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The One-Hit Wonders of the Mid-Major Ranks

Akron's Zeke Marshall (back) and Ohio's D.J. Cooper played for two teams on different ends of the "One-Hit Wonder" spectrum last season.
Akron's Zeke Marshall (back) and Ohio's D.J. Cooper played for two teams on different ends of the "One-Hit Wonder" spectrum last season.

As we mentioned earlier today, Akron signed Keith Dambrot to a 10-year extension that should keep him at the school through 2022. And as we mentioned, that is a long time, assuming that he isn't enticed by a pile o' cash to move somewhere else.

This is a move you can get behind because Dambrot has managed to do something that stuck out to us.

In the past seven years, the Zips have had at least 22 wins each season. The other schools that have managed the feat? Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Utah State.

I am sure there are multiple things that tie those seven schools together, beyond the wins. But the one I found interesting is that those teams are "teams".

They aren't constructed around a single star player. They have a group of players that together can make up more than the sum of their parts. Duke, Kansas and Ohio State might be starting with better parts, but the results are the same.

I only bring this up because when I looked at Akron after the all-conference teams were announced, I was confused by the selections. The numbers didn't seem to match up with the names on the list.

When you run the team through HOOPWAR, there isn't a single player that scores over 3.25 for the season. The best player on the team was Zeke Marshall, who had a 3.20. Demetri Treadwell follows that with a 3.11.

The team is mostly a bunch of just above replacement level players, and the total HOOPWAR for the team was 6.6. Now, that means Akron should have won about 15 or 16 games. Yet, they turned the talent they had into something more, even though the stats say they should have done worse.

Getting that talent to work together in that manner is a skill that not every coach has. Dambrot appears to be able to do it, along with some of the best coaches in college basketball.

Can it be sustained? Schools at the top can make this system continue almost indefinitely, although they have a better chance of losing players to the NBA draft. Schools like Akron have more issues with keeping the concept of program alive.

They could fall victim to up-transfers; their coach could bolt for greener pastures. Or they could simply have an off year when it comes to recruiting. There are always blips.

And when those blips happen, you are more likely to get a year where you have to focus your entire team around a single player. Let's call these teams one-hit wonders.

I went back through some of the teams from last year that I have analyzed to see if I could find some of the over the top one-hit wonders. In some casetts, those teams have the players back for this season, and should continue to win, or maybe even improve because they finally have a few other players step up for a team-oriented approach rather than the single star.

In others, the player is gone, and the future does not look bright.

Here are five one-hit wonders from the 2011-12 season:

1. Miami (Ohio) - It is interesting that two of the teams that immediately came to mind are in the same conference as Akron. Julian Mavunga (9.8 HOOPWAR) did everything for Miami last season, and now is trying to catch on with an NBA squad. This does not bode well for the RedHawks as no other player scored over a 1.0 on the HOOPWAR scale last year. If you are looking for a team to fall even further than this season, take Miami.

2. Ohio - Ohio wasn't as bad as the RedHawks, but D.J. Cooper was the star making the machine work. We saw this to the extreme in the NCAA Tournament, as Cooper didn't have the best game against North Carolina, and Ohio fell short. The other Bobcats stepped up that game, and had Cooper even done a little bit better, we would have last season's Ohio team even higher in the pantheon of great mid-major runs. Walter Offutt provided a 1.4 HOOPWAR to the team, but the rest of the squad paled compared to what Cooper did (9.3 HOOPWAR).

3. Weber State - Damian Lillard (12.5 HOOPWAR/30) is being touted as the best player in the NBA Summer League, and based on the scoring numbers he had, you could say that. We have some doubts about Lillard's performance only because you would have liked to see him make the transition from a scoring point guard to more of a balanced point guard. Maybe it is just a hangover from his time at Weber State, where he still managed to rack up big assist numbers while scoring 24.5 points per game. Scott Bamforth had the next best HOOPWAR on the team (2.6 per 30 games). Replacing Lillard this season will be very, very difficult.

4. Albany - Albany might be able to recover slightly better than other teams on this list, even though that Gerardo Suero is gone. They seem to be built to get back into that team mentality without the scoring machine that Suero was. He turned in an 8.9 HOOPWAR/30, while Logan Aronhalt and Mike Black each had scores over 2.0. The duo will be back this season Aronhalt up-transferred to Maryland* leaving Albany in a bigger hole this coming season. With Black at the front, it it possible they could have one more year before the real rebuilding begins.

5. Oakland - Reggie Hamilton and his 10.6 HOOPWAR/30 are gone this coming year. The best player left is Drew Valentine, who had a 1.9 HOOPWAR/30 last year. The rest of the team added up to a -6.6 HOOPWAR/30 during the 2011-12 season. The Grizzlies might have to pray for a CIT bid with the squad they have coming back.

That was just the result from the teams that we have run HOOPWAR numbers on, but I am sure there are more out there.

So tell us. Who are your one-hit wonders, by our definition above?

*edited- originally we had Aronhalt returning to Albany., forgetting he was one of over 400 transfers this offseason. We apologize for the mistake.