Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This is Davidson Basketball

Re-posting the video.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Building the Empire

Davidson & McKillop on front page of ESPN.com College Basketball section
Do you know this man? Smart teams will schedule his club in '07-'08.
20-win mids should be scheduled, not ducked
(Click here for front page of ESPN.com College Basketball)
By Andy Glockner

Quick: Name the best "RPI opponent" in the country last season.

Ohio State was atop the RPI at the end of the regular season, but the Buckeyes didn't provide the best bang for your RPI buck. Neither did Memphis, Florida, UCLA, Kansas, Wisconsin or North Carolina, even though all six of those elite programs also finished in the top 11 in the RPI. Why? Because all those teams were very likely to beat you, negating some of the benefit their strong win/loss records and strengths of schedule provided for your RPI.

As your own winning percentage is 25 percent of your RPI, you must add relative "beatability" into the equation. When you do, the answer probably will surprise you: It's Davidson. In addition to finishing the regular season with a 25-4 Division I record, the Wildcats' overall schedule (including games in the underrated Southern Conference, which ended up 19th of the 31 conferences in RPI) was strong enough to give the Wildcats the 10th-best combination of winning percentage and SOS in the country (measured with winning percentage being worth twice as much as SOS, per the RPI formula). Now weigh the fact that most Top 25 teams would be strongly favored over Davidson at home, and it's a no-brainer.

Don't worry if you didn't know that; you'd be hard-pressed to find a Division I head coach who would have answered that correctly. The evidence? The best RPI opponent in D-I in 2005-06 was Bucknell, and the Bison had one Top 50 RPI game on their schedule this past season (at Xavier). Bucknell -- a team that had won a first-round NCAA Tournament game each of the past two seasons -- had been weakened by graduation, but still was a very good bet to get 20-plus wins (it ended up 22-9). The Bison should have been on every major-conference team's speed dial, but almost no one wanted any part of them.

"The RPI thing is something I try to influence, because we have a beautiful place to play and our RPI is good, so we're not going to hurt you if you beat us, or maybe even if we beat you," said Bucknell coach Pat Flannery, who's always on the hunt for home-and-home series.

The Bucknell example speaks to the larger issue across Division I. Despite the huge amount of money at stake annually in today's college hoops world, it's clear that the vast majority of programs still don't understand how best to exploit the most fundamental of opportunities: nonconference scheduling.

Despite what the NCAA selection committee says every season about RPI being only one evaluation metric, it's an incredible predictor of NCAA Tournament inclusion, especially for major-conference teams. This past season, 37 of the top 40 teams in the RPI made the field of 65 (and only No. 30 Air Force had any type of reasonable gripe about being excluded). In 2005-06, it was 36 of the top 38 (No. 21 Missouri State and No. 30 Hofstra were the two controversial exclusions, although I agreed with both decisions). In 2004-05, it was a perfect 40 of 40 (No. 43 Miami (Ohio) was the first omission). The 2005-06 Cincinnati squad, which lost star Armein Kirkland to injury midway through the season, was the only BCS conference team in those three years to miss the NCAAs with an RPI of 40 or better (and the Bearcats finished at No. 40).

Why is that notable? Well, as Andy Katz reported Wednesday, major-conference teams that just missed this season's NCAA Tournament, such as Clemson (RPI No. 46) and Syracuse (No. 50), have no intention of changing their nonconference scheduling philosophy. Given what's at stake and how minimally a schedule would need to be tweaked for a program to gain significant RPI leverage, that's a mistake.

"We're looking to play good teams," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "[In addition to Baylor], we also got Wichita State and Drexel and Hofstra. Can you get 10 of those [teams]? We're still going to play Colgate and play Cornell. We're going to play them for 100 years. We've got Rhode Island [next season], which should be good. Saint Joe's has everyone back. We think we have good RPI teams [on next season's schedule]."

Loyalty and a sense of history are great, but making the NCAA Tournament -- and getting the best seed possible -- should be the first goal for any program each season. Although it's admirable on certain levels for Boeheim to say Syracuse will play teams such as Colgate annually, it's also not smart for the Orange to commit to do that. The Raiders have finished better than No. 238 in the RPI only once in the past eight seasons (No. 199 in 2001-02), and this past season, Colgate ranked 266th in combined winning percentage/SOS. Basically, the Raiders are an annual albatross on Syracuse's RPI.

That doesn't mean teams like Syracuse can't schedule -- and overcome -- those games. It just means that, at best, it's removing some margin for error -- margin Syracuse needed this season after it lost at home to Wichita State and Drexel. At worst, that one game could cost a team favorable seeding or, every so often, even an NCAA berth.

Look what would have happened to Syracuse this past season had the Orange simply been able to replace Colgate with Davidson.

As estimated by Ken Pomeroy's efficiency ratings and giving Syracuse standard home-court advantage, Colgate is a nearly automatic home win for Syracuse and Davidson would win one in every six meetings. Given that Rule 1 of RPI Betterment is "Don't lose at home," it appears Colgate is the smarter and safer choice. That's not the case, though. Davidson's record (rolled into Factor II, worth 50 percent of a team's RPI) is so much better than Colgate's that, even assuming Syracuse never loses to Colgate and accounting for the occasional loss to the Wildcats, Syracuse is much better off playing Davidson.

How much better? A quick crunch of the numbers shows that making that one switch in the schedule this season would have, on average, improved Syracuse's RPI by about 0.0057 -- or in other words, nine RPI spots this past season. That would have pushed the Orange from No. 50 to No. 41, right on the brink of what recently has been near-lock status for the NCAA Tournament. Five times out of six, the actual bump would be bigger. Just from one game.

Again, this isn't a rip on Syracuse; in playing home games against Penn, Holy Cross and Hofstra last season, in addition to Wichita State and Drexel, the Orange showed they "get it" more than most teams of their ilk. The Orange just happened to lose two of those games, which is killer in the new RPI formula.

The morals of the story? Understand the way the RPI works -- all wins are created equal -- and don't be afraid to schedule up. Top 50 programs can play opponents 150-200 RPI spots better than some of the worst teams on their current schedule with a minimal increase in the risk of a loss. The programs that more rapidly understand this risk/reward equation will reap the benefits -- a good situation to be in when those benefits include millions of extra dollars in NCAA Tournament revenues and TV exposure.

No one expected Davidson to be this good this season, but now the nation has been warned. The Wildcats didn't have a senior on their roster and should be a lock to have 22-plus wins again next season. As such, we'll find out who really does get it when we see which teams schedule Davidson in 2007-08.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Our Nation grieves with those who have lost loved ones at Virginia Tech. We hold the victims in our hearts. We lift them up in our prayers, and we ask a loving God to comfort those who are suffering.

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on Monday, April 16, 2007, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, Sunday, April 22, 2007. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Davidson Basketball Video

Here's a little video I put together. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Jason Zimmerman new Emory head coach


Emory University Athletics Director Betsy Stephenson has announced Jason Zimmerman’s appointment as head men’s basketball coach. Zimmerman will start his duties immediately.

“I want to thank Betsy Stephenson and all those involved in the search process for selecting me to lead the Emory men’s basketball program,” Zimmerman said. “Emory University strives for excellence in all areas and we look forward to having the basketball program reach that level of excellence.

“The reputation of Emory, its fine facilities, and the high regard that the University Athletic Association is held in made the job appealing,” Zimmerman stated. “Emory is about success and when you are around successful people, good things can happen. My family and I are honored and excited about joining the Emory family.”

Zimmerman, a native of Warsaw, Indiana, brings a wealth of experience to the Emory program having spent the last 11 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division I level.

Zimmerman spent seven seasons on the Davidson staff, where he worked for Bob McKillop, from 1996-97 through 2002-03. During his tenure, the Wildcats compiled an impressive 122-81 record and competed in the 1998 and 2002 NCAA Tournaments. Davidson won North Division championships in the Southern Conference in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2003, and won the Southern Conference Tournament in 1998 and 2002.

“Jason Zimmerman is the type of person that you want your son to play for,” said McKillop, a six-time SoCon Coach of the Year. “He is a superb coach and caring individual. He will maximize the talents of those who play for him.

“He has the ability to get on the court and show what has to be done and how to do it,” McKillop continued. “Jason has the unique capacity to get players to blend and play roles. He is adept at getting players to grasp the team concept nature of the game while highlighting their individual strengths.”

Most recently, Zimmerman spent the 2003-04 through 2006-07 seasons as an assistant at the University of Evansville under Steve Merfeld. While with the Purple Aces, he coached Matt Webster and Clint Cuffle to All-Missouri Valley Conference honors while recruiting and coaching Jason Holsinger to the MVC 2005-06 All-Freshman Team.

“Jason is the kind of person who fits in well with the people he comes in contact with,” Merfeld said. He will have a positive impact on the student-athletes he will work with.

“He is extremely talented when it comes to skill development and he is an exceptional recruiter because of his ability to relate well to people. He has a true passion for the game of basketball and for coaching.”

Zimmerman was a four-year letterwinner at Davidson where he concluded his career as the school’s No. 18 all-time leading scorer with 1,260 points. One of the top players in the Southern Conference, he finished fourth in career free throw percentage and seventh in career assists, and was a member of Davidson’s 1994 NIT team. Jason also earned Davidson’s Thomas A. Sparrow Award for commitment to collegiate athletics. He graduated from Davidson in 1994 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics.

“We are thrilled to have Coach Zimmerman lead our men’s basketball program,” Stephenson said. “His Division I background as both a student-athlete and coach has provided him the blueprint on how to be successful and prepared him for his role as Emory’s head coach.

Jason and his wife, Traci, have a son, Trevor, and daughter, Taylor.

