Reconciling Mark Turgeon's "Success" at Texas A&M and Wichita State with SRS data

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Mark Turgeon. But, I also am troubled by the fact that he seemed to have success at Wichita State and Texas A&M.

A brief recap of that success:

After three seasons in the NIT, Turgeon made the sweet 16 with Wichita State in '05-06, winning 29 games. He missed the tournament the next year, but was hired by Texas A&M in 2007. From 2007 through 2010, Turgeon made the tournament four consecutive years, never advancing out of the second round.

Some have argued that this track record cautions that we should give Mark Turgeon time to get things together here. Afterall, he didn't lose any coaching ability overnight did he?

It's an argument that demands a rebuttal from those who are down on the program and down on Turgeon's coaching ability in general. At least it is if you want to be fair. However, a closer look at Turgeon's tenure at both of those schools, with some simple advanced statistics reveal less impressive results than the bottom line would suggest.

Simple Rating System or SRS

This is one of your more straightforward advanced metrics. It basically takes your average margin of victory, and adjusts for strength of schedule.

As a rough guide: last year's Terp team had a SRS of 11.37. In Turge's first year, the Terps had an SRS of 3.95. Last year's national champion, Louisville, finished the season with an SRS of 24.81.

Basically, SRS is a quick snapshot of how good a team actually is. I wouldn't bet the house that a 13 SRS should win against an 11 SRS, but it does give you an idea of how a team performed over the course of the year.

Turgeon's SRS ratings over time: A study in mediocrity

03-04 Wichita State 8.93 (result: 21-11; 12-6; NIT)

04-05 Wichita State: 9.61 (result: 22-10; 12-6; NIT)

05-06 Wichita State: 11.45 (result: 26-9; 14-4; sweet 16)

06-07 Wichita State: 10.05 (result 17-14; 8-10; missed all post season play)

07-08: Texas A&M : 16.20 (result: 25-11; 8-8; NCAA 2nd round)

08-09: Texas A&M: 10.52 (result: 24-10; 9-7; NCAA 2nd round)

09-10: Texas A&M: 15.24 (result 24-10; 11-5; NCAA 2nd round)

10-11: Texas A&M: 12.62 (result: 24-9; 10-6; NCAA 1st round)

11-12 Maryland: 3.95 (result 17-15; 6-10; missed all post season play)

12-13 Maryland: 11.37 (result 25-13; 8-10; NIT )

13-14 Maryland 8.16 (result: ongoing)

Last year the average SRS of sweet 16 teams was 17.93. This was significantly dragged down by Florida Gulf Coast's improbable run (they only had an SRS of 2.76). So I think it's fair to say that on average an SRS of about 17-18 means you are a sweet 16 caliber team.

Thus at a glance, not a single one of Coach Turgeon's teams, in his entire history of coaching has been sweet 16 caliber. Only one team, his first team at A&M, with inherited players, came close. Most of his teams have hovered in the 9-13 range, which is basically teams from NIT-fringe NCAA participant category.

Thus, my reading of Turgeon's history is that he has consistently been a coach who produces teams of at least NIT caliber, but never of sweet 16 caliber. This is despite having 7 years at high major programs to recruit sweet 16 caliber players. His teams in the past have been lucky to get into the tournament given their performance throughout the year, and the Wichita State team definitely outperformed its caliber by advancing to the sweet 16 (which depending on your view is lucky, or good coaching--I tend to think that a lot of what happens in the tournament is luck--and would argue that Turge's history at A&M doesn't indicate he's got a great skill for coaching in the tournament).

So as far as the argument that patience is in order for Turge because of his past success, I'm just not seeing it. He's basically doing, for the most part, what he was able to do at Texas A&M and Wichita state in terms of the caliber of team. The only difference is he's not winning as many close games. This could have a lot to do with the fact that the ACC is a tougher league than the Big 12 or the MVC and it could also just be bad luck. Either way, the advanced statistics show that last year's result was vintage Mark Turgeon, and the ceiling isn't a heck of a lot higher.

Of course if you want to look at what kind of SRS history a great coach is capable of putting up, look at Tom Izzo, who has produced three sweet 16 caliber teams over the last 5 years, overcoming a post-championship slump . Or Gary William's run from the mid 90s through 2003.

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