Monday, November 06, 2006

Stability at the Top

The Syracuse University basketball program has had amazing success over its 105 year history, and consistently has been a strong basketball program. The start and end of the 60’s was a down time for the program, but overall winning has been a trademark of the Orange basketball program.

The top 10 winningest basketball programs in NCAA history (from the NCAA 2006 media guide) are:

Kentucky 1,926 wins
North Carolina 1,883 wins
Kansas 1,873 wins
Duke 1,796 wins
St. Johns 1,689 wins
Syracuse 1,680 wins
Temple 1,656 wins
Penn 1,612 wins
Indiana 1,589 wins
Utah 1,584 wins

Note that UCLA & Notre Dame are tied at #11 and each has 1,581 wins, both within striking distance of the top 10. Of particular note for Syracuse fans, is the Orange are only 9 wins behind St. Johns; that would put them in the top 5. The top 4 are college basketball's elite and most prestigious programs: Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, and Duke. And Syracuse is a long way from catching them in total wins.

What is of particular note is that Syracuse University has won those 1,680 wins with only 7 basketball coaches. Think about that number: seven coaches in 105 years. Fred Lewis had the shortest tenure at 6 years, while current head coach Jim Boeheim has the longest at 30 years and growing.

The coaches are, in order:

Dr. John A.R. Scott 64-54
Ed Dollard 149-56
Lew Andreas 358-134
Marc Guley 136-129
Dr. Fred Lewis 91-57
Roy Danforth 148-70
Jim Boeheim 726-253

I have not been able to check all 300+ division 1 programs to check out their coaching history (perhaps if someone else wants to do it, I would be more than happy to post their results and give them their credit). I would be surprised if any program in the top 20 has fewer coaches. Kansas, a model of stability, has had only 8 coaches: James Naismith, Phog Allen, W.O. Hamilton, Dick Harp, Ted Owens, Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self.

Kentucky had Adolph Rupp for 42 years. But 17 other men join Rupp as a head coach of the Wildcats.

Duke has had 19 head coaches. Mike Krzyzewski has been there since the 1980-81 season. Georgetown has had 18 head coaches. Rutgers has had 5 head coaches since 1984: Tom Young, Craig Littlepage, Bob Wentzel, Kevin Bannon and Gary Waters.

Pitt, which has been a fairly successful basketball program during its stay in the Big East, has had 5 head coaches since entering the conference: Dr. Roy Chipman, Paul Evans, Ralph Willard, Ben Howland, and Jamie Dixon.

Continuity of coaching is a big plus, as long as you have the right coaches in place. It builds stability, and allows coaches to recruit for the present AND for the future. Syracuse has had a bit of luck. All seven coaches have had winning records. Marc Guley came the closest to being sub .500, but that took going 2-22 in his last season (the worst season in Syracuse basketball history) to bring his record down to 136-129.

Dr. John A. R. Scott was Syracuse’s first basketball coach. He was the school’s athletic director, and voluntarily coached the team after its third season to help the program stabilize.

Ed Dollard was a star player for Scott, and became the school’s first paid head coach in 1911. Dollard would lead the Orangemen to their only undefeated season in 1914 (12-0) and their first national championship in 1918, going 16-1.

Lew Andreas would succeed Dollard. Andreas was a Syracuse alumni and letterman, but did not play basketball; he lettered in football and baseball. At many schools, Andreas would be considered their greatest coach ever: 358-134 record, a national championship in 1926, 27 total seasons. Andreas integrated the Syracuse basketball team with the presence of Wilmeth Sidat-Singh way back in the 1936-1937 season. Andreas would be a long time athletic director at Syracuse from 1937-1964, and would in part play in the success of integrating the Syracuse football teams.

Marc Guley followed Andreas. Guley had played for Andreas, and would lead Syracuse to its first NCAA bid in 1956-1957. Unfortunately, later in his coaching career, Guley would have problems relating to the minority players on the team, and would have problems recruiting. The 1961-1962 Syracuse team set the NCAA record for most consecutive losses (since broken), prompting Guley to resign.

Andreas would then hire Fred Lewis to coach the Orangemen. Lewis was a masterful recruiter, and coached a high pace game. He turned the Orangemen around in only a couple of seasons and had the coup in recruiting Syracuse’s all time great Dave Bing. Unhappy with what he perceived the University’s commitment to the basketball program, Lewis resigned in 1968.

His assistant Roy Danforth was then hired as the new Syracuse coach. Danforth had played for Lewis at Southern Mississippi, and later followed Lewis to Syracuse. Danforth was quite a showman, and brought a lot of flair to the Syracuse program. More importantly, he brought them to new heights, as he led them to their first NCAA Final Four in 1975. Danforth would take advantage of his fame and in 1976 he would move to become the athletic director at Tulane.

Danforth’s assistant, Jim Boeheim then became the head coach. Boeheim had played under Lewis, and after a short professional basketball career, returned to Syracuse as an assistant. The rest has been history, as Boeheim now enters his 31st season, with a record of 726-253, 1 National Championship (in 2003), and 3 Final Fours.

Of Syracuse’s 7 head coaches, five were alumni of Syracuse, and four had played for a previous Syracuse coach. Six were rookie head coaches when they started at Syracuse; Lewis was the only exception.

Who will be the next Syracuse basketball coach? I think that may be premature, as I think Boeheim is likely to be around for several more years. However, many fans think that current assistant coach Mike Hopkins would be perfect for the job. A former letterman at Syracuse, and 10+ years as an assistant under Boeheim would surely cast him in the mold of previous SU coaches.

Whomever the next coach will be, whenever it will be, he better like the snow for if history holds form he will likely be in Syracuse for quite a while!


Matt Glaude said...

This notebook is quickly entering "must-read" territory. Keep up the awesome work.

The most impressive aspect of Syracuse's history is its success in the country's most competitive hoops conference. While Kansas and others have built wins in average to above averate leagues, Syracuse has managed to achieve success in the nation's most consistently dominant conference on a year-to-year basis.

To wit:

Since the inception of the Big East, Syracuse has accumulated 322 wins against 175 losses for a winning percentage of .648. This is almost 30 wins more than Syracuse next closest competitor -- Georgetown -- and its winning percentage is higher than that of the aforementioned Hoyas (.601).

Even with Connecticut's recent domination of the conference, the Orange still significantly outpace the Huskies in wins (50) and percentage (.648 to .582).

That's getting it done.

Also, to dovetail your point about coaching continuity, this is how the rest of the Big East stacks up (according to the 2006-2007 Media Guide):

Cincinnati: 26 coaches over 105 years (.637 winning percentage)

Connecticut: 17 coaches over 105 years (.638) (Note: there were three periods over an 11 year span where Connecticut fielded a team without a head coach)

DePaul: 10 coaches over 83 years (.635)

Georgetown: 17 coaches over 99 years (.610)

Marquette: 15 coaches over 89 years (.614)

Notre Dame: 17 coaches over 101 years (.643)

Providence: 15 coaches over 81 years (.606)

Rutgers: 16 coaches over 94 years (.522)

St. John's: 18 coaches over 98 years (.674)

Seton Hall: 19 coaches over 94 years (.591)

South Florida: 7 coaches over 34 years (.481 -- ouch!)

'Nova: 8 coaches over 86 years (.637)

West Virginia: 20 coaches over 96 years (.611)

OrangeRay said...


Thanks for the additional statistics, a great addendum. DePaul was the one I was curious about with Ray Meyer there for almost half a century.

Guess you don't want to be a Cincinnati coach: average tenure of 4.0 years, over 105 years.

Thanks for the props.