The great players deserve a vast majority of the credit this weekend in Texas for getting their teams to the big weekend. In the college game the head coach is like a CEO of a major company who oversees his program and deals with recruiting, scheduling, budgets, academics, fundraising, alumni relations, public and media relations, speaking, mentoring and the spotlight of being a major public figure.
On the traditional college campus the basketball coach along with the president and the football and/or baseball or hockey coach are the most recognizable and significant figures when it comes to publicity and fundraising. These four Final Four coaches not only can coach/recruit/lead but they are wonderful ambassadors for their schools.
Here is a quick thought on each guy.
1. BO RYAN (Wisconsin): Teams are always really sound on both sides of the Ball. Gets great effort out of his guys. Crisp ball movement on offence with great role definition and ultra stingy defence. They protect the paint beautifully. Sound in all areas.
2 KEVIN OLLIE (UCONN): Thrilled for him. Jim Calhoun really wanted him to have this job and he has delivered. After being unable to play in the tournament last year he's gotten his team to grow and mature from the challenges of last season and improve to the point of being an elite team. Takes a special guy to replace a legend and get the program on track and he's done it wonderfully. Team is tenacious in its effort and they really feed off of his energy. They are organized and smartly play to their strength - their guards.
3. JOHN CALIPARI (Kentucky): This guy gets a bad rap. Yes he can really recruit but he's a terrific teacher, motivator, tactician and leader. I've known John for over 30 years and have seen him rise from being a graduate assistant at Kansas to now. Awesome jobs done at UMass, Memphis and now with the Wildcats. Brought this talented young group along with tough love and a velvet touch as well. It's all about getting your team to peak at the right time and he's been masterful at that throughout his fine career.
4. BILLY DONOVAN (Florida): Attention to detail and innovative. Adapts well to his team's talent and skill level. Two NCAA championships already and this current group of experienced players are close knit due to his vision. His defensive schemes are sound and disruptive to opponents. His offence is guard oriented and they don't beat themselves. Has made the Florida job (at a football school) one of the elite basketball jobs in college hoops due to his sustained success.