Eleven of the greatest coaches of all-time combined to win two NCAA tournament games in their first three years at a major program. Tonight Buzz can top their combined efforts with an upset of Syracuse to send MU to its first Sweet 16 since 2003.
Wonder why Buzz is among the hottest coaches in the country? Quite simply, he has accomplished more in his first three years than almost any of the all-time great coaches.
With the help of Mark Henderson (Class of 1992), I've compiled the records of 12 of the all-time great coaches. This list includes every coach who has 1) won 800 games, 2) taken a major team to the last 10 NCAA tournaments, or 3) is named John Wooden or Al McGuire. Through the first three years at a major program, Buzz has a better record than the 12 combined (.673 to .644). Tonight Buzz can tie the 12th coach on the list, Bobby Knight, with three NCAA wins in his first three years. Only tonight's opponent Jim Boeheim matched Buzz by being invited his first three years. Here are the numbers:
|Coach||1st 3 years||NCAA Ws||NCAAs||NITs||Career W||Career L||Notes|
|Adolph Rupp, Kentucky||0.864||NA||NA||NA||876||190||Helms Champ 3rd year|
|Jim Boeheim, Syracuse||0.841||1||3||0||855||300||Buzz's opponent today|
|Bob Knight, Indiana||0.765||3||1||1||661||240||3 titles 4th-16th season|
|Eddie Sutton, Ark/KY/OkSt||0.756||0||1||0||716||265||4th year 1st of 11 Sweet 16s|
|John Wooden, UCLA||0.730||0||1||0||620||147||1st Elite 8 in 14th season|
|Buzz Williams, Marquette||0.673||2||3||0||66||32||3 bids; goes for 1 Sweet 16|
|Tom Izzo, Michigan St.||0.604||1||1||2||383||159||Bids 3rd-16th seasons|
|Rick Barnes, Prov/Clem/Tex||0.600||0||2||1||321||122||1st 9 seasons 0 NCAA wins|
|Dean Smith, UNC||0.565||0||0||0||879||254||1st 5 yrs=0 bids, next 3 Final 4s|
|Jay Wright, Nova||0.531||0||0||3||203||98||4th year 1st of 10 straight bids|
|Al McGuire, Marquette||0.524||0||0||1||295||80||1st of 8 Sweet 16s in 4th year|
|Jim Calhoun, UConn||0.505||0||0||2||601||228||2 National titles|
|Mike Krzyzewski, Duke||0.447||0||0||0||826||224||4 National titles|
Most Marquette fans in Cleveland this weekend volunteered shock over the handful of vocal Buzz critics on the blogs, and the occasional blind assertion such as "Buzz obviously isn't a good coach," are truly laughable in light of the record.
The fact that ANYONE could still have any doubts about Steve Cottingham's first major decision three years ago in hiring Buzz is baffling at best. How good did the prospects look for three straight NCAA bids when Buzz took the helm three years ago? Are you kidding me?
|Outlook when Buzz hired||What actually happened|
|2009||It appeared Crean left Buzz with one year in the tank with Lazar and the Three Amigos back for a finale.||Buzz was often mentioned as a potential National Coach of the Year and took MU into the Top 10 until Dominic James broke his foot. Even with that injury, MU came within one bucket of the first Sweet 16 since 2003.|
|2010||With Crean's recruits scattering, it appeared Buzz would have Lazar and no other 3-stars or better - a recipe for dropping to the bottom of the Big East.||Instead Buzz coached up two senior guards (Acker and Cubillan) and shocked everyone by reloading immediately with JUCOs (Butler, Buycks, DJO) to make a shocking run to a bid.|
|2011||With no known 3-star or better slated for the 2011 roster when Crean left it appeared this could really be the end.||Consecutive top 25 recruiting classes in his first two years and another huge JUCO in POY Jae Crowder, MU is even better than last year according to the computers, and one game from the Sweet 16. And Buzz has developed our first two centers since 2003!|
|2012||It appeared 2012 would be the earliest MU could possibly rebuild to return to the NCAA tournament post Three Amigos.||Crowder and DJO will join four players rated among the top freshman and sophomores next year in the country by www.nbadraft.net.|
Prospects for win tonight
Will Buzz be outcoached by Boeheim tonight? Could be, as Boeheim is one of the all-time greats. But it's hard to find a 4th year coach who has ever been more prepared.
In just three years Buzz has transformed MU from basically a 4-man rotation of 6-foot-5 and under stars to a team of 11 players who can all contribute and give any combination from tall to fast:
|Darius Johnson-Odom||2nd team all-Big East DOMINATED Xavier|
|Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, Davante Gardner, Joe Fulce||Rated in top 3% of all players in offensive efficiency accordinging to Pomeroy.|
|Dwight Buycks and Junior Cadougan||Rated in top 10% of all players in assists.|
|Vander Blue and Chris Otule||Emerged as two of the top defenders in the league, as Vander steals and Otule is best shot blocker in Big East.|
|Erik Williams||Move to starting line-up has shored up MUs defense by giving 6-foot-7, 6-foot-11 defense at rim.|
|Jamail Jones||Top rated NBA prospect on the team according to draftnet.|
|Robert Frozena||Even the 4-year walk on took the court in opening round.|
The fact that MU has a 32% chance to go to the Sweet 16 less than three years after learning that recruits were bailing in the wake of Tom Crean's move to Indiana is a tribute to Buzz and the great group he has put together.
Take a look at the final records put together by those 12 great coaches, and how many of them didn't even start to have any real success until their fourth year or later, and it will quickly become apparent that Buzz could build a truly fantastic run at MU.
An upset of Syracuse tonight would put Buzz that much further ahead most of 12 of the greatest coaches of all-time.