s very athletic. He’s like a poor man’s Kevin Garnett. He’s a 6-9 runner, shooter, slasher. He blocks some shots. His body isn’t great but he’s quick to the ball, great in [Maryland’s] press. He’s versatile, one of that new breed of power forwards: thin and athletic but not very physical in the post.”

In retrospect, Morris should have declared for the draft right then & there. He likely would have gone very high in the lottery, probably in the top 5 (in reality, the 5th overall pick went to HS entry Jonathan Bender). Instead, Morris returned to Maryland and was exposed, shooting worse and stagnating as a scorer. As a senior in 2001, he helped the Terps reach the Final Four but had a poor individual season (shot 43% from the field while falling to 3rd in Maryland’s offensive pecking order). Aside from a slightly better rebounding average, Morris’ numbers at age 22 were down across the board compared to age 20.

When he finally entered the draft, he was taken 33rd overall by the Hawks and traded immediately to Houston, where he spent 2 seasons proving he didn’t belong in the league. He was a decent rebounder and showcased an improving midrange game in 2003, but he was also a poor defender & ballhandler who could only create low-percentage shots and couldn’t shoot the 3.

Morris lasted just 139 career games in the NBA, a fact that would have been shocking back in the summer of 1999. He should have come out then, instead of giving scouts enough time to realize he was terrible.

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CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (The Top Ten)

See also: #11-15, #16-20, #21-25, #26-31

With the 2010-11 season warming up, let’s finish up our ranking of the 31 best NCAA teams from 1980-2010:

10. Louisville Cardinals (+14.76 SRS)

Record: 709-329 (.683)
Prominent Coaches: Denny Crum, Rick Pitino
Best NCAA Finish: Won NCAA Championship (1980, 1986)

Louisville has somewhat quietly amassed a dominant resume over the past 3 decades. With 2 national titles and 4 Final Fours, the Cardinals were probably the best program of the 1980s, while their “down” years of the 1990s consisted of 8 NCAA berths & 208 wins. And in the 2000s, Rick Pitino took them to a Final Four in 2005, seamlessly transitioning from the Crum era with 220 victories of his own. Pick any year since 1980, and chances are The Ville was one of the better college basketball teams in the country.

9. Syracuse Orange (+15.41 SRS)

Record: 755-279 (.730)
Prominent Coaches: Jim Boeheim
Best NCAA Finish: Won NCAA Championship (2003)

Under Jim Boeheim, the Orangemen won more games than all but four schools since 1980. He took a solid program and turned it into a perennial contender, produced a number of NBA prospects, won 14 Big East regular-season or tournament titles, and finally filled the gap in his resume when Carmelo Anthony carried ‘Cuse to their elusive NCAA crown in 2003. Simply put, no Big East team has been better over the past 30 years.

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CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part IV)

See also: #16-20, #21-25, #26-31

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R’s new College Hoops site, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

With the 2010-11 NCAA basketball season technically commencing this week, let’s return to these rankings

15. Connecticut Huskies (+14.16 SRS)

Record: 682-312 (.686)
Prominent Coaches: Jim Calhoun
Best NCAA Finish: Won NCAA Championship (1999, 2004)

Two national titles in the last 12 years makes up for a mediocre first half of the 1980s under Dom Perno, as the leadership of Calhoun has transformed Storrs into an unlikely national hoops hotbed. And to think that it all started with Scott Burrell & Tate George

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CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part III)

See also: #21-25, #26-31

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R’s new College Hoops site, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

20. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+12.87 SRS)

Record: 586-365 (.616)
Prominent Coaches: Carl Tacy, Dave Odom, Skip Prosser
Best NCAA Finish: Lost Regional Final (1984, 1996)

Perhaps better known for what their alums do after leaving the program (Billy Packer, Muggsy Bogues, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, etc.), Wake nonetheless has maintained a near-perennial NCAA Tournament presence (and a frequent top-4 ACC team) over the past 3+ decades. Carl Tacy’s teams were very good (AP top-20 three times) in the first half of the eighties, and following a short, mediocre stint under Bob Staak from 86-89, Dave Odom took the reins and oversaw one of the most successful periods in school history (including the recruitment of the greatest Deacon of all, Tim Duncan). Under Odom, WF had 7 consecutive NCAA berths, but the last in that run was the most disappointing — after climbing as high as #2 in the AP poll, Wake was unceremoniously bounced by Stanford in the 2nd round, ending Duncan’s collegiate career. After Odom left for South Carolina in 2001, the late Skip Prosser continued a winning tradition with 4 straight Tourney appearances and the development of Paul, before tragically passing away in 2007. Today, the Deacs hope to rebound from Dino Gaudio‘s up-and-down tenure with the hiring of Jeff Bzdelik in 2010.

