The key to the success of a college basketball team is the ability of the Coach. A successful bench coach can and will spell the difference of success and failure. Some coaches in the heat of the battle wilt when in pressure game situations. Usually because they did not manage the clock well during the course of a game. Depending upon how well the coach makes decisions and manages the game, determines how much pressure he will face with under minutes remaining in a game. The coach can create a pressure situation by mis-management of the game. The players are usually not disciplined enough to execute or the coach has a flawed philosophy in game management. Either way it is the coach’s job to get their team ready for any situation. What causes me to wonder is when a coach uses all of the allotted time outs and have none to call in crucial game ending situations. This happens a lot when coaches do not manage the game well. Being a top flight coach involves how well you manage crucial situations at the end of a game.
You must make all the right moves at the right time in order to be effective. With that said, I put together a list of coaches who I feel have demonstrated that they know how to manage the game and change strategy when needed. The coaches are not listed in any particular order, but all have demonstrated that they know how to manage a game, ultimately producing a win. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke- Without a doubt the most successful coach in the ranks of college basketball. He has had the good fortune of coaching superb basketball talent and the benefits of coaching at The Premier Basketball School in the country.
Coach K is at the top as America’s top coach on nearly every ones list. Bill Self, Kansas- He coached his way to the top, by winning the National Championship. This is the litmus test of the coaching ability of the coach. Self proved that he belongs in the top tier of coaches. Roy Williams, North Carolina-Williams came into his own when he returned to North Carolina as The Head Basketball coach. Great coaching ability and a unique ability to bring talent together and lot of it at Carolina. Jim Calhoun, UConn- The cornerstone of UConn’s offense is a great point guard combined with a good inside game. Usually the inside is occupied by a better than average center. But with Calhoun’s offense a good point guard is the key to push the ball up the floor, distribute the ball, or effectively take the three. Calhoun is great at managing the closing minutes of a game. Villanova- The three guard offense has been highly effective for Jay Wright and when he has three guard who can shoot from the perimeter, slash and dish effectively to the basket, he can break down the opposing defense fairly quickly. Wright because of his knack of recruiting exceptionally quick, efficeint shooting guards, has been able to manage the closing minutes of a game quite effectively.
Tom Crean, Indiana (Formerly coach at Marquette)- Crean is a master of managing a game and interchanging players at just the right time to keep the opposing team off balance on both offense and defense. He did this extremely well at Marquette. Look for Crean to recruit more power rated players at Indiana than he did at Marquette. This will insure that he will continue to have success in the closing minutes of a game. Crean is a master of managing a game.
Billy Donavon, Florida- Donavon is another coach who when he has reasonable talent, can effectively manage a game, by substituting strategically and effective pull out of game, by making superb coaching moves. Donavon won back to back national Championships and it was because he is a great bench coach.
Billy Gillespie, Kentucky- Although he had a mediocre year at Kentucky last year, Gillespie is a great recruiter and has a knack of drawing out the best of players who over the course of the year adapt well to his system. Look for Kentucky to remain one of the top echelon programs, because of the coaching ability of Gillespie. Last year was a great example of Gillespie’s coaching ability. Kentucky struggled all year long, but they game together in the end to win a seed in the NCAA tournament.
Rick Pitino, Louisville- Pitino is somewhat erratic at times. Does not manage the clock well and sometimes makes bone headed substitutions at inappropriate times. However, his teams or capable of hitting home run balls, via the three point line, which let him off the hook when making bad coaching decisions, and when he has managed the clock unresponsively. It is a situation where Pitino is on or he is not. Louisville rises and falls with the nuances and the management of the clock by Pitino.
Luke Olsen, Arizona- No coach has consistently managed a game better than Lute Olsen. He has accomplished this with great point guard play and above average inside game. But Arizona’s offense rises or falls with the point guard. And Olsen has had some good ones. He is without a doubt one of the top bench coaches in terms of managing the waning minutes of a game in America.
Ben Howland, UCLA- Howland brought his magic to Westwood and has created a talent pool that is exceptional to say the least. His clock management has been good and he has effectively advanced to the NCAA tournament enjoying good success.
Bob Huggins,West Virginia- Last year Huggins over achieved. The talent level at West Virginia was suspect, but Huggins managed to pull out a respectable year, making the NCAA tournament. For West Virginia, cloak Management became increasingly important. Look for Huggins to have the Mountaineers at the top through the upcoming season.
Bob McKillop- Davidson- Unless you were on another planet last year you have to be impressed with the coaching ability of McKillop. However one player made all of this possible and it was Stephen Curry. He is a shooter period. Enough said. He can get his shot off in a way that is not quick, but subtle. The point is he got his shot off consistently to get Davidson to the final eight last year. Curry is not a top ten player, so McKillop had to coach this team to success.
Mark Few-Gonzaga- Few coaches have done more than Coach Mark Few, to raise the National name recognition of one one school in ten years. Mark Few is an excellent bench coach and recruiter who has elevated Gonzaga to a household name. What can be said about the successes the Few has had. The best I can say is that he is an excellent bench coach.
Rick Barnes-Texas- Just study his history and the number of players that have made it to the NBA and how Texas is now known as a point guard factory and you see why Riick Barnes Made this list. He is an excellent coach and one of the great thinker in America. Best Of the Rest John Thompson III John Calipari Tim Floyd I’m sure there are others that should have been on this list.
Here’s a list of the top coaches from the past. Bobby Knight Adolph Rupp Denny Crum Al McGuire John Wooden Dean Smith John Thompson Gale Catlett