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Changing the Culture II

Posted by Neil Paine on March 11, 2010

On Tuesday, I kicked off our CBB/BBR cross-posting series by looking at coaches who “changed the culture” of a program, guys whose winning percentages at a school far exceeded its mark before they arrived. The usual suspects were at the top of the list (John Wooden, Jim Calhoun, etc.), and so was John Calipari for his performance at UMass during the 90s. Trouble is, did Coach Cal really change the Minutemen forever? Or, as BBR reader “Downpuppy” put it:

“UMass is on the list twice, but both times the culture snapped back to mediocrity pretty quick.”

OK, so maybe a “culture change” has to extend beyond the coach’s actual tenure with the school, and also into the tenures of later coaches, who build on their successor’s changes to take the school to new heights. After all, it’s not really a true culture change if the program only loses the stench of mediocrity for 5 years while a coach uses the school as a stepping stone to his next gig.

To filter out such flash-in-the-pan performances from true culture-changers, I looked at the school’s W-L record in all seasons before a coach arrived and compared it to the school’s entire record after the year he arrived (including his tenure as HC and beyond). Again, teams had to have played at least 120 games before and after the coach arrived, and the coach had to coach at least 120 games at the school in question as well. This will capture coaches whose tenure at the helm represents the turning point for the entire history of the program, which I suppose is a better indicator of “changing the culture” than merely focusing on his actual time at the school (even though we’re in essence giving Adolph Rupp credit for the coaching performances of Joe B. Hall and Rick Pitino as well).

Here’s the list:

