A lot of head coaches were in new places for a lot of reasons for the 2012-2013 season. In fact, 47 D-I teams were helmed by a new coach to start the season, and I thought a comprehensive check-in was due.
There's no hard-and-fast method for assessing the job that a new coach is doing. The challenges each face are just so very different. Some, like John Groce and Donnie Tyndall, are climbing the head coaching ranks, some, like Danny Manning, Jay Spoonhor and 29-year-old Bashir Mason, are getting their first go as a head coach, and still others, like Larry Brown, are just out of no where. Some, like Tommy Dempsey and Joseph Price, are trying to rebuild programs from the very bottom, while others, like Kevin Ollie and Jim Christian, are trying to maintain the momentum of those that they replaced. Some come in with no talent waiting, while others come in with a corpse of experienced leaders ready to hit the pine.
That said, I wanted to get a look at the range of progress that the 47 teams with new coaches are facing. A look at wins and losses alone, nor conference standing seemed suitable, so I turned to Ken Pomeroy's rankings. I collected the final rankings of those 47 teams that changed coaches this season and compared them to their current ranking today (Feb. 22, 2013). I found the difference between those rankings and ranked every team accordingly.
Based on that data alone, here are the five new head coaches that have the most improved teams season-to-season. The full dataset follows.
Jim Baron (Canisius) Baron, formerly the head coach at Rhode Island, has turned a former five-win team that was picked to finish ninth this season in the MAAC into the third-place team with junior guard Billy Baron (Jim's son) leading the charge. The Golden Griffs have already won more games this season (17) than they did in any of the previous 11. They've beaten Iona, Temple and St. Bonaventure along the way.
Mike Davis (Texas Southern) The Tigers lost 13 of their first 14 games, but have gone on to win 12 of their last 13 under Davis, who came to Texas Southern from UAB. He was hired on an interim basis, but I suspect he may be asked to return. Only a half game separates TSU and first-place Southern in the SWAC.
Dave Pilipovich (Air Force) Pilipovich actually picked up his current job title a little over a year ago, when Jeff Reynolds was let go after more than four seasons as head coach, but ended up losing a bunch of games to finish out their year. Now things are looking way up for the veteran assistant. The Falcons, which were picked to finish last in the ultra-tough MWC, already are one win away from matching their highest win total over the past six seasons and are ranked 80th on Pomeroy's list thanks to their top-25 offense. They are 6-6 in MWC and rank fifth.
Larry Eustachy (Colorado State) Speaking of the MWC, Eustachy, the former head coach at Southern Mississippi is just smashing expectations. The Rams are ranked in both the AP and the coaches poll for the first time since 1954. They're No. 15 on Pomeroy's charts and have already won 21 games after Tim Miles' former team setup Eustachy for success. CSU is one game behind New Mexico in the MWC rankings.
Jamion Christian (Mount St. Mary's) Christian is resurrecting a Mount St. Mary's team that he previously led on the court as a captain. The Knights won a combined 19 games over the past two seasons under Robert Burke, but currently stand at 13-13 having won six of their last seven un Christian, a former assistant under Shaka Smart at VCU. MSM was picked ninth in the NEC preseason poll but currently are sixth at 8-7.
Some other notes:
- 21 of the 47 teams with new coaches have moved up in the Pomeroy rankings since last season ended, but on average these teams fell 3.4 spots.
- Jim Christian has exactly maintained Ohio's No. 62 ranking, so there's that.
- Rick Ray, Trent Johnson and Jim Ferry have the distinction of leading the programs that have taken the most dramatic tumbles in the rankings.
|Rank||Team||Coach||2011-2012||2012-2013||2012 Final||Current (2/22/2013)||Change|
|2||Texas Southern||Mike Davis||15-18||13-14||287||160||127|
|3||Air Force||Dave Pilipovich||13-16||15-10||195||80||115|
|4||Colorado State||Larry Eustachy||20-12||21-5||96||15||81|
|5||Mount St. Mary's||Jamion Christian||8-21||13-13||294||232||62|
|7||North Carolina A&T||Cy Alexander||12-20||13-14||299||246||53|
|8||Northern Arizona||Jack Murphy||5-24||10-16||341||299||42|
|10||Southern Illinois||Barry Hinson||8-23||11-16||230||192||38|
|11||Florida International||Richard Pitino||8-21||15-12||231||195||36|
|12||Rhode Island||Dan Hurley||7-24||8-17||202||169||33|
|14||Southern Mississippi||Donnie Tyndall||25-9||21-6||75||54||21|
|15||Central Michigan||Keno Davis||11-21||9-16||270||252||18|
|16||Illinois State||Dan Muller||21-14||16-12||81||67||14|
|18||Eastern Illinois||Jay Spoonhour||12-17||8-20||302||290||12|
|19||College of Charleston||Doug Wojcik||19-12||20-8||161||151||10|
|24||Grambling State||Joseph Price||4-24||0-23||345||347||-2|
|47||Tennessee State||Travis Williams||20-13||9-20||167||176||-9|
|29||Kansas State||Bruce Weber||22-11||21-5||25||35||-10|
|30||Idaho State||Bill Evans||9-21||5-20||304||321||-17|
|31||Western Kentucky||Ray Harper||16-19||14-14||184||202||-18|
|32||St. Francis (Pa.)||Rob Krimmel||6-23||4-22||307||327||-20|
|34||Morehead State||Sean Woods||18-15||13-15||189||224||-35|
|35||South Carolina||Frank Martin||10-21||13-13||155||198||-43|
|37||Miami (Ohio)||John Cooper||9-21||8-16||196||249||-53|
|38||Southern Utah||Nick Robinson||14-17||10-15||237||293||-56|
|39||Virginia Tech||James Johnson||16-17||11-15||90||162||-72|
|40||Mississippi Valley State||Chico Potts||21-13||4-21||257||338||-81|
|42||North Texas||Tony Benford||18-14||11-18||159||245||-86|
|46||Mississippi State||Rick Ray||21-12||7-18||89||237||-148|