ESPN has been releasing its list of top 25 coaches in college basketball, one coach at a time, one day at a time.
ESPN has already released 50-25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, and 18, with Randy Bennett coming in at 50 and Dave Rose being named an honorable mention. With the assumption that Mark Few would be listed at some capacity, we waited to see where the Gonzaga head coach would rank.
Today, Few’s spot in the rankings was finally released, with the 15-year head coach coming in at 17.
With Few’s track record, and the way he has helped build the Gonzaga program, a spot in the top 25 seemed likely. In his 15 years as the head coach at Gonzaga, Few has taken the team to 15 straight NCAA tournaments and has won 80.1 percent of his games. Few also led the school to its first ever No. 1 ranking in history and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2012-2013.
This is what ESPN’s Eammonn Brennan had to say about Few:
“So, yeah, Gonzaga will be good, because Gonzaga is always good, because Few is Gonzaga’s coach. Such is the defining tautology of Zags hoops. Fifteen years ago, Few took over a darling and turned it into a monster, and he isn’t slowing down anytime soon.”
And Brennan is right. Mark Few has taken a small-to-medium sized Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash. and turned it into a national brand. What he has done has been very impressive.
However, Few does have his shortcomings, Few has not taken Gonzaga past the Sweet Sixteen in his tenure (it was Dan Monson who took the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight) and his teams often underperform in the big dance. In particular, the Bulldogs were ousted in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed.
If Few were ever to take the Bulldogs to the Final Four, then Few’s ranking would most likely improve.
However, No. 17 is nothing to be ashamed of for Few. San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, SMU’s Larry Brown, Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, Creighton’s Greg McDermott, Davidson’s Bob McKillop and Pitt’s Jamie Dixon are all ranked behind Few, putting Few in some pretty good company.
In terms of the Top 16, it will probably include a combination of the following coaches:
John Calipari – Kentucky
Rick Pitino – Louisville
Sean Miller – Arizona
Mike Krzyzewski – Duke
Billy Donavan – Florida
Smaka Smart – VCU
Fred Hoiberg – Iowa State
John Beilein – Michigan
Tom Izzo – Michigan State
Gregg Marshall – Wichita State
Kevin Ollie – Uconn
Bill Self – Kansas
Tony Bennett – Virginia
Jim Boeheim – Syracuse
Bo Ryan – Wisconsin
Roy Williams – North Carolina
I don’t think Zag fans should be too choked up or angry about Few being left out of the Top 16 with that list of coaches.