FanPost

Profile of a Possible Savior: Blaine Taylor

Seventh in a now world-famous series (LOLLER)

Standard Disclaimer: I make no representations about the accuracy of this post, except that I'm doing more homework than Lee Fowler did in 2006.  The majority of this information was gleaned from Wikipedia, Ken Pomeroy, ESPN (stats), and various college athletics websites.

One of the names that made TVP’s original mid-major list was Blaine Taylor of Old Dominion.  I have seen his name thrown around some but knew next to nothing about the ODU program or Taylor’s history.  Taylor is 53 years old and a graduate of (and former PG at) the University of Montana.  Taylor actually played for Mike Montgomery (current Cal HC), and was an assistant to Stew Morrill (currently at Utah State) when he was at Montana in the 1980s.  Taylor was head coach at his alma mater from 1991-1998, an assistant to Montgomery at Stanford from 1999-2001 and has been at ODU since 2002.  His record at Montana & ODU after the jump…

Season

Team

Overall

Conference

Standing

Postseason

University of Montana (Big Sky) (1991–1998)

1991–1992

Montana

27–4

14–2

1st

NCAA 1st Round

1992–1993

Montana

17–11

8–6

4th

1993–1994

Montana

19–9

6–8

6th

1994–1995

Montana

21–9

11–3

2nd

NIT 1st Round

1995–1996

Montana

20–8

10–4

3rd

1996–1997

Montana

21–11

11–5

2nd

NCAA 1st Round

1997–1998

Montana

16–14

9–7

5th

Montana:

141–66

69–35

Old Dominion (CAA) (2001–Present)

2001–2002

ODU

13–16

7–11

7th

2002–2003

ODU

12–15

9–9

6th

2003–2004

ODU

17–12

11–7

4th

2004–2005

ODU

28–6

15–3

1st

NCAA 1st Round

2005–2006

ODU

24–10

13–5

4th

NIT Semifinals

2006–2007

ODU

24–9

15–3

2nd

NCAA 1st Round

2007–2008

ODU

18–16

11–7

4th

CBI Quarterfinals

2008–2009

ODU

25–10

12–6

3rd

CIT Champions

2009–2010

ODU

27–9

15–3

1st

NCAA 2nd Round

Old Dominion:

188–105

108–54

Total:

329–171

 

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?

 

No.

 

2. Has he built a program from the ground up?

 

Not really.  Montana was on solid footing when Taylor took over, built by Montgomery and Morrill.  Taylor did an ok job of maintaining that level of success before leaving to help out Montgomery at Stanford.  When Taylor took over ODU, the program had been inconsistent under Jeff Capel the Elder, but decent.

 

3. Has he substantially improved the program from when he took over?

 

Yes.  The biggest thing has been consistency.  Taylor started off slow and probably had Monarch fans worried, but 20+ win seasons five of the last six years and on track for another one this season, currently at 18-6 (9-4).  ODU has gone to the post-season each of the last six seasons, including three NCAA Tournament appearances (with one that was an at-large bid).  The Monarchs have won two CAA titles since Taylor took over, both regular season and tournament in the same years (2005 & 2010)

 

4. Has he succeeded at more than one head coaching job?

 

Yes.  While not terribly consistent at Montana, Taylor did post a winning overall and conference record, no losing seasons, two conference titles, and three post-season appearances.  His success at ODU is outlined above.  Considering that Taylor had zero experience on the East Coast, his success at ODU is pretty impressive.

 

5.  Does he have significant high-major experience as either a head coach or an assistant?

 

Yes.  As noted above, he served for an assistant to Mike Montgomery at Stanford for three seasons, during which time the Cardinal went 84-14, went to the tournament all three years and made an Elite Eight.

 

6.  Is his team one of the best in its conference right now?

 

Yes.  ODU is currently third behind VCU and George Mason, two games back from both of those teams.  They have a pretty good shot at winning the CAA this year, and a decent shot at an at-large berth, currently ranked 70th by Ken Pom with an OOC SOS of 109.  The Monarchs have finished in the top four of the CAA in the last 7 (out of 9 seasons) with Taylor at the helm.

