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UCLA Basketball By the Numbers: Series Win/Loss % Shows Guerrero's Error

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The Wall Street Journal published a study on Friday which showed that UCLA has the fourth highest winning % all-time measured by series win/loss totals. Since Guerrero took over as AD, UCLA's % would place the Bruins 10th all time. This is a slip, but it could have been worse. How could it have been worse? Guerrero could have hired a coach whose series won/loss % was the equivalent of the 30th best program. He did. OUCH.

I won this many games in 17 tries against Wisconsin. Hire me.
I won this many games in 17 tries against Wisconsin. Hire me.
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

The Wall Street Journal published a study measuring college basketball programs over the years to see which school has the best claim to bragging rights. Here is the article.

Obviously, there are different ways to measure success. We are obviously partial to NCAA championships. Kentucky would prefer total wins. Indiana would prefer chairs thrown.

The WSJ did a comparison using a different metric. They took  the top 156 programs (winningest teams, plus any other teams who made the tourney in the last five years) and compared their wins/losses against each other. This resulted in a win/loss % based on all-time series wins and losses against other top teams.

No crowing about wins over Montana State and Nicholls State in these numbers. There are some difficulties with this methodology. For example, conference rivals face off every year, so the winning % might be based on 100 games, and you might be ahead 55-45. Out of conference, you might have faced another team one time in 1954, and won that game, for a series total of 1-0. And these count equally.

But, warts and all, the results are interesting. The top five teams in order are Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, UCLA and North Carolina. Again, we prefer national championships, where the order of these same five teams would be UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Kansas (Indiana, U Conn and Louisville would sneak into the mix as well).

This is just another way of saying that UCLA is a blueblood, and our program should be run as such.

My first cut at the numbers was to do the WSJ computations for UCLA, starting with the 2002-03 season. This was the start of Doughnut's reign of error. I wanted to see how far we might have fallen since his arrival. And my worst fears were not realized. UCLA's overall series win/loss % for all years, per the Wall Street Journal, is 80.5%. The same win/loss % since the 2002-03 season is 70.7% (29 win, 12 losses). This mark would have been good for 10th place in the overall Wall Street Journal rankings.

Obviously 4th is way better than 10th (at least I think so- I spent my time in North Campus, except for French 6, which for some reason was taught in Boelter, and my science distribution classes). 4th is blueblood. But 10th is still a program which can make waves on the national scene. We can thank the Howland good years for the 10th place finish.

Here are some of the series win/loss totals since the 2002-03 season, for some perspective-

In conference for Pac 10 programs-  Arizona 16-13 (win), Arizona State 17-7 (win), Cal 17-11 (win), Oregon 14-12 (win), Oregon State 18-6 (win), Stanford 16-10 (win), $C 16-11 (win), Washington 13-11 (win). (Washington State was excluded from the survey because they haven't had enough wins over the years).

Out of conference- Duke 0-2 (loss), Florida 0-4 (loss- painful every time I think about those games), Kansas 1-4 (loss), Kentucky 1-1 (split), Michigan 4-4 (split), Michigan State 3-1 (win). And we beat Indiana the only time we played them (warms my heart).

So again, we have slipped under Doughnut, but thanks to the good times under Howland, the damage could have been an awful lot worse. And speaking of awful, I then took a look at TIARA's series win/loss % for the years he was a head coach before coming to UCLA.

Doughnut finally came to the conclusion that others had reached earlier, namely that Howland was no longer the right person to lead our program. And he needed to find a new head coach to maintain or increase the standard of excellence which had been set before and during Doughnut's reign of error.

Here is a program which is a blueblood by any standard you could use. And here is a program which was still having a good level of success. And to maintain that success, you need to win more often than you lose against the best teams. Wins over Montana State, Nicholls State, Prairie View and the like are a given. When looking for a coach, we need to hold our own or better against the top programs, not the bottom feeders.

TIARA had racked up dominating conference series against the likes of Northern Iowa and New Mexico State before he was hired by Doughnut. BFD.

How had he done against the top programs? Not so well. TIARA's series win/loss % against the best teams is 59.2 % (29 wins (coincidence), 20 losses.

Here are some of the series totals, to get a flavor of TIARA's record against the best-

Bradley 6-5 (win, MVC opponent from Missouri St), BYU 5-4 (win, MWC opponent from New Mexico), Colorado State 10-2 (win, MWC opponent), Creighton 8-7 (win, MVC opponent), Illinois State 4-6 (loss, MVC opponent), UNLV 7-7 (split, MWC opponent), St. Louis 6-3 (win, MVC opponent), San Diego State 7-8 (loss, MWC opponent), Utah 5-4 (win, MWC opponent), Wichita State 5-3 (win, MVC opponent). That is 7 wins, 2 losses, for a 77.7% series win/loss rate against conference foes. Just to clarify, if TIARA wound up playing these teams as out of conference games, as he bounced, those games count in the totals.

Now let's turn to his Big 10 foes, from his Iowa days. Illinois 4-10 (loss), Indiana 8-7 (win, TIARA clearly was ready for the picket fence and Jimmy Chitwood being used as a decoy), Michigan 6-7 (loss), Michigan State 6-9 (loss), Minnesota 11-5 (win), Ohio State 8-8 (split), Penn State 11-4 (win), Purdue 9-6 (win), Wisconsin 5-12 (loss). That is 4 wins, 4 losses, for a 50% series win/loss rate against conference foes.

You throw in the out of conference games, ranging from a 5-4 win over Iowa State (regular series from Iowa days), to 2 wins over UConn, 2 losses to Duke, a win over Kansas, a 1-1 split with Kentucky, 2 losses to Stanford, and you wind up with the 59.2% winning percentage.

And that 59.2% winning percentage would be good for 30th place on the Wall Street Journal rankings. 30th place sounds about right for a successful mid-major coach. TIARA had a really solid record against other top conference teams when he was at midmajors in the Missouri Valley and Mountain West conferences. He had a 50/50 record when he was matched up in conference in the Big 10. So he was an okay coach when he stepped up a notch to the big leagues.

An okay coach. Why in the hell would a blueblood need to hire an okay coach who did not succeed above the norm in his one stop in a major conference? Why? Why? Why?

We will never know the answer to that question. The cause was clearly incompetence. And one thing for sure- there is no way that Doughnut or any of his minions dissected TIARA's record to see that he was an okay coach at best.

Even apart from the obvious character flaws, which should have been fatal to his employment prospects at UCLA, he was not qualified in terms of win/loss results. We could not do better than the 30th best coach. Really?