Saturday, February 28, 2009

Where would you rank Bo?

On the Journal Sentinel's Badger Blog the other day I saw a post talking about Forbes' assessment of the top college basketball coaches in the country. Bo Ryan was ranked ninth, three spots behind Tom Izzo, the only Big Ten coach in the top 10. Probably because Bo let Alando Tucker throw down that dunk at the end of that game in 2004, major deduction for that one.

Here's the criteria Forbes used:

To identify the country's best college basketball coaches, we measured recruiting class rank, win-loss percentage, NCAA Tournament invites, Final Four trips and, the ultimate goal of every coach, a championship.

Seems reasonable, except for recruiting class rank. What should that matter where your recruiting classes are ranked if you win? Stupid.

Also stupid is Roy Williams' #1 ranking. Come on, you could put any one of 100 different coaches in Chapel Hill and they would still be one of the sport's top programs most years. He's coached at Carolina and Kansas -- big challenges building those programs. At least Bill Self started at Tulsa.

If I were doing these rankings, recruiting rank wouldn't matter, but your program's tradition would -- the less yours has, the more impressive your success. If you've won at lower levels, even better. I'd also give much less weight to Final Four appearances, which can be fluky, and championships, which are not reasonably accessible to many coaches; and more weight to conference success, a truer gauge of long-term performance over the course of a season.

My less formula-based rankings would go something like this:

1. Ben Howland
2. Billy Donovan
3. Rick Pitino
4. Bo Ryan
5. Rick Barnes
6. John Calipari
7. Jim Calhoun
8. Coach K
9. Herb Sendek

10. Tom Izzo

11. Bruce Weber
12. Bill Self
13. Jim Boeheim
14. Mark Few
15. Tubby Smith
16. Trent Johnson
17. Kevin Stallings
18. Bruce Pearl
19. Mike Anderson
20. Roy Williams
21. Jamie Dixon
22. Matt Painter
23. Thad Matta
24. Bob Huggins
25. Oliver Purnell

Laugh if you want at me ranking Bo so high, but what he's done at a football school with almost zero basketball tradition is astounding. I probably missed wildly on one of these guys or forgot someone altogether, let me know.


Will said...

I would put Donovan ahead of Howland because of the national titles and the fact that Florida wasn't exactly a basketball school (even counting Lon Krueger's Final Four team) when he arrived.

Howland has UCLA, which obviously helps as much as UNC or Kansas when it comes to attracting quality recruits.

I also think you have Jim Calhoun - despite his recent salary comments - way too low. Other than that, pretty solid list.

Anonymous said...

Glad Bill Guthrie didn't make the list - he almost killed the NC program, despite the fact anyone could sit in that chair and win. Roy Williams is a top 10 guy. Austy

frank said...

Look, we all hate him, I'm sick of his ads and his whining, tired of all his players, hope they lose every game, but Coach K shouldn't be eighth on any "top coaches" list unless the top seven spots all went to John Wooden. Pains me to say it, but it's true.

And I think, with Bo, he didn't exactly walk in on a team with zero basketball tradition -- Dick Bennett deserves a lot of credit for getting the ball rolling. I love Bo for what he has done, but things were starting to turn before he got there.

Mark said...

Yeah, I always thought Dick Bennett did most of the heavy lifting when it came to resurrecting the program. Not to discount what Bo's done--I can't imagine a Bennett successor continuing his tradition any better--but it was Dick who changed the culture in the first place.

Oh, and Coach K has to be in the top 5 at least.

Anonymous said... about hatred for the big ten.No big ten coach in the top 10 other than Bo and Izzo...Izzo at 10.
wow///u gus have 0..i mean 0 Final fours and u have Bo so high..
crazy all i say...Bruce Weber, Tubby smith, Tom Crean all have final four rings..except Bo!

Scott Tappa said...

Another great anonymous comment. Where do I find these guys?

Hatred for the Big Ten? I had four Big Ten coaches in my top 15 and six in the top 25. Or didn't you realize that Painter and Matta were Big Ten coaches?

As I said in the initial post, Final Four appearances don't carry a ton of weight with me. They are fluky. Ours was in 2000, without a doubt. And Crean riding Wade to four wins in two weeks before getting embarrassed by a legit team somehow makes him a top coach nationally?

Quick, tell me who Mississippi State's coach was when they went to the Final Four.

Scott Tappa said...

Points taken on Coach K, he should definitely be ahead of Bo (who I clearly overrated in the initial post). Huckleberry Hound should probably be higher himself, that's my Carolina hatred shining through.

Scott Tappa said...

I go back and forth on the Bennett thing. In my mind, Bennett's teams were slightly better than many of Steve Yoder's teams in the late '80s, and the conference slightly weaker. But it's undeniable that Bennett, unlike Yoder, got the program over the hump and into the tournament a few times, including the Final Four run.

Thing is, when Bennett's teams took the floor in Big Ten games I never thought "No way we lose this one" like I do all the time now. Maybe that's a byproduct of prolonged success, but Bennett's teams were capable of such offensive clunkers that they could lose to anyone, regardless of how good the defense was. I don't want to have this devolve into a Bo vs. Dick debate, but I probably tend to give Dick less credit than most Badger fans, fair or not.

(And what about Stu Jackson's contribution to changing the culture?)

Craig said...

Roy Williams at #20? You must really hate Carolina because any list without him in the top five is flat-out stupid. Coach K should be higher and Jamie Dixon is probably the most underrated coach in America. If you aren't putting stock in Final Fours, then he should be very high. He has the most wins in the Big East since he has been the coach. I am not claiming this should be the list, but here is the active top ten in winning percentage (min. 5 seasons at D-1)

1. Roy Williams
2. Mark Few
3. Bruce Pearl
4. Bo Ryan
5. Jamie Dixon
6. Thad Matta
7. John Calipari
8. Coach K
9. Bob Huggins
10. Jim Boeheim