Boeheim gets 800; is he a top 10 all-time coach?
Who would you put in your top 10? You can rattle off six or seven without argument pretty quickly. Wooden. Knight. Rupp. Krzyzewski. Smith. Roy Williams has even waltzed into the top 10 pretty emphatically in the past six years.
After that, a couple of old-school guys — Phog Allen, Henry Iba — enter the fold and the conversation really begins. I think it’s pretty clear you have to include Boeheim in the top 10. He has won 20 games or more in a season 31 times. He has continually recruited high-level national talent to Syracuse, N.Y. As many who have gone to school/lived/visited can tell you, Syracuse is, to put it kindly, a depressing existence in long doses.
He’s certainly on par with Rick Pitino, Jim Valvano and Pete Carril (his zone schemes are just as influential, if not moreso, than Carril’s backdoor offense). He’s better than John Chaney and Lefty Driesel and John Calipari. Jim Phelan had a similar length in tenure, but didn’t have the same national success Boeheim has once the game expanded. (And Boeheim will likely pass Phelan in wins about this time next year.)
The interesting thing about Boeheim is, of course, that he has a pal jogging right alongside him: Jim Calhoun. Calhoun leads Boeheim in wins by five, has one more national title and has probably made UConn more of a national name (just SLIGHTLY, ‘Cuse fans) than Syracuse. Yet, don’t you get the feeling Boeheim is more accepted as the better coach?
Is it because of Calhoun’s cranky demeanor, which is juxtaposed by Boeheim’s whiny, meta acknowledgment of his personality? Calhoun can’t seem to take a joke like Boeheim can, and that might be what separates them. I can’t put one coach against the other, so you probably have to shoehorn both into the top 10 argument.
Longevity simply has to mean something. Boeheim is doing something that will probably probably never be done again: He got his first D-I coaching job in a major conference in his early 20s, he stayed there for 30-plus years, reach three national title games and winning at nearly a 75 percent clip.
He’ll be as famous in his city as any other college basketball coach will in theirs — including Durham and Chapel Hill. In name and scenario, there will never be another Jim Boeheim.
|Coach Boeheim on the Orange over Albany, 75-43|
As for my all-time top 10, I’d rank as such:
1) John Wooden
2) Mike Krzyzewski
3) Bob Knight
4) Adolph Rupp
5) Phog Allen
6) Al McGuire
7) Dean Smith
8 ) Jim Boeheim
9) Jim Calhoun
10) Jim Phelan