College Basketball

Ranking the Top 25 Coaches in College Basketball in the 2013-14 Season

Thad NovakCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

Ranking the Top 25 Coaches in College Basketball in the 2013-14 Season

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    With small rosters and ultra-fast turnover, college basketball puts pressure on its coaches that no other sport does. Sometimes, even the best (sorry, Steve Fisher) get stuck with a roster that won’t get the job done in a given season, while others (such as Saint Louis’ Jim Crews) finally have the personnel to make their marks on the national stage.

    One coach who’s trying to prove just how good he can be with the right players is Steve Alford. UCLA’s new head man is coming off a brilliant run at New Mexico, but can he shed his postseason demons with a program that’s had its own issues in March lately?

    Read on for more on Alford and where he ranks among this year’s 25 best coaches, accounting not only for past performance but also for the potential of the 2013-14 team.

John Thompson III, Georgetown

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: The most physically imposing version of the Princeton offense this side of the NBA

    Track Record: B 

    Can’t yet match his dad’s postseason heroics, but already has three Big East titles.

    2013-14 Potential: B-

    Hoyas have great case for being best unranked team in nation, with length and versatility across the starting lineup.

Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Specialty: Cherry-picking the best Division I transfers every year.

    Track Record: B-

    Hasn’t won much in the Big Dance yet, but getting there two years in a row is no mean feat for the Cyclones.

    2013-14 Potential: B 

    Upsetting Michigan in Ames is one thing, but on a neutral court in March, this team will need more star power than it's got.

Jim Crews, Saint Louis

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Stifling foes with team-oriented man-to-man defense.

    Track Record: B- Has struggled in every previous head-coaching gig, but has a lot talent to work with on this roster.

    2013-14 Potential: B+ Don’t bet against defense in the postseason, especially not when it comes with senior leadership from the likes of Dwayne Evans.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Specialty: Mining the junior college ranks for overlooked talent.

    Track Record: B All his momentum is going in the right direction, but last year was his first time getting past the opening weekend of March Madness.

    2013-14 Potential: B Final Four trip will raise expectations to unreasonable levels, but the Shockers are a near-lock to win the Missouri Valley.

Dana Altman, Oregon

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Specialty: Using motion offense to make up for lack of individual scorers

    Track Record: B Postseason performance hasn’t been great, but between Ducks and Creighton, has 14 20-win seasons in last 15 years.

    2013-14 Potential: B+ Success on the transfer market (especially Joseph Young) makes this roster nearly the equal of last year’s Sweet 16 squad.

Jay Wright, Villanova

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Specialty: Piling up wins in Big Five play.

    Track Record: B+ After an impressive five-year postseason run, Wright is mired in a four-year slump with only one NCAA tournament victory.

    2013-14 Potential: B Ryan Arcidiacono is a fine floor leader, but the likelihood of a poor seed (as the Big East's fourth-best team) will make March an uphill battle.

Jamie Dixon, Pitt

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Specialty: Recruiting NYC-area defenders.

    Track Record: A- Despite his much-publicized postseason struggles, has never failed to win 20 games in a year.

    2013-14 Potential: B- Three good players won’t be enough to do much in this year’s ACC, though this could always be the year the Panthers overachieve in March.

Tommy Amaker, Harvard

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    Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Finding high-scoring guards who can get into Harvard.

    Track Record: B+ Has engineered amazing turnaround of historically wretched program, even if the Crimson have yet to prove they can stay relevant over the long haul.

    2013-14 Potential: B Another upset-and-done may be all this team has in it, but even that would be another feather in Amaker’s cap.

Mike Montgomery, California

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Keeping California stars in-state.

    Track Record: B+ Still getting the Golden Bears program built up, but he’s got 20-win seasons by the boatload and a solid postseason record from his Stanford days.

    2013-14 Potential: B Cal is just one of many good teams in this year’s Pac-12, but once they get to the postseason, their experience (and especially PG Justin Cobbs) give them some chance to surprise.

Steve Alford, UCLA

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Continuing the Bob Knight legacy of quality man-to-man defense.

    Track Record: B Dominated the Mountain West at New Mexico, but has never been a winner in the postseason or in a major conference.

    2013-14 Potential: A- Even with a fairly short rotation, UCLA has scary upside thanks to Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams.

Tom Crean, Indiana

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    Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Engineering program turnarounds.

    Track Record: B+ He’s rebuilt both Marquette and Indiana, but his tournament performance has been all over the place.

