First in an occasional series.
Following up on my post listing coaching candidates a few weeks ago, I'm here to ask the important questions about various possible successors to Sid whose names are getting tossed about. The goal here is to do a superficially thorough review of a series of candidates. I only guarantee that it is more homework than Lee Fowler did in 2006.
First up is Dayton's Brian Gregory, who wasn't even on my initial list, but whatever.
Brian Gregory, 44, is in his 8th season as the head coach at Dayton. Prior to that he was an assistant at Michigan State. He took over from Oliver Purnell when Purnell went to Clemson. Dayton is his first head coaching job.
more after the jump
Important Questions, In Rough Order Of Importance:
1. Has he coached teams that have won a national title, made multiple deep NCAA tournament runs, and/or consistently been highly ranked?
2. Has he built a program from the ground up?
No. Purnell took over a Dayton program in disarray and built them into a team that had won 20+ four years straight and went to the NCAAs twice in that stretch; then he left and Gregory took over.
3. Has he substantially improved the program from where it was when he took over?
No; actually Dayton dipped at first under Gregory. He finished first in the A10 in his first season, but then they missed the postseason the next three years, including a losing record in his third year, before rebounding to make the NIT in 07-08 , the NCAAs the year after that as an at-large 11 seed, and memorably beat UNC in the NIT finals last year. But right now they are basically humming along at the same level as when Purnell left.
4. Has he succeeded at more than one head coaching job?
5. Does he have significant high-major experience either as a head coach or an assistant?
Yes – the big plus here is that he was a key Tom Izzo assistant for several years.
6. Is his team one of the best in its conference right now?
No. This year they look to be on track for a mid-level finish and another NIT bid.
On the flip side, Dayton may not be a particularly easy place to win at. In the A10 I think Xavier, Charlotte, Temple, and George Washington, at minimum, all seems superficially like better jobs.
7. Do his teams actually play, what is this thing called, “defense”?
Yes, although there’s not a consistent track record of playing really outstanding defense. Last year’s team was 9th in defensive efficiency, and they were 27th before that, but they’ve fallen to 96th so far this year and that’s more in line with the average under Gregory. They tend to be better on FG% defense and defensive rebounding than forcing turnovers.
8. Any indication that he can recruit McDonald’s All-American-type players?
Thre are some good signs in that (1) he was on Izzo’s staff and thus presumably was involved in putting together some of their typically very good classes; (2) he signed Chris Wright (same name as the dude who almost went to State, same class, different guy) who was a top 60 player; (3) last year he got point guard Juwan Staten, another top 100 guy.
9. Does he run the Princeton offense?
Not as far as I can tell from looking at the numbers, though they do tend to run at a medium to slow tempo.
10. Does he have any connection to NC State, North Carolina, or the ACC?
None whatsoever as best as I can tell. Seems to be a totally Midwest guy.
11. Any other random red flags or positives?
Yes, a tendency of his teams to fade down the stretch. In 07-08 they were ranked as high as 14th in the country but lost 8 of their next 11 and ended up in the NIT. Faded in 09 as well, though not as dramatically. Dayton lost 4 of 5 down the stretch last year, which may have bounced them from the NCAA tournament.
On the plus side, he’s 23-for-23 on graduating players at Dayton.
Would he be better than Sid?
He should be, yes, though there's a chance that he'd be overmatched at this level, in a different way than Sid but outmatched nonetheless.
Would he be better than Herb?
That’s a really good question. You can see some Herb parallels in the resume – assistant to a really successful coach, relatively young, reasonably successful coach at a Midwest mid-major…I could see him being better, worse, or about the same as Herb; none would surprise me really.
Would he take the job if offered?
Per Andy Katz: http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/ncb/news/story?id=5057355
Gregory decided not to pursue the BC job last year because he felt a “comfort level” at Dayton. That’s great, but Katz occasionally puts out self-serving nonsense like this from coaches when they realize they aren’t getting a job (remember his report that LSU’s Brady had pulled him name out of our coaching search in 06? Pretty sure Brady was never a candidate). And needless to say there’s a big difference between coaching in front of dozens at Conte Forum and coaching at NCSU, even if we’ve lost a good bit of our luster.
How would I feel if he were hired?
Somewhat disappointed, but I'd keep an open-mind. There’s a non-zero chance that he would be a big success, but he’d be an unknown and nothing in the resume really screams “sure thing” or anything close to it. I like other mid-major guys better.
How would the fan base at large feel?
Sid's diehards would be pissed and would say Sid should have gotten another year with "his guys."
The people that were in Herb's corner when he left (and have subtly complained for the past 5 years) would feel vindicated - "You see? Our job really isn't that good!"
The Statefansnation crowd would be dumbfounded that we didn't hire a more high profile candidate.
The obsessed message board faction would talk themselves into Gregory within two weeks. "Izzo! Izzo, man!"
The people who remember 1974/83 would sigh and again lament our fall from grace, but then remember that V came from Iona and would give the guy a shot.