I didn’t realize this before writing for KSR, but apparently the only thing sports journalists like to do in the off-season is make lists. Lists on lists on lists. And here’s a new one from the folks over at Athlon Sports, ranking college basketball’s top coaches. According to their criteria, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo is the best coach in college basketball.
Golf clap, golf clap.
Before you start shooting your shotgun at the computer, take a look at what Athlon used to define success at the college basketball level: “sustained success during the regular season against a high level of competition, advancing in the NCAA Tournament, recruiting players to fit his system, ability to teach and develop his roster.” Later in their method descriptions, the authors state that “Michigan State often puts up equal or better results compared to programs churning through NBA lottery picks on a yearly basis.” They make a special point of noting that only two MSU players in the past ten years have declared early for the draft, seemingly using that to make Izzo’s success seem purer or more hard-earned than Calipari’s.
I happen to disagree. In today’s game and with the one-and-done rule, success is no longer measured by simply taking decent players and turning them into perennial Sweet 16-worthy teams. The point of the college game is to play a high level of basketball and prepare players for the pros, and no one has been more successful at than that John Vincent Calipari. Cal is without a doubt the hottest coach in college basketball, and Athlon’s measures for defining the “best coach” seem outdated compared to the level of success Kentucky has enjoyed under Calipari. The authors of this list talk about how Izzo is the best player developer in the country, yet Cal trounces him when it comes to developing players for the NBA. At the very least, consistently producing lottery picks should have been a criterion for choosing the top college coach.
I guess I can’t complain too much, because Calipari landed a bronze medal on the list (obligatory Olympics reference). Here’s what Athlon had to say about John C:
Kentucky and John Calipari was the perfect marriage even before the 2012 national championship. Before then, the question was if Calipari would win a title at Kentucky with cycling through a roster of one-and-done players. With a team featuring six NBA draft picks, including the top two selections, Calipari answered. Now, the question seems to be how many titles Calipari could win at Kentucky — provided he doesn’t dip is toe into the NBA again. Senior Night may be a bygone tradition for Calipari teams, but he’s suffered minimal drop-off from year to year. His 173 wins over the last five seasons at Kentucky and Memphis are more than any other coach in the country. Kansas’ Bill Self is No. 2 at 154.
What do you think? Did the authors ignore the importance of the NBA in their list, or were they simply focusing on the “college” part of college basketball coach?
For the full list, click here.