Thanks to everyone who participated in this year's Banners on the Parkway postseason report cards. With the players done, we are moving on to breaking down the various facets of Coach Mack. In addition to showing how the community rated the coach on offense, defense, man management, and overall, we'll be assigning and explaining our own grades as well. If you've missed any of the previous breakdowns, check them out in our 2016: Season in Review section.
|Community GPA: 3.4
Xavier got 34.9% of it's minutes from the bench this year, good for 110th in the nation. There's a lot more to man management than just using the bench well, though. Coach Mack was tested when Edmond Sumner went down, when Makinde London stagnated, when Jalen Reynolds was himself, and when James Farr was battling through leg injuries. Coach Mack also had to deal with the stylings of JP Macura, Sean O'Mara's overly intimate methods of playing defense, and working Kaiser Gates into the rotation. To do all that and land a team solidly in the top 10 of the rankings week after week is why Coach Mack garners this grade from us.
Coach Mack Man Management: A
There's no question that the most serious roster issue that Xavier had to deal with this year was the point guard position. Before the season started it looked like Edmond Sumner would be the first choice, but he was essentially an unknown quantity. LAJ was a possibility and Myles Davis was even touted by some corners of the internet. That had seemingly all sorted itself out when Sumner got cross checked by Kris Jenkins and sent Coach Mack scrambling. Xavier hadn't lost at that point and was facing a nationally ranked Butler squad next. The coaching staff stayed calm after Myles finished the Nova game with five turnovers and inserted him at point against the Bulldogs.
The numbers tell the story after that. Myles turnover rate climbed commensurate with handling the ball more, but stayed below the 20% mark and basically even with Sumner. More importantly, Myles finished 233rd in the nation with a 24.6% assist rate. Calm and collected, if not explosive, Davis was clearly the choice to handle the duties when Edmond was down and, increasingly through the season, whenever he needed a break. Coach Mack picked and chose spots, but LAJ simply never made the position his.
In the post, Mack dealt with a triumvirate of offensively gifted bigs who loved nothing more than to slap their opponents. That turned into the two headed monster of Jalems Farrnolds, a 40 minute bully who dominated the glass on both ends. When he needed it, Mack used his two posts together or threw Sean O'Mara and his 107.6 offensive efficiency into the mix. With two pieces of that group moving on, Coach Mack will be hard pressed to get the same post productivity in the coming year.
On more thing that Coach Mack did well was tailor the style of play to what he had. Too many coaches try to fit their system (and, most likely, ego) in wherever they go. Coach Mack adapted this year by going to the 1-3-1 more heavily to protect his guards on defense. On offense, Xavier cranked up the pace to the highest tempo of the KenPom Era to take advantage of the offensive speed those same guards had. Even playing that high pace, Xavier posted their best offensive efficiency of the same KenPom Era.
In short, it's hard to see where Coach Mack could have handled his roster much better this season. Yes, the season did end early, but it wasn't because Coach Mack didn't get the most out of who he had. This conglomeration of guys was picked to finish fourth in the Big East, instead they peaked at fifth in the nation.