Send in the Wizard
Your Take: Who is the best college hoops coach?
Posted: Tuesday March 30, 1999 12:35 PM
Picking the Century's Best college basketball coach seems simple. But is it just a question of who won the most titles? The most games? Maybe the intangibles matter more.
The consensus winner from your responses was the one and only Wizard of Westwood -- John Wooden. You can't argue with his accomplishments at UCLA. But you also have to appreciate the opportunity of coaching magnificent centers like Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton in an era when big men dominated.
Here's what you thought...
John Wooden - 12 years - 10 championships - 7 in a row. Can any more be said? Can anyone top that? -- Andrew Loughmiller, Brazil, IN
Dean Smith is the greatest basketball coach of the century -- by far. He is the winningest coach of all time. Most importantly, he was a class act in representing his team, his fans, and his university over 30 years. He brought out the best in his players, with one of the best graduation rates ever. He pushed his players to be the best they could be -- in the classroom, on the college court, in the NBA, and even the business world. Dean's guys keep on winning well after graduation. -- Brant Clifton, Lumberton, NC
Rick Pitino. Dealing with today' players, he has lead two teams to the final four. He is the ultimate recruiter, able to handle and motivate a team full of all Americans and still has time to develop raw talent (Mohammed, Mashburn). How about the miracles he did with the teams and lack of talent in 1986 and 1992. He can flat out recruit, motivate, teach and coach. -- Kai Lee, Tallahassee, FL
In my opinion John Thompson is the best college coach of all time. I say this because of his loyalty to Georgetown University, he had offers from teams like the Nuggets throughout his tenure with the Hoyas, but he never left his kids. He was a leader and he set examples as he always stood up for what he believed. Without John Thompson great coaches like Mike Jarvis, Perry Watson, and John Chaney may have never gotten their fair shot. All of this is more important than the numerous Big East titles, the final four appearances, and even the national championship. -- Daniel, Fairfax, VA
I believe that Nolan Richardson is the best college basketball coach. He never has the best athletes in the country, but he always seems to know how to motivate his players and help them to reach their potential. Nolan certainly knows how to the most mileage out all his teams. -- Al Morgan, Little Rock, A R
Aside from being the winning the most college basketball games ever, Dean Smith was the origin of many basketball "standards" today. His "four corners" offense was ingenious, but also led to the shot clock that figures so heavily in today's game. Also, North Carolina (due to Dean Smith) began the huddles at the foul line that all players do now after fouls. Smith also began the tradition of players who just scored pointing to the player who passed him the ball while running back down the court. Coach Smith was one of the more progressive coaches in recruiting black players at a time before society as a whole accepted it (Coach K at Duke just got around to recruiting blacks a couple of years ago). Furthermore, Smith epitomizes the notion of team playing over individual achievement. -- Andrew McCullough, Matthews, NC
Don Haskins of UTEP. He has over 700 wins. He achieved this while coaching at a small school without blue chip players. He has a winning record against the bigger schools. Won the 1966 NCAA. He makes the most out of the talent he has to work with. -- Henry Deguire, El Raso, TX
I dislike Duke very, very much. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is the reason why I dislike Duke. Not only does he recruit like an animal, but once the players get to Duke, he makes them better. Bobby Hurley would not have been in the NBA if not for Coach K, Steve Wojciechowski (you need a degree from Duke just to spell these names), would not be a household name if not for Coach K. Stats about him being in the Final Four 4 out of 6 years are nice, however, all one has to do is see Coach K on Duke's bench -- and you know they will be playing deep into March. I hate Duke. -- Steven Dasch, Baltimore, MD
Bob Knight has won 3 NCAA Championships and many Big Ten Championships with far less talent than many other coaches. He has coached only one player that has gone on to play in an NBA All-star game (Isiah Thomas). Also, he runs a clean program and his players graduate. -- Rich Weaver, Canton, MI
Who is the century's best coach you ask? John Wooden. He has more championships than any other coach ever. He was able to make UCLA a powerhouse and a school that everyone in the country feared. He knew the game and how to reach the players. There are many great coaches we can look at in this century, but he is the best. The banners hanging in Pauley Pavilion say it all. -- David Pratt, Richland, WA
Without a doubt the greatest college basketball coach of the century is John Wooden. His 10 national titles in 12 years will never be duplicated. His poise and integrity are his best traits. The fact that many of his former players have become so successful is what really separates him from other coaches. His "pyramid of success" is one of the true inspirations of our time. -- Larry Ewart, Cimarron, KS
I think that Dale Brown is the best coach in the history of College Basketball. Why? Look at what he did. He recruited the great Stanley Roberts. -- Dugan Stein, Quaker, PA
The greatest coach in history didn't win as many games as Dean Smith or John Wooden, but the win-loss column isn't there to measure coaches. A coach's job is to motivate, mentor, and inspire his kids. The example Jim Valvano set -- not just for his players -- but for America can never be repaid. -- Christian Pieper, Beaver Dam, KY
As for best college basketball coach, my vote goes to Pete Carril. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the coach of the only Ivy League team ever to win the NIT, Carril made a career out of beating and nearly beating some of the best teams in the land -- and he did it without doling out a single scholarship. He beat Bobby Knight and Indiana in the 1972 NIT. He beat Digger Phelps and then No. 2 Notre Dame in 1977. He beat Mike Krzyszewski and Duke in 1982. He beat Rollie Massimino, P.J. Carlesimo, and Louie Carnesecca often enough that, with weak excuses, they took Princeton off their schedules. John Thompson only played him once, and that was when he had to -- in the 1989 NCAA tournament, where Princeton nearly became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1. Jim Calhoun played him once in Storrs, won by three points, and never called him back. John Chaney flat out refused to play him. In the midst of UCLA's 88-game winning streak, Carril took his team out to Westwood and lost on a buzzer-beater by Sidney Wickes. Then, years later, he finally beat UCLA -- the defending national champs -- in a game that has become part and parcel of tournament lore. Again, he did it all without a single scholarship player. -- Bernard Hurwitz, Rochester, NY
Ray Meyer of DePaul. Meyer not only made George Mikan the best center of the 1950s, coached DePaul for more than 30 years (with two Final Fours appearances), but he nutured quality kids out of Chicago's inner streets -- Christopher Matza, Chicago, IL
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