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Bill Self and His Quest for Coaching History

January 25, 2013 02:30AM
With respect to the all-time coaching wins race, here's an original piece of primary research and analysis that I offer up for your consideration and reactions. After wading through a lot of sources and data to compile this comparison, I think that it offers a pretty intriguing (and eye-opening) look at how Coach Self is faring (trend-wise) with today's all-time wins leaders: Coach K, Coach Boeheim, and Coach Knight.

The first table below documents each coach's age and milestone wins, so that you can easily compare when each started coaching, when they got their big milestone 500th win (or, in Coach Self's case, when he's projected to), along with their current age, total wins at present, and career winning percentage.

(Use the scroll bar to move to the far right columns for complete table view)

Comparative Top Coaches: By the Numbers

Coach Name		Birthdate 		Age and			Age and 		Record- 		Age and 		Total Wins  		Career Win		NOTES
			and Current 		Date when		Date of			Setting			Date of			at Present		Percentage		
			Age			Started			500th Win		or			Occurrence		(Through				
						Coaching					Record-						1/24/2013)				
Bobby Knight		Oct 1940 (72)		25 (Fall 1965)		48 (Jan 1989)		902			67 (Feb 2008)		902			70.8 (902-371)		Retired in Feb 2008
Jim Boeheim		Nov 1944 (68)		29 (Fall 1976)		52 (Feb 1997)		903			64 (Jan 2013)		904			74.8 (904-305)		Didn’t break any wins record in    
																								Jan 2013, but surpassed Knight's
																								total to assume 2nd place behind
																								Coach K
Mike Krzyzewski		Feb 1947 (65)		28 (Fall 1975)		53 (Nov 2000)		903			63 (Nov 2011)		943			76.2 (943-293)		About to turn 66
Bill Self		Dec 1962 (50)		31 (Fall 1993)		50 (Feb 2013)*		N/A			N/A			493			75.6 (493-159)		Winning percentage of 84.1 
									* Projected											                        at KU (286-54)

Several interesting observations can be made from this initial, comparative table and analysis:

* Bill Self started coaching considerably later than the other comparators did: 6 years later than Knight, 3 years later than K, and 2 years younger than Boeheim. This makes his rapid ascent in the wins column that much more impressive and remarkable.

* To wit, when Self hits 500 in Feb 2013, he'll be 50 years old. That means he'll have accomplished that milestone 3 years earlier than Coach K and 2 years earlier than Boeheim, but 2 years later than Knight (who started coaching 6 years younger than Self). However, as Boeheim and K have proven, Knight's winning pace trailed off markedly in his later years, owing to his turbulent final years at Indiana and an average wins per season in the low 20s for the final 15 years of his career (at IU and Texas Tech).

* Self's winning percentage is nothing short of fantastic: second only to Coach K on this esteemed list. However, it's also illusive and undervalued, because it is dragged down by his pre-KU years. During that period (at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, and Illinois), he compiled a record of 207-105 for a winning percentage of 66.3. Importantly, that percentage has only climbed at every new stop--going from 50% at ORU to 73% at Tulsa, 76% at Illinois, and most recently (and deliciously) 84% at KU.

* What this says is that this is a man (and coach) who is very much hitting his stride and is either at the top of his game (which is arguably the best in the business) or has even greater upside in the offing. As a result, given his prowess and the lower aggregate number base from which he is operating, if Self stays at KU for several years and his well-honed winning trend line holds true, he will definitely surpass Coach K’s career win percentage in due time. (The same holds true for Self vis-a-vis Dean Smith, who gets some passing mention here in a bit, as an initial cumulative wins record-holder.)

* As for passing Coach K and the others in cumulative victory totals, read on... winking smiley


The next table is one that projects Coach Self's cumulative wins in the out years, based on two scenarios: one assuming an average of 33 wins per season (which is his actual average for the last 5 years at KU), and another, lower projection assuming 30 wins per season.

