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Monday News and Notes: More Coaches Rankings, John Calipari's Recruiting Strategies, and More

Our friend at the ACC & SEC Blog have another SEC coaches ranking up. However, his ranking isn't the typical subjective stuff you see on most blogs (GABA included). He has ranked coaches on a set of relatively objective criteria; as he says,

To rank the SEC coaches, I used four major criteria: record, championships, recruiting, and "what have you done for me lately"

His results spreadsheet can be found here. He has Steve Spurrier at fifth, which sounds more or less right to me. Spurrier's record at Florida pulled him up the list a bit. Personally, I'd probably have Spurrier slightly lower--behind Bobby Petrino and Houston Nutt--as I would put greater emphasis on the "what have you done for me lately" criterion, a category Spurrier ranks very low on. To put Spurrier's performance at South Carolina in perspective, ACC & SEC Blog has him as the third lowest performer in recent years, slightly ahead of Bobby Johnson and Rich Brooks. That's right, folks: we're just a bit better than Vanderbilt and Kentucky. (To be fair, MIssissippi State wasn't listed because their coach is new; we would have also finished ahead of the Bulldogs. We also would have finished ahead of Ed Orgeron if he was still in Oxford.) Which is exactly where we were before Spurrier got here. I don't mean to be negative here, but the compelling thing about this ranking is that it shows where we are in relation to the SEC in a relatively objective fashion. I guess we can hope things will change this year.

A Sea of Blue has an interesting column up on how John Calipari's dribble-drive motion offense helps Calipari's recruiting. The argument goes like this. The dribble-drive is an offense--similar in philosophy to the spread in football--spaces defensive players by getting the offensive players without the ball out on the wings, puts the ball in the hands of the most talented player, and asks that player to create in a situation where driving and passing lanes are spaced. The player with the ball first tries to beat his defender for a lay-in, but if that doesn't work he has lots of other improvisational options, such as dishing out to a sharpshooter on the perimeter, getting the ball to a cutting post player for a lay-in on the block, setting up a pick-and-roll, etc. The offense isn't the most complex around, but if a team has an extremely talented player that can score and create for other players it can work very well by maximizing that great player's impact. Calipari's Memphis team with Derrick Rose would be a great example, as would be the numerous NBA teams that focus their offenses around stars like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. As Tru claims, the offense has served as a recruiting tool for Calipari because the most talented players in the nation want to play in an offense that allows them to showcase their superior talents. Who wouldn't want to play in an offense that gives you the chance to score 30 and get 7-10 assists every night?

Now, before you simply throw in the towel and proclaim the 'Cats return to dominance (not an unreasonable assumption at this point, in my estimation), keep in mind that we have a coach that, at least this past year, did something very similar with Devan Downey. Whether this is Horn's preffered offensive strategy or not I'm unsure of; certainly, part of the reason he used the offense is because we have one player that is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of offensive talent. Other, more traditional offensive sets that favor team motion, cutting patterns, and getting the ball to the post would work better for some lineups. However, it's worth wondering if Horn can capitlize on his success with Downey and recruit more players like him. Of course, it won't be easy to match Cal's success: Calipari has a history of Final Fours, great recruiting, and is now the coach at one of college basketball's most storied programs. But I don't think it's impossible to recruit to Columbia, and this might be one way to do it.

Check back to GABA later this week. I should have a post-spring preview for NC State up (first in a series of such previews), and I know we're all hungry for football at this point. Only three more months...