Evaluating Bruce Weber to Kansas State

Bruce Weber has been out of a job for 22 days. Jeff Goodman of CBS is reporting that his unemployed days are over, and he’ll be taking the reigns at Kansas State. Of course, the Wildcats have been all over the news of late due to Frank Martin bailing for the South Carolina job.

So, if you’re keeping score at home:

  • March 9, 2012: Bruce Weber fired from Illinois.
  • March 12, 2012: Darrin Horn fired from South Carolina.
  • March 26, 2012: Frank Martin leaves Kansas State for South Carolina.
  • March 31, 2012: Bruce Weber hired at Kansas State.

What does this mean for Kansas State and their fans?

I’ll leave the nitpicking and brow beating to the experts who claim to know if this is a good hire or not (and if you want to believe them, see Haith, Frank – 2011). What I’m interested in is the data.

Weber comes from the Gene Keady coaching tree, which includes some excellent coaches: Kevin Stallings, Steve Lavin, Matt Painter and Cuonzo Martin. Stallings is perhaps the most well known of the current coaches, and traditionally produces borderline elite teams. Weber once did the same, grabbing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2005.

Now, data. For starters, here’s the national offensive ranks for Bruce Weber and Frank Martin since 2003. Weber was at Southern Illinois in 2003, and then jumped to Illinois the following season.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 43 6 3 16 111 83 98 65 33 126
Martin 20 65 13 47 53

Bruce Weber had some great offenses early, though he was primarily dependent on the players which Bill Self recruited. Once he got his own players, his peak was 33rd. Martin’s average offense at K-State was 40th. This year was easily Weber’s worst. He had 7-0 Meyers Leonard who had a solid year. So did D.J. Richardson, but no one else did.

Stylistically, how are the two offenses different. As always, the first component to examine is tempo. Again, national ranking in tempo.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 143 273 251 278 301 312 270 144 180 204
Martin 31 88 47 100 114

At times Weber has run one of the slowest teams in college basketball, twice ranking over 300th (out of ~340 Division I teams). Only twice has he been faster than the NCAA average, and over his Illinois years he averaged 246th, which would have been next to last in the Big-12 this season.

Frank Martin began with an extremely uptempo team, and has gradually gotten a bit slower. Still, his teams were much less deliberate than Weber’s.

The tempo is driven by offensive philosophy. And with Weber and Martin there is a clear distinction. Weber looks for a good shot, but has everyone rotating back on defense as soon as that shot goes up. Martin, more of a gambler, doesn’t even really begin his offense until someone chucks something toward the rim. Here are the two coaches ranks in offensive rebounding.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 221 59 134 44 45 29 266 180 188 206
Martin 2 1 6 5 5

Incredibly, the worst offensive rebounding team Martin has had was 6th in the nation. None of his teams have failed to grab less than 40% of their own misses. Weber’s numbers have had some variation. When Shaun Pruitt was around, his teams did really well on the boards. But Shaun Pruitt was the best offensive rebounder in the Big Ten. Since he left, the best Illinois has ranked is 180th.

What about defense?

Here are the national ranks for Weber and Martin. K-State fans have grown accustomed to elite defenses.

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 102 35 11 21 3 21 4 49 21 38
Martin 23 42 17 31 21

Here, there doesn’t appear to be much cause for worry. Weber’s only defense which didn’t rank in the top-50 nationally came when he was at Southern Illinois. Once he got to a place with better players, his defenses have been very very good. In the five years Weber’s defenses have an average rank of 27th. Martin? 27th.

But defenses aren’t created the same. How do the coaches accomplish their rankings?

Martin’s is a pressure defense, which relies on taking away the 2s and forcing turnovers. Weber’s teams also take away the 2s (all good defenses do), but what about the pressure?

National ranks for forcing turnovers:

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 65 150 96 135 74 237 115 300 265 161
Martin 91 18 24 60 27

This is where the differing philosphies really show. Bruce Weber doesn’t rely on intense pressure, but rather spacing and fundamental defense. And while the two coaches arrive at the same place, the game on the floor looks much different. Because of their philospophies, there is a great disparity in how much the other team is going to spend on the line. Here are their national ranks in defensive free throw rate:

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Weber 181 145 50 192 122 184 12 61 69 174
Martin 204 333 314 299 278

Martin’s teams are typically among the worst. Weber’s range from elite to average. Either way, Wildcats fans shouldn’t be worried about the defense.

But what about the offense? Should they be worried that Weber’s best offenses came several years ago? Yes, they should. But Martin’s weren’t exactly killing the Big 12. Are the instant reactions accurate? Who knows? Personally, I don’t think this is a downgrade. Nor do I think it’s an upgrade. It’s just one solid coach being replaced by another solid coach.