50 in 50 is a feature here at RCT counting down until the Jayhawks kick off the 2011 basketball season on November first. Got an idea for something you'd like to see featured here? tweet @rockchalktalk or @fetch9 or email me at fetch9 at gmail dot com.
The Big 12 will have four first year coaches this year: Lon Kruger at Oklahoma, Frank Haith at Missouri, Billy Gillispie at Texas Tech and Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M (note: Kennedy unfortunately is taking some time away for medical leave, and the Aggies will be coached by Glynn Cyprien while he is away).
With such a high rate of turnover this year, I wanted to look at how coaches coming into the Big 12 have fared in their first year, partly to see what we can expect from our biggest rivals and partly to see what to expect from A&M in an effort to understand why everyone is so excited about them this year.
First, a simple chart: I took the conference and overall winning percentages of every first year coach in the Big 12 since 2003:
If you don't want to click to enlarge that, just note that the average overall winning percentage for a first year Big 12 coach was .577 and the average conference winning percentage was just .446. And obviously only one of those teams won the league.
Because this covers a wide range of situations and amounts of talent, this table doesn't really tell us much. Lon Kruger is going to have much less talent than Jeff Capel had when he took over.
So how can we determine how these guys will do? Let's look at a couple more tables:
College Basketball Reference looked for a formula to quantify just how much regression impacts a program (and a coach) from year to year, and came up with this:
Expected Win% = .235 + .552*Previous season win%
It's a bit dangerous to do this on a one year sample, and say "because KU won 92% of its games last year it should win 74% of its games this year" and leave it at that. Because year to year samples can't really take into account that KU lost two lottery picks, a 2nd round pick, and two extremely valuable role players. But over time it can show you just how awesome Bill Self has been (which we'll look at later)
Let's take a look at how each of these programs have staved off regression in conference over the past 7 years (warning: lots of tables ahead. If you want to skip to the end for the good stuff that's fine)
So, on aggregate, Texas A&M has been the best of the group in terms of staving off regression, or punching above their weight to look at it a different way. Part of that is that Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon are pretty good coaches, but as a whole I think the Aggies have had the most talent of these teams overall, as Oklahoma was great with Blake Griffin, but haven't had a ton of talent otherwise. Missouri has had some good recruiting classes but really only one year where they put it all together (of course, doesn't that go more to Mike Anderson? I'm not sure).
In any event, if we go by this formula, here is what each of the four teams should put up in terms of conference records:
Texas Tech: 7-11
Texas A&M: 10-8
Judging by the tables above, I wouldn't expect any of these teams to deviate a great deal from their expected records based on stats alone, as they were good for at most .4 of a win or so difference per year. Obviously given that the league is supposed to be bad you can maybe adjust so that A&M and MIssouri get a couple more wins at the expense of Tech and OU.
However, the main takeaway (for me, anyways) from this is everyone should slow their roll before anointing Texas A&M Big 12 favorites. They have quite a bit of talent, but the track record of first year coaches (and by the way, Billy Kennedy isn't exactly a dynamite coach) plus simple regression points to the Aggies being towards the middle of the pack, rather than among the conference's and country's elite.