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CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part II)

See also: Part I

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R’s new College Hoops site, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

25. Ohio State Buckeyes (+12.29 SRS)

Record: 522-337
Prominent Coaches: Eldon Miller, Jim O’Brien, Thad Matta
Best NCAA Finish: Lost National Final (2007)

Columbus, OH will always be a football town first and foremost, but the Bucks’ basketball team has also been deceptively competitive over the past 31 years. Under Eldon Miller & future Maryland coach Gary Williams in the 1980s, Ohio St. was frequently among the top 30 teams in the country, though they could never quite recapture the form of their 1980 team (Herb Williams, Kelvin Ransey, & Clark Kellogg led OSU to the Regional Semis & the 4th-best SRS in the country). That changed during the early years of Randy Ayers‘ tenure, when they went 53-10 in ’91 + ’92 en route to 2 Big Ten crowns and a Final Four near-miss in 1992. But after 1992 UPI POY Jim Jackson left school, OSU slipped badly, bottoming out at 6-22 in 1995. Ayers was then replaced by Jim O’Brien, who resuscitated the program and took them to a Final Four in just his 2nd year at the helm. From ’99-02, O’Brien’s Buckeyes had their most successful 4-year run since the early 1960s, although revelations about recruiting misdeeds cost him his job and forced the Buckeyes to vacate more than 3 years worth of results. Luckily, though, former Xavier coach Thad Matta was hired to pick up the pieces and he has simply led OSU to the best 6-year run in their history, solidifying their place on this list with 4 NCAA berths in the last 5 years (including a Championship Game appearance in ’07).

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CBB: The Top 31 College Basketball Programs of the Last 31 Years (Part I)

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball at Sports-Reference, S-R’s new College Hoops site, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

With the addition of 2010 stats to the site about a month ago, CBB at SR now has game-by-game results for each of the past 31 seasons (1980-2010). This means that we can calculate our signature team power-ranking statistic — the Simple Rating System (SRS) — for every team in that span, estimating a team’s “true” strength by adjusting point differential for strength of schedule. Armed with those ratings, I went back and found the average SRS for each program over the past 31 seasons; this post is the first in a ranking of the top 31 programs by that average. The only rule for qualification: teams who didn’t play all 31 seasons in D-IA were not eligible (sorry, Miami, Missouri St., & Tulane). Other than that, it’s all about having the highest average SRS since 1980. To the rankings…

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What’s The Matter With Kansas?

In the midst of the current conference expansion insanity, we have a school that’s soon to not be aligned with any major conference. They are the 3rd-winningest program in their sport’s history. They’ve won 5 National Championships. Their first coach was the inventor of the sport itself.

So why doesn’t anyone want Kansas?

Yeah, yeah, I know, football is king. Football makes the most money, has the most support, and consequently dictates every decision made by the major conferences. But how insane is it that Kansas, arguably the most storied program in college basketball history, will be left out in the cold while Nebraska, an irrelevant basketball school for its entire history and barely an above-average football one over the past decade, gets to decide the fate of an entire conference? How does that make any sense?

Over at ESPN, Eamonn Brennan tackled the issue of Kansas’ inexplicable irrelevance in the conference shuffle:

“The Pac-10 doesn’t want Kansas. The Big Ten doesn’t seem wholly interested. The Jayhawks are, for the moment, on the outside of conference expansion looking in. Which says a lot more about conference expansion than it does the Kansas Jayhawks.

What it says is that college basketball doesn’t at all factor into what conference expansion will produce.”

What if the tables were turned? What if, say, Michigan was without an affiliation? Would other major conferences possibly be interested in adding them to their ranks?

Of course they would — they’d kill for Michigan. Because Michigan is the football equivalent of Kansas basketball. Another KU analogue, Notre Dame, has been fending off would-be conference suitors (in football, at least) for decades. That’s the reality of being a college football powerhouse. But when an elite basketball program becomes available, the only question is, “How’s their football team?”

Like Brennan wrote, basketball fans may understand this summer’s conference free-for-all on an intellectual level, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach when one of the prestige programs in the entire country, the place where Dr. James Naismith himself coached, finds itself on the outside looking in while historically lame basketball programs like Colorado and Nebraska dictate its future.

Changing the Culture II

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R’s brand-new College Hoops site. All of the data used here can be found at S-R/CBB, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

On Tuesday, I kicked off our CBB/BBR cross-posting series by looking at coaches who “changed the culture” of a program, guys whose winning percentages at a school far exceeded its mark before they arrived. The usual suspects were at the top of the list (John Wooden, Jim Calhoun, etc.), and so was John Calipari for his performance at UMass during the 90s. Trouble is, did Coach Cal really change the Minutemen forever? Or, as BBR reader “Downpuppy” put it:

“UMass is on the list twice, but both times the culture snapped back to mediocrity pretty quick.”

OK, so maybe a “culture change” has to extend beyond the coach’s actual tenure with the school, and also into the tenures of later coaches, who build on their successor’s changes to take the school to new heights. After all, it’s not really a true culture change if the program only loses the stench of mediocrity for 5 years while a coach uses the school as a stepping stone to his next gig.

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CBB: Changing the Culture

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R’s brand-new College Hoops site. All of the data used here can be found at S-R/CBB, so when you’re done reading, go over and check it out!

In the media, you often hear about certain players or coaches “changing the culture” of a program, ostensibly meaning they fostered a new atmosphere in the locker room, installed a new playing style, or gave their players newfound confidence in themselves. But has anyone measured which coaches “changed the culture” of a school’s hoops program the most?

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Top Schools by Win Shares: A Closer Look at #1-5

On Saturday, we started to take an in-depth look at the Top 10 NCAA programs by Wins Shares, examining schools #6-10. Today we’re going to finish up by talking about teams #1-5:

    +------------------------------------------+---------+
    | college_name                             | overall |
    +------------------------------------------+---------+
    | 1. University of North Carolina          |    83.0 |
    | 2. University of California, Los Angeles |    57.9 |
    | 3. Georgetown University                 |    51.0 |
    | 4. Duke University                       |    47.5 |
    | 5. Michigan State University             |    45.3 |
    +------------------------------------------+---------+

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