 

7.  Do his teams actually play, what is this thing called, "defense"?

 

Folks it appears I have actually picked a coach who has a great defensive record for once.  Get excited.  Taylor’s teams have finished outside of the top 100 on Ken Pom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings just once in his tenure at ODU and are currently ranked 43rd (93.0).  The Monarchs actually finished 10th last year per Ken Pom.  His teams do a great job of limiting FT attempts for their opponents (currently 23rd), opponents are only grabbing 28.8% of all boards on their end (translation, 38th in defensive rebounding), and they rank highly in both steals (56th) and blocks (25th).  The stats say their three point defense is lacking, it appears that teams are jacking a lot of threes against the Monarchs (33.7% of all shots taken).  Whether or not that is a by-product of great interior D, a calculation by opposing coaches, or the nature of teams being more three happy, who knows.  It appears to be an isolated phenomenon, where the other numbers are not.

 

While the Monarchs are not aggressive in terms of forcing turnovers, they appear to play clamp down D that makes it very difficult to get off good shots and even harder to get second chance opportunities.

 

8.  Any indication that he can recruit McDonald’s All-American-type players?

 

His three years at Stanford saw some good players come through, but at ODU, it seems it is mostly about finding guys who fit his playing style and personality.  No 4 or 5 star guys have passed through the doors at ODU since Taylor has been on campus.

 

9. Does he run the Princeton offense?

 

Nope.  But his offense isn’t exactly what you would call pretty either.  While this season’s seems to be a little more ugly than usual, Taylor’s mantra has been defense, defense, defense, and then pounding the ball inside.  Though Ken Pom ranks their offensive efficiency at a respectable 114th (104.0), the Monarchs have had trouble getting the biscuit in the basket this year, and with too many turnovers, currently turning the ball over on about 21% of their possessions.  It appears that this year is sort of an anomaly of ugliness.   Taylor preaches taking high percentage shots, they don’t take many threes.

 

However, the saving grace this season, and a hallmark of years past has been offensive rebounding.  ODU is currently ranked SECOND in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, pulling down 44% of all rebounds on their end.  You read that right.  The Monarchs have been in the Top 25 in this category the past four seasons and finished last year ranked first.

 

10. Does he have any connection to NC State, North Carolina, or the ACC?

 

Nope.  Old Dominion was Taylor’s first job east of the Rockies.

 

11. Any other random red flags or positives?

 

Taylor does have a DUI in his past, though I cannot seem to find the exact year, it appears to not be too recent a charge, apparently back when he was HC at Montana in the mid-1990s.  Other than that, I wasn’t able to find anything that appears sketchy.

 

 

Summary:

 

Would he be better than Sid?

 

Yes.

 

Would he be better than Herb?

 

Probably.  Herb’s teams were prone to defensive breakdowns and rarely rebounded the ball well with any consistency.  Even on poor shooting nights, if you are getting as many second chance opportunities as Taylor’s teams do, you are giving yourself a much better chance than when you have four or possibly all five guys standing out by the three point line.  Plus he showed the ability to sustain success at school’s where another coach built it over a long period of time, something that Herb’s three years at Miami of Ohio did not demonstrate before he was hired.

 

Would he take the job if offered?

 

You would have to think so.  He has some experience at the BCS level as an assistant and now that he is more familiar with the East Coast, I think he would take it.  The only question becomes if at 53 he is content to stick around ODU for another few years and then retire.  Never know what a guy’s motivation is exactly.

 

How would I feel if he were hired?

 

Decent.  He isn’t a flashy name by any means but I am all on board with a coach that knows how to teach defense and rebounding.  Combine that with the better athletes that Taylor should be able to pull in here and a sharp-shooting guy from three (Scott Wood anyone?), Taylor’s teams could do some serious damage in the ACC.  I don’t know that he is the guy to get us to the next level, but he knows how to win championship games (conference championships that is) and has had some success in the post-season.  It is at least encouraging that he has had success at two different schools and also has the BCS level experience at Stanford.  Being from the Mike Montgomery coaching tree, a guy who was tossed around during the last search, is a plus.

 

How would the fan base as a whole feel if he were hired?

 

Probably not too excited.  Again, the fan base wants a sexy hire.  They aren’t going to take the time to look up stats and see lots of the things outlined here.  Now, they will see the record at ODU and probably be ok with that, but the main reaction will be that they will be in wait-and-see mode.  I doubt ticket sales go through the roof.  This is one of those ones where most folks will have to come around to it by seeing what happens.  The good news would be that expectations would be low so you have to think a good first season could really ramp up the buzz.  Our fans (despite what some might think and what the Internet, at times, portrays) have a high basketball IQ and would absolutely eat up a team that plays hard, plays stellar D, and rebounds well.

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