BOZICH: From Faulted Four To Final Four For These Coaches - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: From Faulted Four To Final Four For These Coaches

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The four guys who have made the NCAA Final Four know the feeling of NCAA Tournament disappointment. The four guys who have made the NCAA Final Four know the feeling of NCAA Tournament disappointment.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The four coaches taking their basketball teams to Atlanta will conduct their first round of NCAA Final Four press conferences on Monday.

They'll discuss how they got their teams playing their best basketball of the season. The adjustments they made and the inspiring words they spoke. The players that launched the extra shots and the ones that put their egos aside to play off the bench.

But as Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said all season, sometimes these guys make all the right moves and sometimes the cake collapses or the cigar blows up in their faces.

Don't believe me?

You should. Five seconds ago these Final Four coaches were the Faulted Four coaches.

I'll start with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. He's the one who is already in the Hall of Fame while ringing up more than 900 victories.

Check Boeheim's record over the last decade. Nobody has spent more time in post-game press conferences explaining why the Orange lost to teams with lower seeds – to Alabama in 2004 (5 losing to 8); to Vermont (4 losing to a 13 in 2005), to Texas A&M (and Billy Gillispie) in 2006.

Who's responsible for The Butler Way?

Jim Boeheim.

His top-seeded Syracuse team bobbled away a game against the fifth-seeded Bulldogs in 2010. Heck, it was only a year ago that Boeheim had Dion Waiters, the fourth pick in the NBA Draft on his roster. NBA opponents can't stop Waiters He's averaging 14.7 points per game. Boeheim stopped him. Waiters averaged 12.6 for Syracuse last season.

Now Boeheim is going to the Final Four. He's back in Genius Mode.

Up next?

How about Pitino? You know his story well. This is his seventh trip to the Final Four. Only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith can top that number. Pitino is primed to become the first coach to win an NCAA basketball title at two schools and on April 8, championship Monday, Pitino figures to get the news that he has been voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

It's more than deserved. It's overdue.

And Pitino will be the first to tell you that he is the same coach whose team lost its first NCAA Tournament game to Morehead State in 2011 and California in 2010.

John Beilein of Michigan knows something about first-round losses. A year ago you could have called him First-Round John. He coached a Michigan team that had a fabulous season – until the Wolverines arrived in the NCAA Tournament.

Then Michigan lost to Ohio University, a 13-seed, in the Wolverines' opening game.

Ouch.

They weren't calling Beilein a genius after that game. They were wondering if his style of offense, so dependent upon three-point shooting, would transfer to big-time tournament success.

Then there is Gregg Marshall, the up-and-comer at Wichita State. What a fabulous job he has done, toppling Gonzaga (a one seed) and Ohio State (a two seed) while guiding the Shockers through the West Regional.

Have you checked Gregg Marshall's NCAA Tournament record prior to his season?

Eight appearances. Eight defeats. One victory. That's right – 1-8.

Yes, I know that Marshall coached most of those games at Winthrop University, a small school in Rock Hill, S.C. that always played against an opponent with a higher seed.

Except that not all of Marshall's NCAA experience came at Winthrop. Many will tell you that a year ago Gregg Marshall actually put together a better team at Wichita State.

The NCAA seems to agree. This Shockers' Final Four team is a nine-seed. A year ago Wichita State was a five-seed – and lost its first-round NCAA game to Virginia Commonwealth, a 12-seed.

With Gregg Marshall as its coach.

This season, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, John Beilein and Gregg Marshall are going to the Final Four. Ten minutes ago they were the Faulted Four. Just ask them.

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