We think we know how good a coach is at offense or defense, but how accurate are those assumptions, really?
I decided to find out. Offensive or defensive excellence is defined here as degree of statistical performance (in terms of points scored or allowed per possession) above a team's league average in major conference play over the past five seasons.
There are definitely some coaches who are strong on both sides of the ball. (I see that defense of yours, Jay Wright. Oh, and nice offense, Sean Miller. Pretty fair run on defense there, John Calipari.) Still, to spread the love around, I limited each coach to one mention and went with that coach's leading characteristic, i.e., his best statistical performance.
Here are the best coaches on either side of the ball over the past five seasons:
Tony Bennett is very, very good at defense. Who knew, right? Actually, Bennett wins this statistical derby in a walk, putting as much numerical space between himself and No. 2 as there is between Nos. 2 and 8. No unit on either side of the ball has dominated its conference over the past five years the way Virginia's defense has dominated the ACC.
The past two years, the Cavaliers have even introduced a new wrinkle in the form of forcing a higher number of turnovers. Combined with Virginia's preferred deliberate pace, this meant ACC opponents last season had, on average, just 47 chances to score per game (in the form of turnover-less possessions). Winning the game on those terms is a tall order for any opposing offense.
Unless of course the opposing offense is a No. 16 seed, in which case the other team (UMBC) will rip off 1.53 points per possession in the second half. That will never not be amazing.