Scott Davenport – Bellarmine University (NCAA DII)
Tracking inside out passes and ball reversals during practice. Every player thinks they are passing, which enhances communications and creates successful strategic planning. That, in turn, allows them all to have an outer body experience; like watching the game from the bench or the rafters. It’s a collective conscienceless; the very definition of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within the team.
Matt Painter - Purdue
The Baby Boilers grew into a combination of under-the-radar role-players and better high-character oriented prospects. His recruits work well together and his assist to turnover ratio (assisting by playing with and for one another / staff and player turnover) has never been better.
Duggar Baucom – The Citadel
When Baucom took over at Citadel he executed a complete turn around. Transforming the slowest team in the NCAA’s to the fastest. With an empty shelf, Baucom went out and got his type of guys who now average around 85 possession per game; the fastest tempo in D1. It’s a period of hurry up and wait as the wins will surly catch up to speed. In the mean time, we all “Embrace the pace” as an exciting brand of basketball!!
Mike Young - Wofford
The Wofford Way is a more personable way, stressing the importance of “a relationship between two people than anything basketball”. In turn, the sensitive people-oriented philosophy allows Young to develop the unique sense of his team’s pulse. Subsequently, this paints a clear picture of how to maximize individual and collective strengths, negating weaknesses.
David Arseneault Jr – Grinnell (NCAA DIII) [Interim HC]
Heavily influenced by his predecessor, former boss, and father (David Arseneault Sr.), Jr develops his prospects through a run-and-gun shooting show. Substituting players in and out by committee, his constantly movement features a defensive full court press almost by default. With a keen understanding of his guys and match-ups, he is never shy to mix and match.
Tony Shaver – William & Mary
Another coach upstreamed to a situation that meant changing the culture, Shaver had to find more skilled and cerebral players. He had to analyze and study his guys in order to take advantage of the type they could get and of the skill they have. Todays group and talent level fit their style much better as the past three consecutive 20 win seasons suggest.
Chris Mooney - Richmond
It's a methodical offense, reliant on multiple passes, cuts and screens. It's typically implemented to take the athleticism out of an opponent and emphasizes a low scoring game. Not the popular high flying modern game-it’s the Princeton offense. And as a former Princeton player, Mooney understands the significance of ensuring he has the right tools to do this specific job.
Randy Bennett - St. Mary’s
Traditionally adjusting four or more in-and-out, Bennett regularly rotates his pieces for every situation; to put one guy in or pull one guy out. The ability to do so effectively speaks directly to the makeup of his team-oriented roster. All coaches preach unselfishness, at St Mary’s, it’s a Christian mission that develops organically.
Fran Dunphy - Temple
Constancy is the Dunphy brand; from specific performance on the court, to the hometown hero in the community he has lived his entire life. His team and staff adopt their city’s name of brotherly love. Dunphy’s teams generate a synergy by picking each other up. This camaraderie simply can’t happen without having the right individual personnel specifically positioned to best lift the whole team through natural effortless ability.
Kevin Stallings - Pittsburgh
Stallings has a unique perspective learning first-hand the importance of players and roles within your system. At one point, self admittedly taking blame for choosing players “ill-equipped for Vanderbilt," he vowed to rebound from his mistakes and did just that; making the right fit a priority. In the two years since that 2013 statement, Vandy won 40 games producing multiple SEC stat leaders on both sides of the ball.
Ben Jacobson - Northern Iowa
Always selective about who he recruits, Jacobson mixes tried, tested, transfer talent with youth while utilizing the redshirt. The secret to his success could be exclusively attributed to a focus on the system and less on goals. He indirectly emphasizes what they do day-in-day-out. And we have all seen first-hand how the process has made the difference three-times running in Northern Iowa.
Will Wade - VCU
Form the start Wade has been an integral part of perhaps the most effective revolution in recent basketball; placing strength on physical defense. Now the ever popular “HAVOC” has prospects lined up outside the Richmond campus ready to play. Wade has done an unbelievable job not to allow his success influence decisions, remaining true to his guys and his recruiting practices.
