Pat Summitt ends career as best college hoops coach ever


After 38 years on the Tennessee sideline, Pat Summitt’s coaching career came to an end Thursday. The legendary women’s college basketball coach – and the all-time wins leader at any level, men or women – was chipper, cracking jokes and seemed content with her decision.

When you’ve had a run like hers, it’s probably easier than most.

“It was really a great ride for me,” Summitt said. “It has been a privilege to make an impact on the lives of 161 women who have worn orange. I am so proud of them the Lady Vols student athletes and the honor to see them graduate and become successful young women.”

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It was the proper capstone to a Hall of Fame career, one in which Summitt will still be around the Lady Vols program as head coach emeritus. Some off-court potential remains for Summitt, but this was it.

So. Here’s the question: Is she the best coach in college basketball history?

Take a look at these ridiculous numbers:

  • Record: 1,098-208 (84.1 win %)
  • Eight national titles
  • 18 Final Fours
  • 32 SEC regular-season and tourney titles combined
  • Never missed an NCAA tournament (29 straight and 27 Sweet 16s)
  • Won 47 consecutive games over three seasons
  • Not to mention every player who stayed four years graduated

Only a few coaches can compare to that in terms of excellence. (I’m not sure any coach can match Summit’s impact on her sport.) She’s been so good, even Bob Knight and Dean Smith fall short. I’d place these four as her competition:

John Wooden

  • Record: 664-162 (80.4 win %)
  • 11 national titles
  • 12 Final Fours
  • 19 regular-season conference titles (did not have league tourney)
  • Won 88 consecutive games over four seasons

Adolph Rupp

  • Record: 876-190 (82.2 win %)
  • Four national titles (one NIT title)
  • Six Final Fours
  • 40 SEC regular-season and tourney titles combined

Mike Krzyzewski

  • Record: 927-289 (76.2 win %)
  • Four national titles
  • 11 Final Fours
  • 25 ACC regular-season and tourney titles combined

Geno Auriemma

  • Record: 804-129 (86.2 win %)
  • Seven national titles
  • 13 Final Fours
  • 37 Big East regular-season and tourney titles combined
  • Won 90 consecutive games over four seasons

Wooden has the most titles. Summitt the most wins and Final Fours. Auriemma the best win percentage, Rupp the most combined titles.  At this rate, Auriemma seems likely the surpass Summitt in titles and Final Fours, but it should be noted he’s only a year younger than Summitt.

Right now, it’s tough to argue anyone’s done more than Summitt. She’s the best in the women’s game and probably in college hoops. But check back in 10 years. We’ll see where Auriemma and Coach K end up.

But what do you think? Who’s the best college coach of all time?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Guy V. Lewis, coach of Phi Slama Jama teams, dies at 93

Guy Lewis
Associated Press
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HOUSTON (AP) Former University of Houston men’s basketball coach Guy V. Lewis, best known for leading the Phi Slama Jama teams of the 1980s, has died. He was 93.

He died at a retirement facility in Kyle, Texas, on Thanksgiving morning surrounded by family, the school said Thursday.

Lewis coached the Cougars for 30 years. He guided Houston to back-to-back NCAA title games in 1983 and ’84 but never won the national championship, losing to N.C. State in the 1983 final on Lorenzo Charles’ last-second shot, one of the NCAA Tournament’s greatest upsets and most memorable plays.

“It feels awful,” Lewis said after that game. “I’ve never lost a game that didn’t feel that way, but this one was terrible.”

Lewis, who helped lead the integration of college basketball in the South by recruiting Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney to Houston, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Known for plaid jackets and wringing his hands with a red polka-dot towel during games, Lewis compiled a 592-279 record at Houston, guiding the Cougars to 27 consecutive winning seasons from 1959-85. He was honored as the national coach of the year twice (1968 and `83) and led Houston to 14 NCAA Tournaments and five Final Fours.

Lewis had mostly avoided the spotlight since retiring in 1986. He suffered a stroke in February 2002 and had used a wheelchair in recent years.

He was known for putting together the “Game of the Century” at the Astrodome in 1968 between Houston and UCLA. It was the first regular-season game to be broadcast on national television. Houston defeated the Bruins in front of a crowd of more than 52,000, which, at that time, was the largest ever to watch an indoor basketball game.

Lewis attended the introductory news conference in December 2007 for Kevin Sumlin, the first black football coach in Houston history. It was a symbolic, significant appearance because Lewis signed Houston’s first two black basketball players and some of the first in the region in Hayes and Chaney in 1964, when programs were just starting to integrate.

Hayes and Chaney led the Cougars to the program’s first Final Four in 1967 but lost to Lew Alcindor’s UCLA team in the semifinal game.

“Basketball in the state of Texas and throughout the South is all due to coach Guy V. Lewis,” Hayes said in 2013. “He put everything on the line to step out and integrate his program. Not only that, he had vision to say: `Hey, we can play a game in the Houston Astrodome.’ Not only that, he just was such a motivator and such an innovator that created so many doors for the game of basketball to grow.”

Along with Hayes, Lewis also coached fellow All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. The three were included on the NBA’s Top 50 greatest players list in 1996. Lewis and North Carolina’s Dean Smith were the only men to coach three players from that list while they were in college.

Players and CBS announcer Jim Nantz lobbied for years for Lewis to get into the Naismith Hall of Fame. When he finally received the honor in 2013 he made a rare public appearance. It was difficult for him to convey his thoughts in words in his later years because of aphasia from his strokes, so his daughter spoke on his behalf at the event to celebrate his induction.

“It’s pure joy and we’re not even upset that it took so long. … Dad is used to winning in overtime,” Sherry Lewis said.

Lewis announced his retirement during the 1985-86 season, and the Cougars finished 14-14, his first non-winning season since 1958-59.

Guy Vernon Lewis II was born in Arp, a town of fewer than 1,000 residents in northeast Texas. He became a flight instructor for the U.S. Army during World War II and enrolled at the University of Houston in 1946.

He joined the basketball team, averaged 21.1 points and led the Cougars to the Lone Star Conference championship. By the early 1950s, he was working as an assistant coach under Alden Pasche and took over when Pasche retired in 1956.

Funeral services are pending.

AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan contributed to this story.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.