Skip to content

Which Final Four coach do you want? We state our cases

Mar 29, 2012, 9:02 AM EDT

Any coach who reaches the Final Four qualifies as a pretty good coach. Yes, even Rick Barnes.

But some of the coaches whose teams play in the NCAA tournament’s final weekend are a cut above their peers. They’re the best recruiters, Xs-and-Os guys, savvy managers of egos and smart enough to surround themselves to help them along the way.

That applies to the four guys in New Orleans: Kansas’ Bill Self, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Ohio State’s Thad Matta.

But which one would you want coaching your team for one game? We state our cases for each one.

source:

John Calipari

source:

You want John Calipari. He’s got the highest career win percentage of the four coaches, and while he may not have a national title to his credit like Rick Pitino or Bill Self it’s only a matter of time before he does. Of his 13 NCAA tournament teams ten have reached at least the Sweet 16, and that’s not something that happens solely because of the ability to recruit (I don’t worry about vacated records because that’s one of the dumbest punishments in all of sports).

He’s been able to get an immensely talented team to play together with no signs of ego taking over, and more times than not Kentucky ends up in a good position to be successful. The other three coaches may receive more praise for their work with a clipboard, but the judgment of Calipari in that regard seems to be more about perception than reality.

– Raphielle Johnson

*NCAA records. Does not include 42 wins, 2 losses, 2 league titles and 2 tourney titles that were vacated.

Thad Matta

source:

The youngest coach among the four, Matta’s also probably the most underrated. He’s been a head coach 12 years and won his conference title nine times, including five in the Big Ten, routinely one of the game’s three best leagues. He won an NCAA tournament game with Butler, took Xavier to the Elite Eight and was in the national title game in just his third year at Ohio State. That’s a career for most guys, not just the start of one.

Yet Matta’s proven himself to be an outstanding recruiter, developer of talent and has a flair for preparation and in-game tactics, too. His Buckeyes were more than ready for Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone last weekend, shredding it with interior passing. He’s made a football school into one of college basketball’s elite programs. That’s no accident. That’s a testament to how good he is and how his players respond to that excellence.

Mike Miller

Rick Pitino

source:

Would it surprise you to hear that, after a 29-point loss to Providence earlier this season, Cardinals fans were more likely to discuss the chances that their team missed the NCAA tournament entirely than that the possibility of winning the Big East tournament and reaching the Final Four? That’s the turnaround that Pitino has orchestrated, and he has done it while dealing with myriad of injuries to key players.

There’s more: Pitino has also proven to have a feel for this team, making in-game adjustments — like switching to a man-to-man defense against Florida — that have helped to spark this run. Most importantly, he has no pressure on him or his team. They are supposed to lose to heavily favored — and heated rival — Kentucky. John Calipari is the one with the pressure. Can you imagine the embarrassment of the best team he’s had getting upset by a rival coached by his personal rival? They always say the most dangerous person is the one with nothing to lose.

– Rob Dauster

Bill Self

source:

Bill Self and the Jayhawks did it again in 2011-12, despite losing the Morris twins and two more of his top five scorers from last season. They lost two top recruits, Ben McLemore and Jamari Traylor, to eligibility problems. They didn’t have a clear-cut star or go-to guy to begin the season.

He made long-term player development investments, notably Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson, which finally paid off this season. In the short-term, as Pat Forde of Yahoo! points out, Self outdueled Roy Williams in Kansas’ Elite Eight win over North Carolina.

So, for reasons of consistency and the ability to build in both the short-term and long-term, Bill Self is the best coach in the Final Four.

– Daniel Martin

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Latest Posts
  1. Official visit schedule set for five-star 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Despite not being included among the five official visits, Indiana and UNLV remain options for Zimmerman.

  2. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell breaks his second backboard of the summer

    Jul 27, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Nearly three months after breaking a backboard during a pickup game, the rising junior took out another one this weekend.

  3. Arizona commit Ray Smith calls ACL tear ‘a blessing’

    Jul 27, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT

    ray-smith

    Ray Smith tore his ACL earlier this month.

  4. Assigned Reading: Michael Hausfeld, the man taking on the NCAA

    Jul 27, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Ed O’Bannon’s lead attorney didn’t even know who he was when he first met him.

  5. Kwe Parker throws down 360 cradle dunk … again (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    picresized_th_1406475062_Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 11.28.23 AM

    It’s been a summer of viral dunks for the 6-foot-2 recruit

  6. Las Vegas Saturday Recap: Bennie Boatwright, Justin Simon lead Dream Vision into adidas Super 64 semis

    Jul 27, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    Also some notes on junior college guard Andre Spight and 2015 guard Justin Foreman.

  7. Skal Labissiere is considering Europe, but that doesn’t mean there’s a market for him

    Jul 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    "NBPA Top 100 Camp"

    Skal Labissiere may want to go to Europe. That does not mean Europe wants him.

  8. North Carolina announces plans for program that aims to help former athletes complete their degree

    Jul 26, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Nate Britt, Roy Williams AP

    North Carolina is the latest school making the positive step of looking to help its former athletes obtain their college degrees.

  9. Saint Louis will need some of six-man recruiting class to step up in 2014-15

    Jul 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Jim Crews AP

    With Saint Louis losing five experienced seniors, the incoming freshman class could be expected to contribute immediately this season.

  10. Two surprises after first cuts at Team USA U17 trials

    Jul 26, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    usa-logo-color1

    Two top five players in the Class of 2016 were sent home.

  11. Las Vegas Friday Recap: Jaylen Brown, Kobi Simmons among standouts

    Jul 26, 2014, 12:29 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Brown also mentioned plans of taking an unofficial visit to UCLA following adidas Nations.

  12. USA Basketball session one highlights (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports) (Scott Phillips/NBC Sports)

    USA Basketball has a lot of talent in the building this week for the U17 World Championship camp.

  13. Florida commit KeVaughn Allen puts together an impressive Peach Jam (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Florida commit KeVaughn Allen had a great week at Peach Jam.

  14. Report: Dismissed Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt turning pro

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt

    Former Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt is turning pro after being dismissed from the program in June.

  15. Iowa State’s Georges Niang provides visual evidence of his weight loss (PHOTO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    niang Getty Images

    Didn’t believe Niang when he stated that he’d reshaped his body? Here’s visual evidence that he did.

  16. Rawle Alkins carries the torch as one of New York’s next great guards

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    New York City guard Rawle Alkins is one player to monitor in the Class of 2016.