Over the past few weeks, ESPN has been counting down the 50 best coaches in college basketball. This morning, they wrapped up their series by revealing the top two spots: #2 John Calipari and #1…Billy Donovan.
Here’s a bit of what Eamonn Brennan had to say about Cal:
Last season’s March run was also a helpful reminder of Calipari’s sheer coaching ability. We laud coaches for bringing their teams along at the right time, for finding their peak in March. That’s the Tom Izzo specialty. Calipari found that gear in his team at the last possible moment last season, and once he figured it out, it was clear why everyone — himself included — was so high on Kentucky in October. There is real tactical substance here: a unique, restrained offensive system, an ability to coax great defense out of young players and real fluency in advanced scouting and statistical ideas.
The most impressive thing about all this? The fact that Donovan has done it at Florida. Before Donovan, the Gators’ baskteball history was almost nonexistent. In 1932-33, the Gators fielded an SEC basketball team for the first time. For the next 47 years, they finished higher than fourth in the conference standings just four times. The Gators didn’t have a full-time coach until 1960, and their only sustained success (under Norm Sloan from 1980 to 1989) led to the Gators’ first postseason berths ever, and also a major NCAA scandal.
So basically, Billy is better because he was able to achieve success at a football school like Florida, whereas Cal is doing it at the epicenter of college basketball in Kentucky. Okay. I’ll still take Cal any day.
For more of Brennan’s reasoning, check out each story on ESPN.com: