Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Next to Enter Hall of Fame

Is Tom Izzo the next college coach to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame? (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Rick Pitino was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last week. Who is the next active coach(es) most likely to be in the HOF?

Compared to his contemporaries, this man may be the most precise college basketball coach in the NCAA landscape. His team is always expected to contend for a title in one of the nation's most competitive conferences and never, under any circumstances, to be discounted when March Madness arrives. Consistency has been his key.

Over the past 18 years, head coach Tom Izzo has led the Michigan State Spartans to a combined record of 439-178, earning an eye-popping 71.2 win percentage and fielding some of the toughest squads in the history of college hoops. Although Izzo only owns one national championship, his Spartans are no slouches around tournament time, compiling a 39-15 record in the NCAA Tournament and failing to make the big dance just twice since Izzo took the reins in 1995-96. Other active coaches may have more championships than him, but when looked at on a macro-level, none is more worthy of being enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame than Izzo.

Three names instantly jump out at me: Tom Izzo, Bill Self and John Calipari. I know, I know, many of you think Calipari is a glorified recruiter, but he's a glorified recruiter who has won a national championship and taken multiple schools to the Final Four. Self also has a national championship under his belt, and also wins conference championships like they are written into his contract. He's won nine straight Big 12 titles and 10 of 12 conference titles going back to his time at Illinois. Those other two years? His team finished second. Echoing Alex's statements about Izzo, he really has been one of the most consistent, productive forces in coaching. This stat from Sporting News is all you need to know about Izzo: "every four-year player that has completed his eligibility under the Spartans head coach has been to at least one Final Four." That is a truly astonishing stat. Most coaches are happy to reach a Final Four in their career, and Izzo is offering it to nearly every player he has. Michigan State will have to make the Final Four this year for that to continue the streak, but I won't count him out.

I think Izzo will make it in the hall first (he is the oldest of the three) but all three get in. If you want to put some bigger odds on a younger coach eventually reaching the HOF, Shaka Smart seems to be everyone's top choice. But I'm not going to take the easy way out. I'm giving a legitimate long-shot dark horse. It's probably crazy, but I really like the potential of Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. He's only 40 years old, and in his first three years of college coaching he has averaged 20.6 wins per season and has reached the NCAA Tournament twice. There's a chance he could take the Brad Stevens route and head for the NBA (he did play in the NBA for 10 years) but ISU is his alma mater and if he stays, Hoiberg has a promising future in college basketball. 

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