Dec 31, 2015: Out of the 351 D1 mens college teams, who has shown the most improvement from the 2014/15 campaigns? More significantly, who are the coaches who have steered these juggernauts from the abyss and into the ‘Madness’ conversation? Here’s a quick peak at this years most improved to date:
What prominent D1 programs have felt the sting of these resurgent upstarts? Lets get right to it!
The 10th most improved team: GEORGIA TECH
MPI Ranking improvement: +171 positions upward
CONFERENCE: ACC (Atlantic Coast)
COACH: Brian Gregory
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Arkansas, VCU
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/62?year=2016
Coach Gregory came to Tech from Dayton with the 2010 NIT crown – over UNC – amongst his credentials. His Flyers claimed fame for their fighting spirit – they trained as Boxers (minus the sparring), and it showed on the court. After a rough start with the Yellow Jackets, he appears to have righted the ship. Coach Gregory studied his craft under Tom Izzo, assisting the Spartans on their 2000 title run.
The 9th most improved team: Wisconsin Milwaukee
MPI Ranking improvement: +172 positions upward
COACH: Rob Jeter
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Wisconsin
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/362?year=2016
Rob Jeter comes from a family of prominent athletes. His primary coaching mentor is the great Bo Ryan of Wisconsin fame. Jeter has seen it all, from the Horizon titles, coach of the year awards, to last years disappointment. Like Ryan, he ‘sticks to his plan’. He takes a keen interest in his athletes academic affairs, believing – correctly – it pays off on the court.
The 8th most improved team: Texas Tech
CONFERENCE: Big 12
COACH: Tubby Smith
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Minnesota, San Diego State
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/192?year=2016
Tubby Smith is back – again! Smith, who had the great misfortune to coach Kentucky to a national championship, seems to be more at ease as the underdog. With an improved defense, his Red Raiders stand a good chance to dance for the first time since Bob Knight’s 2007 team. With an impressive RPI rating (18th nationally), things are looking up in Lubbock for Tubby.
The 7th most improved team: Houston
CONFERENCE: American Athletic Conference
COACH: Kelvin Sampson
OPPONENT VICTIMS: LSU, Murray State
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/66?year=2016
After a tour around the NBA and related positions, Kelvin Sampson has returned to college ball. Sampson was named the 1995 college coach of the year at Oklahoma. He took Washington State to rare hoop heights, and Indiana to new lows in terms of NCAA (phone) sanctions. Say what you want about him, he is resilient! Sampson is a brilliant tactician, tenaciously applying his craft on Houston’s Guy Lewis court.
The 6th most improved team: Fordham
MPI Ranking improvement: +185 positions upward
CONFERENCE: Atlantic 10
COACH: Jeff Neubauer
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Boston College, St. John’s
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/55?year=2016
New coach Jeff Neubauer is bringing the success he showed at Eastern Kentucky (2 NCAA appearances) to the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. He studied as an assistant under the tutelage of John Beilein at West Virginia. ‘The Rams’ play an exciting brand of basketball in which the three-ball fly. His stated plans to ‘build relations with returning players’ after the coaching change appear to be working to date
The 5th most improved team: Arkansas Little Rock
MPI Ranking improvement: +219 positions upward
CONFERENCE: Sun Belt
COACH: Chris Beard
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Tulsa, San Diego State
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/6?year=2016
Chris Beard is another ‘new’ rookie head coach who has patiently built an impressive resume. Coach Beard cleaned house in Little Rock, signing 10 players. The 2015/16 Trojans of Ark-LR lead the nation in defense, are 2nd in Free Throws, and 4th in Turnover margin – that’s change! Coach Beard goes to great lengths to mention his pride in graduation rates, and leverages it into his recruiting process.
The 4th most improved team: College of Charleston
MPI Ranking improvement: +222 positions upward
CONFERENCE: Colonial Athletic
OPPONENT VICTIMS: LSU
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/31?year=2016
‘C of C’ Athletic Director Joe Hull promised his fans coach Earl Grant ‘will bring a lot of energy and excitement to our program’. In Grants second season at the helm, his A.D. seems downright prophetic. Grant has achieved success as an assistant under Greg Marshall at Wichita State, amongst other stops. He has ‘closed’ some high profile recruitments as an assistant (Clemson/ NBA player K.J. McDaniels).
The 3rd most improved team: University of Southern California
MPI Ranking improvement: +223 positions upward
CONFERENCE: Pacific 12
COACH: Andy Enfield
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/202?year=2016
Andy Enfield’s high flying Florida Gulf Coast act is catching on in Hollywood, or at least at the Galen Center on the USC campus. It’s taken the new coach two full seasons to get to this point – a lifetime for notoriously impatient Trojan fans entitled to winning teams. Coach Enfield has brought in enough talent to put USC back into March Dance consideration, and possibly Pac 12 title talk, if on-court trends hold.
The 2nd most improved team: Nevada Reno
CONFERENCE: Mountain West
COACH: Eric Musselman
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Coastal Carolina
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/316?year=2016
Eric Musselman has a wealth of NBA coaching experience, with two stints as head coach (Sacramento and Golden State). He was considered a first class developer of talent by some NBA organizations, particularly during D league summer stints. Nevada marks his 1st full time head coach position at the college level. He has managed to get his team to win many tight games that could have gone either way.
The 1st most improved team: Western Illinois
MPI Ranking improvement: +252 positions upward
CONFERENCE: Summit League
COACH: Billy Wright
OPPONENT VICTIMS: Wisconsin
NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/359?year=2016
Coach Wright and his WIU Leathernecks shocked the CBB world by defeating Bo Ryans’ Wisconsin Badgers AT HOME in Madison. Wright, a former Mr. Indiana Basketball prep star, helped to lead his Bradley Braves to the MVC title in 1996. Wright knows Midwest basketball. He has performed assistant coaching stints at Western Illinois as well as Ball State. WIU has won it’s first 5 games this season after an 8-20 run last year.
TO SEE THE LIST OF ALL 351 TEAMS SORTED BY IMPROVEMENT (APRIL 2015 TO DEC 2016), CLICK http://www.marchpool.com/teams?sort=8
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