2012-2013 CAA Basketball Coaches Power Rankings
With Shaka Smart Gone, Who Is The Top Coach In The CAA?
Over the past few seasons, when covering and discussing the coaches of the Colonial Athletic Association, national spotlight has been solely cast upon Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart. However, the conference is loaded with tons of other talented program leaders, even when Smart was in the CAA.
With Midnight Madness in the books, its time to now shift our attention onto the current season that is, instead of looking forward to the winter that will be. This season, realistically, seven teams could potentially enter March with the number one overall seed in the conference tournament.
These teams’ success will largely depend on how well their players can compete and collectively coexist. But, effective, inspirational and strategically coaching will definitely provide a competitive advantage. With that, here are the RantSports.com rankings of the 11 CAA basketball coaches.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.
11. Pat Skerry, Towson Tigers
Pat Skerry has been in the coaching world since 1992, when he joined the Tufts University coaching staff as an assistant. Following that job, Skerry also made assistant coaching stops at Stonehill College, Northeastern, William & Mary, Charleston, Rhode Island, Providence and Pittsburgh. Prior to Towson, Skerry’s other head-coaching gig was at Curry College (Mass.) from 1996-98. However, even though he’s been around the game awhile, does not mean he’s truly successful. While he did lead Curry to a winning season at only the age of 26, Skerry lead the Tigers to a horrific 1-31 record last season. Skerry is still learning on the job and has a bright basketball mind, as praised by longtime Pittsburgh head coach, Jamie Dixon, and he should be able to steadily improve this Towson program over the next few years. Bur right now, he still has a little ways to go.
10. Tony Shaver, William & Mary Tribe
Tony Shaver has also been coaching for many years, 26 years in fact. He’s also gone out and earned a very impressive 461-293 overall record throughout the course of his career. So, why is he the 10th best coach in the CAA, then, you may ask? It’s because 358 of those victories came at the Division III level with Hampden-Sydney. Meanwhile at William & Mary, Shaver, while respected and enamored, has only led his club to a 103-172 record. During his reign in DIII, Shaver reached the postseason in 11 out of 17 seasons. While leading the Tribe for the last 9 years, Shaver has only helped his team reach the postseason once, ultimately losing in the NIT 1st Round. But, since last season the Tribe only won six games, things can’t possibly go anywhere but up.
9. Buzz Peterson, UNCW Seahawks
Buzz Peterson is entering his 3rd season at the helm of the Seahawks. Before coming to UNCW, Peterson moved up the ranks in the coaching world. He started at Appalachian State, made a one-year stop at Tulsa and won the NIT Championship and then scored a four-year gig at nationally acclaimed Tennessee. Unfortunately for Peterson, he was never able to earn a 20-win season leading the Volunteers and was forced to leave for Coastal Carolina and then back to Appalachian State for one more year. During his first 12 years of coaching, Peterson led his temas to a very impressive 248-148 record. But, things haven’t been so smooth in North Carolina for the coaching veteran. Buzz has only earned a 23-37 at UNCW over the past two seasons, damaging his credentials for these rankings. But, as a man who’s been largely responsible for six 20-win seasons, it should be only a matter of time that Peterson launches the Seahawks into the CAA spotlight.
8. Matt Brady, James Madison Dukes
Matt Brady has seen better days than his team’s season last year. Before leading the Dukes, Brady was in charge of the Marist College program for 4 seasons, going 73-50 and reaching the NIT Second Round in 2007. Now, entering is 5th season in Virginia, Brady has led James Madison to a 66-63 record, but has struggled to put together back-to-back successful seasons. Brady has a lot of faith in his incoming freshman class, and he must utilize them he wants to avoid sequential losing seasons. Brady also should look to advance his program to a postseason appearance as well. But, overall, his general inconsistency has him towards the bottom of the pack in this season’s crop of CAA coaches.
7. Mo Cassara, Hofstra Pride
Mo Cassara scored his first collegiate head-coaching job, when Hofstra called his number on May 5, 2010. Before that day, Cassara had made previous coaching stops as an assistant on multiple Boston College and St. Lawrence University. In upstate New York, where the next Presidential debate will coincidentally be held this Tuesday night, Cassara had a very successful first season, but fell off the map a little last season. In year one, Cassara wowed fans by leading the club to a 21-12 record. Unfortunately last year, Cassara saw his team fall to 10-22, giving him a 31-34 overall record in yellow and blue. This season, with some handsome transfers and impressive recruiting class, Cassara should be able to move his club further up along than he did in 2012-2013.
6. Monte Ross, Delaware Blue Hens
Monte Ross made a name for himself in the coaching world as a longtime assistant in the St. Joseph’s coaching staff in Philadelphia from 1996-2006. From there, he earned his current headman job at Delaware. While his 71-117 record doesn’t speak so kindly of his coaching abilities, Ross has been steadily improving his program over the last six years. Coming off his career-best 18-14 year last season. He’s been building his program with solid recruiting classes and solid transfers. Now, he’s developed a strategy revolved around a strong inside out game, and he has the tools to successfully use it. Ross is well on his way to earning a 20-win season this winter.
5. Bill Coen, Northeastern Huskies
Bill Coen spent 20 years as an assistant coach before taking over the reigns of the Northeastern Huskies basketball program. He spent many years serving on the Hamilton, Rhode Island and Boston College staffs. Since the 2006-2007 season on Massachusetts Avenue, Coen has led his club to a 90-99 record. In those six years, Coen has taken his team to two postseason appearances, including the NIT First Round following a 20-13 regular season. Coen has been successful leading teams with not much astounding talent. Running a program in a hockey school, Coen has won many more games than the N Zone expected to witness, and the Huskies should be celebrating more victories this season.
4. Ron Hunter, Georgia State Panthers
Ron Hunter isn’t just a successful coach; he’s also an extremely inspirational man. While he’s earned a 296-231 overall career coaching record, Hunter has also been a very persistent and passionate supporter of the Samaritan’s Feet foundation that donates shoes to people who can’t afford them. Before taking over in Georgia, Hunter spent 17 seasons at the helm of the program at IUPUI. During his first year in charge of the Panthers in 2011-2012, Hunter led his team to a 22-12 at Georgia State. Now, heading into his school’s last season in the CAA, Hunter is looking to go out with a bang after bringing in a very impressive recruiting class to match with his loud and intense sideline and in-practice antics. Hunter is widely viewed as one of the country’s top up-and-coming coaches.
3. Blaine Taylor, Old Dominion Monarchs
Blaine Taylor has led a highly decorated head coaching career in the NCAA. Overall, Taylor has a very impressive 378-192 career record. Before taking over the Old Dominion program, Taylor was in charge of the club at Montana from 1991-1998. There, he compiled a 141-66 record in 7 years and led his team to two NCAA Tournament appearances. At ODU, Taylor started off his tenure with the only two losing seasons in his 18-year career, but has since guided his club to a 237-126 record and 8 postseason appearances in the last 9 years. His postseason resume includes 4 NCAA Tourney appearances and 2 1st Round victories. Taylor definitely has a strong case for the number-two overall coach in the conference, but was beat out last season.
2. Brusier Flint, Drexel Dragons
Bruiser Flint is the man in charge of the CAA’s nationally recognized best current program. Last season, Flint guided his team to a 29-7 record, following a 21-10 record in 2010-2011, before they were snubbed from the NCAA Tournament. With a 199-141 record at the helm of the Drexel Dragons, Flint will undoubtedly be winning his 200th win for Drexel on his way to avenging the selection committee’s decision last spring. Before coming to Philly, Flint was an assistant at Coppin State and UMass before taking over the Amherst program. While leading the Minutemen, Flint took his guys to the NCAA Tourney in both of his first two years in the Atlantic 10. If Flint can win a March Madness game this spring, he will likely be known as the best coach in the CAA.
1. Paul Hewitt, George Mason Patriots
Coming in at Number one, Paul Hewitt has been making national headlines since 1997. When Hewitt took over the program at Sienna, nobody knew what to expect from the longtime assistant coach at C.W. Post, USC, Fordham and Villanova. Hewitt turned any doubters into true believers when he turned the program into a perennial 20-game winner and an NCAA and NIT Tournament appearances. From there, Hewitt moved on to the ACC’s Georgia Tech. During his 11-year tenure leading the Yellow Jackets, Hewitt guided his club to 5 NCAA Tournaments, including a National Championship game appearance in 2004. In 2011-2012, his first year at the helm of the Patriots program, Hewitt led his team to a 24-9 record, bumping his overall career history to 279-196, and has captured the hearts of the Patriot faithful. Heading into the future, many think Hewitt, as arguably the best coach in the conference, can be the man to lead George Mason back to the Final Four.