Running around to Give you the Reacharound

3.31.2009

Top College Basketball Coaches (Today)

With the Final Four approaching and Georgia’s search for a head basketball coach moving forward with all the momentum of a coked-up model toward a Double Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese, it seems like a good time to discuss college basketball coaches.

No, not the coaches that might actually be offered or accept the Georgia job, as that would make too much sense for a Dawg Blawg. Plus, it appears that the job is Mike Anderson’s to reject, with Jeff Capel and Jamie Dixon being darkhorses for a sweet payday courtesy of Damon Evans and Co. Personally, I really like Xavier’s Sean Miller, but you can’t go wrong with any of the above names.

Hopefully, Georgia’s next coach can rise to the elite level occupied by coaches in the list below. In my lifetime, Georgia has only had one such coach that could be considered elite, Tubby Smith, and he never really hit that level until he left Athens for Lexington and promptly won a title with Rick Pitino’s players. I’ll take a quality football program over a good basketball team 865 days per year, but I've got to admit I am a bit jealous around this time of the year of the schools that have these guys as coaches:

(Ultimately irrelevant criteria for list: “Who are the best coaches in college basketball right now?” “If you could have any coach in the country to coach your team next year, who would the top choices be?” Recent performance is weighted more heavily, but tournament success is viewed as the end-all-be-all, as it is how the top coaches are separated from 2nd or 3rd tier guys.)

10. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse - Yeah, he’s had a third of a century to pimp his resume, and his one ring came during the greatest one-and-done season in college ball history, but 800 wins and three final fours stamps your ticket to the hall of fame. Kids like to play for a legend, and this man is Syracuse basketball.

  1. Ben Howland, UCLA – Brought success back to Pitt and has established a recruiting dominance not seen in LA since the Wooden years. May not have a ring, yet, but you can’t fade three final fours in a row.

  1. John Calipari, Mempucky – Two lines of thought on this greaseball. On one hand, dude has built programs at friggin’ UMASS and Memphis into elite basketball powers, bringing both programs to the final four. On the other hand, he’s got no rings, just a small handful of deep tourney runs in 21 seasons and has amassed a slew of wins against not-exactly-powerhouse Atlantic 10 and Conference USA competition. Therefore, his impending move to Kentucky will seal his fate as to how he is remembered as a college basketball coach. Fail there and he’ll be coaching Colorado to Sweet 16s in ten years. Win a title or two, and he will reach Pitino status in the commonwealth.

  1. Billy Donovan, Florida – He has two dominant titles (more than all but one of the coaches above him on this list), and the first back-to-back run since those loaded Duke teams in the early 90s. For that, he will be Florida basketball for as long as he wants. And that’s fine, because outside of those two titles, his resume consists of NIT appearances and early-round tourney flameouts…and nobody in Gainesville gives a shit. Is there any surprise he wants no part of that Kentucky gig?

  1. Coach K, Duke – By far and away the most accomplished coach in college basketball today. Three titles, a whopping TEN final fours, and 11 ACC championships. However, as has been pointed out, Duke has fallen the fuck off in recent years. I blame their seemingly concerted effort to target every top white recruit in America. What happened to the Duke teams of Elton Brand, C-Boozer, Jay Williams, William Avery, etc.? The Shavlik Randolphs, Josh McRoberts and Greg Pauluses of the world ain’t cutting it anymore. Unfortunately, I’m not sure Coach K has learned his lesson either. I was watching the McDonald’s HS All-American Slam Dunk contest last night, when some goofy white kid threw down a two-handed jam while flailing through the air as if he was doing the Elaine dance from Seinfeld. Where is ole boy headed to school next year? No doubt.

  1. Bill Self, Kansas – Gotta admire a man that can climb the coaching ladder from Oral Roberts to Tulsa to Illinois to Kansas in a decades time. Top notch recruiter, already has been to five elite 8s, and took only a few seasons to do what Roy Williams never could and win a title in Kansas.

  1. Rick Pitino, Louisville – The head greaseball in college basketball, narrowly edging out Calipari and Donovan. A great coach to be sure, and those mid-90s Kentucky teams were arguably the most fun to watch (and in, a bizzaro way, so were the Celtics teams where he tried to use the same full-court tactics that worked at UK) of my lifetime, but let’s be real. We’re going on 14 years since his one and only college title. Still, at the end of the day, you hire Pitino, you know your program is in good hands for years to come.

  1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State – He’ll get no shortage of love from the media this week, so I’ll keep it short: 5 final fours in the last 11 seasons, a ring and 24 wins per season. All of his four year players have played in a final four. All impressive, but my favorite Izzo stat is that he has been to eight sweet 16s in 14 years as a head coach. For more than half of his coaching career, his teams have reached the Sweet 16. That’s nuts. And yet, I’m still glad he didn’t take the Hawks job.

  1. Jim Calhoun, UCONN – Like a damn movie. Brings a program from a prolonged period of embarrassment to the pre-eminent sports entity in the state, wins a couple of titles along the way, sends dozens of players to the pros, beats cancer for good measure, and is back at another final four. Of course, this could also be the point in the movie where it all begins to unravel before one final championship run. Stay tuned.

  1. Roy Williams, UNC – If all coaches were free agents, I’d want the white Roy-Dub at the helm for the Hoop Dawgs next year. Finally got the championship monkey off his back, recruits NBA talents by the boatload, runs a clean program and has dominated what most experts contend is the best conference since his arrival. His winning percentage is good for third all-time and he’s been to seven final fours, second only to Coach K. And unlike Coach K, he’s still at the top of his game.

And with that, I can go ahead and admit this was all just a convoluted measure to predict UNC over UCONN in the Final Four. Fuck brevity.

4 comments:

Jesse said...

Posts like this are why I continue to read even though you are dumb UGAy fans. It's ok, special kids need a place to vent too. Also, no one wants to coach UGAg in basketball. Maybe you should just drop the program or make it co-ed, cause then they might actually be decent*.

I agree with you on the Izzo/Hawks point. Though with Woodson running things there have definitely, and still are, times when I wish the Hawks would go after one of these hot college coaches. After constantly drafting in the lottery and accumulating such a young team, it wouldn't be hard to assume that a college experienced coach would be able to do more with those players than Larry Woodson.

*Yes I know we just came off one of the worst seasons ever so shut it, haha!

ashley said...

Watching duke play is like watching the Utah Jazz. What is up with white kids and Duke...I mean lets be honest, watching a team that is known for winning due to white boys shooting 3's is just not exciting. Oh, and on top of that because they go to Duke these white boys get recruited to the NBA a find out they cant shoot 3's int he faces of NBA players...what a surprise. How about the grittier teams like say...hmmmm...I dont know...Maryland for instance who actually have a not African American player who produces and could succeed in the NBA...and its not cause he only knows how to shoot 3's......just something to think about(:

Osama Bin Jammin said...

Pre-eminent sports team in Connecticut? Narrowly beating out who?

http://www.50states.com/sports/conn.htm


-OBJ

Joe Friday said...

Jesse! Not a bad theory re: college coaches, but while a college coach would be a welcome contrast to Woodson's abrasive coaching manner (i.e. clashing with players), I dont think even the best college coaches can bring an effective scheme to the NBA. Much like college football/NFL, they're just two completely different games, and there's not much of a correlation between success in college and pros.

Ash- I think Duke just wanted a basketball team more representative of their student body - annoying rich kids from the northeast. At least I hope that's what they were going for cuz thats the only explanation that makes any sense.

Osammer- I believe there might be some nappy headed hoes that take offense to your comment. Either way, don't sleep on the Bridgeport Bluefish.

/too far