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Why coaching ability is almost as important as recruiting ability

Jay Wright

Villanova coach Jay Wright pinches holds his brow as his team plays against Pittsburgh in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the series that is running, where they publish the anonymous responses to a number of questions that they asked coaches across the country during July’s live recruiting period.

Today’s was the best yet.

The question: Who is the nation’s most overrated coach?

The answers: Brutal.

Of 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.” Ouch.

Of Tommy Amaker: “He had his shot against the big boys [at Michigan] and couldn’t get anything done. And now he’s a good coach? Because he won the Ivy League with way better players than everybody else? Come on.” #shotsfired

The most interesting part of the entire column, to me, can in the argument that Gary Parrish put together at the bottom. In essence, Parrish said that the most important part of being a head coach isn’t actual coaching acumen. It’s the ability to recruit. It’s the ability to put together a quality coaching staff. It’s the ability to motivate players.

I agree completely.

Talent aggregation is the most important part of a coach’s job. That’s why John Calipari has thrust his name into the conversation for best coach in college basketball. But one thing that you’ll notice on that list of overrated coaches is that a number of them -- Ben Howland, Rick Barnes, Scott Drew -- have a reputation for being strong recruiters. When was the last time that one of those guys put a team on the floor whose success mirrored talent level?

Talent aggregation may be the most important skill for a college basketball coach to have, but an elite understanding of the x’s-and-o’s is almost as important.

You can win games based on talent alone and you can win games based on coaching alone, but there is a reason that Rick Barnes and Bo Ryan have the same number of national titles.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.