After starting conference play 1-5, many Tech fans are calling for Konkol’s head. Some of the takes are quite simplistic:
Some are a bit more creative:
After a while though, the takes start to feel repetitive:
And it after doing some intensive research, it appears the problem goes back further than we thought (May 2015):
Anyway, let’s look at what’s happening with the Dunkin’ Dogs. Should we be concerned? Whose fault is this? Should we start firing people?
On December 22, Jalen Harris tweeted out his plans to transfer from Louisiana Tech. From what I can gather, it appears he was officially granted his release two days earlier, on December 20th. After doing some reading, it appears that there was a disagreement between Jalen Harris and Coach Konkol. The rumor is that Harris was disciplined for not being a team player. Harris thought this to be unfair and asked for a release.
The way the story is presented, it seems that Harris is in the “wrong” here. He was asked to check his ego and he couldn’t. That’s not conductive to running a winning basketball program. We won’t ever know what happened or what was said, but I’m going to side with Konkol here. Especially when the players seem to do so too.
But drama aside, it is very difficult to replace a star player regardless of the situation. For the 11 games Harris played for Tech this year, he averaged 15.3 points per game (tied for best on the team). Although the team was played 7 games since his departure, he still has the third most points scored. That’t not something you can replace overnight.
Another criticism of Konkol is his inability to keep his roster together.
So let’s look at the players Konkol has lost in his first three years compared to White’s last three years.
|Qiydar Davis||Dayon Griffin||Leo Edwards|
|Da’Shawn Robinson||Merrill Holden||Xavian Stapleton|
|Luke Walker||Branden Sheppard||Gilbert Talbot|
|Joshua Butler||Alex Carr|
|Isaiah Massey||Lonnie Smith|
So with Harris added to Konkol’s list, he is averaging just of 3 transfers a year, while White’s was under 2 per year. What is Konkol doing that causes people to leave?
While I don’t think Konkol is devoid of blame, I think this situation has more to do with the trends in college basketball than with the coach of the program. Below is a chart of the Division I basketball players that transfer each year:
So the players are much more likely to transfer now than 6 or 7 years ago. Couple that with the usual turnover a new coaching hire brings, and it can be easily explained why so many players are leaving. It’s not just a problem here, but all over the country.
Strength of Schedule
Here is a chart of the wins and losses throughout the year. (Note: this doesn’t include the UAB game, but they have a ranking of 114). The X-axis is the game number and the Y-axis is the Massey Rating of the opposing team. The UT-Tyler (Rank: 925), Miles (896), and Alabama St (603) games spread out the chart a little much, so let’s ignore those games and zoom in a little bit.
So with a couple exceptions (*cough cough* UTSA), Tech wins the easier games and loses the harder games. Massey Ratings currently gives Tech a rating of 164, which is in that zone between where most of their losses come from versus where most of their wins come from.
The 164 rating is the sixth best in C-USA, after MTSU (48), WKU (50), ODU (82), UAB (114), and Marshall (123). The first thing I immediately notice is that Tech has played four of those teams in the past three weeks. That’s a brutal stretch of a schedule for any team, so while it isn’t ideal, it is at least understandable. If this stretch happened midway through conference play, I don’t think there would be as much discussion about firing Konkol.
Also, looking ahead to the future schedule, here is what is left to play:
|vs North Texas (203)||vs Rice (406)||vs USM (242)|
|@ FAU (242)||@ FIU (280)||vs Charlotte (339)|
|vs ODU (82)/td>||vs UAB (114)||vs MTSU (48)|
|@ UTEP (314)||@ UTSA (229)||@ USM (242)|
I blame the recent struggles on bad timing than of Coach Konkol. Losing a player like Harris mid-season is recoverable. Playing through a stretch of rough conference is difficult, but the expectation is definitely to win one more than just one of those games. Combine those two things, and the recent stretch is excusable to me. If Tech starts losing multiple games to teams like Charlotte or Rice, then it will be time to reopen this discussion.
We have painfully learned the past few years that it doesn’t matter how well you play during the season. All that matters is the tournament. Luckily, Tech has a lot of time to find their groove again before Frisco.