Recon: Furman

Recon: Furman

nordaytoncolumnArchie Miller to Wisconsin.

In light of Bo Ryan’s quitting immediate departure as head coach of the Badgers, I’ve already seen Miller’s name pop up on a bunch of Wisconsin-related Twitter accounts and message boards.

Although Bo Ryan makes my skin crawl, I’ll give credit where credit is due. He turned a dog shit program into a perennial Top 25 team and certainly made his mark in the NCAA Tournament during his time in Madison.

However, I don’t think this is a job that Archie would (a) be interested in or (b) necessarily even be a candidate for. The consensus seems to be that Barry Alvarez will likely reach out to UVA’s Tony Bennett and try to bring him back home to the Land of Cheese and Heart Disease once the season is complete. If not Bennett, current interim coach Greg Gard would seem to be the odds on favorite to land the gig (you’ll see Archie’s name, along with Chris Mack’s, and I’ve even seen Shaka Smart (?!?) mentioned as a potential replacement for Ryan). Simply put, the Wisconsin job isn’t as good as their on-court results indicate, I don’t see it as a viable threat to Dayton’s immediate coaching future.

Which always leads us to this question: Well, what jobs would Archie leave the City of Gems for? Let’s quickly look at what jobs could realistically open up after this season, focusing solely on programs that could legitimately entice ($$$) Ryan Joseph Miller. (Sidenote: Archie doesn’t appear to be the kind of guy to talk to a school merely to squeeze more money out of his current employer. If Miller is talking to an AD at another program, he absolutely wants that job.) 

Schools listed in order of trepidation they would cause should they open up in April. 

ohio-state-logoLosses to Louisiana Tech and UT-Arlington notwithstanding, I don’t see the Buckeyes dumping Thad Matta on his ass after the season. OSU will likely miss the NCAA tournament in March, putting the brakes on a seven-year run in the Big Dance. I’m fairly confident Matta has bought himself at least another year or two. Still, this would be the easiest transition for Arch, it’s literally the same recruiting base, one that would put the misses in Prada purses for a long time. Unless Miller is waiting for his “dream” job, whatever that may be, I’d imagine he’d be extremely interested. 

cfb-iu-logoncb_u_crean_600Indiana fans really seem to hate Tom Crean, the type of loathing that’s usually reserved for pedophiles, lawyers and pedophile lawyers. Sure, there have been some off-court issues in Bloomington over the past few seasons, which will suddenly become a non-issue if Archie, with his checkered history, became interested in the head coaching gig.

The stumbling block Crean faces seems to be his postseason success, which is to say he has none. As a four seed in 2012, the Hoosiers were bounced out by Kentucky in the Sweet 16 (nothing to be ashamed of). In 2013, as a one seed, IU was once again taken down in the regional semifinals, this time by Syracuse. Last season, Crean snuck into the field as a #10 seed (with a worse resume than Dayton, but I digress) and were dispatched by VCU in the “second” round.

Archie has made his name on his performances in March, Crean’s built an army of detractors based on his. This potential opening would raise my eyebrows. That being said, I think the Hoosiers go dancin’ again this season, win a game or two, and Crean’s seat will slowly cool.

University_of_Illinois_LogoIt seems like John Groce just got to Champaign, doesn’t it? Would you believe this is already his fourth year as the head man at Illinois? With only one tournament appearance, back in his first season at the throne (with Bruce Weber’s recruits), Groce has entered the coaching abyss. It seems like the Illini’s recruiting hasn’t kept pace with their Big Ten brethren and that, my friends, is always going to land you in hot water. Mike Thomas, the Athletic Director that hired Groce, was just shit-canned and there is nothing a new AD likes more than making a new hire to make an imprint and get the moneyed boosters to crawl out of their cracks. I think Groce gets pink-slipped at the end of the season and we will certainly hear Archie’s name attached to this opening. However, I think Miller’s interest will be like pissing your pants, warm and enticing at first but then it will quickly grows cold and alienating. Short story, I’m not inordinately worried about overtures from Illinois.

georgia-techWould Georgia Tech reach out to Dayton again to find its head basketball coach? Absolutely. Archie is his own man and is certainly a candidate the North Avenue Trade School would be fortunate to interview. It’s rare for a school to double-dip the same school for a candidate, particulary in succession, but there’s no way Mike Bobinski, former Xavier AD, wouldn’t consider Archie if there was mutual interest (this would, of course, start a tidal wave of “Bring BG Back!” posts on Pride, a wound-healer if there ever was one).

