Monday, February 24, 2014

SEC Update

Tennessee lost at Texas A & M,  LSU lost at Kentucky, Missouri lost at Alabama, and Ole Miss lost (at home) to Florida.  With only four games left in the season, it's not clear whether any SEC team other than Florida or Kentucky will make the NCAA Tournament.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that all the programs are in terrible shape.  Let's review how everyone's doing:

Alabama:  Anthony Grant took over the Alabama program after the 2009 season.  The year before he arrived, Alabama went 18-14 and was number 96 in the nation, according to Ken Pomeroy.  Here's what they've done since:

2010:  17-15 (62d in the nation)
2011:  25-12 (47th in the nation) (NIT)
2012:  21-12 (27th in the nation) (1st round of NCAA's)
2013:  23-13 (60th in the nation) (NIT)
2014:  11-16 (108th in the nation)

Up to this year, Grant had solid defensive teams that were almost unbeatable at home but couldn't score enough points to be a national threat.  But this year, Alabama's defense has been mediocre, and they have struggled.

Arkansas:  I thought Mike Anderson was a great hire for Arkansas, who took over after 2011, when the Razorbacks were 18-13 and ranked 111th.  Here's what Anderson has done:

2012:  18-14 (132d in the nation)
2013:  19-13 (79th in the nation)
2014:  18-9 (53d in the nation)

Arkansas has shown steady improvement under Anderson so far, and Arkansas fans should be hopeful.

Auburn:  This is Tony Barbee's fourth season.  His last three years, the Tigers finished 226th, 144th, and 207th.  This year they're ranked 121 -- which is the best ranking yet, but still not close to NCAA material

Florida:  One of the top programs in the nation, with a Hall of Fame coach.  No problems here.

Georgia:  The Bulldogs are 3d in the Conference with a record of 9-5, but are only 15-11 overall.  Coach Mark Fox entered the league the same year as Anthony Grant and has been less successful:

2010:  14-17 (84th in the nation)
2011:  21-12 (59th in the nation) (first round of the NCAA's)
2012:  15-17 (108th in the nation)
2013:  15-17 (103d in the nation)
2014:  15-11 (90th in the nation)

Because the Dawgs have won so many close games, Fox may be able to convince UGA fans that he has the team on the right track.  But Ken Pom's numbers show very little improvement.

Kentucky:  I'm very happy with Coach Cal.

Louisiana St:  Johnny Jones came to LSU after a long career at North Texas.  So far, he has the Tigers going in the right direction:

2013:  19-12 (100th in the nation)
2014:  16-10 (67th in the nation)

And they looked awfully good on Saturday.

Mississippi:  Andy Kennedy has been at Ole Miss since the 2006-07 season, and his teams have been pretty consistent.  He wins about 20 games almost every season, but he has only been to the NCAA's once.  That was last year, and his team stunned Wisconsin and then lost to LaSalle.  This year the Rebs are ranked 82d in the country, and they've lost four straight.  Kennedy has pulled Ole Miss out of its traditional spot near the bottom of the league, but it's not clear he can do much more than that.

Mississippi St:  From 2003 to 2009, Rick Stansbury took MSU to the NCAA's five times.  He didn't make it in 2010, 2011, or 2012, and was let go.  His last MSU team went 21-12 and was ranked 87th in the country.  Here's what has happened under his replacement, Rick Ray:

2013:  10-22 (250th in the nation)
2014:  13-14 (222d in the nation)

These are not encouraging numbers for Bulldog fans.

Missouri:  In seven seasons at Miami of Florida, Frank Haith's teams made one trip to the NCAA Tournament.  His record was very similar to Andy Kennedy's at Ole Miss, with lots of pretty good teams that didn't quite make the Big Dance.  But then Mike Anderson left Mizzou and Haith took his place before the 2012 season.  Inheriting a team that had been to the NCAA's in 2011, Haith went 30-5 in 2012, winning Missouri's last Big XII tournament and earning a number 2 seed.  The Tigers were then stunned by Norfolk State in the first round of the NCAA's.  Since then, the trends have not been great.  Here are Haith's three years at Mizzou:

2012:  30-5 (8th in the nation)
2013:  23-11 (31st in the nation)
2014:  19-8 (54th in the nation)

If I were a Tiger fan, I would be concerned.