From The Emory Wheel
(Emory student paper)

Sports: Men's B-Ball Coach Hired

After searching for 40 days and sifting through more than 200 applications, Emory has selected University of Evansville (Ind.) Assistant Coach Jason Zimmerman as the men's basketball program's fourth head coach on Monday.

"He just has a great combination of experience and skills that we think will serve Emory well," Director of Athletics and Recreation Betsy Stephenson said.

Most recently, Zimmerman spent the past four seasons as an assistant to Evansville Head Coach Steve Merfeld, who resigned at the end of this last season. Zimmerman said he's excited for the opportunities ahead at Emory.

"Emory University and its excellence in every aspect makes it exciting because the basketball program can be built around that excellence," he said.

The Eagles finished 8-17 overall and 2-12 in UAA conference play this past year, marking their worst season in more than a decade. Zimmerman will be charged with rebuilding a program that has not made the NCAA tournament in 17 years.

And while Zimmerman's most recent coaching experience came in Indiana, his experiences as a player and assistant coach at Division I Davidson College may have had more to do with his hiring. After the resignation of former Emory Head Coach Brett Zuver on Feb. 28, Stephenson said she wanted a coach with "experience with selective admissions." Zimmerman faced that challenge when recruiting as an assistant coach for seven years at Davidson.

"It was really important [he had that]," Stephenson said. "It's hard enough to do that job without understanding how you weave through the recruiting process. He did that for the entire time he was at Davidson."

Viewers of this year's NCAA tournament may remember the Wildcats nearly knocking off the University of Maryland in the first round of this year's March Madness.

"They were everyone's upset pick," Emory junior guard Claude Pardue Jr. said.

Stephenson first learned about Zimmerman the same week.

"A friend told me I need to call this guy soon," she said.

Zimmerman helped Davidson to its current status as a perennial contender in the Southern Conference and went with the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament in 1998 and 2002 as an assistant under current Wildcats' head coach Bob McKillop.

"I was part of rebuilding that program with Coach McKillop, and I had a great mentor in that process," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman hopes to transfer that rebuilding energy to Emory, where the Eagles program appears on paper to be in disarray. The Eagles lost six seniors, four starters and a head coach in the week following the wrap-up of an 8-17 season.

Junior guard Spiros Ferderigos, who has led the Eagles in scoring each of the past two seasons, said he's excited for a fresh start with Zimmerman.

"We're definitely not performing well and definitely rebuilding," he said. "It's good to know we have someone who has been [through rebuilding] as a player and as a coach."

Players met with three finalists late last week, and Pardue and Ferderigos said most team members endorsed the hiring of the two of the candidates. The decision ultimately rested with Stephenson, who emphasized that player input was an important part of the process.

"Their opinions mattered," she said. "If there was wholesale support, or marginal support or no support, it made a difference."

According to Emory Assistant Coach Jimmy Paulis, the finalists included one head coach and two assistant coaches. Paulis also met with the finalists and plans to keep his name in the running as Zimmerman decides on an assistant for next season. Emory's new head coach said he hasn't decided who his assistant will be, but he wants "someone who has a great understanding of Emory."

Paulis thinks his six years of experience at Emory and four as a player in Division III could be an asset for Zimmerman, who has spent the last 15 years in Division I. He is also exploring the possibility of becoming a Division III head coach elsewhere and did not apply for the head job at Emory.

"Through interaction with [Stephenson], I think they were looking to kind of go in a different direction," Paulis said. "Based on that communication, I just thought it would be in the best interest of everybody for me not to pursue it."

Whoever joins Zimmerman's staff will likely be coaching a style of play the Eagles haven't used in recent years. Pardue said that Zimmerman talked about employing a lot of secondary break and fast break options offensively, and he thinks that will suit Emory's returning personnel well.

"You look at our [returning] big guys, and they're fast players," Pardue said. "After watching Davidson, if he comes in and implements the same thing, I think it could be pretty successful."

Zimmerman said he likes his teams to "be aggressive on both ends of the court," and the Eagles might have to be next season. Emory returns just two players taller than 6-foot-3, and Ferderigos said Zimmerman's more aggressive style will suit Emory well next year.

"We're definitely going to be a little small next year if no big men come in," he said. "We're going to have to play uptempo. Maybe we can get a couple big men in, but we're probably going to need to be a running team."

Regardless of next season's outcome, Emory basketball takes its next step behind the vision of Zimmerman. Pardue believes that vision can bring Emory to the next level.

"He sees Emory with the potential to be an elite program, and we have everything here to have that," he said.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

ESPN.com: Pre-season Top 25

Andy Katz, of ESPN, has Davidson JUST outside his preseason Top 25 for next season. His note mentions that once all the early entries to the NBA are known, Davidson may just jump into the rankings.

"Teams we'll regret not having, but reserve the right to toss in here after we know all the early-entry fallout: Davidson..."