    2013-14 Potential: B+ These Hoosiers are probably too raw for an extended postseason run, but they can beat any team in the country when they get hot.

Buzz Williams, Marquette

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Cobbling together just enough offense to keep great defense winning.

    Track Record: A- On an enviable postseason run of three straight finishes in the Sweet 16 or better, and hasn’t missed March Madness with Golden Eagles.

    2013-14 Potential: A- If the backcourt comes together, Davante Gardner is a near-ideal offensive weapon for postseason play.

Mark Few, Gonzaga

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    James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Cultivating international talent.

    Track Record: A Has had his ups and downs in March, but few coaches are as safe to count on in regular-season play.

    2013-14 Potential: A- A lot depends on some still-untested big men, but these Zags should have no trouble outdoing last year’s disappointment.

Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth

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    Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Suffocating ball-handlers with “havoc” full-court press.

    Track Record: A- Regular-season success is starting to come into line with the Rams’ level of postseason notoriety.

    2013-14 Potential: A This year’s edition has more offensive options and more size than usual, two weapons that Smart will make good use of.

     

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Taking the air out of the ball (and out of opposing scorers).

    Track Record: A Frequent overachiever in postseason play, and hasn’t missed an NCAA tournament since coming to Madison.

    2013-14 Potential: A Always-dangerous defense has a better offense supporting it this time around.

John Beilein, Michigan

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Specialty: Sinking opposing defenses with a fusillade of three-point shots.

    Track Record: A- Between West Virginia and Michigan, he’s made it to the Sweet 16 in half his NCAA tournament trips.

    2013-14 Potential: A He’s still trying to find a balance between size and shooting on the Wolverines roster—witness Sunday's loss at Iowa State—but this year’s Maize and Blue are still a serious Final Four threat.

Thad Matta, Ohio State

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Milking intermittent-but-loaded recruiting classes for all they’re worth.

    Track Record: A Superior March Madness performer, but doesn’t have a title yet.

    2013-14 Potential: A+ Buckeyes are right there with Michigan State for Big Ten and national title contention.

Roy Williams, North Carolina

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Specialty: Approaching the speed of light with his team's transition offense

    Track Record: A+ Two national titles at Carolina have elevated him to the top ranks after years as a regular-season Goliath.

    2013-14 Potential: A Off-court issues are making his job tougher with this year’s squad—P.J. Hairston's suspension had a lot to do with Sunday's loss to Belmont—but Tar Heels have ample talent for deep tournament run.

Bill Self, Kansas

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Specialty: Developing upperclassmen to combine with his star recruits.

    Track Record: A He’s had more postseason blowups than he’d like, but the 2008 national title makes up for a lot.

    2013-14 Potential: A+ Young Jayhawks are loaded for bear, as Duke found out last week.

Billy Donovan, Florida

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Specialty: Hounding opponents with the full-court pressure he learned as a player under Rick Pitino.

    Track Record: A+

    Three straight Elite Eights and counting for the most recent back-to-back national champion.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    Once Gators get a full roster to work with, early struggles will be quickly forgotten.

Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Specialty: Paralyzing opposing offenses with nation’s best 2-3 zone.

    Track Record: A+

    On top of stratospheric win total, he’s coming off one of his best surprise showings in March.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    Even with a green backcourt, deep and experienced set of forwards can play with anyone in the country.

John Calipari, Kentucky

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Specialty: Recruiting next year’s lottery picks.

    Track Record: A+

    Took three different programs to Final Four, not to mention setting the single-season wins record in 2011-12.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    Even in loss to Michigan State, Wildcats showed that they have the talent to beat any team.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Specialty: Crashing the offensive boards (and the defensive ones, too).

    Track Record: A+

    One of the most consistent NCAA tournament winners ever seen.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    The Spartans will take over the No. 1 ranking on Monday and might not give it up again until 2014.

     

Rick Pitino, Louisville

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Specialty: Pushing the tempo with pressure defense and run-and-gun offense.

    Track Record: A+

    Defending his second national title (at two different schools), he’s at the top of his game.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    Addition of PG Chris Jones makes this year’s team even better offensively than last year’s title winners.

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Specialty: Raining three-pointers to overcome lack of size

    Track Record: A+

    Only John Wooden is even in the same class anymore.

    2013-14 Potential: A+

    Jabari Parker would make any team a contender, and he’s hardly alone on these Blue Devils.

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