CBS Sports college basketball writers Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander and Sam Vecenie spent the July evaluation period at various NCAA-sanctioned events. They asked for honest opinions on players, coaches and issues in the sport. They'll be sharing those opinions, from nearly 100 Division I basketball coaches at all levels, over a three-week period. This is our annual Candid Coaches series.
Previous poll questions:
Because it's always interesting to hear coaches rate their peers' acumen, we decided to ask about who they found to be elite on each side of the ball. Today, we'll be talking about the best offensive coaches and what they do that makes them so effective.
Is it a coach with a set system that seems to simply recycle players in and out? Or is it a coach that can adjust and create a new system each year based upon his players' skills.
We asked ...
Who is the best offensive coach in all of college basketball?
- John Beilein, Michigan: 16.9 percent
- Bob McKillop, Davidson: 13.4 percent
- Bo Ryan, Wisconsin: 12.4 percent
- Mark Few, Gonzaga: 11.3 percent
- Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: 7.9 percent
- Dave Rose, BYU: 6.8 percent
- Mike Brey, Notre Dame and Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt: 5.6 percent
Other coaches who received votes: Rick Byrd, Tim Cluess, Larry Krystkowiak, John Calipari, Ben Jacobson, Steve Alford, Randy Bennett, Lon Kruger, Jay Wright, Dana Altman, Ed Cooley, Steve Donahue, Jim Hayford, Kelvin Sampson.
FIVE QUOTES THAT STOOD OUT
On John Beilein: "Very unique, runs a lot of hybrid stuff and variation and sped-up Princeton. Who he wants to get a shot for, when he wants to get a shot for, he’s like a surgeon."
On Bob McKillop: “Nobody is better at teaching a flowing offense that goes from fast break basketball to secondary looks right into motion that allows individual freedom.”
On Mike Brey: "He’s very good at putting his guys in position with where they could succeed. I had a conversation with him at a camp and told him you’re one of our favorite coaches to watch. He said one of the things he thought he did a really good job of was meeting with Pat Connaugton and Jerian Grant and dictating what the team was going to do in practice. They were seniors, four-year guys, and knew what he wanted. They always were in the right position at the right time. They were very close to beating Kentucky with only a rotation of seven guys."
On Mike Krzyzewski: "Coach K has won a title with no great post presence and also won another when his best player was a true center. He changes everything on offense to maximize his personnel. Calipari does that too. But Coach K is the best at it."
On Kevin Stallings: “His in-game adjustments and adjustments at the halftime are probably the best I’ve ever seen — and out of timeouts. Plays that, when you scout teams, you watch them play and play and see so many games, but he can draw something out of a timeout that they’ve never run before, and you’ve never seen before, and it looks like the same play, but he’s never done it.”
The thing that stands out here -- and it's something you won't see when the best defensive coaches list comes out -- is the sheer wide breadth of responses. No one garnered even one-fifth of the vote, and 22 separate coaches were mentioned. This is basically the Republican Presidential primary race.
Having said that, Beilein is as good a choice as any to take this mantle. Prior to the 2014-15 season -- when Ryan's Wisconsin team set the all-time KenPom record with a 127.9 adjusted offensive rating -- Beilein had been coming off of back-to-back seasons where his Wolverines were statistically the best offense in the nation.
His Two Guard offense is basically a four-out, one-in system. that is reliant upon jacking up heavy amounts of 3-pointers as well as having smart players who can all pass and make smart decisions. It uses a lot of Princeton aspects, while also having its own flair. His teams (even going back to his days at West Virginia and Richmond) have never finished outside of the top-100 in the country in turnover percentage, and have only once finished outside of the top-50 in 3-point attempt percentage.
Any of the other top choices could have taken this crown, and you wouldn't have heard an argument from me. The creativity of the off-ball screens in McKillop's offense to get guys free for 3s are incredible, Ryan might be the best teacher in the college game, and both Coach K and Few are among the best at adjusting their systems to the personnel they have on their teams.
For what has been made of the lack of great offensive play in college basketball over the course of the last few years, it's refreshing to know that there are still so many bright, creative lights trying to innovate ways to put the ball in the basket.