Stanford Athletic Director Bernard answered the first big question of his tenure on the Farm by naming UAB Coach Jarod Haase as the new Men’s Basketball Head Coach. Haase will be introduced formally at a press conference on Monday.
In choosing Haase, AD Muir hit the major criteria required for the hire. First, he chose somebody with head coaching experience. Haase completed his fourth season at UAB, winning the Conference USA regular season championship. The lack of a tough non-conference schedule left the Blazers at the mercy of the conference tournament, where their loss to the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky left them on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament this season.
It’s safe to say that a 26-5 record at Stanford will never leave Coach Haase out of the NCAA Tournament, and it’s clear that NCAA Tournaments and Pac-12 Championships are the expectation as Coach Haase arrives. So what did he do at UAB to make Mr. Muir think he was the man to deliver those expectations?
First of all, he won, and he won on a timetable. UAB’s win total started at 16 in year one under Haase and steadily climbed in all four seasons, culminating with the 26 the Blazers amassed this season. The Blazers made it into the NCAA Tournament last year and upset Iowa State before bowing out to UCLA in the second round. So Stanford’s got an experienced yet young head coach with a history of success. Exactly what the Cardinal needed.
And how did UAB succeed? First of all, they got better on offense every single year. UAB ranked 10th (of 14) in C-USA in offensive efficiency in Year One, but steadily climbed to sixth, third, and again to third this season. The rule changes this year notwithstanding, UAB started with a 99.6 Year One ORtg and ended this year at 112.6 in conference play. Stanford’s ORtg in Pac-12 play: 100.8 (10th).
Even better, the Blazers did it by sharing the ball. We’ve been tracking Stanford’s lowly assist rate for a few years now. UAB assisted on a fantastic 63% of its made buckets, suggesting the team had a good sense of player and ball movement, two traits that were too infrequent when the Cardinal ran offense in the half court. That 63% was the best in Conference USA.
UAB also wasn’t overly reliant on the three-point shot, either. This season, only 33.5% of UAB’s shots were three, ninth-highest total in their league. That’s actually up from the last two seasons, when UAB finished last in the league in three point attempts per field goal attempt.
Defensively, the Blazers were pretty solid during all four years of Haase’s tenure. This past season they finished with a 101.2 DRtg, good for second in Conference USA. They were never lower than sixth in that category and the past two seasons finished fourth and second. Stanford’s defense wilted as the season went on, and as often as Coach Dawkins preached it, the Cardinal never really sustained any kind of strong defensive identity.
Until the games begin we clearly can’t say whether or not Stanford made the “right” hire. At the end of the day, I have no doubt Coach Haase will say the right things and I fully expect him to “win” the press conference on Monday. That being said, this hire strongly suggests AD Muir was on this search, that he did his homework, and he knew how to close when he found his choice. Time will tell, but it certainly appears as if the Cardinal’s taken the necessary next step to revitalizing a program that sits now with a pretty well-stocked cupboard.