By: Allan Erickson
Each year we hear about the great college basketball coaches. Coach K, John Calipari, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim, etc. In this article I will talk about the “little guys.” The coaches that have built rock solid programs, all while playing second fiddle to the aforementioned coaches. Here are the elite coaches that nobody seems to talk about.
Mike Brey during the second half versus Duke, March 10,2016. (Photo by the Associated Press)
Mike Brey, head coach at Notre Dame- Brey has been very successful in recent years, building a Notre Dame program that is consistently ranked in the top-25, all while playing in the powerhouse conference that is the ACC. Brey has led the Irish to the NCAA Tournament in eight of the last nine seasons. Since joining the ACC, Brey has a 172-107 record in conference play, including 5 wins and no losses so far, this season. The kicker is, Brey has signature wins over Roy and Coach K. His all-time record against these two hall-of-famers is 8-4. What’s even more impressive, is the Irish won an ACC title in 2015; taking down the mighty Blue Devils and Tar Heels in that tournament. The Irish continue to win, and have actually improved the ACC as a basketball conference, which says a lot. Remember when most thought the Irish could never compete in the ACC? Enter Mike Brey- born to prove doubters wrong.
Gregg Marshall, head coach at Wichita State- The ultimate mid-major team in college basketball, it won’t be long before Gregg Marshall takes over a big-time program (a la Shaka Smart.) All Gregg Marshall does is win, he did it at Winthrop, now he’s doing it at Wichita State. 439-171 is his career record, that’s strong. His .720 winning percentage ranks twelfth among active coaches. Not bad for a mid-major. Marshall has been a head coach since 1998, and has reached the NCAA Tournament 12 times. He’s accumulated 13 seasons of more than 20 wins, and 3 seasons with over 30 wins. Winning is in his blood. He recruits solid, grinding, hard-working players, that really buy-in to his scheme, and the evidence shows that he is one of the up-and-coming college coaches in the country. He likes where he is, but if the right program calls, then I can see Gregg Marshall having great success, anywhere in the country.
Mark Few, head coach at Gonzaga- Mark Few has quite the résumé. First off, Gonzaga isn’t relevant for 18 seasons without a very good coach. Few has an astounding record (483-111) and the Zags never seem to slow down. He has one season in which the team suffered more than 9 losses, and has amassed 23 or more wins in each season since becoming the coach in 1999. The most intriguing thing about Few is his loyalty. We’ve seen mid-major coaches jump ship to the next big thing after having success (Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, Brad Brownell, Jerry Wainwright, etc.) However it appears as though Few is going to stay put, and continue his winning ways at Gonzaga. That’s something all of us sports fans can applaud, appreciate, and root for; because loyalty is tough to come by, these days.