Monday, November 5, 2012

Basketball Times Mean to Calipari; Drops Hammer on Kevin Ollie, UConn

Every five years, the Basketball Times evaluates those college basketball programs and coaches that have won two-thirds of their games over that span. The schools are ranked on winning percentage, NBA players, graduation rate, academic reputation (according to US News and World Report) and a vote of panelists assessing program cleanliness.

The 2012 release is out, and in the midst of some heavy hitters are some surprising mid- and low-majors.

The winner probably won't surprise you, but I guarantee there's one top-five school that will draw a response along the lines of "WTF?" More after the jump.

Since you asked, Duke wins for the third straight time. UNC, Gonzaga, Davidson (!) and Wisconsin round out the top five, with Butler and Michigan State panting at their heels.

Among the other highlights:
  • A partial list of schools ranked ahead of Kentucky (remember them? Your defending national champions?) in the overall chart: Gonzaga, Davidson, Creighton, Belmont, Utah State, and Saint Mary's.
  • Your bottom three coaches among the 33 programs meeting the .667 win % criterion are Kevin Ollie of UConn (understandable, he's yet to coach a game), Memphis's Josh Pastner (still considered to be cruising on Calipari's leftovers, or what?) and Xavier's Chris Mack (getting altogether too much grief for the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl). Interestingly, the piece tells us that Jim Calhoun was going to be ranked last before Ollie took over, giving us an indication of just how disliked Calhoun is among some pockets of basketball writers.
  • The top five (or six) among the elite coaches: Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Brad Stevens, Bo Ryan and a tie between Roy Williams (no surprise) and Davidson's Bob McKillop (Eh?) Nothing against McKillop, but he's not exactly rated nationwide as the kind of boss that Izzo, Coach K and Ol' Roy are. In case you're wondering, Calipari ranks 25th, just behind Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor. Cue the rabid foaming from Big Blue Nation.
  • Butler, Davidson and Duke are listed as the three cleanest programs, with this group of writers obviously not caring to look into where Lance Thomas's bling money comes from. Three dirtiest: Memphis, Kentucky and UConn, with one writer saying of UConn, “it was heartbreaking to see this program win a national title in 2011. From academic failure to rules violations to a long list of players with criminal behavior. The sleaziest major college program in the country.” (Damn! Shots fired!) Basketball Times writer Jack Styczynski takes pains to point out that Kentucky's low finish in cleanliness is not a mere slap at Calipari, as UK finished in the bottom five in 2007 and 2002 as well.
  • The only schools to have qualified for the rankings all four times they've been compiled (in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012) are Arizona, UConn, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Murray State (!), North Carolina, Syracuse and Xavier.
  • Belmont, Kent State, Murray State, Utah State and Vermont were the only qualifiers to not produce any current NBA players. No points for guessing who's churned out the most, but the top four are all in different shades of blue.
  • Good education is certainly on offer in the state of North Carolina, with Duke, UNC and Davidson sitting atop the USNWR academic reputation chart. In Nevada, not so much, with UNLV and Nevada joining Memphis in the bottom three. Do the Nevada schools only offer Bachelors in Craps Science and Prostitute Management (aka Big Pimpin' 101), or what?
  • Graduation was not much of a priority at UConn or Florida in the classes entering from 2002 to 2005. Florida graduated 6% of its players entering at that time within six years, while the Huskies apparently didn't graduate a single damn one. Third worst? Ohio State at a still-bad-but-not-THAT-bad 29%. Hell, even UK graduated 54%, although look for that mark to take a serious dip in 2017, when some of Calipari's recruiting classes begin to count. FYI, Belmont, Davidson and Utah State graduated everybody within six years.
For me, the strangest takeaway from the entire project was the absolute lovefest for Davidson. The academic categories carried the Wildcats, as the only player Joe Couchdivot can name is Steph Curry. As long as McKillop can keep attracting solid team players (and continue to own a Charleston-less SoCon), look for Davidson to keep standing on the shoulders of giants.

And look for Kentucky fans to point to the banners and hock a big blue loogie all over these rankings and any of their ilk.

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