Top 20 Current College Basketball Coaches

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You are the athletic director of your favorite college. You have to pick a current college basketball coach to coach your school for the next five years. Every active college basketball coach is available. Who do you pick? You don’t have to think about age too much because they will only be there for five years, so, in this exercise, age truly is just a number. What kind of talent can they get to your school? How do they preform in the NCAA Tournament? Will the players improve under this coach? Will he know what play to draw up when your team is down by one with six seconds left? Here are my top 20.

Honorable Mention

Tony Bennett, Virginia – ACC regular season champions and ACC tournament champions in the same year is always impressive. Never being to an Elite Eight hurts.

Jay Wright, Villanova – Has been very successful at Villanova in his 13 years there, adding more Elite Eights or Final Fours wouldn’t hurt his résumé.

Scott Drew, Baylor – “He has no idea on how to coach his talent.” The most common sentence you will hear about Scott Drew from his biggest critics. Two Elite Eights and three Sweet Sixteens in the last five years? Bringing Baylor back from the worst possible situation? I think Drew can coach.

Rick Barnes, Texas – After an appearance in the CBI a year ago, Barnes, while being on the hot-seat, got the Longhorns back near the top of the Big XII and into the NCAA Tournament. Next year could be a special one for Barnes’ squad, as they return all their key parts and could be ranked in the top ten come November.

Top 20

20. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Kruger
Lon Kruger has the Oklahoma Sooners heading the right direction.

Résumé – 28 years experience, 537 wins, one conference regular season championship, two conference tournament championships, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, 15 NCAA Tournament wins, three Sweet Sixteens, two Elite Eights, one Final Four, two-time SEC Coach of the Year, Mountain West Coach of the Year

Kruger has proven time and time again that wherever he goes in college basketball, he will be successful. From Kansas State to Florida to Illinois to UNLV and now at Oklahoma, Kruger has improved each program in his time there. That won’t change anytime soon either, as the Sooners should have a Top 25 team next year.

19. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State

Résumé – Four years experience, 90 wins, one conference tournament championship, three NCAA Tournament appearances, four NCAA Tournament wins, one Sweet Sixteen, Big XII Coach of the Year

Hoiberg’s résumé isn’t the most impressive one of the bunch but if you have seen him coach, you’d understand why he is on this list. He has turned Iowa State into an extremely tough opponent in the Big XII and without an injury to Georges Niang this postseason, the possibilities for the Cyclones were endless.

18. Mark Few, Gonzaga

Résumé – 15 years experience, 403 wins, 13 regular season conference championships, 11 conference tournament championships, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, 16 NCAA Tournament wins, four Sweet Sixteens, 10-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year

When you make the NCAA Tournament every single year you have been a head coach, you deserve to be on this list. Although he has never advanced past the Sweet Sixteen, Few has shown that he can absolutely dominate a conference. However, the question will always be ‘what would he do at a power conference school?’

17. Shaka Smart, VCU

smart
Virginia Commonwealth has been a solid team in the past few years with Shaka Smart as their coach but they have to worried how much longer he will be there.

Résumé – Five years experience, 137 wins, one conference tournament championnship, four NCAA Tournament appearances, six NCAA Tournament wins, one Sweet Sixteen, one Elite Eight, one Final Four

Always at the top of coaching “wish-lists” now-a-days, Shaka Smart has turned Virginia Commonwealth into a frequent top 25 team. Smart’s uptempo, fast and furious style of play allowed him to take his 11th seeded team to the Final Four in 2011. This was the first time we heard of Shaka Smart and it won’t be the last.

16. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Résumé – 16 years experience, 368 wins, eight regular season conference championships, eight conference tournament championships, ten NCAA Tournament appearances, six NCAA Tournament wins, one Sweet Sixteen, one Elite Eight, one Final Four, four-time Big South Coach of the Year, three-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, Naismith Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year

The Shockers lived up to their name in 2013 when they advanced to the Final Four and almost took down the number one overall seed Louisville Cardinals. Then, one year after that, they entered the NCAA Tournament at 34-0, only to lose their Third Round game to Kentucky, who happened to advance to the Final Four. Gregg Marshall will have Wichita State relevant as long as he is their coach…which might not be very long.

15. Sean Miller, Arizona

Résumé – Ten years experience, 249 wins, five regular season conference championships, one conference tournament championship, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, 14 NCAA Tournament wins, five Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, two-time Pac-10/12 Coach of the Year

“The best coach that has never been to a Final Four” can be a pretty bittersweet title. On one hand, you are one of the best coaches in the country, on the other hand, you have never made a Final Four. Miller will get there eventually and next year might be the year. With the class he has coming to Arizona and the players that are returning, the Wildcats should be one of the top teams in the country next year.

14. Kevin Ollie, Connecticut

Résumé – Two years experience, 52 wins, one NCAA Tournament appearance, six NCAA Tournament wins, one Sweet Sixteen, one Elite Eight, one Final Four, one National Championship

Kevin Ollie
Kevin Ollie accomplished a near-impossible task in his first NCAA Tournament appearance…winning it.

Kevin Ollie accomplished a near impossible feat by winning the NCAA Tournament in his first appearance. The question is can he continue this success? Obviously we can’t expect Final Fours and titles every year, but competing for the AAC Championship and winning NCAA Tournament games would be nice. Ollie is well on his way to being one of the best coaches in the country.

 

13. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Résumé – 15 years experience, 351 wins, three regular season conference championships, one conference tournament championship, 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, 21 NCAA Tournament wins, six Sweet Sixteens, two Elite Eights, one Final Four, three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year

Bo Ryan finally got the Final Four monkey off his back this year when he led Wisconsin to North Texas. Ryan has been to the NCAA Tournament every single year since becoming Wisconsin’s coach in 2001. The remarkable thing about Ryan is the fact that he refuses to recruit AAU players and relies solely on players from seeing them play in high school. This seems ridiculous but if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it, right?

12. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Résumé – 14 years experience, 377 wins, eight regular season conference championships, seven conference tournament championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, 22 NCAA Tournament wins, five Sweet Sixteens, four Elite Eights, two Final Fours, Horizon Coach of the Year, Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year

It all started for Thad Matta  at Butler when he got his start as a head coach and got the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in his first year. It continued at Xavier and he has been even more successful at Ohio State. Matta is only 46 and has plenty years ahead of him, expect him to be around for a while at Ohio State and get a National Championship eventually.

11. John Beilein, Michigan

Résumé – 22 years experience, 443 wins, four regular season conference championships, two conference tournament championships, nine NCAA Tournament Appearances, 16 NCAA Tournament wins, four Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, one Final Four

John Beliein is one of the most under-appreciated coaches in college basketball. He has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament, two different schools to the Elite Eight, and turned a “football school” into a school that looks forward to winter and spring instead of dreading it. He reached his first Final Four last season and was just short of winning the championship. Wolverine fans should be ecstatic with what they have in Beliein.

10. Steve Fisher, San Diego State

Résumé –  22 years experience, 497 wins, four regular season conference championships, four conference tournament championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, 25 NCAA Tournament wins, six Sweet Sixteens, four Elite Eights, three Final Fours, one National Championship, Naismith Coach of the Year, NABC Coach of the Year

Steve Fisher had nine great seasons at Michigan before heading out West to San Diego State, where he has been for 15 years. Fisher’s win total at San Diego State in his first three years went from five to 14 to 21. He now has the Aztecs contending for Mountain West Titles every year.

9. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Résumé – 38 years experience, 948 wins, nine regular season conference tournament championships, five conference tournament championships, 31 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 59 NCAA Tournament wins, 16 Sweet Sixteens, six Elite Eights, four Final Fours, one National Championship, Naismith Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, four-time Big East Coach of the Year, Sporting News Coach of the Year, FIBA World Championships Gold medal, Olympic Gold medal

Jim Boeheim, the coach with the most overall wins on the list, is a legend at Syracuse. He was there for the beginning and the end of the Big East, was there for Keith Smart’s shot, and was there for Hakeem Warrick’s block. As long as Boeheim is at Syracuse, the Orange will win.

Roy
Roy Williams won at Kansas and has now won at North Carolina for a decade.

8. Roy Williams, North Carolina

Résumé – 26 years experience, 724 wins, 15 regular season conference championships, six conference tournament championships, 24 NCAA Tournament appearances, 63 NCAA Tournament wins, 15 Sweet Sixteens, 11 Elite Eights, seven Final Fours, two National Championships, two- time AP Coach of the Year, Naismith Coach of the Year, two-time ACC Coach of the Year, three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, four-time Big Eight Coach of the Year

There is no question that Roy Williams has one of the best résumés of any active coach. He won at Kansas and has won at North Carolina. The only thing that has hurt Williams is the fact that he has had some down years at both schools and that he has underachieved in the tournament in the past. He does have two National Championships, but it seems like he should have a couple more. 2014-2015 will be a fun season for Williams and Tar Heel fans.

7. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Résumé – 19 years experience, 468 wins, seven regular season conference championships, four conference tournament championships, 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, 43 NCAA Tournament wins, 12 Sweet Sixteens, eight Elite Eights, six Final Fours, one National Championship, AP Coach of the Year, three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year

Since 1996, Tom Izzo has been winning at Michigan State. The Spartans won a National Title in 2000 and have been to a handful of Final Fours since. Michigan State will always be a contender in the Big Ten as long as Izzo is their coach. The only things hurting Izzo? 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2011.

6. Bill Self, Kansas

Résumé – 20 years experience, 532 wins, 14 regular season conference championships, seven conference tournament championships, 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, 36 NCAA Tournament wins, ten Sweet Sixteens, seven Elite Eights, two Final Fours, one National Championship, Naismith Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, WAC Coach of the Year

When Roy Williams left Kansas in 2003, many Jayhawk fans thought they couldn’t get a coach as good as he was. Well, I think they’re happy with what has happened in the last decade. Although there has been some disappointing early exits in the NCAA Tournament, Self has shown that he can recruit, rebuild and win as well as anyone.

5. Larry Brown, SMU

Résumé – Nine years experience, 219 wins, one regular season conference championship, two conference tournament championships, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, 18 NCAA Tournament wins, four Sweet Sixteens, three Elite Eights, three Final Fours, one National Championship, Naismith Coach of the Year

Larry Brown
SMU failed to make the tournament this season, but Larry Brown is leading them to being a top 15 team next season.

Larry Brown doesn’t have the most wins at the college level, he doesn’t have the most experience, but any college basketball fan knows that if Larry Brown coaches a team, they will be successful. Brown led Kansas to two Final Fours and a National Championship in the 80’s and now has SMU winning and getting top recruits. The year before Brown arrived, SMU won 13 games. Brown’s first year they tallied 15 wins. This year they reached 27 wins. Next year they should be a top 20 team in the preseason polls.

4. Billy Donovan, Florida

Résumé – 20 years experience, 486 wins, six regular season conference championships, four conference tournament championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, 35 NCAA Tournament wins, eight Sweet Sixteens, seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours, two National Championships, ESPN.com Coach of the Year, three-time SEC Coach of the Year, SoCon Coach of the Year

Billy Donovan, who has now been at Florida for 18 years, has turned a football school into a school that has something to look forward to December through March and sometimes early April. After his title in 2007, Donovan had accomplished something only Mike Krzyzewski, John Wooden, Henry Iba, Adolph Rupp, Ed Jucker and Phil Woolpert had done. Not a bad group of names to be named along with.

3. Rick Pitino, Louisville

Résumé – 29 years experience, 696 wins, eight regular season conference championships, 13 conference tournament championships, 19 NCAA Tournament Appearances, 50 NCAA Tournament wins, 13 Sweet Sixteens, 12 Elite Eights, seven Final Fours, two National Championships, NABC Coach of the Year, three-time SEC Coach of the Year, Conference USA Coach of the Year

Rick Pitino’s accomplishments speak for themselves. Seven Final Fours, two National Titles at two different schools, almost 700 wins. Pitino said it was “the end of an era” after Louisville’s loss to Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen this past season. You have to wonder if the end of his era is coming up soon.

2. John Calipari, Kentucky

Résumé – 22 years experience, 552 wins, 12 regular season conference championships, 11 conference tournament championships, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, 43 NCAA Tournament wins, 11 Sweet Sixteens, nine Elite Eights, five Final Fours, one National Championship, two time Naismith Coach of the Year, NABC Coach of the Year, Sports Illustrated Coach of the Year, three-time Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year, three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year, two-time SEC Coach of the Year

When someone coaches in the Final Four three of the past four years, they are great. It doesn’t matter that they went to the NIT with a top recruiting class (mostly because his best player was hurt), they are a terrific coach. John Calipari receives a lot of attention for what he says in press conferences and to the media but bottom line, he can coach college basketball. He has taken two non-power conference programs to the Final Four and is one more made free throw away from having two titles instead of one. If Calipari is at Kentucky for another 5, 6, 7 or even ten years, then Big Blue Nation should be very happy.

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Coach K
Mike Krzyzewski is the best active coach in the country at this point in time.

Résumé – 39 years experience, 983 wins, 12 regular season conference championships, 13 conference tournament championships, 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, 84 NCAA Tournament wins, 20 Sweet Sixteens, 13 Elite Eights, 11 Final Fours, four National Championships

Mike Krzyzewski is the king of college basketball. There is no other active coach that has a résumé that even compares to Coach K’s. Four National Championships in three different decades, very rarely has a down year, continues to get top recruits to come to Duke. There is no other coach that you would want to take over your program for a five year span.

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