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Seton Hall Basketball: Kevin Willard vs. Bobby Gonzalez - KenPom Edition

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Ken Pomeroy recently added coaching statistics to the long list of helpful tools on his wonderful website. While we are only one season into Kevin Willard's tenure in South Orange, I think his team's statistics last season as well as at Iona can more or less be accurately compared and contrasted to Bobby Gonzalez's body of work as Captain of the Pirate ship.

First, Kevin Willard's 'Coaching Resume': 


(Click on the picture to enlarge)

What's obvious is an overall focus on defense. Willard's teams have done well in 2PT & 3PT percentage defense, eFG% (effective FG percentage), turnover percentage, and AdjD (Adjusted Defensive Efficiency). Seton Hall actually finished 13th in AdjD this past season - an improvement of over one hundred places in just one season.

On the offensive end, Willard's teams have struggled for the most part. To be optimistic, last season's team finished 50th in TO%, something that should be improved upon next season with a senior point guard and no Keon Lawrence, Mr. Turnover himself.

Now, Gonzo's resume: 


Not surprisingly, Gonzalez's resume sports a more offensive minded approach to the game with a mediocre to poor defensive side of the board. Bobby's teams always posted excellent turnover percentages and hovered around the Top 50 of Adjusted Offenses.

What isn't immediately noticeable is the fact that Gonzo's teams weren't as good with the rock in their hands as one would think they would be. I certainly expected a 'greener' left side of his resume because of the ability of past Pirate teams to fill it up. The disconnect between their ability to score and their resume is because of KenPom's rather complex ratings. For example, Virginia Military Institute, known for their extremely high scoring outputs, was rated just 67th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency last season. Their offensive numbers hovered around the Top 25, but they didn't exactly mirror their NCAA's best 87.9PPG that they posted last season. For more on exactly how KenPom's ratings work, this page is a good place to start reading.

Further, I think its interesting to compare Willard's resume to that of his mentor, Rick Pitino:


While Pitino's teams were certainly more talented, it definitely looks like his teams were generally similar to that of Kevin Willard's. Pitino has produced overall solid defensive teams that lacked the overwhelming firepower on the offensive end. Lastly, Pitino's reputation of having free-flowing, 3PT chucking teams would assuredly lead to 'green' offensive and 'red' defensive categories, right? Wrong.

With all this great information out of the table, nothing is really too groundbreaking. However, it is important to evaluate what Willard has done at Iona and Seton Hall, compare that to what he inherited (poor defensive fundamentals) from Bobby Gonzalez and speculate about how his teams of the future may play (Rick Pitino.)

Kevin Willard has received a fair amount of heat from Seton Hall fans, including this blog, for his free reign when it came to things like Jeff Robinson's three point shooting, Keon Lawrence playing time and his usage of some reserve forwards. My questions to you guys are:

  • Was Willard rolling the dice when it came to his offensive game plan (Robinson 3PTers, etc)?
  • Do you think Willard will adopt a more aggressive and risky offensive gameplan now a majority of his players are his recruits or does he stick to a conservative defense & 3PT shooting battle plan that we saw last year?
  • Are you content with Willard's approach to the game (defense & 3PT) -- is that even your opinion of his coaching style?
  • Overall, do you prefer Willard's conservative approach or Gonzalez's more risky style?