FanPost

Turge's success at Wichita St. and Texas A+M reflected in RPI and KenPom

About a month ago, tiimbitz4786 had an interesting article titled Reconciling Mark Turgeon's "Success" at Texas A&M and Wichita State with SRS data. That article was the first look on this site at CoachTurgeon's record at his previous coaching stops using statistical evaluations, and tiimbitz came to the conclusion that Turgeon may have been overrated because none of his teams ever reached the average SRS ranking of a team in the 2013 NCAA Sweet Sixteen. I'd encourage anyone interested to read the whole thing, but tiimbitz's thesis was basically:

[M]y 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. . . . His teams in the past have been lucky to get into the tournament given their performance throughout the year.

I didn't agree with that conclusion, mainly because I have problems with the way SRS attempts to neutralize opponent strength through margin of victory. The comments to that FanPost hosted a vigorous, multi-commentor debate about the computation of SRS and the conclusions that tiimbitz had drawn. To my knowledge, though, nobody has looked beyond SRS to see what other evaluation methods indicated about Turgeon's performance at his previous head coaching gigs.

I went back and looked at RPI and KenPom dating back to the year after our championship, and my results are below. In addition to Turgeon's records at all three schools, I included Gary Williams's post-championship record at Maryland and Billy Gillispie's record at A+M. The year on the chart is the year that season ended. Teams coached by Turgeon are in bold.

RPI

Year MD Wichita St Texas A+M
2003 32 129 -----
2004 18 72 -----
2005 39 37 58
2006 53 27 47
2007 14 99 16
2008 90 ----- 41
2009 55 ----- 36
2010 24 ----- 14
2011 94 ----- 30
2012 104 ----- -----
2013 63 ----- -----
2014 91* ----- -----

KenPom

Year MD Wichita St Texas A+M
2003 14 135 -----
2004 21 58 -----
2005 42 53 47
2006 66 29 26
2007 10 70 7
2008 64 ----- 21
2009 48 ----- 37
2010 13 ----- 10
2011 55 ----- 49
2012 129 ----- -----
2013 48 ----- -----
2014 63* ----- -----

*as of January 8, 2014.

These records paint a much more flattering (and IMO more accurate) picture of Coach Turgeon than tiimbitz's analysis of SRS data did.

One of the biggest differences is that both KenPom and RPI agree that Coach Turgeon's 2009-2010 Texas A+M team was nearly as good or better than Billy Gillispie's 2006-2007 team. Two important parts of tiimbitz's original argument were (1) that Turgeon had never built a Sweet Sixteen-caliber team (even though one of his Wichita St teams happened to make it that far) and (2) Turgeon took an A+M program coming off an excellent season back down to mediocrity. The fact that Turgeon had a top 10-15 ranked team (3 years after he took over from Gillispie) significantly undercuts both of those arguments.

The other thing that stands out to me is that Turgeon was able to consistently have teams ranked in or around the top 50 under both measurements. His last four teams at Wichita State average a 56 RPI rating and a 53 KenPom rating (very solid for a mid-major prgram). His teams at A+M averaged 30 and 29. There is every reason to expect that, with some additional time, he can have Maryland performing at that level if not better.

One final thought: It's worth noting that all four of Turgeon's A+M teams outranked Maryland at the end of the year in both RPI and KenPom. That's not a knock on Gary, who I love, but it is a recognition of where this team was in the late 2000s (even before the coaching change inspired player loss and adjustment). I'm confident that in a couple of years, we'll once again be consistently getting to the NCAAs with Coach Turgeon.

Anything deemed inappropriate will be deleted by an admin or moderator with the power to do so. The views of the above FanPost do not represent the beliefs of Testudo Times or Testudo Times' authors, nor are they the work of them.

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