August 1, 2010

Stevens leads list of top coaches under 40

Here's a look at the nation's best coaches under the age of 40.

Practice for the 2010-11 season begins Oct. 15, so our candidate pool was limited to guys who don't turn 40 until after that date.

1. Brad Stevens, Butler
Age: 33
Record: 89-15 overall, 49-5 in the Horizon League in three seasons at Butler.
NCAA tournament appearances: Three (6-3 record). National runner-up finish in 2010 tourney.
Other postseason appearances: None.
Buzz: Stevens might not show much emotion on the sideline, but he is considered an aces X's and O's guy. His teams always play hard, and Butler's recent success has led to better and better recruiting classes. Gonzaga might be the model non-Big Six program, but Stevens has taken Butler further than the Zags when it matters.

2. Scott Drew, Baylor
Age: 39
Record: 109-103 overall, 37-75 in the Big 12 in seven seasons at Baylor. 20-11 overall, 12-2 in Mid-Continent in one season at Valparaiso.
NCAA tournament appearances: Two (3-2). Regional finals appearance in 2010.
Other postseason appearances: NIT (twice).
Buzz: Drew's record isn't all that impressive, but when you stop a minute and consider how far Baylor has come under his watch, it becomes impressive. Drew took over a probation-laden program -- the Bears weren't allowed to play any non-conference games in 2005-06 -- and he had it one win away from the Final Four this past season. His recruiting ability is considered ahead of his X's and O's, but the latter seem to be coming along. That's not surprising, considering he learned his skills from his dad, Valpo coach Homer Drew, who is well-respected nationally.

3. Jeff Capel, Oklahoma
Age: 35
Record: 82-51 overall, 32-32 in the Big 12 in four seasons at Oklahoma; 79-41 overall, 50-22 in the Colonial in four seasons at Virginia Commonwealth.
NCAA tournament appearances: Three (4-3). Regional finals appearance in 2009 tourney.
Other postseason appearances: NIT (once).
Buzz: The Sooners were dreadful this past season, but a volatile chemistry mix is more to blame than bad coaching. Capel did a nice job at VCU, then kept things rolling along at OU until this past season. Capel is a good recruiter and underrated on the sideline.

4. Buzz Williams, Marquette
Age: 37
Record: 47-21 overall, 23-13 in the Big East in two seasons at Marquette; 14-17, 7-9 in the Sun Belt in one season at New Orleans.
NCAA tournament appearances: Two (1-2).
Other postseason appearances: None.
Buzz: Williams was a somewhat controversial choice to replace Tom Crean as the Golden Eagles' coach, but he has taken Marquette to the NCAAs in each of his two seasons. He has been a better-than-expected recruiter, and this past season's team was a pleasant surprise on the offensive end.

5. Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
Age: 39
Record: 89-42 overall, 47-25 in the Missouri Valley in four seasons.
NCAA tournament appearances: Two (2-2). Sweet 16 appearance in 2010 tourney
Other postseason appearances: None.
Buzz: Northern Iowa experienced a bit of a drop off after Greg McDermott left for Iowa State. After missing the postseason in Jacobson's first two seasons (though the Panthers did not have a losing season during those years), the Panthers won the last two regular season and MVC tournament titles. The defensive-minded Panthers won't sneak up on anyone after the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa upset No. 1-seed Kansas, the top-ranked team in the country for much of the season, in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16.

6. Chris Mooney, Richmond
Age: 38
Record: 83-79 overall, 42-39 in the Atlantic 10 in five seasons at Richmond; 18-12, 9-4 in the Mountain West in one season at Air Force.
NCAA tournament appearances: One (0-1).
Other postseason appearances: CBI (twice).
Buzz: Mooney is a Princeton alum and, not surprisingly, he runs a version of the Pete Carril offense. Richmond has a solid basketball history, and Mooney has been a good fit at the academically minded private school. If he can get the Spiders into the NCAA tourney again, he could be off for greener pastures.

7. Tony Barbee, Auburn
Age: 39
Record: 82-52 overall, 39-25 in Conference USA in four seasons at UTEP.
NCAA tournament appearances: One (0-1).
Other postseason appearances: CBI (twice).
Buzz: Barbee is heading into his first season at Auburn, and he has a ton of work to do to make the Tigers relevant in the SEC, much less nationally. He recruited well at UTEP, and if early indications are to be believed, he will do the same at Auburn. His UTEP teams were athletic and played aggressive defense, traits that will continue at Auburn.

8. Josh Pastner, Memphis
Age: 33
Record: 24-10 overall, 13-3 in Conference USA in one season.
NCAA tournament appearances: None.
Other postseason appearances: NIT.
Buzz: Pastner had been considered a coach-in-waiting ever since he stepped on Arizona's campus as an 18-year-old freshman. It's a surprise that he's the coach at Memphis rather than at Arizona, but Tigers fans should be happy. Pastner is a dogged recruiter and is bringing in a monster class this fall. He's still learning his way as a X's and O's guy, but 13 years under Lute Olson eventually is going to pay off -- and pay off big.

9. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Age: 35.
Record: 45-49 overall, 27-27 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic in three seasons at Iona.
NCAA tournament appearances: None.
Other postseason appearances: None.
Buzz: Seton Hall hired a mid-major coach who never has been to the NCAA tourney, which tells you a bit about Willard's potential. His dad, Ralph, is a long-time coach, and Kevin also has worked as a Rick Pitino assistant. Willard did a great job in a short time at Iona, helping rebuild a program that had sunk into the bottom of the MAAC. He is taking over a team with some talent, so his first postseason appearance should come next March. The question is whether it will be in the NCAA or NIT.

10. Keno Davis, Providence
Age: 38.
Record: 31-33 overall, 14-22 in the Big East in two seasons at Providence; 28-5 overall, 15-3 in the Missouri Valley in one season at Drake.
NCAA tournament appearances: One (0-1).
Other postseason appearances: NIT (once).
Buzz: Davis is the fourth coach on this list (joining Drew, Capel and Willard) whose dad was a successful college head coach. He was an assistant for his dad, Tom, at Drake, and in his lone season at the school, the Bulldogs set a school record for wins in a season. His teams like to get up and down the court, but the problem at Providence last season was that other teams got up and down the court, too -- and quite effectively. Davis has the coaching chops to get a better defensive performance from his team and also needs to upgrade the talent level with the Friars.


John Groce, Ohio
Age: 39.
Record: 37-32 overall, 14-18 in the MAC in two seasons.
NCAA tournament appearances: One (1-1).
Other postseason appearances: None.

Darrin Horn, South Carolina
Age: 37.
Record: 36-26 overall, 16-16 in the SEC in two seasons at South Carolina; 111-48 overall, 57-21 in the Sun Belt in five seasons at Western Kentucky.
NCAA tournament appearances: One (2-1). Sweet 16 appearance in 2008 at Western Kentucky.
Other postseason appearances: NIT (three times).

Sydney Johnson, Princeton
Age: 36
Record: 41-46 overall, 22-20 in the Ivy League in three seasons.
NCAA tournament appearances: None.
Other postseason appearances: CBI (once).

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