Coach 1stYear School G Pre W Pre L Pre T Pre WPct Post W Post L Post T Post WPct Diff
Peck Hickman 1945 LOU 626 189 249 0 0.432 1398 582 0 0.706 0.275
Marshall Pennington 1937 UTEP 146 63 134 0 0.320 1140 791 0 0.590 0.271
Gregg Marshall 1999 WINT 277 145 220 0 0.397 227 114 0 0.666 0.268
John Wooden 1949 UCLA 767 286 283 0 0.503 1386 443 0 0.758 0.255
Howie Dickenman 1997 CCON 383 78 198 0 0.283 205 178 0 0.535 0.253
George McCarty 1954 UTEP 133 211 342 0 0.382 992 583 0 0.630 0.248
Mark Few 2000 GONZ 330 715 574 0 0.555 264 66 0 0.800 0.245
Gary Waters 1997 KENT 152 697 947 0 0.424 278 140 0 0.665 0.241
Bob Reinhart 1986 GAST 255 74 247 0 0.231 324 373 0 0.465 0.234
Dale Waters 1946 UTEP 131 136 230 0 0.372 1067 695 0 0.606 0.234
Mark Fox 2005 NEV 166 778 755 0 0.508 123 43 0 0.741 0.233
Don Haskins 1962 UTEP 1072 304 431 0 0.414 899 494 0 0.645 0.232
Jim Christian 2003 KENT 196 819 1013 0 0.447 156 74 0 0.678 0.231
Jamie Dixon 2004 PIT 208 1249 988 0 0.558 163 45 0 0.784 0.225
Kirk Speraw 1994 UCF 480 81 167 0 0.327 264 216 0 0.550 0.223
Bob Marlin 1999 SAMH 323 152 232 0 0.396 200 123 0 0.619 0.223
Dan Spika 1966 NTEX 127 45 150 0 0.231 545 670 0 0.449 0.218
Tim Cohane 1994 BUF 173 35 122 0 0.223 206 264 0 0.438 0.215
Boyd Chambers 1919 CIN 187 61 82 0 0.427 1492 833 0 0.642 0.215
Pete Gillen 1986 XAVR 277 708 682 0 0.509 548 210 0 0.723 0.214
Billy Donovan 1997 FLA 436 878 876 0 0.501 310 126 0 0.711 0.210
Dick Edwards 1964 PAC 240 94 184 0 0.338 720 593 0 0.548 0.210
Bobby Braswell 1997 CNOR 386 53 111 0 0.323 205 181 0 0.531 0.208
Bobby Paschal 1979 LALA 238 47 87 0 0.351 497 393 0 0.558 0.208
Hank Iba 1935 OKST 971 149 212 0 0.413 1326 818 0 0.618 0.206
Bo Ryan 2002 WISC 266 1151 1056 0 0.522 193 73 0 0.726 0.204
Mark Adams 1992 CCON 135 38 103 0 0.270 245 273 0 0.473 0.203
Adolph Rupp 1931 KEN 1066 205 146 1 0.584 1783 489 0 0.785 0.201
John Brady 1992 SAMF 166 177 337 0 0.344 284 238 0 0.544 0.200
Jim Calhoun 1973 NOEA 385 52 99 0 0.344 577 484 0 0.544 0.199
Ben Howland 2000 PIT 129 1160 948 0 0.550 252 85 0 0.748 0.197
Lefty Driesell 1998 GAST 162 212 445 0 0.323 186 175 0 0.515 0.193
Stew Morrill 1999 UTST 358 1119 895 0 0.556 267 91 0 0.746 0.190
Edmund Dollard 1912 SYRA 210 70 67 0 0.511 1683 739 0 0.695 0.184
Van Holt 2003 ARPB 174 17 119 0 0.125 63 142 0 0.307 0.182
Wilbur Johns 1940 UCLA 213 193 163 0 0.542 1479 563 0 0.724 0.182
Bob King 1963 NMEX 264 417 500 0 0.455 891 517 0 0.633 0.178
Jim McDonald 1983 KENT 287 504 745 0 0.404 471 342 0 0.579 0.176
Lon Kruger 1991 FLA 184 774 796 0 0.493 414 206 0 0.668 0.175
Francis Stadsvold 1920 WVIR 282 63 77 0 0.450 1487 895 0 0.624 0.174
John Maulbetsch 1922 OKST 150 53 72 0 0.424 1422 958 0 0.597 0.173
Skip Prosser 1995 XAVR 213 910 757 0 0.546 346 135 0 0.719 0.173
Todd Lickliter 2002 BUTL 192 1179 956 0 0.552 187 71 0 0.725 0.173
Bob Staak 1980 XAVR 174 620 596 0 0.510 636 296 0 0.682 0.173
Harold Anderson 1935 TOLE 183 101 135 0 0.428 1182 790 0 0.599 0.171
Larry Eustachy 1994 UTST 151 1021 842 0 0.548 365 144 0 0.717 0.169
Dan Fitzgerald 1979 GONZ 423 349 338 0 0.508 630 302 0 0.676 0.168
Jerome Jenkins 2001 CSAC 227 37 204 0 0.154 82 174 0 0.320 0.167
Donald White 1937 CONN 153 189 188 0 0.501 1310 651 0 0.668 0.167
Nolan Richardson 1981 TUL 156 663 705 0 0.485 599 321 0 0.651 0.166
Billy Tubbs 1981 OKLA 465 817 668 0 0.550 682 273 0 0.714 0.164
Danny Kaspar 2001 SFA 262 192 245 0 0.439 158 104 0 0.603 0.164
Jud Heathcote 1972 MONT 133 551 683 0 0.447 670 428 0 0.610 0.164
Dick Romney 1920 UTST 382 55 73 0 0.430 1331 913 0 0.593 0.163
Pat Page 1921 BUTL 129 61 85 0 0.418 1305 942 0 0.581 0.163
John Wiethe 1947 CIN 153 329 317 0 0.509 1224 598 0 0.672 0.163
Frank Kerns 1982 GESO 376 84 130 0 0.393 450 361 0 0.555 0.162
Gary Colson 1969 PEPP 290 129 201 0 0.391 656 531 0 0.553 0.162
Mike Montgomery 1987 STAN 560 855 781 0 0.523 493 229 0 0.683 0.160
Jimmy Tillette 1998 SAMF 356 266 414 0 0.391 195 161 0 0.548 0.157
Jimmy Earle 1970 MTEN 267 163 241 0 0.403 639 503 0 0.560 0.156
Bruce Pearl 2002 WISM 124 216 271 0 0.444 148 99 0 0.599 0.156
Fred Luehring 1913 PRIN 143 86 98 0 0.467 1466 888 0 0.623 0.155
Everett Dean 1925 IND 255 182 174 0 0.511 1459 735 0 0.665 0.154
Mike Montgomery 1979 MONT 231 659 762 0 0.464 562 349 0 0.617 0.153
Randy Bennett 2002 STMA 252 916 1063 0 0.463 155 97 0 0.615 0.152
Greg McDermott 2002 UNI 153 265 332 0 0.444 149 101 0 0.596 0.152
Dick Bennett 1996 WISC 162 1041 978 0 0.516 303 151 0 0.667 0.152
Thad Matta 2005 OSU 173 1308 936 0 0.583 127 46 0 0.734 0.151
John Thompson 1973 GTWN 835 661 560 0 0.541 815 364 0 0.691 0.150
Lute Olson 1984 ARIZ 776 936 640 1 0.594 632 218 0 0.744 0.150
Paul Landis 1926 BGU 289 50 73 0 0.407 1181 944 0 0.556 0.149
Ken Bone 2006 PORS 126 224 260 0 0.463 77 49 0 0.611 0.148
Al McGuire 1965 MARQ 375 505 445 0 0.532 918 433 0 0.679 0.148
John Calipari 2001 MEM 321 808 460 0 0.637 252 69 0 0.785 0.148
Mel Collard 1936 BOSU 127 85 143 0 0.373 833 767 0 0.521 0.148
Louis Menze 1929 IAST 319 124 213 0 0.368 1039 982 0 0.514 0.146
Sean Miller 2005 XAVR 167 1136 845 0 0.573 120 47 0 0.719 0.145
Lake Kelly 1972 AUSP 308 72 114 0 0.387 583 513 0 0.532 0.145
Tom Izzo 1996 MICS 473 1115 856 0 0.566 336 137 0 0.710 0.145
Dave Bliss 1976 OKLA 139 740 606 0 0.550 759 335 0 0.694 0.144
Eddie Hickey 1959 MARQ 162 413 375 0 0.524 1010 503 0 0.668 0.143
Bobby Dye 1984 BOIS 346 151 192 0 0.440 449 321 0 0.583 0.143
Bill C. Foster 1976 CLEM 262 545 721 2 0.431 594 443 0 0.573 0.142
Jack Nagle 1954 MARQ 124 344 320 0 0.518 1079 558 0 0.659 0.141
Mike Lonergan 2006 VERM 127 702 772 0 0.476 78 49 0 0.614 0.138
Tom Blackburn 1948 DAYT 493 294 313 0 0.484 1130 687 0 0.622 0.138
Sam McAllister 1938 FLA 223 115 157 0 0.423 1073 845 0 0.559 0.137
Eddie Sutton 1991 OKST 519 1045 838 0 0.555 430 192 0 0.691 0.136
Hugh Greer 1947 CONN 398 294 253 0 0.537 1205 586 0 0.673 0.135
Tates Locke 1971 CLEM 132 483 651 2 0.426 656 513 0 0.561 0.135
Eddie Cameron 1929 DUKE 325 192 140 0 0.578 1685 677 0 0.713 0.135
Ken Hayes 1969 TUL 186 501 546 0 0.479 761 480 0 0.613 0.135
W.O. Hamilton 1910 KAN 184 98 69 0 0.587 1872 724 0 0.721 0.134
Adrian Buoncristiani 1973 GONZ 160 271 256 0 0.514 708 384 0 0.648 0.134
Lefty Driesell 1970 MARY 507 542 514 0 0.513 801 437 0 0.647 0.134
Dave Rose 2006 BYU 131 1481 960 0 0.607 97 34 0 0.740 0.134
Johnny Jones 2002 NTEX 238 464 708 0 0.396 126 112 0 0.529 0.134
Steve Yoder 1978 BALL 139 64 85 0 0.430 533 414 0 0.563 0.133
Jim Calhoun 1987 CONN 762 942 634 0 0.598 557 205 0 0.731 0.133