Based on those assumptions and scenarios, I've called out the future season and age for Coach Self when he would surpass the Bobby Knight 902-win milestone. (I've also compared that with the ages at which Coaches K and Boeheim did so.)

I've concluded by projecting beyond that, just as food for thought about Coach Self's highly plausible capacity to hang closely with (and yes, surpass) both of those pacesetting coaches. And to do so even if they coach several more years, based on Bill's comparative youth and his time-tested, increasingly torrid winning pace.

(Again, use the scroll bar to move to the far right columns for complete table view)

Bill Self’s Profile: Cumulative Wins and Projected Trend Lines

Age	Season		Projected		Projected		  NOTES	
			Cumulative Wins		Cumulative Wins			
                                                                        * Scenario A assumes an average of 33 wins per year.								
                                                                        * Scenario B assumes an average of 30 wins per year. 	

50	2012-13		509			506			* Self currently has 17 season wins and 493 cumulative wins (through 1/24/13)	
									* This assumes 16 more wins (for 33 total) in Scenario A and 13 more wins (for 30 total)  	
									  in Scenario B. 	
									* It is NOT intended to be a precise forecast of KU’s eventual 2012-13 W-L record or tournament  	
									  performance. Indeed, KU's season victory total could go well higher than 30 or 33, given that	
									  there are up to as many as 22 more conference and post-season games to be played.	
51	2013-14		542			536			
52	2014-15		575			566			
53	2015-16		608			596			
54	2016-17		641			626			
55	2017-18		674			656			
56	2018-19		707			686			
57	2019-20		740			716			
58	2020-21		773			746			
59	2021-22		806			776			
60	2022-23		839			806			
61	2023-24		872			836
62	2024-25		905			866			* This is the season where Coach Self would surpass Bobby Knight--who didn’t get win #902 until 	
									  the age of 68--in Scenario A.	
63	2025-26		938			896			* This is the age at which Coach K got his 903rd win to surpass Knight.	
64	2026-27		971			926			* This is the season where Coach Self would surpass Bobby Knight--who didn’t get win #902 until 	
									  the age of 68--in Scenario B.	
									* This is the age at which Coach Boeheim notched his 903rd win to surpass Knight.	
65	2027-28		1004			956			* This is Coach K’s current age, though he’ll be 66 before the season ends.	
									* If Duke wins 33 games this year, he’ll have 960 wins (at age 66).  	
66	2028-29		1037			986			* This is the age at which Dean Smith retired, with 879 career wins--the top amount until Bobby 	
									  Knight broke his record. Self is projected to reach that plateau by the age of 61 or 62. 	
									* Just for further cross-comparison, Dean’s cumulative winning percentage was 77.5 (879-254).	
67	2029-30		1070			1016			
68	2030-31		1103			1046			* This is the age at which Knight retired (with 902 wins).	
									* It is also Boeheim’s current age (with 904 present wins and 919 wins if Syracuse wins 	
									  33 games this season).

Some very interesting closing observations can be made from this trend line analysis and the scenario-based projections:

* First off, the assumption of 33 wins per season might strike some as high, but it's really not. The facts speak for themselves when it comes to the level of excellence that Coach Self has established for himself and his teams at KU. Over the last five seasons (2007–2011), Self's KU teams won 165 games, an average of 33 wins a year, passing Mike Krzyzewski's Duke (164 wins, 32.8 a year from 1998-2002) and Jerry Tarkanian's UNLV Runnin' Rebels (163 wins, 32.6 a year from 1987–1991) for the best 5-year run of any Men's Basketball coach in Division 1 history.

* Combine that with the fact that Self is now very much at the top of his game--as a coach, a teacher, a program CEO, and an Xs and Os maestro: a respected yet humble leader overseeing a booming program and brand, buoyed by the toughest home-court advantage in sports, with youth and vigor on his side. When you put that all together, and you see how Coach K and Boeheim have maintained their high level of winning excellence even in their mid- to late-60s (respectively), you begin to understand that it isn't the stuff of science fiction to visualize Self still coaching--and still winning--at a very high clip even out as far as 2030-31. (He would then be the same age as Boeheim is now). If he is still coaching then, it is a distinct possibility that he will have surpassed both Boeheim and Coach K as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history.

