Recently, Jordan Sperber took a look at how a coaching change affects style of play. His quality work caught the attention of Zak Boisvert, who gave us the idea to do a similar study looking at Iona. With Boisvert's idea and Sperber's guidance, I am delving into a similar post regarding Iona and the transition from Kevin Willard to Tim Cluess.
Iona, during the Willard days, struggled the first two years before going 21-10 in year 3. The Willard led Iona teams didn’t excel in the four factors offensively, with the exception of 2009’s free throw rate, however were well above average defensively.
Under the lead of Cluess, Iona has been extremely successful at the most important category: wins. They went 25-12 in year 1 and 25-8 in year 2, including an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament before this epic collapse. Looking at the four factors, Iona excelled shooting and turning teams over. Their offense has been stellar in the two full seasons under Cluess.
It’s tough to believe watching them now, but just 2.5 years ago, Iona was a slower, defensive centric team.
2008 was the fastest Iona played under Kevin Willard. A likely reason for that is much of the personnel (upperclassmen) were used to playing at a faster pace under the previous coach, Jeff Ruland.
Something interesting to look at that I believe changes with a new coach is the bench usage. Under Willard, Iona used their bench about as much as any team in the nation. Under Cluess, Iona has been using their bench in the bottom third of the country. To me, this seems contradicting. I would assume a run and gun style would lead to more minutes for the bench.
I believe many factors affect how a team plays after a new coach is hired. Obviously, once a coach has settled in and has a chance to recruit the style of player he wants, “Run n Gun” or “Beilein Ball” can take place. However, before a recruiting class or two, stats prove that personnel has a much greater influence in the short term before that coach can implement his system.