Overall, the Big Ten’s composition is such that a couple of teams that look to be bottom-half teams could sneak up and snag a top half (and tournament) spot, especially with some consensus top-half teams we have concerns about, such as Nebraska. We see Minnesota as a bottom half team (around 10th), but there are several areas where, if they perform well, they can elevate their standing. Two of those are discussed below: 2-point field goal percentage and Amir Coffey’s usage.
A year ago, Minnesota’s RPI (20 on Selection Sunday) benefitted from their strong strength of schedule (as defined by the RPI – not as any rational human would define it). Their opponents’ strength of schedule (“SOS”), worth 50% of the RPI, was .5953 as the NCAA tourney field was being finalized.
The Gophers enjoyed a well-constructed schedule under which they faced a number of relative easy games against beatable competition who happened to finish the year with good win-loss records.
For example, no one was concerned about hosting Mount St. Mary’s. Minnesota won 80-56. But, for purposes of Minnesota’s Selection Sunday SOS, Mount St. Mary’s had a record of 19-14 (.5758).
Last year’s lid lifter vs. Lafayette wasn’t scary, but the Ragin’ Cajuns were 19-11 (.6333) on Selection Sunday for purposes of Minnesota’s SOS calc.
Things will not be the same in 2017-18. The Gophers SOS will be considerably weaker.
Late Night Hoops projects an SOS on Selection Sunday of just .5520, or .0433 less than 2016-17. If we adjust last year’s RPI of .6109 for only the impact of the lower SOS (e.g., 50% of .0433), the Gophers would have had a Selection Sunday RPI of 39 instead of 20.
Just prior to the start of the 2016-17 basketball season last November, we stated that Richard Pitino was not on the hot seat. There were three reasons for this: the team’s outlook, his large buyout, and the program’s APR.
Our claims that most people were underestimating the team and that they projected to be set for a strong 2017-18 were proven to be true. From here, things could continue to go well (e.g., a strong 2017-18 season, great success on the recruiting trail), or they could become more challenging.
However, due to the other two issues, the seat still probably won’t get hot soon even if team performance and recruiting go south.
December Update on Gophers 2016-17
The following is a look at our preseason comments regarding the outlook for the Gophers in 2016-17,
We said: “It’s not unreasonable to set a goal of 9th or 10th place in the Big Ten.”
Most preseason prognosticators slotted Minnesota at #12 or #13 in the Big Ten. We continue to believe the Gophers can exceed those expectations. As of today, Minnesota is ranked #8 in the Big Ten per KenPom.
Pitino Not On The “Hot Seat”; Gophers 2016-17 Outlook
Many preseason “coaches on the hot seat” articles list Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and state that a poor season on the court would spell trouble for Pitino. We believe the only way Pitino would be on the hot seat is if there are continued off the court issues for the program’s student-athletes. There are a few reasons why we don’t see Pitino being on the hot seat absent off the court issues. Those reasons are listed below.
Late last summer, Minnesota entered into an amendment with Pitino which effectively caused his buyout to skyrocket should he be fired without cause. If Minnesota were to terminate Pitino’s employment next March, the buyout would still be nearly $6 million.
Regents Cry Foul, But Should They?
Who’s responsible for approving the Pitino extension that multiplied his buyout by more than two times, to more than $8 million?
The answer is extremely important to the story, and the mainstream media should do the work to report on it.
Ultimately, this falls on the Board of Regents and the President’s office, but the details are important.
In March 2016, certain Regents became vocal and expressed frustration over Pitino’s large buyout (which at that time had amortized to just over $7 million). Some called for more oversight and ability to approve significant contracts.
The reality, however, is that they already had the ability to do so. The Pitino contract situation illustrates the Board of Regents and President’s office not working well together.
This week a resolution will be brought forth that specifies the process on certain contracts (e.g., Board approval required for any initial appointment where an employee’s annual salary will exceed $250,000 or any employment agreement, or amendment thereto, that has at total cost to the University of $600,000 or more.)
However, in the case of Pitino and the other contracts amended in reaction to the very public and shameful resignation of Norwood Teague, the Board should have been brought into the process under existing policy. Continue reading Regents Cry Foul, But Should They? Pitino Buyout and MoreSharing Options:
They Said It: Amy Phenix
The Board of Regents (“Board”) effectively approved the contract extension of Richard Pitino on August 14, 2015. The Board delegated authority to the President, who delegated to his Chief of Staff, Amy Phenix. Ms. Phenix signed under the big block letters, “REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA.”
The timing of certain members of the Board voicing their concern about Pitino’s contract and their claim of a lack of a role in approving it is a topic for another day, but one which certainly is deserving of further discussion.
Now, let us move on to the topic of this article: “They Said It: Amy Phenix”
In a Star Tribune article published on March 31, 2016, Chief of Staff Amy Phenix explained, “The reality is you’re very rarely going to fire someone not for cause in year one of a contract extension,” she said. “It’s just highly unusual.”
Let’s quickly explore what “the reality is.”
Continue reading They Said It: Amy Phenix
Ask LNH: How did you know Kill would be gone in 2015?
For years you have stated that Jerry Kill’s final year as head coach at Minnesota would be 2015. Even this season upon news of a finalized contract extension and hefty raise, you continued to state this was his last year. The news of his resignation this week shocked most people – how were you able to foresee this outcome?
Jerry Kill and the University of Minnesota have continued to put his health and well-being in jeopardy. The truth behind his health history is not known by most of the public, but was fairly easy to understand for those who took emotion out of the equation and analyzed the facts rationally.
Stress is the major issue here. The stress in year five at Minnesota was always going to be too much for Jerry Kill.