College Basketball: 5 Coaches Who Have Got the Most Work to Do This Year
Coaches build their reputation on expectations. Reaching and surpassing expectations keeps a coach in the good graces of his supporters and his boss. The hot seat awaits coaches that fail to reach expectations.
No one knows this more than Ben Howland.
The UCLA Bruins head coach has had success in some years, and fallen short in others. This year could be his last, should his team not improve.
Some of these coaches are on the hot seat, but most have lofty goals heading into 2012-13.
With goals comes work. These five coaches have the most work to do for their team to meet those goals, and while they are certainly attainable, it will take a great coach to make it happen.
Here are five coaches that have work to do in 2012-13.
John Calipari, Kentucky
John Calipari has work to do, and that's the way he likes it.
Sure, he'd prefer to have four seniors instead of four freshmen. He'd love to have even one returning starter.
The fact is, he has neither.
Working these newcomers into a new system is a challenge for any coach, and Calipari has done it every year he's been at the University of Kentucky. He makes it work.
This year, the Wildcats are defending champions. They have zero returning starters. Not one player on their roster started a game last year. That's a challenge.
Calipari will be up to the task, but what can we expect from this Kentucky team? Probably not 38 wins, but would anything less than a trip to the Sweet 16 be considered a failure in the Bluegrass?
Tom Crean, Indiana
Tom Crean may have the most talented team in the country next season.
That fact alone puts more pressure on him as coach of the Indiana Hoosiers to succeed.
It will be Crean's job to keep these Hoosiers grounded, and it will be even more important for Crean to keep the team focused on the next opponent.
The Hoosiers have the national player of the year front-runner in Cody Zeller. They have a strong recruiting class coming in, and have loads of experience.
There isn't much to dislike about the Hoosiers next season. Should they falter, the blame should fall entirely on Crean's shoulders.
Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Travis Ford might have hurt himself when he took the Oklahoma State Cowboys to the NCAA tournament in his first two seasons as head coach.
After a trip to the NIT in 2010-11 and a troubling 15-18 record last year, Ford's seat is getting warmer.
This year, he has two ultra-talented wings in Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart.
We now need to know how Ford will play these two stars together. Smart is a do-it-all guard that does whatever it takes to win, and Nash may be the most athletic player in the country.
The pressure is on Ford to win now. Earning top recruits sure is nice, but that success has to be backed up by wins.
Ben Howland, UCLA
Cover coach Ben Howland has been to three Final Four's in nine seasons at UCLA.
In his nine years at UCLA, he has had success that most programs would covet. However, in his past three seasons, the Bruins have posted a mediocre 56-43 record.
That won't fly in Westwood.
If he were anywhere but UCLA, Howland's seat wouldn't even be warm.
Unfortunately, he's coaching at one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in the country, and he has not met expectations thus far. That puts him on the hot seat.
What's more, he has earned very lofty expectations for himself after nabbing a top two recruiting class for 2012.
Regardless of whether or not Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson become eligible (they still have not been cleared, according to the L.A. Times), Howland needs to win (and win big) this year to keep his job.
Sean Miller, Arizona
Sean Miller is a mixture of every coach in this group.
He'll be relying heavily on new faces this season, much like John Calipari.
His team has top-five talent like Tom Crean's Hoosiers.
He has had one great year at Arizona, similar to Ford's first two seasons at Oklahoma State.
He landed one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, right up there with Ben Howland.
Miller has work to do, but his job might be the best of them all. He's not as highly ranked as Indiana, Kentucky or UCLA. That alone shows the college basketball community (outside of Arizona) has lower expectations than other coaches on this list.
With that being said, Miller has the deepest frontcourt in the nation. If he can get solid guard play from Mark Lyons, Gabe York and company, he'll have Arizona dancing deep into March.