clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller ranked 11th-best by ESPN

Who could be ahead of Sean Miller?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There are bound to be trivial topics to wrestle with when there's nothing brewing but U-18 basketball. So it is that I fall into that trap by writing this post.

A running series by ESPN ranks Sean Miller the 11th-best college basketball coach in the nation.

Ranking Sean Miller, or anyone, becomes a matter of weighing different things. Do you consider recruiting rankings and how well elite recruiters coach their teams in postseason play? Does a coach with less to work with get more points when he does more in the postseason? Is consistency bigger than a few deep tournament runs?

Miller certainly is beginning to hold consistency in both recruiting and making the Big Dance, but he's yet to break through to the Final Four. Before we get to who's not yet been revealed, here's the entire list so far, from 50-12:

No. 50: Tie -- Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's; Scott Drew, Baylor
No. 49: Richard Pitino, Minnesota
No. 48: Stew Morrill, Utah State
No. 47: Bob Hoffman, Mercer
No. 46: John Thompson III, Georgetown
No. 45: Mike Brey, Notre Dame
No. 44: Rick Barnes, Texas
No. 43: Chris Mack, Xavier
No. 42: Josh Pastner, Memphis
No. 41: Ed Cooley, Providence
No. 40: Bruce Weber, Kansas State
No. 39: Tubby Smith, Texas Tech
No. 38: Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech
No. 37: Rick Byrd, Belmont
No. 36: Steve Alford, UCLA
No. 35: Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's
No. 34: Tad Boyle, Colorado
No. 33: Fran McCaffery, Iowa
No. 32: Tim Miles, Nebraska
No. 31: Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
No. 30: Bob Huggins, West Virginia
No. 29: Jim Crews, Saint Louis
No. 28: Jim Larranaga, Miami
No. 27: Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
No. 26: Archie Miller, Dayton
No. 25: Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
No. 24: Bob McKillop, Davidson
No. 23: Greg McDermott, Creighton
No. 22: Tommy Amaker, Harvard
No. 21: Larry Brown, SMU
No. 20: Thad Matta, Ohio State
No. 19: Jay Wright, Villanova
No. 18: Steve Fisher, San Diego State
No. 17: Mark Few, Gonzaga
No. 16: Roy Williams, North Carolina
No. 15: Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
No. 14: Tony Bennett, Virginia
No. 13: Shaka Smart, VCU
No. 12: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
No. 11: Sean Miller, Arizona

We can fill out the top-10 a good deal ranking ahead of Miller: John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Bill Self and Rick Pitino deservingly find themselves there thanks to great recruiting and success over a great deal of time. That's six coaching down, four left.

But there are going to be controversial names ahead of Miller, who in 10 coaching seasons -- five each at Xavier and Arizona -- has made eight NCAA Tournaments, three Elite Eights and two Sweet 16s.

My guesses as to who fills in the final four: Kevin Ollie, John Beilein, Bo Ryan, Gregg Marshall.

Kevin Ollie, UConn

Ollie won a national title this season, so there's your evidence he's a good motivator and innovator. He's not had the consistency just because he's pretty darn new to this thing, having gone 20-10 in his first year on the job, when the NCAA had a postseason ban on UConn. Still, Ollie's best player from the 2014 title run, Shabazz Napier, was recruited when Ollie was working for Jim Calhoun. He's yet to prove he can recruit at a high level with just one ESPN-ranked top-100 player in the past two seasons.

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

In 13 seasons, Ryan has taken the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament 13 times while making one Final Four (this year), one Elite Eight and four Sweet 16s. If we're judging coaching alone, Ryan is up there. His teams are always smart, gritty and playing above their on-paper talent level. Recruiting-wise, he's often had to find diamonds in the rough.

John Beilein, Michigan

Beilein has coached a long, long time and has a 701-411 record (63 percent winning percentage) on his resume. He took West Virginia to an Elite Eight and Sweet 16 before the past two years pulling the Michigan Wolverines to the national title game and then the Elite Eight. While he was a proven coach at West Virginia, he's an even more impressive recruiter in Ann Arbor.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

In the past seven seasons, Marshall has taken the Shockers to three NCAA Tournaments and one Final Four. Wichita State has won 25 or more games in that last five seasons, albeit in the Missouri Valley Conference. Recruiting NBA-level athletes like Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker has been an impressive feat for Marshall, but it remains to be seen how his coaching chops would stack up in a major conference.