Time to Fire Billy Wright and Rebuild the Basketball Program

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JoeWx21
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After seeing the drought end for the Women's team I think it is time to blow up and rebuild the men's program. Billy Wright has shown in his 3 years he cannot coach at this level (mid major D I). He is one hell of a recruiter but cannot utilize the talent he brings in. You can tell he can't adjust and change his coaching mid game. They don't run different set plays or defenses and teams have exploit it. In his 3 years as head coach he has only won 26 games (8 in 1st (all at home), 10 last year, and 8 this year (career high in conference wins with 5)), but truly it is 20 wins since 6 of those wins came from lower division schools. I think the AD needs to go the same route they did with the Women's team and go after a young and up in coming coach from the lower division. Crane did a great job building up the Women's program but couldn't get over the tourney hump. JD was able to build from what crane left and 6 years later ended the 22 year ncaa tourney drought. He had 3 straight losing season when he started but the win totals went up each year (12 in 1st, 14 in 2nd and 3rd). Now he has made this team a threat for the league title the last 3 (17 in his 4th, 16 last year, and 26 this year). Look how he recruits girls to fit his system. From high school, juco, and other D I schools and how he utilizes them. You can see difference on how the offenses are ran and how they play defense, even in his mid game adjustments.

So again, I think it's time to blow up the program and start over. This school can't fall anymore behind the other programs in the Summit League and MVFC especially with a new school being added in North Dakota in 2018 and 2020.
vatusay
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Unfortunately I have to agree. The absolute inability to make offensive or defensive changes in game or even game to game speak volumes to me. I don believe he has an eye for talent but just can't seem to get it to produce on the floor.

Deep on the inside I have to wonder if maybe one more year will get the team over the hump or at least show some improvement. When I comes to professional teams the coaching turnover drives me crazy when coaches aren't given a chance then a new guy comes in and has success with the previous coaches players. Would that apply here? Would it be interesting to see what the team looks like when it isn't focused on one guy? I really do think the talent is there. It is really young talent but NEEDS the right coach. Is billy that coach? So far the results say no.

I have been pretty vocal about how I feel about billy and the lack of success he's had. Seeing what gravina has been able to do with a little patience from the fans and university has me second guessing myself.

I have pretty much argued with myself, sorry everyone lol.
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ST_Lawson
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Anyone know if Coach Wright is still on the year-to-year contract thing? Did he ever get signed for anything longer-term?
I'm not able to find anything about his contract, so I don't really know.
If he's year-to-year, then I think it's probably time to cut our losses and move on. If he's on-contract and still has time left on the contract, then it's a hard decision. The team hasn't been doing great obviously, but they'd have to weigh the cost of the contract buyout with the value of changing things up.

Here's the team's DI record over the three years of Coach Wright at the helm:
14/15 - 6-20 overall, 3-13 in conference (last), blown out by 37 points in the first round of the conference tournament (only made it in because Omaha was still ineligible)
15/16 - 7-17 overall, 3-13 in conference (last), didn't make conference tournament
16/17 - 6-20 overall, 5-11 in conference (second-to-last), lost by 9 in OT in the first round of the conference tournament

I mean, I guess you could technically call it an improvement for this year, as compared to last year (in conference play), but really, outside of the win at Wisconsin last season, there hasn't been much of anything to get excited about. I know with college football, usually years 3 and 4 are the "turning point" years...where you really see how the new coaching staff is doing themselves. Is basketball pretty much the same way?...or do they get less "leeway" since there's much fewer players/positions, and so they can really turn things around with one or two good players? I don't see things getting any better next year either, with Sandifer, Covington, and Miklusak all being gone. I think there's talent in some of the younger guys, but I'm just not convinced that Wright can get them to where they need to be to be any sort of "competitive" in the Summit League.
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wiu2013
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A couple of replies to some of your posts.

There are so many behind the scene issues that were left by Coach Mo that Coach Wright had to clean up that had to deal with recruiting and players that are currently on the roster (that may not be there next year). All we care about is wins and losses

Someone mentioned that Coach Gravina had 3 losing seasons, and now in his 6th year things have turned around. Were we yelling to fire Coach Gravina after 3 years? Coach Wright is finally getting the chance to recruit players that he wants that will make this team better.

