The top 10 coaching performances during the 2010-11 Big 12 men's basketball season
It’s still the Big 12 with 12 teams, not 10, but for the purposes of these ratings, here’s a look at the top 10 coaching performances during the 2010-2011 conference basketball season:
1. Bill Self, Kansas: Marcus Morris, the Big 12 Player of the Year, is the only player in KU’s starting lineup who was in it last year. (Tyshawn Taylor’s coming off the bench now). Self has kept this team on task despite the roster changing so often because of injuries and suspensions. Kansas not only lost three players to the NBA — lottery picks Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry and leading scorer Sherron Collins — it had to change the way it played defensively. Aldrich covered such a huge area defensively and this team doesn’t have a shot-blocker, but it does have big men with feet quick enough to enable switching on all screens.
Self also has a knack for keeping players on the back end of the rotation ready to contribute when called upon to serve in an expanded role. Nobody exemplifies that better than Elijah Johnson.
2. Tad Boyle, Colorado: A terrific and very direct communicator, the former KU player coached the Buffs to eight conference victories. CU totaled 10 in the previous three seasons combined.
Veteran players sometimes have trouble adjusting to new coaches. Boyle wasted no time in putting that issue to rest. After his first meeting with the players, he pulled aside Cory Higgins and won him over with one conversation.
“He wanted me to trust him,” Higgins told the Journal-World’s Eric Sorrentino. “And he asked for my trust. I could tell that from him just looking me in the eye that I could trust him.”
3. Frank Martin, Kansas State: Ten of the 12 coaches selected K-State to win the Big 12, which made the team more susceptible to getting fat and happy, a trend that started during the offseason. Dominique Sutton left the program over the summer. Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge quit in midseason. Martin’s volatile style isn’t for everybody. Yet, just when the season was on the brink of spinning so wildly out of control that Martin wouldn’t have appeared anywhere on this list, he listened to assistant coach Brad Underwood when he urged him to scrap his offense in favor of one Underwood favored. Underwood’s is similar to the one Johnny Orr used at Iowa State and the ball ends up in superstar Jacob Pullen’s hands toward the end of the possession and the other four moving parts are designed to give Pullen room to do his thing.
4. Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M: Without as much offensive firepower as most teams, Turgeon figured out a way to win by playing rugged defense in the paint and keeping the pace on the slower side. The talent didn’t seem strong enough to go 10-6 in the Big 12, but that’s what the Aggies did.
5. Doc Sadler, Nebraska: Recruiting basketball stars to Lincoln never will be an easy chore, as Sadler has discovered. Knowing he didn’t have the talent to outscore teams, Sadler was able to inspire his players to play great help defense that made points in the paint difficult to come by. He also deserves credit for getting his players to believe they can compete with the heavyweights.
6. Rick Barnes, Texas: February fades have become too common for UT. But the Longhorns did go 13-3 and are ranked 10th in the nation, so it’s not as if Barnes hasn’t done some good things with this team.
7. Jeff Capel, Oklahoma: The same team that had to go into overtime to beat North Carolina Central and lost to Chaminade, improved so much during the course of the season it managed to pull out five victories in the Big 12. The Sooners never became good, but they did get a whole lot better.
8. Mike Anderson, Missouri: The Tigers never figured out how to win on the road, going 1-7 away from Mizzou Arena. More was expected of the Tigers than a .500 finish.
9. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State: Center Marshall Moses is a reliable force down low, but other than him, this roster didn’t have much that left other coaches in the conference envious.
10. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State: The Cyclones, thanks largely to having no muscle whatsoever on the blocks, finished last and suffered a 10-game conference losing streak. Hoiberg did seem to be able to convince the players they were better than they thought they were, particularly vastly improved senior point guard Diante Garrett. But the Cyclones lost most of their many close games, an area where experience will help Hoiberg grow as a coach.