What does it take to make one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all-time?
Well, it takes a lot of determination, patience, hard work, and…failure.
Failure may take you by surprise, but the winningest college basketball coaches did not get to the point they are at today without failure.
An old saying goes, “that you only succeed through failure.”
That is very true, as only through failure do you get stronger and wiser. The difference between coaches who failed and never were heard from again and the coaches below is likely a lack of persistence or patience.
Coaching basketball is a very frustrating, so the road is never easy. Here’s a quick run-down of the Top 20 winningest college basketball coaches of all-time:
Top 20 Winningest College Basketball Coach
1. Bob Knight 902 (Army, Indiana, Texas Tech)
2. Dean Smith 879 (North Carolina)
3. Adolph Rupp 876 (Kentucky)
4. Jim Phelan 830 (Mt. St. Mary’s)
5. Eddie Sutton 798 (Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Ok St.)
6. Lefty Driesell 786 (Davidson, Maryland, James Madison)
7. Lute Olson 780 (Long Beach State, Iowa, Arizona)
8. Lou Henson 779 (Illinois, New Mexico St.)
9. Mike Krzyzewski 800 (Army, Duke)
10. Henry Iba 764 (NW Mo. St., Colorado, Oklahoma St.)
11. Ed Diddle 759 (W. Kentucky)
12. Jim Boeheim 750 (Syracuse)
13. Jim Calhoun 750 (Northeastern, Connecticut)
14. Phog Allen 746 (Kansas, Haskell, Central Missouri)
15. John Chaney 741 (Temple)
16. Jerry Tarkanian 729 (Long Beach St, UNLV, Fresno State)
17. Norm Stewart 728 (N. Iowa, Missouri)
18. Ray Meyer 724 (DePaul)
19. Don Haskins 719 (UTEP)
20. Denny Crum 675 (Louisville)
Bob Knight recently passed up Dean Smith as the all-time most winning college basketball coach. The move was somewhat unpopular with college basketball fans mostly due to Knight’s abusive temper and Smith’s more laid back, classy coaching style.
On the Top 20 list, three of the coaches are still actively coaching. The names are in bold, which are Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), and Jim Calhoun (Connecticut).
Adolph Rupp, who comes in at number three, is one of the more historical and famous college basketball coaches of all-time. Rupp dominated throughout his years at Kentucky.
Phog Allen is another famous name, who notoriously coached for over three decades at legendary Kansas University.
Many of the coaches on the Top 20 winningest college basketball coaches list are well known for their distinct style:
Bob Knight, the all-time winningest college basketball coach, is an extremely old-school, no nonsense head coach who pushes his athletes in the classroom as much as on the court.
Dean Smith was especially talented at recruiting, bringing several big name players to the Tar Heel state. While many of his players succeeded in the professional ranks, the most well known and possibly greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan – was a one-time Tar Heel.
Both, Eddie Sutton and Lefty Driesell were very successful at several big-name programs. Sutton found solid success at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma State. Driesell saw massive success at Davidson, Maryland, and James Madison.
University of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is notorious for his stiff man-to-man defense.
Boeheim has built Syracuse around a dominant 2-3 Zone defense, and is one of the greatest zone defensive coaches ever.
John Chaney was known for his “40 Minutes of Hell” style, which represented non-stop pressure defense and a fast paced, high octane offense. Chaney’s style would later be imitated by several collegiate coaches.
Despite winning 10 NCAA Championships, legendary UCLA head coach John Wooden just misses out on the Top 20 with 664 career wins.
Don Haskins, UTEP, not only is a great coach (19th all-time), but also a great man. Haskins story was well documented in the film, “Glory Road.” Haskins was the first coach to start an all-African American lineup. His bold move would help diminish racism in college basketball.
And last but not least, while her success has come at a different level (women’s college basketball), Pat Summit’s record at Tennessee is extraordinarily. She’s accumulated over 1,000 career college basketball wins and is by far the winningest basketball coach, men’s or women’s, of all-time.