This prospective opening would be extra tasty as it would cause some consternation down in Northern Kentucky — considering Chris Mack’s name would no doubt be mentioned due to his preexisting relationship with the current Georgia Tech athletic director. Furthermore, you’d have to believe Mack would interview at Tech just out of courtesy to his old boss, which would put our Overlord friends even more on edge. Yet, we all know that GTech isn’t exactly a major player when it comes to lining pockets with cash. Unless Bobinski finds an alternative revenue stream, maybe create an app of some sort, I can’t imagine either Mack or Miller seriously contemplates a move to Atlanta.

I should note that Gregory’s Yellow Jackets have actually gotten off to a good start this season. But, as Flyer fans, we all know how this book ends.

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logoNot gonna happen. The only reason I have Oklahoma State so high is that T. Boone Pickens could conceivably offer Archie an ungodly amount of money and his own oil derrick. Travis Ford has done absolutely nothing in Stillwater, while the majority of the Big 12 seems to be passing his program by. There’s an exceedingly good chance Ford gets pushed out after this season and a likelihood that Archie’s name gets attached as a potential replacement simply because he is a hot name and this is a Power Five position that should pay handsomely. Regardless, this job gets the ol’ hand wank motion from me (although, Mrs. Archie in cowboy boots certainly intrigues me).

175px-MemphisTigers_svgThis one would be such a poor cultural fit I almost want to see it happen from a social science point of view. The newborn sheen has finally washed off of Josh Pastner and now the Memphis fan base is worried they hired the guy who should be picking up John Calipari’s laundered suits. Memphis has under-achieved in the NCAA tournament during Pastner’s reign, and if the Tigers missed the postseason again this year it could be lights out for the former wunderkind. We all know Archie can win in Memphis (high five!), I’m just not sure he could win at Memphis. Pastner is earning around three million dollars this season, so money doesn’t appear to be an issue. All that being said, this opening would cause me to yawn and rip a hellacious gasser. Next.

Head-UNLV-Arch-ColorI had to include one out of left field sleeper and the Rebel job would clearly fit the bill. Give current UNLV head coach Dave Rice credit, he recruited the shit out of his program. Three top ten classes over the past four seasons is a momentous achievement for any coach in America. The problem is Rice hasn’t done anything with the talent he brought to Sin City. Rice has yet to win a NCAA tournament game while at Vegas and his time appears to be running out.

Unless the Rebs make some noise this March, it’s a good bet UNLV will be looking elsewhere. Although Archie probably has some faded recruiting flags still buried in the southwest, there’s almost no way the Rebels could afford him. As much I would like to see Archie wearing a pinkie ring and a sharkskin suit on the sidelines, this opening wouldn’t even get a “meh” from me. It’s a job I’d personally covet if UNLV is interested in a guy who hasn’t spoken to an 18 year-old black kid in his life.

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Of course, there will be machinations and dominoes falling that we can’t possibly anticipate this spring (for instance, Steve Alford gets fired after a pay-for-play scandal emerges at UCLA, Shaka Smart goes to Westwood, Tony Bennett leaves for Austin and Chris Mooney takes over at UVA, etc., etc.), other coaching opportunities that can’t be projected at this point in time. Nevertheless, this is where I think the field lies as of December, 2015. Take it or leave it.

Let’s get back to the present and your Daytona Fliers. UD brings in a true shit show to town this weekend, Furman. This is the perfect opponent at the perfect time.

Overview

I’m not even going to plump Furman up, the Paladins are not a good basketball team. They are currently 5-4 and have a RPI hovering just north of 320. They are not full of sound and fury, and they do signify nothing.

The only information about Furman you need to know — what’s the origin of the Paladin nickname?

Furman University athletic teams were known by different names until the 1961 school year. The baseball team was “Hornets,” the football team “Hurricane,” and the basketball team “Paladins.” The basketball team was dubbed “Paladins” by a Greenville sportswriter in the 1930s. By vote of the student body, all Furman athletic teams became the “Paladins” on September 15, 1961. A Paladin is a knight on a horse and the recognized mascot of Furman University’s athletic teams.furmanpaladins.com

I wholeheartedly support the use of different mascots for a school’s various athletic programs. It’s batshit insane, counterproductive and I love everything about it.

