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Username Post: Fans, coaches and teams        (Topic#21279)
Dr. V 
PhD Student
Posts: 1401

Reg: 11-21-04
03-05-18 04:21 PM - Post#250942    

A coach is the most publicly visible representative of a team's performance and fortunes, and there are very few occupations in which a person's daily choices and decisions are as open to review, analysis and criticism as that of a coach. It is, thus, unsurprising that we fans tend to focus our frustrations on him/her when we're unhappy with how a season or even a single game may have turned out. But even though we often operate with fairly superficial information and limited knowledge, that doesn't stop us from leaping to all kinds of generalizations and conclusions about a coach's abilities or likelihood of success. And often those generalizations and conclusions are based on the unstated assumption that a coach is a puppeteer who, if only he really knew what he/she was doing, would have pulled the right strings to achieve success.

The other team for which I root and the other league that I follow are Michigan and the Big Ten. There were two examples from the Big Ten that are strongly suggestive of what actually influences success and failure. Last year Ohio St.'s coach half retired because of a health issue and was half pushed out. The team's record last year was 18-15 and OSU was not happy. This year the team improved significantly to 24-8 and was in first place in the league for much of the season. So the new coach was a genius, or at least better than the old coach, right? Not quite. OSU this year was led by a junior who was the Big Ten POY. He had missed all of last year with an injury.

Nebraska has had the same coach for 6 years. Last year the team won 12 games. This year it won 22! So the coach must have gotten much smarter over the summer, right? I presume that coaches, like any of us, learn things each year that we do something, but it's much more likely that the 10-game improvement had something to do with Nebraska getting two very good transfers, one of whom made first team all Big Ten.

So what happened with us and where are we? I believe that the most important factor in our case was bad luck with injuries and illnesses, but there was also one quite unexpected regression. We missed Kyle Castlin for half a season, and he didn't round into full playing shape until the end of the season. That was a huge loss b/c he was a senior, a good defender and a good rebounder. We lost Meisner for a while, earlier with an injury and then in the next to last game with the flu. We lost Killingsworth, who had started 14 games as a first year, for the entire season with some physical issue. And we lost C.J. Davis for the entire year also with some physical issue. What stood out for me was that both Killingsworth and Davis had positive assist/TO rates last year: Killingsworth had 26 assists to 16 TOs and Davis had 34 assists to 24 TOs. They also had pretty decent FG %s: Killingsworth shot 398% and Davis shot 444%.

On the team that we did have left we had a PG who at times could do wonderful things but whose 3 point % dropped significantly from 382% to this year's 308%. This may have been due to his simply having had to do more, but whatever the reason, that was not an insignificant drop. And as various posters have noted during the season, the fact that both our 1 and our 2 were undersized was a liability, probably more on D than on O, but probably also on O. Smith is listed as 5'11" and Adlesh as 6'.

Aside from the injuries/illnesses referred to above, there were two unexpected developments from last year. One player improved notably and one regressed. Adlesh significantly improved his game overall and in particular his shooting. He put more arc on his jumper and raised his % from 402% to 442%, which is a very large jump, particularly since after the season got going it became clear to opponents that he was our top sharpshooter. The other surprise was Hickman. We needed him on the court because he has some size at 6'4" and often because he was the only guard on the court for us who could defend at least some of the bigger wings that our opponents had when we were playing our smaller guards and who also had the size and strength to drive to the basket and pick up some FTs. But, for whatever mysterious reason, his shooting % took a dive from last year's 398% to this year's 367%, and, perhaps even more perplexing, his three point % dropped from last year's 355% to this year's 295%. And, his assist to TO ratio was not helpful at 38 assists to 43 TOs. That's a very tough ratio for a guard, and even more so for a senior guard.

Our two 5s, Tape and Faulds, were basically playing for the first year, Faulds is literally a first year and this was Tape's first year of any significantly playing time as a second year. We missed not having wings with size who could shoot from beyond the arc. We were not deep to begin with, and then we had the injuries discussed, so we really missed Killingsworth's and Castlin's offense. Some of other players simply didn't demonstrate that they could generate any offense at all. We started the season with a murderous away schedule, part of which was due to past years' home and home agreements.

None of this is to suggest that we couldn't or shouldn't have performed better in some games, but as to the question whether we had quite a bit of talent and underperformed or whether we were quite thin and over performed so as to be close in many or most games, and to win a few against teams with more talent, I am in the latter camp.


 
Columbia Alum 
Junior
Posts: 247

Age: 32
Reg: 11-15-11
03-05-18 05:29 PM - Post#250966    
    In response to Dr. V

This is sugar coated and looking at the season through optimistic goggles. The injuries, I agree, are beyond our control, but the lack of (or very slow) player development is beyond question. Importantly the whole league was terrible this year, the bar to be top 4 was so low! We had our best players healthy for the vast majority of the ivy schedule, our defense was appalling. Yale lost Mason AND Bruner, you would have expected them to go 5-9 but Joe Jones got them firmly in 3rd place and with a reasonable shot at the NCAA. Whatever our bad luck this season, we didn't hold a candle to Yale. Harvard lost Siyani and Aiken and still dominated. This should be our coaching standard, not weak excuses for below average play. My outlook would be the same had we just made the ivy tournament. This was a good year for us to be 10-4 or 9-5 not 5-9 or 6-8.

I'm personally not sure if Engles deserves another year, but the ice should be thin in this fan's book. Columbia is a top university in a flourishing New York City, we should be a basketball Mecca for student athletes who also care about academics, not some bottom half D1 conveyor belt.

 
Chet Forte 
Postdoc
Posts: 2038

Reg: 03-02-08
03-05-18 06:11 PM - Post#250978    
    In response to Columbia Alum

A coach is not just the visible representative: he is the engine, the inspiration, the leader. Al Bagnoli took a program in receivership and turned it into a top team. It is all about coaching in this league, not just in terms of Xs and Os, but in terms of recruiting, inspiring players, improving existing players, and demonstrating passion. What I saw this year was a meltdown: 0 road wins, and let me repeat that, 0 road wins. What I did not see was significant improvement either in the team as a whole or in individual players as the season progressed. In fact, the Dartmouth game showed me the opposite.


 
Columbia 37P6 
PhD Student
Posts: 1561

Reg: 02-14-06
03-05-18 08:30 PM - Post#250997    
    In response to Chet Forte

The city of Columbus, Ohio is virtually my second home so I can reply to Dr. V in both good conscience and fact that his well-intentioned, but faulted apology would fall on deaf ears among Buckeye supporters. There is no way Coach Engles would survive the blistering criticism that is given out regularly at the weekday luncheons in Columbus that are attended by many Ohio State sports fans. Criticism of basketball and football coaches at Oho State and other Big Ten schools resembles a torrential rain storm and not the light sprinkle of a few genteel Ivy League fans. Engles has had a two-year honeymoon at Columbia which some have suggested is the norm for new coaches in the Ivy League. Engles is Columbia's coach, so we wish him well, but there is no way that he would still be on a honeymoon if he was coaching at Ohio State or any other Big Ten school.

 
SomeGuy 
Postdoc
Posts: 4605

Reg: 11-22-04
03-05-18 08:36 PM - Post#251000    
    In response to Chet Forte

My outsider’s view is that Columbia about hit my expectations, playing around 230 in Pomeroy. Losing your best player, treading water from 2017 seemed a reasonable expectation.

I get where the prior poster is coming from talking about the down year for the league, etc. One odd thing about the league this year is that I assume Penn and Harvard outplayed their ratings by a decent amount — with everybody bunched more in Pomeroy, it seems like there could have been more parity. Instead we got two 12-2 teams.

 
Murph 
Masters Student
Posts: 613

Age: 58
Reg: 09-13-11
Fans, coaches and teams
03-05-18 08:55 PM - Post#251003    
    In response to SomeGuy

Even Bagnoli went 2-8 and 3-7 in his first two years as Columbia’s Head Coach.

And Smith finished 5th and 6th in the Ivies in his first two years, about the same as Engles.

IMO, Engles should be given at least enough time for his first recruiting class (Faulds, Stefinini and Bibbs) to mature.

 
JadwinGeorge 
Junior
Posts: 274

Age: 70
Reg: 12-04-15
Re: Fans, coaches and teams
03-05-18 09:17 PM - Post#251007    
    In response to Dr. V

Wow...who wants to read 1000 words about Columbia basketball? A little full of yourself?

 
roarlionroar 
Freshman
Posts: 52

Age: 22
Reg: 02-05-14
03-05-18 10:30 PM - Post#251014    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

Don't believe your team has a game this coming weekend, which saves all the time in the world for you to get through each one of those thousand words.

 
cc66 
PhD Student
Posts: 1631

Reg: 10-09-09
Re: Fans, coaches and teams
03-05-18 11:22 PM - Post#251016    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

Clueless Princeton fan comes on Columbia site to complain that he's reading too many words about Columbia basketball???

Fortunately, we have a remedy for that. I'd direct you to the Princeton site, nearby on this very same board.





 
Chet Forte 
Postdoc
Posts: 2038

Reg: 03-02-08
03-06-18 07:29 AM - Post#251026    
    In response to cc66

The Bagnoli comparison is way off base. Al inherited a program that was at death’s door. Engles inherited a program that had just won 27 games. Al had a team in year one which improved from week to week, beat Yale on the road, and was competitive from the start. Al’s second year was marked by what was the best freshman class in the Ivies, some fantastic games against stronger teams, another road win, and improvement from week to week. Al was and is friendly to the fan base, is passionate on the sidelines, and has players who will run through a wall for him. And finally, Al has a fantastic, and I mean fantastic, group of assistants.


 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 18824

Reg: 11-21-04
03-06-18 10:03 AM - Post#251035    
    In response to Chet Forte

"The Bagnoli comparison is way off base. Al inherited a program that was at death’s door. Engles inherited a program that had just won 27 games."

Actually, it's a very good comparison. Engles inherited a team that won 25 (not 27) games, true, but it had lost Lo, Mullins and Rosenberg, who as seniors accounted for 54 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists a game. Wonder why Smith actually left? He left almost nothing behind that would be competitive for a few years. So Engles was inheriting not a 25 win team, but one that had to be completely rebuilt, like Bagnoli. And Al took 3 seasons to get to a point where he had a winning record (and remember, he won 4 games at the end, so even there he did a really good job to get to that record).

You have to give Engles a chance. This isn't Ohio State, and despite the rhetoric of being in New York, Columbia has done a lot more losing than winning in the last 40 years. It takes time to recruit to compete and he did not inherit a winning roster.

 
Chet Forte 
Postdoc
Posts: 2038

Reg: 03-02-08
03-06-18 11:18 AM - Post#251046    
    In response to palestra38

This is rich. A Penn guy wanting to give Engles a chance. And I wanted to give Jerome Allen a chance. I wanted him to be Penn’s coach for life. As far as Al, our football program wasn’t just bad. It was not even close to competitive.


 
palestra38 
Professor
Posts: 18824

Reg: 11-21-04
03-06-18 11:25 AM - Post#251047    
    In response to Chet Forte

Jerome wasn't qualified to be hired in the first place....and he got 5 years.

But lacking an argument, why don't you criticize a "Penn Guy" for posting on this board (my law degree from CU should grant me the necessary ticket to do that anyway, if not the regular midcourt Levien game I played for 3 years).

 
Murph 
Masters Student
Posts: 613

Age: 58
Reg: 09-13-11
Fans, coaches and teams
03-06-18 01:07 PM - Post#251067    
    In response to Chet Forte

And not only did Smith finish 5th and 6th in the IL in his first two seasons as Columbia's Head Coach, which is exactly where Engles finished, in his third year at CU, Smith finished last in the league.

In fact, Smith only finished as high as 3rd in the IL once, his last year of coaching. That's a pretty low bar.

 
cc66 
PhD Student
Posts: 1631

Reg: 10-09-09
03-06-18 05:21 PM - Post#251112    
    In response to Murph

Per P38, the analogy to Bagnoli is actually quite accurate. After the graduation of Lo, Mullins, and Rosenberg in the CIT tournament victory, Petrasek was really the only remaining player whose game had matured. Once he left, all we have is a lot of young, but as yet unrealized, potential.

That said, I must say I was disappointed by the lack of player development this year and somewhat bewildered by Engles' manner and affect. Although Steffanini certainly progressed, the list of players who didn't includes Tape, Faulds, Bibbs, and most surprisingly for a senior, Hickman. When players don't develop, one naturally looks to the coach, and here Engles is a puzzle. Maybe it is his conception of himself as a soft-spoken teacher or just a preternatural calm, but I don't get much sense of a emotional connection. Do the players like him? Is what I see somehow connected to a failure to mentor and the players' slow development? I don't know, but I do wonder.



 
JadwinGeorge 
Junior
Posts: 274

Age: 70
Reg: 12-04-15
03-06-18 09:45 PM - Post#251149    
    In response to cc66

#%$@ you, Steve Honzo!

 
Murph 
Masters Student
Posts: 613

Age: 58
Reg: 09-13-11
Re: Fans, coaches and teams
03-06-18 09:51 PM - Post#251152    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

  • JadwinGeorge Said:
Wow...who wants to read 1000 words about Columbia basketball?



I do. In fact, I read the post twice.


 
JadwinGeorge 
Junior
Posts: 274

Age: 70
Reg: 12-04-15
03-06-18 09:51 PM - Post#251153    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

Oops! My entire post was not sent. I apologize for the snarky message. My upset over the Tiger's collapse clouded my judgment. And I am still smarting from the Newmark, Dotson, McMillian playoff at St. John's a few years ago. I blame Steve Honzo.

 
Sagatius 
Freshman
Posts: 16

Age: 70
Reg: 11-17-15
03-06-18 11:20 PM - Post#251168    
    In response to JadwinGeorge

I agree that player development has been below par. Maybe the blame falls on the assistant coaches and on what appears to be a lack of a big man coach?

Last year’s recruits appeared to be much better coming in than they were able to show in games. Only Stefanini showed some progress, and like the rest of the team, he was inconsistent.

The most frustrating aspect of the season is that for large parts of most games, Columbia showed it was as good or better than the teams it was playing. Yet, it couldn’t sustain the effort for 40 minutes and lost way more often than not. My recollection is that in the early years of his tenure, Smith’s teams suffered from the same issue. As players gained experience, their ability to finish games improved. Let’s hope Engels’ teams follow a similar pattern.




 
Chet Forte 
Postdoc
Posts: 2038

Reg: 03-02-08
03-07-18 07:38 AM - Post#251173    
    In response to Sagatius

Here is the unofficial deep throat administration rationale: we would have made the tournament if Meisner had not gotten sick and missed the Dartmouth game. The fact that he could not play caused us to come out flat and play a dispirited first half. Yet despite that setback we battled back heroically and almost pulled out the game. So if it were not for that bit of bad luck we would have had the tie breaker over Cornell.


 
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