2 Lists for Tuesday; My list of top college hoop coaches of the ESPN era, #’s 14-26

These are coaches who coached in the ESPN era, from 1980 on, except for one guy on tomorrow’s list, made an exception for him.

26) Jim Harrick— Coached for 24 years at four schools, going 470-235;
— 167-97 at Pepperdine, won four WCC titles
— 191-63 at UCLA, won ’95 national title
— 45-22 at Rhode Island, made NCAA’s both years.
— 67-53 at Georgia, made NCAA’s twice

25) Lou Carnesecca— Went 526-200 with the Redmen; you say he should win at a college in New York City, but what has St John’s won since he left? Not a lot.

Carnesecca got St John’s to the ’85 Final Four, when three Big East teams made it to Rupp Arena in Lexington, the last Final Four without a shot clock. He went 114-138 in three years coaching the ABA’s New York Nets, losing the ’72 ABA Finals to the Indiana Pacers.

24) Pete Carril— Won 11 Ivy League titles in 29 years at Princeton; he won the ’75 NIT, and was 514-261 at Princeton, where he ran an offense lot of teams around the country copied for years. Lot of movement, backdoor cuts; his ’89 Tigers lost one of the most memorable first round games in NCAA tourney history, losing 50-49 as a 22-point underdog to a very good Georgetown team.

After leaving Princeton, Carril was an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings for ten years, working for one of his former players, Kings’ GM Geoff Petrie.

23) John Beilein— Has never been an assistant coach; a lot like Jerry Tarkanian, his NBA experience was short and not so good, but Beilein has coached four D-I programs, and won at least 58.9% of his games at all four schools, making two Final Fours with Michigan.

It is one thing to win at Michigan or West Virginia, but 89-62 at Canisius, 100-53 at Richmond raise some eyebrows. Beilein may still get another chance to coach in college, we’ll see.

22) John Thompson— Went 596-239 in 27 years at Georgetown, making the Hoyas a national title as they became a Big East power. Thompson made 20 NCAA tourneys, got to three Final Fours, won the 1984 national title.

Thompson also screwed up the 1988 Olympic team, when he chose Bimbo Coles ahead of Steve Kerr, but college coaches shouldn’t coach in the Olympics. And if Hersey Hawkins hadn’t have gotten hurt at the Olympics, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. 

21) Jay Wright— Went 122-85 at Hofstra, then moved on to Villanova, made three Final Fours, won two national titles. Last seven years, Villanova is 215-38, winning national title in ’16, ‘18. 

20) Steve Fisher— Won national title as an interim coach at Michigan in 1989, then made Final Four two more times in next four seasons, before he moved on to San Diego State, which up to that point, had almost zero basketball tradition.

In 18 years leading the Aztecs, Fisher won 386 games, made eight NCAA tourneys, got a pretty nice arena built, and coached Kawhi Leonard. In total, he went 571-290 as a college head coach.

19) Eddie Sutton— Coached at five different D-I schools, won total of 806 games, with most of his success at Oklahoma State (368-151), Arkansas (260-75). Sutton made it to three Final Fours, two with the Cowboys- he also went 90-40 in four years at Kentucky.

18) Mark Few— Much like Jerry Tarkanian did at UNLV 30 years ago, Gonzaga is parlaying being the biggest fish in a small pond (WCC) into national prominence. Few has been the head coach of the Zags for 21 years now, going 599-124, making every year except this past year, when there wasn’t an NCAA Tournament (obviously, they would’ve made it)

Gonzaga made the Final Four in 2017; now they’re at the top of every transfer’s wish list- they finished in the AP top 10 five of the last six years. Check out a map; Spokane isn’t exactly near anything, except Idaho. Gonzaga has built something special at an out-of-the-way place.

17) Bill Self— You go 21-7 at Oral Roberts, you move on to Tulsa; you go 32-5 at Tulsa, you move on to Illinois; you go 25-7 at Illinois, you move on Kansas. Not too many people move on from Kansas, Roy Williams being an exception.

Self is 708-214 in his career, 501-109 in Lawrence; he’s made three Final Fours, won the 2008 national title. Kansas won 12 consecutive regular season titles in the Big X.

16) Billy Donovan— Donovan’s Gators are the last repeat NCAA champs, winning in both 2006, 2007; before the NBA came calling, Florida went 467-186 in 19 years under Donovan, making 14 NCAA tourneys, four Final Fours.

He started his head coaching career at Marshall, going 35-20 in two years there; Donovan played for Rick Pitino at Providence, leading the Friars to the 1987 Final Four.

15) Nolan Richardson— 509-207 is a pretty good record, even better when it is Tulsa, Arkansas that won all those games. Razorbacks won the ’95 national title. Richardson made it to 16 NCAA tournaments, three Final Fours. His teams won a lot and were fun to watch. 40 minutes of hell. 

Richardson went 119-37 at Tulsa, winning the NIT in his first year there; current St John’s coach Mike Anderson was his top assistant at Arkansas. He also won the 1980 junior college national title, going 37-0 with Western Texas Junior College.

14) Bob Huggins— 809 wins is a lot of wins; he went 398-128 at Cincinnati, is 291-161 at West Virginia, and still has it rolling there. He’s made 24 NCAA tournaments, making it to a couple Final Fours, in 1992, 2010. Huggins also went 97-46 at Akron, when he was a young coach. 

December 1997, I’m at a prep school tournament on a Sunday night in Siena’s gym here in Albany; I have a Cincinnati Bearcats hat on, am sitting by myself. At halftime of the first game, a guy comes up to me and says hello; it is coach Huggins, who was coaching the Bearcats at the time. We talked for 5-10 minutes; it was pretty cool. He is a good guy.

3-4 years ago, I’m at an AAU tournament in Las Vegas, and while I’m waiting to get let in, who else is sitting there waiting? Coach Huggins; I reminded him of our earlier meeting and thanked him. You wonder how many AAU games these veteran coaches have seen over the years. 

TV highlight of the day: Am watching a movie called The Departed; what a cast.
— Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin
— Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio

Very good movie. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.