Coach Self HOF?

  • NCAAB June 22, 2015 2:06pm EDT Will these active coaches get called to the Hall? By: Mike DeCourcy @TSNMike When Kentucky coach John Calipari returns to Massachusetts in early September to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he’ll become the sixth active college coach to be immortalized in Springfield.

    So are there any coaches still on the job who’ll be joining him?

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    Perhaps soon?

    There are more wealthy coaches than there are potential Hall of Famers, but there are some extraordinary men leading Division I teams who could be inducted by the end of their careers, or perhaps a short time after retirement as with former Maryland coach Gary Williams.

    We thought Coach Cal’s impending induction made this a good time to look at the landscape of college coaches and see who might have a legitimate chance, to examine their credentials, and also to glance farther into the future at coaches who’ve built excellent foundations for what could become Hall of Fame careers.

    We figured since Billy Donovan only recently became an ex-college coach, he should be included in the examination. He earned it.


    Share Tweet Email More Bo Ryan

    Wisconsin (2001-present)

    Milwaukee (1999-01)

    UW-Platteville (1984-99)

    Career record: 740-228

    Final Fours: 2014, 2015

    NCAA championships: 1991, 1995, 1998, 1999 (Division III)

    Overview: Ryan’s lower-division titles do matter. Not everyone who has won big at the lower levels has made it to Springfield, but John Chaney is an example of a coach who won his championships below Division I and then more or less “validated” that success with achievements at the higher level. Piling two Final Fours on top of his Division III wins was big for Ryan. And one would imagine that it’s somewhere in the supporting documents regarding his candidacy that Ryan has coached in the Big Ten since 2001-02 and never finished lower than fourth in the regular season. Not one time. He was a finalist in 2015 but did not get elected, but another appearance on the ballot is likely to end with him inducted.

    Verdict: Sure thing


    Share Tweet Email More Bill Self

    Kansas (2003-present)

    Illinois (2000-03)

    Tulsa (1997-2000)

    Oral Roberts (1993-97)

    Career record: 559-183

    Final Fours: Two

    NCAA championships: 2008

    Overview: We tend to look first at national accomplishments when evaluating a Hall of Fame candidate, and Self has enough of that – including his improbable Elite Eight run at Tulsa and a 37-16 NCAA Tournament record – to make the necessary impression. But the Jayhawks’ run of consecutive Big 12 Conference championships is going to make a difference as well. KU is now at 11 league titles in a row, and along with the four titles he won between the Big Ten, Self has won regular-season championships in 83 percent of the seasons his teams competed in a conference. That is incredible.

    Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend on Self: “We haven’t had the great ones (players) like Kentucky. It’s a testament to Coach Self and his ability to teach them how to play.”

    Verdict: Safe bet


    Share Tweet Email More Tom Izzo

    Michigan State (1995-present)

    Career record: 495-199

    Final Fours: Seven

    NCAA championships: 2000

    Overview: It’s Izzo’s fault he doesn’t have a better record. He stubbornly has clung to his tough-schedule philosophy throughout his time in charge of the Spartans. If he’d taken a more common approach, he might have earned another two or three wins a year, which would have put him well over the 500 mark in career wins. Of course, he’s also padded his record with all those “easy” NCAA Tournament wins. He’s gotten an extra 31 wins just from March Madness in the Final Four seasons. Izzo is as respected inside the basketball business as any coach of the past two decades — one reason he has turned down at least three major offers to coach in the NBA and just about every major program that had an opening since Izzo got the Spartans going.

    Izzo on measuring himself against Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski: “It’s good to have him around because I’m always chasing. Seven seems like a lot until you look at 12. Then it doesn’t seem as many.”

    Verdict: Sure thing


    Share Tweet Email More Bob Huggins

    West Virginia (2007-present)

    Kansas State (2006-07)

    Cincinnati (1989-2005)

    Akron (1984-89)

    Walsh (1980-83)

    Career record: 765-312

    Final Fours: 1992, 2010

    NCAA championships: None

    Overview: Huggins has been one of the greatest off-Broadway coaches in Division I. Not until he got to Kansas State did he coach a team in a brand-name conference, and he only went there after being forced out at Cincinnati. It’s possible Huggins’ opportunity to become a serious Hall of Fame candidate snapped on a March afternoon in Memphis, when All-American center Kenyon Martin broke his leg in a freak collision during a conference tournament game. There’s no assurance that Cincinnati team would have won the NCAA title, but the Bearcats were ranked No. 1 and sent four starters to the NBA. With a championship and the 800-plus wins he is likely to achieve, Huggins would have had a strong chance.

    Former WVU point guard Joe Mazzulla on Huggins: “The type of respect he gives his players, he just makes it easy to go out there every day, regardless of whether he’s teaching you or punishing you.”

    Verdict: Wouldn’t count on it


    Share Tweet Email More Billy Donovan

    Florida (1996-2015)

    Marshall (1994-96)

    Career record: 502-206

    Final Fours: Four

    NCAA championships: 2006, 2007

    Overview: Donovan technically isn’t following the John Calipari/Rick Pitino path into the NBA. He’s really charting his own course. No one in modern college basketball history – which is to say, since college coaches started making real money — with Donovan’s level of collegiate experience and achievement has then changed career course to take a swing at the pros. He accomplished enough that even a struggle at that level wouldn’t hurt his candidacy. But if he’d stayed at Florida and gotten back to 20- and 30-win seasons it would have been a slam dunk.