* The numbers show that a very reasonable and plausible case can be made in both instances. But let's focus first and foremost on Coach K, since he's in the pole position. As you can see in the “Age 65” box, Coach Self is on a definite upward trajectory to outpace Coach K in wins (1004 at the age of 65, compared with Coach K’s projected 960 at the age of 66).

* Even assuming the lesser wins-per-season projection of 30 per year, Coach Self would have amassed just 4 fewer wins than Coach K is projected to--at an age that is 1 year younger (Self's 65 to K's 66). If you look at even the lower "Scenario B" projection for Coach Self at age 66 (986 wins), that would be 26 more than Coach K is projected to have at that age when this current season ends (a projection that furthermore favorably gives Duke 33 wins, compared with that potential 30-win lesser scenario for KU). Bottom line: Coach Self is well on pace to outshine Coach K.

* Coach Self is on an even more torrid pace when it comes to how he stacks up with Jim Boeheim and Bobby Knight (see the “Age 68” box). This despite his having started coaching at an older age than both of those coaches (as well as Coach K, for that matter).

* Bottom line: Assuming he remains healthy, stays at a great program like KU, and resembles Boeheim and K in not losing his coaching touch in his golden years, Coach Self is on a historical pace to make his mark as one of the greatest coaches to have ever plowed his trade in the NCAA. And wouldn't it be sweet (understatement of a lifetime) if, after KU passes UK in all-time wins in the years ahead, it also assumes the top position with the game's all-time winningest coach?

The future is bright, fellow Jayhawkers! And Coach, be yourself, stay healthy, and keep relaxed. We in the tallgrass sea of crimson and blue want you for the long haul. smileys with beer


Research sources for this piece available upon request.

And a warm, gracious tip o' the hat to HawkE, Corpus, Dave, and my programmer wife for helping me divine how to import involved tables into the RCB format!

“With kindest regards to Dr. Forrest C. Allen, the father of basketball coaching, from the father of the game.”

-- 1936 inscription on the portrait of Dr. Naismith, which Coach Phog Allen hung above his office desk

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2013 02:36AM by Konza63.

  Bill Self and His Quest for Coaching History

Konza63January 25, 2013 02:30AM

  Awesome stuff Konza

CorpusJayhawkJanuary 25, 2013 05:43AM

  Great analysis

NotOstertagJanuary 25, 2013 06:26AM

  Good questions and caveats

Konza63January 25, 2013 08:17AM

  Good stuff, Konza63, but you know what?

HawkErrantJanuary 25, 2013 02:16PM

  Why not both? thumbs up

Konza63January 25, 2013 07:01PM

  Things we can probably agree on...

NotOstertagJanuary 26, 2013 01:56PM

  Hear, hear, NotO!

Konza63January 26, 2013 02:18PM

  And I hope you have

porthawkJanuary 26, 2013 03:34PM

  Yep, it's safe and secured

Konza63January 26, 2013 05:49PM

  Re: Bill Self and His Quest for Coaching History

rainyhawkJanuary 25, 2013 04:28PM

  Good thing you are retired grinning smiley cool stuff nm

JhawkMomJanuary 25, 2013 05:37PM

  Retired? I wish!

Konza63January 25, 2013 09:26PM

  Sorry meant for HE grinning smiley and his charts! nm

JhawkMomJanuary 25, 2013 09:33PM

  And good thing for y'all, too!

HawkErrantJanuary 26, 2013 08:11AM

  This is greally great stuff, Konza!

porthawkJanuary 26, 2013 02:17PM

  My pleasure, Port!

Konza63January 26, 2013 02:19PM

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