In case you wondered the depth of Washington State Cougars coach Kyle Smith’s commitment to Nerdball, consider: Before he’s even finished putting together his staff of assistant coaches, Smith has hired John Andrzejek as the school’s director of analytics for basketball, Smith said on the College Hoops Today podcast with Jon Rothstein.
Andrzejek, who has a deep understanding of Smith’s philosophy, hasn’t been officially announced by the school, but he’s already been on the job for a couple of weeks and was one of Smith’s top priorities.
“Our biggest thing was getting the infrastructure — set up the analytics, selling the culture,” Smith said during an interview with CougCenter from his office a couple of weeks ago.
In addition to his main title, Smith told Rothstein that Andrzejek is “director of analytics-slash-coach right now,” which we’ll assume to mean that he’s currently holding down the third assistant coaching spot so that he can both run the analytics and actively participate in recruiting off campus.
“(He) is just punching in data (right now) and whether it’s the shoe company tournaments or the Adidas stats, we just have markers that say ‘this guy is undervalued, this is a guy we need to look at, somebody who could come from anywhere on the globe,” Smith told Rothstein.
Andrzejek comes to WSU from the Dartmouth Big Green, where he was an assistant coach, but his ties to Smith go back to their time together with the Columbia Lions — Andrzejek was a team manager as a student before becoming Smith’s director of basketball operations in 2014, a role he held for two years before following Smith in the same capacity with the San Francisco Dons. Andrzejek was an assistant at The Johns Hopkins University in NCAA Division III in 2017-18.
“He graduated from Columbia in two and a half years, and he just was punching out numbers left and right (as a student manager),” Smith told Rothstein. “I didn’t know if he ever went to class, so we got some brain power on this staff, we’ve got some incredible workers.”
Smith’s affinity for data is well known at this point, but it can sometimes become a little much for the assistant coaches. That’s where Andrzejek comes in.
“I gotta be careful because people, my staff — that’s why I hired John,” Smith said in that office interview with CougCenter. “My old staff in San Francisco ... it was too much, we were too geeked out. It was too Silicon Valley. Like, I don’t have the (kenpom.com) app on my phone, because I’ll obsess. I gotta stay away from the numbers. We’ll be like, ‘Hey, someone’s leaving (their school),’ and I’ll have three guys like reeeeeeek” — running to their phones to check out the numbers.
Now, applying all the numbers to Smith’s decisions will be the job of Andrzejek, who received high praise from his previous employer when he was hired.
“(John) has a great feel for evaluating and developing relationships through the recruiting process. Beyond that, he values relationships with the players he coaches and brings this into his daily approach, on and off the court,” Dartmouth head coach David McLaughlin said. “John also has a unique perspective with advanced analytics and that will play an important role in how we evaluate our team and player development.”
With Andrzejek on staff, Dartmouth improved by 81 spots in the Pomeroy rankings this past season.