Izzo or Beilein, Phil Jackson saga finally will be over and Western Michigan Hockey
Who’s the better coach?
So I’ll go ahead and start the discussion. Who is the better coach? Tom Izzo or John Beilein? Both are in the tournament and both have two of the best teams in the nation. Izzo has won a national championship, and Beilein just got there last year. There’s no doubt that two of the best coaches in college basketball are in this state. In his recent blog post, ESPN’s John Goodman ranked the top coaches in the NCAA tournament. Tom Izzo was ranked second and Beilein was ranked sixth. At the top of the list is the obvious Mike Krzyzewski, Izzo is second, Louisville’s Rick Pitino is third, Florida’s Billy Donavan is fourth and Kansas’s Bill Self is fifth right before Beilein. All those guys in front of Beilien have won a national championship.
Before this season I would have said Tom Izzo hands down, but the job I saw Beilein do this season was marvelous. Was that enough to prove Beilein is a better coach? Izzo has ruled this state when it comes to basketball coaches since 1995 when he took over at State. He has won a national championship, numerous Big Ten championships and been to plenty of final fours. The way his teams compete come tournament time is quite a sight and he always seems to get everything out of them. Beilein has built back up a Michigan program that was very low when he got there. He has won at every single place he has ever been and has won at many different levels. He is coming off a National Championship appearance and led the Wolverines to the outright Big Ten championship this season. His offenses are always some of the best in the nation, and Mike Krzyzewski has said that his offense is the toughest to prepare for.
Since I know you are going to put a gun to my head, I’ll go ahead and say it. I’ll take Beilein. To me, he is an offensive genius and that’s not to say he can’t coach defense because he can. While his defenses are never the top defenses, but he is far from running a system that is all offense and no defense. In the tournament these days, defense is important but if you can’t score you won’t go that far. He also seems to get everything he can out of his teams. Individual players always seem to show great improvement from one year to the next. He is also starting to turn out a ton of NBA talent. Two of them are two of the better rookies in the league this season and he has more to come. Oh and just think…a bunch of Michigan fans wanted him fired about four years ago. How stupid do you look now? He may not have won a championship yet, but I can’t believe he is that far away.
Phil back in New York
The saga is finally over and Phil Jackson is back in New York. I for one am glad that I don’t have to hear about it anymore. This is another classic example of the Knicks naming their next savior of their organization. This has been going on for about 25 years now. I can remember so many guys, most of which were overrated, being in this same position as the next savior of the organization but all of them have failed. Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, Steve Francis, Carmelo Anthony, and Mike D’Antoni are just a few. This act has been played before and it never does anything. I have no idea how good Phil will be, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this act follows suit.
We know Phil can coach, but he isn’t coming in to coach. He’s coming in to do something he has never done before. I have no idea how good of an executive he will be. Still, that didn’t matter to the Knicks who will be paying him $12 million a season to do it. We have seen some other former coaches do very well in the front office. Pat Riley is one of them. The difference here is that Riley is very much hands on and is always there working and digging his feet in. I’m not sure that’s what Phil wants to do here. Phil isn’t even one who wants to be in New York full time. He will be spending a lot of time in LA and up at his cabin in the wilderness somewhere. Phil came into Detroit to help with their coaching search and as far as I can tell all he did was sit there, say “yeah looks like you have some good coaches on your list there” and then said to Tom Gores “You need to let Joe Dumars make the decision” and then walked out. They ended up hiring Maurice Cheeks who was fired 50 games later. Sounds like he gave them some great advice. I was thinking that the Pistons should have considered handing Phil control of the Pistons at that point, but certainly not for the $12 million he is getting now. If you’re spending that much on your new President wouldn’t you hope he had some experience building a team? Either way, he is in New York now and will get to cash a nice pay check and try to rebuild a terrible roster.
One thing I never got in yesterday with all the basketball was the Western Michigan hockey team. They swept Minnesota Duluth over the weekend and are now moving onto the four team championship in Minneapolis this weekend. It’s a great thing for a Broncos program which wasn’t expected to do much this year. Andy Murray has done a great coaching job again this year. He is another coach who gets everything out of his players and is a guy those kids seem like they will run through a wall for. Now they are two wins away from getting to the NCAA tournament. Everything remains the same though. They aren’t getting in unless they win.
The task will be tough but I don’t think impossible. They will face Denver on Friday at 5:00. They split with Denver earlier this month, but lost both of their games out in Denver back in mid-November. If they can win they will face the winner of Miami and North Dakota on Saturday. They swept the season series from Miami and went 1-3 against North Dakota. They can draw on their experience from earlier this season when they played in two weekend tournaments. They won the Great Lakes Invitational and also played in the Shillelagh Tournament at Notre Dame. It would be pretty awesome to have both WMU Basketball and Hockey competing in the NCAA tournaments.
On Tap for Tonight:
Red Wings vs. Toronto
If you care the play in games start tonight. Albany vs. Mount Saint Mary’s…hmm…both are terrible but I’ll take Albany.
NC State vs. Xavier. Give me Xavier in that one.