Famous College Basketball Coaches
By Loot, NCAA Basketball Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
John Wooden: The Dean of all college coaches, Wooden stands far above the rest with an incredible 10 National Championships. The fact that every single player he coached speaks of him as some Yoda-like figure speaks volumes. He produced far and away the most dominant college basketball machine ever seen on the hardwood, winning 7 consecutive championships. Nowadays a team that wins two would be considered a dynasty. With the second-place guys (Rupp and Krzyzewski) with 4 championships each, it’s doubtful Wooden’s benchmark will ever be touched. After a few seasons at the helm at Indiana State, Wooden coached the Bruins for 27 seasons, winning titles in 10 of his last 12 seasons. The “Wizard of Westwood” was simply the best.
Mike Kryzyzewski: Coach “K” has been the coach for Duke since 1980. Prior to that, Kryzyzewski was the head coach for Army for 6 seasons. Coach “K” took the Duke Blue Devils and turned them into the signature team of the past quarter-century. He coached Duke to 4 National Championships, with the first being in 1991 and his last coming in 2010. In addition, he took Duke to the Final Four an incredible 11 times. From 1986-94, he got Duke to the Final Four a total of 7 times, creating as close to a dynasty as this sport has seen since the glory days of the UCLA Bruins.
Bobby Knight: “The General” coached Army for 7 seasons and Texas Tech for 8, but it is his 30 years with the Indiana Hoosiers for which he will be forever known. His antics, which have been well-covered by the media, only serve to detract from his excellence as a coach, which includes 902 wins. Knight guided the Hoosiers to a trio of National Championships and was the Big Ten champion 11 times. His coaching style proved effective during a long span (1965-2008) and he is clearly one of the giants in college basketball coaching history.
Adolph Rupp: One of the early creators of the fast break, Rupp is best-known for his work with the Kentucky Wildcats, where he played a key role in turning that school into a perennial factor in the top reaches of college basketball. He coached Kentucky for a mind-numbing long time, from 1930-1972. His 876 wins is still good enough to be in the top-five all-time and he would be the runaway number-one if they played as many games back then as they do today. From 1948 to 1958, Rupp coached the Wildcats to 4 National Championships.
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Jim Boeheim: The Syracuse head coach is one of those guys who was a head coach when you were a little kid and even when you get old, he’s still the coach. He’s been coaching the Orangemen since 1976. His effectiveness has transferred over different eras and he’s still getting it done, following another Final Four appearance in 2013. Boeheim has taken his team to the postseason (either the NCAA or NIT) in every single year that he has been the head coach. Only Coach Krzyzewski leads him on the all-time wins list.
Dean Smith: He turned his program into one of the top ones in the country and he did it the right way. With ethics above reproach, Smith made 11 Final Four appearances. North Carolina was the only team that Smith head coached, but when he retired in 1997, he was the career wins leader with 879. He had been coaching the Tar Heels since 1961, when he took over as a 30-year old. Some of the best players in modern history played under Smith, the best one being the greatest player ever in Michael Jordan. Smith’s teams won at least 25 games an incredible 22 times.
Rick Pitino: Pitino has been a go-to coach for any AD looking to make the basketball team exponentially better. Providence hasn’t been to the Final Four in recent memory, but they got there in 1987 under the stewardship of Pitino. He got Kentucky to the Final Four 3 times in 6 seasons, including the NCAA Title in 1997. His college career was interrupted by a pair of different NBA coaching stints. If not for the 6 years he spent in the NBA, his college stats would be even glossier. After a rough 4-year stretch as the head coach of the Celtics, he was brought in to right the Louisville ship. In his 5th season as coach in 2009-10, he got the Cardinals to the Final Four for the first time in almost 2 decades. In 2013, Pitino took one of his best teams to win the National Championship. He is the only coach to lead 3 separate programs to the Final Four.
Honorable Mention: Rick Majerus. Has any man does more with less?