Moving to the Big East Conference will not only challenge Creighton players, but also the coaches. The purpose of this missive is to rank the league's basketball coaches. For a sense of comparison, in the MVC, I thought Coach Mac was the third best coach in the league behind Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson and Wichita State's Gregg Marshall.
On to the Big East coaches:
10. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall: The long time Pitinio disciple was him during his time with the Boston Celtics and Louisville years. Willard has been a head coach for six years at two different schools (Iona and Seton Hall). During that time he has guided teams to 20 win seasons twice but has never made an NCAA appearance. After a good season two years ago, the Pirates took a step back last year (14-17, 8-10). Another year like that and he might be on some "hot seat " lists.
9. Oliver Purnell, DePaul: Served as head coach at three different schools (Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson) prior to moving to DePaul. Purnell's career record is slightly above .500 (424-345). He has guided four teams to the NCAA tourney but has never gotten beyond the first round. At DePaul, his teams have gone 30-64 and only 6-50 in league play. Considering he is making 2 million per year and a new arena is possibly being built for the Blue Demons, he could soon be joining Kevin Willard on the hot seat if things don't turn around quickly.
8. Ed Cooley, Providence: Cooley spent five years as the head coach at Fairfield before joining the Friars two years ago. He has a career record of 126-101 and has never guided a team to the NCAA tourney. At Providence, he is 34-32, 13-23 in league play. Cooley is known as a good recruiter and someone who is able to create a positive culture for his program. He seems to be on solid ground with the Providence brass.
7. Greg McDermott, Creighton: Greg seems to be a good fit for CU and his team has gone 80-30 the last three years. He has won one MVC regular season title and two conference tournament titles with the Jays. While at Iowa State he was under .500 in his only experience coaching above the mid-major level. Coach Mac has guided five teams to the NCAA tournament and reached the third round the past two seasons. The key question will be how will Coach Mac perform post- Doug. The jury is still out on this one, but I am hoping for the best.
6. Steve Lavin, St. John's: If one would only consider the three years of his St. John's tenure, I would exchange places with Coach Mac on this list. It is hard to totally ignore his UCLA experience, especially the five sweet sixteen appearances in a six year span. Lavin has an outstanding record in the first two years of the NCAA tourney but has only earned one elite eight appearance. He also won one regular season Pac 12 title. He continues to be a good recruiter with a fertile talent area but progress on the court has been slow.
5. Buzz Williams, Marquette: Buzz has been the headman at MU for five seasons and has made the NCAA tourney each year. There have been two sweet sixteen runs and one elite eight appearance. Buzz also guided his team to a split of the Big East championship this year. The arrow is pointing up for Buzz and his team.
4. Chris Mack, Xavier: Mack has just completed his fourth year at the helm and has made three NCAA tourney appearances, including two trips to the sweet sixteen. Prior to being head coach, Chris served as an assistant for Skip Prosser and Sean Miller. His Xavier teams are known for playing smart basketball and they play with confidence. Coach Mack has won two Atlantic Ten titles but was only 17- 14 this season.
3. Jay Wright, Villanova: During his nine-year tenure, Villanova has eight 20-win seasons and NCAA appearances. In 2008, his team made the sweet sixteen and the following year made a trip to the final four. His overall record is 275-144 with one Big East regular season title. Jay's teams are known for their uptempo style of play and usually feature outstanding guards.
2. John Thompson III, Georgetown: Thompson has been the head coach at Princeton and Georgetown, has won over 200 games and made the "big dance" in nine of 13 seasons. At Georgetown, his teams have made two sweet sixteen appearances and one final four. They have also won three Big East regular season titles. However, JTIII's recent teams have made news by being upset in the early rounds of the NCAA tourney.
1. Brad Stevens, Butler: True, the night in night out challenge of the Big East will be a new test for him, however, his career record of166- 49, five NCAA tourney appearances to go along with back-back trips to the national championship game indicate he will be up to the task. Stevens' teams are composed, tough and well prepared. They espouse the "Butler Way" which focuses on fundamental play and winning the next possession.
Fan Post: Ranking the Big East Coaches
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