Dave Rose - BYU
A top system coach can see the completed picture before the pieces of the puzzle even land in the same box. Rose creates chemistry among his players; for his players; through specific situations. And Rose may be the best example considering how he united Fischer, Emery and Kyle Collinsworth last season into a strong unit. In basketball, just as in life, Rose excels at playing the hand he’s been dealt.
Dana Altman - Oregon
Another specialized system on our list, controlling tempo requires a skilled player with high basketball IQ to lead the full-court trap and four more guys to read and react off of him. And just like the player, it takes a skilled coach with high IQ to adapt to change. Altman’s deep understanding of his team is why the Ducks are a top five team to start this season.
Fran McCaffery - Iowa
Four words: Rotation, Zone, Continuity, Offense. Everything with regard to a system and knowing your players can be inferred from the title of his offense. It’s an attention-to-detail mentality that demands a deeper understanding of the individual and all the bearings.
Bob Huggins - West Virginia
Questions equal possibilities. That was the situation in Morgantown in 2014 when Huggins swore to “Fix It”. The highly publicized Press Virginia is the most obviously glaring example of how Huggins contextually strategizes a system and the players in it. Last minute decisions to pass on some highly talented players in favor of the lesser known JUCO (BillyDee Williams) has paid huge dividends in keeping the Mountaineers relevant.
Shaka Smart - Texas
Just over a week since Halloween, the self-described Dr. Frankenstein of college hoops stitches parts of other coaches’ systems together to build a monster. A Dr. and scientist, Smart meticulously studies the chemical processes and his living beings to gain insight into the creation of life--and gives that life to his own basketball creature.
Bob McKillop - Davidson
It’s no surprise that this offensive genius ranks among the top system coaches. A blueprint based on reads, communication, skilled shooters, and accomplishing the little things simply would not work without having the right personnel, in the right place, at the right time. And the most compelling proof has Davidson ranking in the top five for opponents’ points-per-possession in most years.
Mark Few - Gonzaga
Known for frequent rotations especially when it comes to defenders. But the switch around doesn't stop at the final buzzer. As part of his daily practice, Few teaches quick rotation, ensuring preparation and a balance across the bench.
John Beilein - Michigan
McDonald's All-American Daniel Horton landed in Ann Arbor in 2002. He would be the last All-American to date. But that hasn’t stopped Michigan from producing Final-4s, conference championships, all conference players, and NBA picks. In his own words Beilein understands that there “are other situations where it's very productive, when you can really get a guy who fits what you're looking for.” Fit is always First.
Rick Byrd - Belmont
During a phenomenon where lower division schools are essentially JUCO programs kids attend for a year or two developing before transferring to a HM program, Byrd’s Bruins retain one of the lowest transfer rates in all of NCAA. That is a direct correlation to the way he will go out and find players that fit his program. Knowing me-knowing you is the best thing Byrd’s team can do.
Roy Williams - North Carolina
Williams is a master at gaining the advantage through transition; quickly moving to the right position, and aggressively taken advantage of turnovers. That formula extends from inside the game and the motion of his offense, to the bench; applying that same motion to substitutions, as well as outside the gym to his best recruiting practices.
Tom Izzo - Michigan State
Like most successful people, Izzo is never complacent. Always looking for change to drive improvement. This includes playing thirteen and implementing unorthodox line-ups. If he ever tires of basketball, Izzo might just have as much success coaching hockey; substituting and shifting all five guys at once.
Tony Bennett - Virginia
A very popular family name in basketball, Bennett is synonymous with defense. Almost everything he does comes from the concept of help. It’s the very definition of context and deep understanding of placement. Bennett recruits the exact athletes that fit his system, regardless of hype or ranking.
Mike Krzyzewski - Duke
Where most create an identity and bring guys into their mold, Coach K sets up the system to fit the players and adapt as they change through the course of a season. Most recently we witnessed this change through adjusting his offensive system to adapt to the personnel on the roster. The results have been nothing short of amazing!
The best head coaches at all levels of college basketball for teaching, implementing, and landing the personnel who fit their system. These coaches possess a keen understanding of how to place their athletes effectively within the context of their systems, utilizing both primary and role players effectively. And the systems work!