S. Carolina:  I was impressed with South Carolina's decision to hire Frank Martin away from Kansas State a few years ago.  Most SEC teams get their coaches from schools like Nevada or North Texas; it was interesting to see a school spend the money to bring in a guy who had four NCAA appearances in five years at a Big XII school.  So far, I'm sure, Gamecock fans have been disappointed in the results:

2013:  14-18 (210th in the nation)
2014:  10-17 (147th in the nation)

But I would point out that South Carolina has jumped 63 points in the rankings since last year.  So I really think we have to wait at least one more year to judge Frank Martin's performance.

Tennessee:  This could be a breakthrough year for Cuonzo Martin.  Look at what the Vols have done in this three seasons so far:

2012:  19-15 (58th in the nation)
2013:  20-13 (75th in the nation)
2014:  16-11 (26th in the nation)

That's right -- Ken Pomeroy thinks UT is the 26th best team in the nation.  And that's not unreasonable.  Tennessee beat Xavier 64-49.  They beat Virginia 87-52.  They beat LSU 68-50 in Baton Rouge.  They beat Georgia 67-48.  They gave Florida a better game in Knoxville than UK did in Lexington.  They can be really good.  But they have a LOT of close games.  They were beaten twice by Texas A & M -- once by one point, and once in overtime.  They lost by four points at Vandy.  They lost by five points at Missouri.  And those losses are killing them.  However, they four winnable games left:  at MSU, home to Vandy, at Auburn, and home to Missouri.  If they win all four, they will probably go to the NCAA's.  If not, the calls for bringing back Bruce Pearl will grow.  I think the Vols will win all four of those games -- but I thought they'd beat A & M on Saturday.

Texas A & M:  The Aggies are coached by Billy Kennedy, who took Murray State to the 2010 NCAA Tournament -- where the Racers upset Vanderbilt and lost to Butler by only two points.  However, that was Kennedy's only NCAA appearance in five years at Murray, and he has yet to crack the top 100 at College Station:

2012:  14-18 (119th in the nation)
2013:  18-15 (105th in the nation)
2014:  16-11 (128th in the nation)

Vanderbilt:  Kevin Stallings has been at Vandy since 1999-2000 -- among SEC coaches, only Billy Donovan has spent more time in his current job.  His record is 292-187, and he's taken the Dores to the NCAA's on six different occasions.  Stallings has done a fine job, but I'm afraid his chance at glory has already passed.  From 2010 to 2012, Stallings had really good teams -- they got a 4 seed and two 5 seeds in the NCAA's, and the 2012 team won the SEC Tournament.  But here's what they did in the NCAA's:

2010 first round:  Murray St. 66, Vanderbilt 65
2011 first round:  Richmond 69, Vanderbilt 66
2012:  Vandy beat Harvard in the first round, but then lost to Wisconsin 60-57 in the second round.

Three seasons, three good teams, three heart-breaking defeats.  My guess is that Stallings will not be able to build another team as good as those three.  But I'm sure Vandy will let him keep trying for now.

Here are the current standings.  Note the seven-way tie for fourth place:

4.  Florida:  14-0
16.  Kentucky:  11-3
90.  Georgia:  9-5
26.  Tennessee:  7-7
53.  Arkansas:  7-7
54.  Missouri:  7-7
67.  Louisiana St:  7-7
82.  Mississippi:  7-7
93.  Vanderbilt:  7-7
128.  Texas A & M:  7-7
108.  Alabama:  5-9
121.  Auburn:  4-10
147.  S. Carolina:  3-11
222.  Mississippi St:  3-11

No comments:

Post a Comment