One Remarkable Number from Great College Basketball Coaches' Careers

David AldridgeFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2013

One Remarkable Number from Great College Basketball Coaches' Careers

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    Record books and statistics are part of what make sports great.

    Fans and experts debate players and coaches from different eras, and numbers are a huge factor in the comparisons.

    For the great coaches in college basketball, many of the numbers are staggering. Whether it’s wins, championships, draft picks or recruiting classes, the best coaches in the game are often at the top of many of the most important statistical categories.

    The following slideshow looks at one remarkable number from the careers of some of the best college basketball coaches.

Billy Donovan: 9

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    From 1999-2007, Billy Donovan led the Florida Gators to nine straight NCAA tournament appearances. He also took Florida to the top of the college basketball world when the Gators won back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007.

    Prior to 1999, Florida had only been to the NCAA tournament five times in the 81-year history of the program.

    The Gators tasted success when they reached the 1994 Final Four under Lon Kruger, but Donovan’s arrival signaled a transition to a level of consistent success at a school that had always been known as simply being a “football school.”

    Donovan’s string of trips to the NCAA tournament showed basketball was something special in Gainesville.

Bo Ryan: 61

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    When people think about the elite programs in the Big Ten over the past two decades, programs like Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois come to mind. However, the Wisconsin Badgers deserve a place in the discussion.

    Bo Ryan is one of the most underrated coaches in the country, and he’s led the Wisconsin program to an incredible level of success.

    It’s been overshadowed by what Thad Matta, Tom Izzo and now John Beilein have done, but Ryan has been one of the most consistent coaches in the league since his arrival.

    Ryan’s 61 wins over two season between 2006 and 2008 show how the Badgers are a team that can compete with anyone in the country.

Shaka Smart: 78

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    Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams had a magical run to the 2011 Final Four in large part because of the team’s pressure defense and aggressive style of play.

    Many people criticized the Rams’ 2011 NCAA tournament bid and spot in the play-in game against USC, but Smart and his team made the most of their opportunity—winning five games to reach the Final Four in Houston.

    VCU forced 78 turnovers in its six NCAA tournament games, which shows how the Rams were able to push the tempo and create the havoc Smart often talks about in his defensive approach.

    The 78 turnovers are a symbol of how this unknown mid-major took down some of college basketball’s biggest giants during the 2011 NCAA tournament.

John Calipari: 16

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    One of the keys that makes John Calipari the best recruiter in college basketball is his track record of sending players to the NBA.

    He had success producing NBA talent during his tenures at UMass and Memphis, but he took this to a new level when he became the head coach at Kentucky.

    Through only four seasons of being the Wildcats' head coach, Calipari has already seen 16 of his Kentucky players get picked in the NBA Draft. Many programs haven't had 16 players drafted in their entire history.

    Calipari’s ability to prepare guys for the next level allows him to use a unique approach in recruiting that attracts many of the top high school prospects every year.

Bill Self: 9

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    In the 2008 national championship game, Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks trailed the Memphis Tigers by nine points with only 2:12 remaining in the game.

    With Memphis having arguably the best point guard in the country in Derrick Rose, it looked like Bill Self and the Jayhawks would finish short of winning the title.

    Instead, Kansas stayed poised and capitalized on a few mistakes by Memphis to stage one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks sent the game to overtime with a three-pointer by Mario Chalmers that tied the game with 2.1 seconds remaining.

    Kansas completed the comeback with a 75-68 overtime win, giving Bill Self his first national championship.

Rick Pitino: 3

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    Rick Pitino has the unique distinction of being the only coach in NCAA history to win a national championship at two different schools. Ironically, the two schools—Louisville and Kentuckyare hated rivals of each other.

    Pitino is also the only coach to lead three different programs to Final Four appearances. He’s led Providence, Kentucky and Louisville to Final Four berths during his Hall of Fame coaching career.

    Pitino’s ability to take three different schools to the Final Four speaks volumes about his coaching and the way he can take a program to the next level.

    Many coaches are able to build one program but struggle when trying to duplicate that success somewhere else. Pitino’s history shows he can be successful no matter where he coaches on the college level.

Jim Boeheim: 920

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    There’s no coach with more history at one school than what Jim Boeheim has at Syracuse.

    He played for the Orange from 1962-66, and his first coaching job was as an assistant at Syracuse under Roy Danforth. After Danforth left for Tulane University, Boeheim became the head coach of the Orange in 1976.

    The rest is history.

    His 920 wins at Syracuse are the most of any coach at one school, and the number shows the incredible loyalty Boeheim has to his alma mater.

    Syracuse fans hope that number will continue to increase and Boeheim will hold off on retiring for quite a few more years.

Mike Krzyzewski: 957

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    On November 15, 2011, Mike Krzyzewski passed Bob Knight on the list of winningest coaches in NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball with his 903rd win.

    It was an incredible accomplishment in a career full of milestones for the West Point graduate.

    Coach K has had numerous remarkable numbers, including four national championships, 11 Final Four appearances, 82 NCAA tournament victories and 13 ACC tournament championships.

    His current win total of 957 is simply unprecedented, and it’s a number that will only increase as he continues to coach and lead Duke at a very high level.

Tom Izzo: 6

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    If there was an award for the team of the decade between 2000 and 2010, Michigan State would be a strong candidate to win it.

    Between 1999 and 2010, Tom Izzo led the Spartans to six appearances in the Final Four. The highlight was when Michigan State won the national championship in 2000 over the Florida Gators.

    The six Final Four appearances vaulted Izzo to the level of elite coaches in college basketball and made Michigan State one of the most desirable schools in the country to many of the best high school players.

    Many schools would be happy to have six NCAA tournament berths over an 11-year period. Izzo took Michigan State to an incredible level of success.

Roy Williams: 20.2

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    The 2008-09 North Carolina Tar Heels were one of the most talented teams in the history of the program.

    The squad featured six players who would eventually be taken in the NBA draft, and they were clearly the best team in the country for much of the 2008-09 season.

    There was no debate when North Carolina marched through the 2009 NCAA tournament with relative ease. The Tar Heels won every tournament game by at least 12 points and capped it off with a 17 point victory over Michigan State in the national championship game.

    North Carolina’s average margin of victory was 20.2 points—a staggering number that reflected the Tar Heels’ dominance.

    What are some other remarkable numbers associated with great college basketball coaches? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.