Arizona's Sean Miller leads group short on Final Fours
The Pac-12 has reversed its fortunes among the major conferences, but there remains an area where the league is lagging.
Remember, this is a league that is two years removed from sending only two teams to the NCAA Tournament, its regular season champion not among them.
That has changed with 11 NCAA Tournament teams during the last two seasons, three more than the previous three seasons combined.
Getting to the Tournament is one thing. Advancing is another. No active Pac-12 coach has a Final Four appearance. Every other major basketball conference (the Power 5, plus the American and Big East) have at least two Final Four coaches. The ACC alone has 30 Final Four appearances spread among five coaches.
That figures to change eventually, as Arizona’s Sean Miller has twice reached the Elite Eight since arriving in the Pac-12.
Even without a ton of trophies, the Pac-12 cast of coaches is interesting: Miller is the star here, but Tad Boyle and Larry Krystkowiak have proven themselves program-builders in the last four years. Johnny Dawkins and Herb Sendek resurrected their tenures with NCAA appearances last year.
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.
1. Sean Miller, Arizona
Record at Arizona: 129-48 (.729)
NCAA Tournament: 14-7
Number to note: Miller has reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in each of his last five trips at Arizona and Xavier. The only two times he’s failed to reach the Sweet 16 were his first two NCAA appearances with Musketeers.
Why he’s ranked here: Miller has restored Arizona to national prominence and has the No. 4 signing class this year and the No. 1 class for 2015. The best coach without a Final Four appearance won’t carry that title for much longer.
2. Tad Boyle, Colorado
Record at Colorado: 92-50 (.648)
NCAA Tournament: 1-3
Number to note: The Buffaloes have ranked in the top 50 of adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons, according to KenPom.
Why he’s ranked here: This is the golden age of Colorado basketball. Colorado has as many NCAA appearances under Boyle in the last three seasons as it did from 1969-2011.
3. Steve Alford, UCLA
Record at UCLA: 28-9 (.757)
NCAA Tournament: 7-8
Number to note: In Alford’s first season, UCLA reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 ... with the help of a No. 13 seed (Tulsa) and No. 12 seed (Stephen F. Austin). That shouldn’t be ignored — two of Alford’s New Mexico teams were eliminated by double-digit seeds.
Why he’s ranked here: Alford’s hire wasn’t met with much excitement, but the jolt of energy seems to be working. UCLA had arguably its best team since the 2008 Final Four squad.
4. Dana Altman, Oregon
Record at Oregon: 97-47 (.674)
NCAA Tournament: 5-10
Number to note: A streaky program has stability. Oregon has winning conference seasons in three consecutive years for the first time in school history.
Why he’s ranked here: An offseason scandal casts a shadow over his tenure at Oregon. His career, though, has been marked by building consistent winners at Creighton and now Oregon.
5. Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Record at Utah: 42-55 (.433)
NCAA Tournament: 1-2
Number to note: Utah won more Pac-12 games in his third season (nine) than the Utes won total games in his first year (six).
Why he’s ranked here: Krystkowiak brought Utah back from irrelevance, and now the Utes will contend for their first NCAA spot since 2009.
6. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Record at Stanford: 117-87 (.575)
NCAA Tournament: 2-1
Number to note: Entering 2014, Stanford hadn’t defeated a higher-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament since 1998. Dawkins did it twice in his first trip. No. 10 Stanford upset No. 7 New Mexico and No. 2 Kansas. The Cardinal still managed to lose to a lower-seeded team in the Sweet 16 (No. 11 Dayton).
Why he’s ranked here: After missing the NCAA Tournament in his first five seasons, Dawkins saved his job with a trip to the Sweet 16.
7. Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Record at Washington: 254-144 (.838)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Number to note: Washington’s ranking on KenPom.com has decreased in each of the last four seasons from No. 20 in 2011 to No. 57 to No. 76 to No. 95 in 2014. The latter is Washington’s worst since Romar’s first season in 2002-03.
Why he’s ranked here: Romar has led Washington to the Sweet 16 three times, won the conference tournament three times and won the league twice. Still, he’ll be under pressure to reverse the decline.
8. Cuonzo Martin, Cal
Record at Cal: First season
NCAA Tournament: 3-1
Number to note: After NCAA Tournament snubs at Missouri State and Tennessee, Martin made up for lost time by winning three games in his first NCAA appearance, starting in the First Four and ending the Sweet 16.
Why he’s ranked here: Martin hopes he’s landed where he’s more appreciated at Cal.
9. Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Record at Arizona State: 141-121 (.538)
NCAA Tournament: 7-8
Number to note: Sendek’s last two teams, led by guard Jahii Carson, were the first two of his eight-year tenure to average better than 70 points per game.
Why he’s ranked here: Sendek is a survivor, that’s for sure. His second NCAA bid at Arizona State keeps him in Tempe.
10. Andy Enfield, USC
Record at USC: 11-21 (.344)
NCAA Tournament: 2-1
Number to note: USC at least played fast for Enfield, ranking 26th in adjusted tempo by KenPom.
Why he’s ranked here: Enfield is the only coach to take a No. 15 seed to the Sweet 16. Rebuilding USC will take more than one weekend.
11. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State
Record at Oregon State: First season
NCAA Tournament: 0-3
Number to note: Montana won regular season and Big Sky Tournament titles two of the last three seasons under Tinkle.
Why he’s ranked here: Montana has a nice tradition of producing coaches who thrive on the next level — Jud Heathcote, Mike Montgomery, Stew Morrill, Blaine Taylor and Larry Krystkowiak. Tinkle may have an impossible situation at Oregon State, though.
12. Ernie Kent, Washington State
Record at Washington State: First season
NCAA Tournament: 6-6
Number to note: Kent is Oregon’s all-time wins leader with 235 victories from 1998-2010.
Why he’s ranked here: Kent has been out of coaching since 2010, and his last 20-win season came in 2007.