 BKC1-8-15-071

Furman has all five starters from last year’s squad, a team that was one basket away from winning the Southern Conference tournament a season ago (which isn’t to say the Paladins were decent in 2014-15, they went 11-22 and had a miraculous run to the league’s final). Head coach Niko Medved, the inspiration for the lead characer in Grand Theft Auto 4, is in his third year at the helm and finally has the type of depth that can make a difference in a league like the SoCon.

Niko-BellicThe Paladins struggle mightily shooting from fifteen feet out. Gardner-Webb used this information to their advantage this past weekend, throwing up a zone against Furman for forty minutes, which resulted in the Paladins shooting an abysmal 5-of-28 from behind the arc. Not surprisingly, Furman took a twenty-point L in that matchup. Medved’s club gets a lot of threes up and hits a small fraction of them, not exactly a recipe for success (by the way, would it shock you to learn that Dayton is shooting 32.5% from the arc — ranking them 222nd in the country? It shocked me, it did).

So what does Furman, picked fifth in the Southern Conference’s preseason poll, do well? They’re a private school with an enrollment of 2,600 and somehow support D1 athletics, so that’s kinda impressive. The Paladins play at a slow, methodical pace which is sure to put the Sweater Centre at ease during this period of recovery for the Flyer Nation. That’s very charitable of Furman.

Tne one aspect of the game the Paladins actually do excel in revolves around the charity stripe. Furman gets to the line with above average frequency and relies on freebies for a healthy amount of their points — whether or not this is a “positive” statistic is certainly open for debate, the fact is Furman gets to the stripe early and often. It will be interesting to see how this indicator plays out against Dayton, as UD’s foul-prone players reside in the front court and Furman’s offensive attack funnels through its back court. Unless the Paladin guards are blowing past their counterparts with regularity, there probably won’t be extended contact between the aforementioned parties.

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[show-team category=’furman’ layout=’grid’ style=’img-square,img-shadow,text-center,img-above,4-columns,white-box-theme’ display=’photo,position,location,name’]

Stevie Croone, Devin Sibley and Daniel Fowler start on the perimeter for Furman. Croone is the team’s best player, its leading scorer and accounts for an insane 30.5% usage rate (which estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor). Croone will have to have a career game for Furman to have a shot in the Decibel Dungeon. Sibley and Fowler are basically carbon copies of each other. Both guards can stroke it from three and rebound decently for their size. 

RaffertyM-16PC5Freshman forward Matt Rafferty has been a godsend for Medved. The 6’8″ forward has range, can rebound and is a great passer for a man his size. Rafferty gets to line with regularity, connecting on 81% of his attempts. Kris Acox starts in the front court alongside Rafferty, he’s a banger and Furman’s best interior defender. 

John Davis, Kendrec Ferrara and Andrew Brown are the Paladins’ main options off the bench. Davis is an undersized guard with a two to one assist-to-turnover ratio. Brown is a freshman guard, currently leading the team in three-point percentage. Ferrara is a big who is extremely effective with his playing time, averaging six points and four rebounds while playing around fifteen minutes per game.

Nate’s Numbers

This should shape up as a nice bounce back game for Dayton as Furman is fairly terrible in general and they match up poorly with a team like the Fliers.  

On the offensive end, Furman pretty much can only score from the free-throw line as they rank 42nd nationally in free-throw rate.  For some reason, the Paladins shoot a ton of threes (46% of their shots), but are pretty subpar at it (30% – 275th in the nation).  This has been Dayton’s one defensive weakness, guarding the perimeter, and doesn’t look like Furman will be able to take advantage.

On the defensive side Furman does…nothing.  They’re giving up 53% shooting on two point shots, while only blocking 3.7% of their opponent’s shots (342nd). I would expect this to be a day for Big Steve to have his way.

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Prediction

Flyers get to pick on some low hanging fruit and put the nastiness from last weekend to bed. UD stomps Furman, 83-62, and extends their home-court winning streak to one. The Chief racks up another double-double, 15 and 13, and Charles Cooke leads all scorers with 25 points. Christmas break begins, a certain Canadian might be on campus and the conference opener is just around the corner. Please tweet all the red sweaters you get from Santa to @blackburnreview.

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Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o’ D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.

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