Ranking the Big East Head Coaches
The Big East head coaches have accomplished a lot in their time at their respective schools. Since the conference’s realignment in 2014, the Big East has not finished below the fifth-best conference in KenPom’s rankings. Yet as the head coaches compete year in and year out the conferences coaching experience is minimal compared to the power five.
Combined, the head coaches of the Big East average just over 10 years of head coaching experience. All of the power five conferences have more experience on average. 45% of the Big East head coaches have less than 10 years of head coaching experience. Only the Big Ten has more as 57% of there head coaches have the same.
The experience hasn’t been a problem for the Big East. In fact, seven of the 11 current Big East coaches have coached a team that has been ranked in the top ten of the AP poll. Nine of them have reached the NCAA tournament and two, Jay Wright and Mike Anderson, have coached a team to at least the Sweet 16.
So without further ado here are your Big East coaches ranked.
#1 Jay Wright, Villanova
This has to be a no brainer when looking at the Big East. Wright has won two national championships in the last five years. He has been named Big East Coach of the Year six times, Naismith Coach of the year twice, and NABC Coach of the Year once. He has reached 16 NCAA tournaments and is currently 42nd all-time in career wins and 88th all-time in career winning percentage. Wright is the only current Big East coach to have a team ranked in the top five of the AP poll and to have reached a number one ranking.
#2 Greg McDermott, Creighton
McDermott’s first trip as a power five coach at Iowa State wasn’t as successful as he would have hoped but is steady and diligent work has earned McDermott this spot. McDermott has won at least 20 games in nine of the last 10 seasons. He transitioned Creighton form the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East with only one down season. McDermott has been to eight NCAA tournaments and was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2020 after a very successful performance.
#3 Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Willard brought Seton Hall out of a nine-year NCAA tournament drought. He also matched Seton Hall’s longest streak of four NCAA tournaments in a row and with 2020 tournament would have led Seton Hall to five straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in school history. Willard has won at least 20 games in the past five seasons and was named Big East Coach of the Year in 2016.
#4 Mike Anderson, St. John’s
As a Big East coach Anderson still has plenty to prove. However in his first year at St. John’s Anderson led a competitive program that was able to hold there own in a very deep Big East. When you take Anderson’s entire career into consideration he has earned a higher place on this list with the minimal years of experience that many Big East coaches have. Anderson was named NABC Coach of the Year in 2009 and has made nine NCAA tournaments in his 16-year career. What really propels Anderson is the fact that he has never had a losing season as a head coach and is one of four active coaches with at least 15 years of experience to have never endured a sub .500 season joining Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, and Mark Few.
#5 Ed Cooley, Providence
After a nine-year NCAA drought, Cooley got Providence back into the National spotlight. He then proceeded to make five straight NCAA tournaments for the first time in program history exceeding the three straight in the early ’60s and early ’70s. After one losing season Cooley has led Providence to eight straight winning seasons with NCAA tournaments and a trip to the AP Poll top ten.
#6 Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette
The long time assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski got his head coaching start at Marquette in 2014. In only six years, Wojciechowski has reached two NCAA tournaments while racking in a .587 winning percentage with only one losing season. He reached the AP poll top 10 and coached Marcus Howard to a consensus all-American selection.
#7 LaVall Jordan, Bulter
Jordan had his most successful season in 2019-2020 and it is a shame to not have seen what he could have accomplished in the NCAA tournament. With four years of head coaching experience, Jordan has reached one NCAA tournament and helped earn Bulter a spot in the AP top five. Jordan is the only coach in the Big East other than Jay Wright to reach the top five in the AP poll. Consistency is the question with Jordan as he has yet to have consecutive winning seasons.
#8 Dan Hurley, Connecticut
Hurley has yet to step foot into a Big East season but with his experience and past success, Hurley should be ready to compete with UConn rejoining the Big East. At three separate schools, Hurley has come into a struggling program and after one losing season turned things around and twice at Rhode Island and Wagner he nearly doubled the teams wins in his second season. Entering his third year at UConn Hurley hopes this trend continues after UConn had it’s first winning season in 2020 since 2016. Hurley also adds two NCAA tournament appearances to his resume.
#9 Travis Steele, Xavier
Steele has only two years of experience under his belt and is slowly figuring things out. He has yet to reach the NCAA tournament and is still looking for his first 20-win season but Steele has won 19 games in both of his seasons as a head coach and reached 18th in the AP Poll.
#10 Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
Ewing took over at his alma mater after two straight losing seasons. Ewing was looking to progress and has made Georgetown a competitive program but with troubles this season it was still a struggle. With many players leaving the team mid-season and injuries to start players, Ewing may have done his best coaching job in 2020 only to earn himself his first losing season in three years.
#11 Dave Leitao, DePaul
Leitao has reached the NCAA tournament twice and coached his team to the AP Poll in two seasons. All of that, however, has taken place in his 11 years as a head coach. Five years Leitao has found his team below .500 and he has a career winning percentage of .477.
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