College Basketball: Ranking the Big East Coaches for 2014-15

Villanova's Jay Wright takes top spot

The Big East coaching roster — back in its classic lineup — was notable for its firebrands on the bench with Jim Boeheim, John Thompson, Rollie Massimino and Lou Carnesecca.

 

The lineup in the second year of this version of the Big East may have personality but it is more notable for its familiarity.

 

Jay Wright and John Thompson III are as identifiable with their programs as anybody in college basketball in 2014-15, Chris Mack and Brandon Miller are alums for their respective schools, and Ed Cooley is a Rhode Island and Providence hometowner.

 

That will have to do for the Big East for now. The league that once boasted multiple Hall of Famers has only two coaches that have reached the Final Four in Wright and Thompson.

 

As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.

 

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1. Jay Wright, Villanova

Record at Villanova: 286-149 (.657)

NCAA Tournament: 13-11, one Final Four

Number to note: Villanova’s Big East title in 2014 was the Wildcats’ first outright conference title since 1982. Nova hasn’t won a conference tournament since 1995.

Why he’s ranked here: After a brief dip in 2011-12, Villanova has returned to where Wright has had the program for most of his tenure. Villanova went 16-0 vs. Big East opponents not named Creighton during the 2013-14 regular season.

 

2. John Thompson III, Georgetown

Record at Georgetown: 227-104 (.686)

NCAA Tournament: 8-9, one Final Four

Number to note: Before last season, Georgetown ranked in the top 100 in defensive efficiency in KenPom's rankings every year of Thompson’s tenure, including three times in the top 10.

Why he’s ranked here: Thompson may get dinged for early NCAA losses, but the Hoyas are a year removed from a Big East title. Besides, Georgetown’s NCAA draws have included Florida Gulf Coast, Final Four-bound VCU and Stephen Curry-led Davidson.

 

3. Chris Mack, Xavier

Record at Xavier: 111-57 (.661)

NCAA Tournament: 4-4

Number to note: Since starting 29-3 in his first two season in the Atlantic 10, Mack is 29-21 in the A-10/Big East.

Why he’s ranked here: Xavier’s pace has slowed since Mack’s first two seasons, but he’s reached the NCAA Tournament in four of five seasons and reached the Sweet 16 in 2012.

 

4. Greg McDermott, Creighton

Record at Creighton: 107-38 (.738)

NCAA Tournament: 3-6

Number to note: McDermott is 149-131 without his son on the roster and 107-38 with Doug McDermott.

Why he’s ranked here: No question, Greg McDermott is thankful his son turned out to be a three-time All-American, but don’t forget the elder McDermott was the first coach to win consistently at Northern Iowa.

 

5. Ed Cooley, Providence

Record at Providence: 57-44 (.564)

NCAA Tournament: 0-1

Number to note: Cooley’s 42 wins in the last two seasons are the best for Providence since 1995-97, and the Friars’ NCAA appearance last year was their first since 2004.

Why he’s ranked here: Cooley has improved Providence enough to raise the possibility of doing what Rick Barnes or Rick Pitino never did: post winning Big East records in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.

 

6. Steve Lavin, St. John’s

Record at St. John’s: 71-60 (.542)

NCAA Tournament: 11-7

Number to note: St. John’s is 32-30 in the Big East with two NIT appearances in three seasons since the Red Storm went 12-6 in Lavin’s first year.

Why he’s ranked here: Treatment for prostate cancer in 2011-12 stalled Lavin’s ability to build upon his first season, but he’s recruited well enough by now to reach the NCAA Tournament again.

 

7. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall

Record at Seton Hall: 66-66 (.500)

NCAA Tournament: No appearances

Number to note: Seton Hall went 15-21 in the Big East in Willard’s first two seasons before dropping to 9-27 in the past two.

Why he’s ranked here: Willard appeared to have Seton Hall on the right track before a 3-15 collapse two years ago. Year 5 will be a big one for Willard.

 

8. Oliver Purnell, DePaul

Record at DePaul: 42-85 (.331)

NCAA Tournament: 0-6

Number to note: Purnell has one of the most unique coaching experiences in college basketball. He’s coached at five spots since 1988, he’s never won an NCAA game and has never been fired.

Why he’s ranked here: Purnell has turned around Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson. Purnell (9-57 in the Big East) may have met his match at DePaul.

 

9. Brandon Miller, Butler

Record at Butler: 14-17 (.452)

NCAA Tournament: None

Number to note: Miller’s first season was Butler’s second losing campaign since 1992-93.

Why he’s ranked here: Miller faced an exodus of five players from November through April last season in his first season, but the former Brad Stevens and Thad Matta assistant knows the terrain here.

 

10. Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette

Record at Marquette: First season

NCAA Tournament: None

Number to note: Wojo is 38 years old, and he has spent 19 of those years as a player or assistant for Mike Krzyzewski.

Why he’s ranked here: Wojciechowski’s predecessor Buzz Williams was ranked No. 1 in the Big East a year ago, but Marquette has been a spot where Williams and Tom Crean were able to build names for themselves.

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