Tuesday, June 25, 2024

In a sport with 362 teams, attempting to rank coaches in terms of hierarchy is no easy task. However, The Athletic has taken on this challenge in their Year 2 of Men’s Basketball Coaching Tiers. Instead of using a numeric ranking or annual Hot Seat list, they have categorized coaches into tiers based on input from multiple authorities in college hoops. The criteria for inclusion include coaches from major conferences, coaches from non-“power” conferences who have led their teams to the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons, coaches leading teams ranked in KenPom’s top 100 program rating, coaches with at least one full season at the Division I level, and active Division I coaches.

It should be noted that this grading system is not based on a scientific or consistent method. It is subjective and based on opinions, familiarity, and occasional recency bias. The tiers were reviewed by various basketball experts, including former players, X’s and O’s gurus, former coaches, grassroots directors, university administrators, and search firm heads. The opinions of these experts helped shape the tiers, and their insights will be shared.

Defining what makes a great coach is not definitive, as there are various aspects to consider such as play design, in-game adjustments, scouting, recruiting, leadership, and player relations. The challenge lies in the quantity, quality, and diversity of college basketball coaches and the ever-changing landscape of the game.

Now, let’s delve into the tiers themselves. Tier 1 consists of coaches who are widely regarded as the best in college basketball. This year, the decision was made to drop a coach from a certain university in Lexington, Kentucky from the top tier while adding a new name. Coaches like Tony Bennett, Scott Drew, Mark Few, Dan Hurley, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Kelvin Sampson, and Bill Self are considered among the best in the game. Some experts even consider Bill Self or Rick Pitino to be the best coach in the game, while others believe they should have their own tier. Self is highly regarded for his coaching ability and knack for recruiting, while Pitino has a complicated history but is respected for his success at multiple schools.

Tier 2 includes coaches like Rick Barnes, Randy Bennett, John Calipari, Ed Cooley, Mick Cronin, Brian Dutcher, Jim Larrañaga, Greg McDermott, Sean Miller, Eric Musselman, Nate Oats, Matt Painter, Bruce Pearl, and Shaka Smart. Calipari is the only coach in this tier with a national championship but has faced criticism for not living up to expectations in recent years. The new entrants in this tier range in age from 46 to 74 and reflect the ever-changing landscape of college basketball coaching.

Overall, these tiers are not definitive or unassailable, but they provide some insight into the hierarchy of college basketball coaches according to The Athletic’s panel of experts.

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles