Aug 8, 2012, 2:51 PM EST
Always good to work in a little college basketball in August.
CBSSports’s college basketball bloggers spent “the July open recruiting period hobnobbing with nearly 100 coaches” and took some surveys about how those coaches view the current landscape.
Concerning two in our local Big 5, those polled produced wildly divergent opinions on the statures of Temple’s Fran Dunphy and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
Just wait until you read what one of the polled said about the latter.
Starting with Dunph, he was named the most underrated coach in the country by his peers, taking in 14 percent of the vote. Randy Bennett (Saint Mary’s), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Bill Self (Kansas) and Buzz Williams (Marquette) round out the top five.
Each list had a subsection of quotes about the individuals in question and a few big picture takeaways from the voting:
On Fran Dunphy: “His teams always win. They are just like him. Quiet, unassuming. He’s a good guy and just wins.”
Takeaway: Dunphy is about as well-liked as anyone in the country, so that probably played into it a bit. However, his track record is also pretty impressive. He won more than 300 games and went to nine NCAA tournaments in his Ivy League stint at Penn — and has done a phenomenal job since following John Chaney at Temple. The Owls have finished first or second in the A-10 for each of the past five seasons.
As for Wright, a separate list released Wednesday, also voted on by his coaching peers, named him the fifth most overrated head man in the nation. With six percent of the vote, he sits behind Roy Williams (North Carolina), Rick Barnes (Texas), Scott Drew (Baylor), Steve Lavin (st. John’s) and ahead of Ben Howland (UCLA), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and Tommy Amaker (Harvard).
On Jay Wright: “I’ll tell you this about Villanova and Jay Wright. In all our prep over the years, he’s the only coach we never prepared a scouting report for.”
Yikes. But you know what? Take a look at that list again.
The criticisms most commonly hurled Williams’ way — especially after the Stilman White/Kansas-UNC/triangle-and-two debacle in last year’s Elite Eight, which, by the way, also probably benefitted Self on the other list — are ones not uncommonly ascribed to Wright — a great recruiter who masks X’s and O’s deficiencies with talent. Two other guys on that list, Barnes and Boeheim, have noted histories of recruiting the nation’s elite.
Wright’s local cred also took something of a hit last season when his Wildcats took a harsh tumble down the Big East rankings after a prolonged period of success.
Then you have a guy like Dunphy, whom you won’t hear a negative word about, but who struggles to win NCAA tournament games after his Owls put together consistently impressive regular seasons and routinely knock off Top 10 opponents. His recruits can be from a slightly different pool than Wright’s, and yet he hits home runs more often than not with the kids he does get to commit.
These lists are all a matter of perspective and how you look at college coaches. Is their job to maximize what talent they can recruit, or simply to acquire as much of it as they can? Of course, the answer is both, but different coaches have different skill sets, resources and backgrounds. It’s worth a reminder, though, that both are just a year away from sharing a conference, which will obviously eliminate some of the differences.
Bottom line, always great to see the national love for Fran. As for Jay, it’s easy to beat on a guy while his program is down. And as Roy Williams and Jim Boehiem will tell you, they’ll even beat on you when you’re (mostly) up.
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