Yahoo! Sports’ Steve Megargee decided it would be fun to rank college basketball coaches’ debut seasons. Shocker: John Calipari’s at the top, for his first year at Kentucky:
When Calipari arrived at Kentucky from Memphis, the nation’s all-time winningest program was coming off season in which they had finished .500 in SEC competition and had settled for an NIT appearance. Calipari quickly transformed Kentucky into one of the nation’s most feared programs again with his recruiting prowess. Before he ever coached a game for Kentucky, Calipari had made his presence felt by signing a recruiting class that featured future lottery picks John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. That trio helped Kentucky go 35-3 overall and 14-2 in the SEC in Calipari’s first season. All the Wildcats lacked was consistent perimeter shooting, which doomed them in an NCAA East Regional final loss to West Virginia.
Also on the list: Billy Gillispie for Texas A&M’s 2004-2005 season, Bruce Pearl for his inaugural year at Tennessee (2005-2006), and Tubby Smith’s first year at Minnesota (2007-2008).