    Donovan on Donovan: “I think the one thing in life I’ve learned is the minute you stop trying to improve and get better and you think you’ve got everything figured out, that’s about the time you probably get really, really humbled.”

    Verdict: Safe bet


    Share Tweet Email More Long distance calls to the Hall

    While not quite as deep into coaching careers as our first set of candidates, these coaches still have a legitimate shot of landing a plaque in Springfield. What do they have to do to get there? For some, it’s just a matter of staying the course. Others will have to clear a few hurdles.

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    Share Tweet Email More Mark Few

    Gonzaga (1999-present)

    Career record: 438-103

    Final Four: None

    Prognosis: What Few has accomplished at Gonzaga has surpassed Pete Carril’s work at Princeton, which was deemed Hall-worthy. But can Few get there without a Final Four?


    Share Tweet Email More Steve Fisher

    San Diego State (1999-present)

    Michigan (1989-1997)

    Career record: 524-266

    Final Fours: Three

    NCAA championship: 1989

    Overview: Largely dismissed as the product of otherworldly talent gathered at Michigan first under Bill Frieder’s charge and then his own, Fisher has demonstrated his greatness beyond doubt by essentially inventing San Diego State basketball. He racked up his lone championship just six games into his head coaching career because Frieder was dismissed for accepting another job. You want to know how desolate the program was when he arrived? Other coaches were turning the job down. Offered the chance to live in one of America’s most beautiful regions and make decent money coaching hoops, they were declining because it seemed hopeless. Over the past 10 years, the Aztecs have averaged 26 wins. But it’s not easy to get to the Hall from the Mountain West.

    Verdict: Wouldn’t count on it.


    Share Tweet Email More Tubby Smith

    Texas Tech (2013-present)

    Minnesota (2007-2013)

    Kentucky (1997-2007)

    Georgia (1995-1997)

    Tulsa (1991-1995)

    Career record: 538-263

    Final Fours: One

    NCAA championship: 1998

    Overview: It’s easy enough to declare Smith won his one championship and reached his only Final Four with “Rick Pitino’s players.” A strong case can be made, however, that the team Smith coached to the title might not have gotten it done with Pitino in charge. It was a different squad, oriented more toward inside power and shot-blocking defense than any of Pitino’s most successful teams. Smith took great advantage of the talents of Nazr Mohammed and freshman big man Jamaal Magliore. It’s likely this was the least talented team ever to win a title for Kentucky. Smith made a habit of doing more with (slightly) less throughout his years at UK. The problem with that is that coaching there gives whomever has the job the opportunity to do more with more.

    Verdict: Wouldn’t count on it.


    Share Tweet Email More Sean Miller

    Arizona (2009-present)

    Xavier (2004-09)

    Career record: 283-99

    Final Fours: None

    Prognosis: Miller has reached four Elite Eights in his first 11 seasons as coach. It would seem the breakthrough is coming.


    Share Tweet Email More Shaka Smart

    Texas (2015-present)

    VCU (2009-2015)

    Career record: 163-56

    Final Fours: One

    Prognosis: Smart is in a position now where greatness is possible, and he’s bright enough and skilled enough to take full advantage of Texas’ potential.


    Share Tweet Email More John Thompson III

    Georgetown (2004-present)

    Princeton (2001-2004)

    Career record: 317-157

    Final Fours: One

    Prognosis: Thompson has revitalized Georgetown basketball and returned it to power status. But he’ll need more March success.


    Share Tweet Email More Jay Wright

    Villanova (2001-present)

    Hofstra (1994-2001)

    Career record: 441-237

    Final Fours: One

    Prognosis: Wright still has a lot of time to coach if he wants it, and he has Villanova winning conference titles and earning high NCAA seeds. He’d likely need a title, but he’s at one of the Big East schools where that’s possible.


    Share Tweet Email More John Beilein

    Michigan (2007-present)

    West Virginia (2002-2007)

    Richmond (1997-2002)

    Canisius (1992-1997)

    LeMoyne (1983-1992)

    Nazareth (1982-1983)

    Career record: 642-385

    Final Fours: One

    Prognosis: Beilein is widely acknowledged as a extraordinary teacher and tactician and has done superbly at Michigan. At 62, he could define his legacy in the next decade.


    Share Tweet Email More Tony Bennett

    Virginia (2009-present)

    Washington State (2006-2009)

    Career record: 205-97

    Final Four: None

    Prognosis: Bennett did incredible work at WSU, where few have won big, and revived a once-proud Virginia program. But his path to the Hall may require accepting the type of job where championships are more likely.


    Share Tweet Email More Gregg Marshall

    Wichita State (2006-present)

    Winthrop (1998-2006)

    Career record: 398-159

    Final Fours: One

    Prognosis: His past three seasons ranked with the best mid-major runs in modern times, so much so Wichita decided to pay him big-time money. Only an elite-elite job will move him now. He might need that sort of gig to get a Hall call, but he could be in Few territory if he keeps this up.

    Next Article… Louisville’s Onuaku not the only surprise at USA Basketball junior team trials

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