Coach Wright has a long-term contract.
wiu712
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One area of concern has to be the declining attendance at the Men's games.

Attendance for this season ranged from a low of 263 (Nov 23 vs Crown College) to a high of 1,002 (Dec 10 vs EIU).

There were 13 home games. Ten of those games had crowds in the 800's.

That is a big drop-off from the 2012-2013 championship season.
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Neckfansince71
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Hughes and Gilbeck improved to the point where Brandon has become a national leader in shots blocked and Jordan has the ability to defend and score on rolls when needed. Brandon is only going to get better and better. Coach Wright spent the year trying to find a true point guard after loosing JS for the season and Delo for the last 3rd. Team showed some big time signs of improvement also in that final 3rd. No body ever said this would be easy! ;) jc
wiu2013
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I have heard that their is a point guard that committed, but not signed yet that is going to be pretty good. He will be a freshman, but he is a true point guard and every team needs a point guard. Just ask the women's team how they would survive without Emily Clements. Brandon and Jordan have improved tremendously from the beginning of the year to the end and CJ has the ability to be a great scorer. They will be better because Covington will not be around and more team ball will be played.
Remember, he is rebuilding...he had to sign 6-7 players in May-July his first year because Coach Mo kicked players off or they left. Who is left during those times that are still decent players (Terrell Parks was the exception)
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ST_Lawson
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So, the attendance argument gives me a chance to test out another feature of the new embed tag...embedding google drive stuff. So, I threw together a quick attendance chart for the men and women (men are blue, women are red).

Here's some stats first.
The men averaged 723 fans over 13 home games.
The women averaged 716 over 14 home games.
The men had a top attendance of 1,002 at the 12/10 game against Eastern Illinois.
The women had a top attendance of 1,596 at the last regular season home game, 2/25 against South Dakota.
The men had their lowest attendance of 263 at the 11/23 (Thanksgiving break) game against Crown College.
The women had their lowest attendance of 407 on 12/7 against Graceland University (Iowa).

So, the women technically still averaged fewer fans than the men, but it was close, and they had 3 games with over 1k people there, while the men had one game over 1k, and it was just barely over 1k. You can see in the chart where the women, for the most part, started lower than the men, but outdrew them over the last 4 home games for each team.



For a year-to-year comparison, here's my list of average home attendance numbers as compared to winning %. I've color coded them, so the higher/better years are darker green, and the lower/worse they are, the more red they are. You can see that we've averaged under 1000 fans in a season 5 times before this, although only once was it lower than this year's 723 ('07/'08's 629 average). Obviously, basketball attendance seems to correlate quite a bit with winnging %. I don't know if that's a situation of the fans not coming because the team isn't good, or that the team isn't good because they don't have much fan support behind them? Or is it more of a downward spiral where each aspect acts upon the other to decrease both. Needless to say, you can see some trends where attendance and team performance are both pretty high...late '70s/early '80s (the Joe Dykstra era and transition to DI), mid to late '90s (Coach Kerwin, Bill Heisler, Janthony Joseph, Brandon CREEEEEEEESOOOOON!), and of course 2012/2013 when everything seemed to come together with Coach Mo's stifling defense, plus CC3 and the Big TP. It looks like in general attendance and winning % are more closely tied in basketball than you usually see in football.

Anyway, here's that chart (I haven't been able to find attendance data prior to '77):
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vatusay
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I would like to give wright a chance without Covington on the floor. Basketball is the ultimate team sport and I just don't think they played team basketball but a few times this year. I'm as bad as a politician flip flopping. I would be curious to know about the "behind the scenes"issues.
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ST_Lawson
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vatusay wrote:
Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:44 pm
I would like to give wright a chance without Covington on the floor. Basketball is the ultimate team sport and I just don't think they played team basketball but a few times this year. I'm as bad as a politician flip flopping. I would be curious to know about the "behind the scenes"issues.
Fair enough. I'm not really knowledgeable enough in basketball to know what all goes on. I trust that Tanney will make the right decision on this.
Scott Lawson - Board Admin
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