Before Rick Pitino and Denny Crum, there was Bernard “Peck” Hickman. When Hickman arrived at Louisville in 1944, he inherited an historically-mediocre program that lay in ruin following the disastrous 6-year run of Lawrence Apitz and John Heldman. He proceeded to change the culture immediately, taking what had been a 10-10 squad under Walter Casey & Harold Church the previous year and posting a stunning 16-3 record in 1945, to be followed by a 22-6 mark in ’46 and 29-6 in ’48. With Hickman guiding them over the next 23 years, the Cardinals never had a losing record, going 443-183 for a .708 winning % that was a far cry from the .432 WPct they had prior to Hickman’s arrival. After Hickman, John Dromo was a part of 3 20-win seasons in 4 years, and his successor Denny Crum was one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, leading UL to 2 National Championships and 675 wins in 30 years on the bench. Following Crum, Rick Pitino carries the torch today and has led the school to 8 consecutive 20-win seasons (including 2010). All of this can be traced directly back to Peck Hickman, which makes him #1 on our list.

And if you want high winning percentages after a coach’s arrival, look no further than Mark Few, current head coach at Gonzaga University. The Zags were a solid WCC team under coach Dan Fitzgerald during the 1980s, but when he retired in 1997 they were still best known as the tiny Washington school that produced future Hall of Fame PG John Stockton. During Fitzgerald’s tenure they made their first NCAA tournament (in 1995), though Dan Monson got the ball really rolling for the Bulldogs in 1999, when his upstart team marched to the Elite 8 and came within a few decisive plays down the stretch of upsetting eventual #1 UConn and going to the Final Four. Monson leveraged that success into a gig at Minnesota, but not many pundits thought Gonzaga would be able to sustain the momentum from their magical run, especially with a 38-year-old 1st-time head coach on the sidelines. However, instead of fading back into obscurity, Few has taken the Zags to new heights — they’re a staggering 290-72 under his watch since he took over in 2000, and they haven’t missed the NCAA Tournament in any of his seasons as coach, a once-unthinkable accomplishment for a team that had made the tourney just 1 time in 46 years prior to their ’99 run. Fitzgerald and Monson certainly planted some seeds for Gonzaga, but it has been Few who oversaw the school’s growth from obscure mid-major into one of the most unlikely national powers in college basketball.

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