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March 1, 2011

Milestones that would look good on the resume

Not that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski needs to update his, but let's just say his resume is rather complete.

He is closing on 900 career wins, has won four national championships and an Olympic gold medal, has 11 Final Four appearances and 12 ACC tournament championships and has coached 22 All-Americans.

Unless he's pining to add an NIT title to his resume, he's pretty much set. Of course, there's only one Krzyzewski. Other coaches, programs and players still are looking to reach important milestones.

Today, we'll look at what is missing from the resumes of some notable coaches, players and schools. All have a chance to reach these benchmarks this season. But some will be easier to reach than others, and we'll assess how likely these coaches, players and programs will be able to reach these milestones in the coming months.

BELMONT COACH RICK BYRD
What's on the resume: 607-332 career record, four Atlantic Sun regular-season titles, three NCAA tournament appearances, A-Sun coach of the year (2007-08), NAIA national coach of the year (1994-95)
What's missing: An NCAA tournament win
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Byrd is 12th on the wins list among active Division I coaches, reaching the 600-win plateau this season. About two-thirds of Byrd's wins have come in Division I (Belmont was an NAIA member until 1999) and the Bruins have enjoyed a fair amount of success in the Atlantic Sun, making three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2006-08. They were clobbered by UCLA and Georgetown in the first two appearances, but second-seeded Duke struggled to a 71-70 win over the Bruins in 2008. Belmont still needs to win the Atlantic Sun tournament for a bid, but the Bruins are projected to have the A-Sun's best seed (i.e., better than a 15th) since at least 2004. Thanks to its 3-point shooting prowess, Belmont could be a fortunate matchup away from a first-round upset. (If you are wondering, Byrd doesn't have the most active wins among Division I coaches without a tournament victory. That distinction belongs to Youngstown State's Jerry Slocum, who has 638 career wins without even an NCAA appearance. He has a lengthy resume in NAIA and Division II but only 58 wins in Division I. Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter is next on the list with 598 career wins without an NCAA tournament victory.)
What's on the resume: 213-58 career record, seven NCAA tournament appearances, 2004 Big East regular-season title, 2008 Big East tournament championship, Big East coach of the year (2003-04)
What's missing: A Final Four appearance
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: The Ben Howland-Jamie Dixon era has been the most successful era in the history of the program. Dixon was an assistant for Howland, and he has taken the Panthers to new heights since he took over as head coach in 2003. Now, Dixon looks to take Pitt to its first Final Four. Pittsburgh was on the brink in 2009, but Villanova's Scottie Reynolds ended the Panthers' tournament run in a regional final with a dramatic winning basket for a 78-76 victory. Dixon has led Pittsburgh beyond the first weekend two other times, to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and '07.
What's on the resume: 388-165 career record, two national championships, three Final Fours, three SEC tournament championships
What's missing: SEC coach of the year
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: The longest-tenured SEC coach and the only active coach in the league with a national championship, Donovan never has won the conference coach of the year award -- from the coaches or the media. Donovan has been conference coach of the year only once in his career; the media named him Southern Conference coach of the year in his first season at Marshall in 1994-95. This season, Florida has a two-game lead in the SEC East, the conference's better division, but Donovan will have stiff competition for conference coach of the year honors from a former assistant. Alabama is 10-2 in the SEC under Anthony Grant, who was a Donovan assistant at Marshall and Florida until 2006. Donovan may have the SEC's top team, but Alabama is the league's best turnaround story, especially if the Tide makes the NCAA tournament. The Tide was picked third in the West in the preseason SEC poll and hasn't made the tourney in five seasons. Interestingly, Alabama plays at Florida tonight.
TEMPLE COACH FRAN DUNPHY AND UTAH STATE COACH STEW MORRILL
What's on Dunphy's resume: 416-218 career record, 12 NCAA tournament appearances, nine Ivy League titles, three Atlantic 10 tournament titles, one A-10 regular season title, 2010 A-10 coach of the year
What's on Morrill's resume: 538-240 career record, eight NCAA tournament appearances, five-time conference coach of the year
What's missing: Their second NCAA tournament wins
Can it happen this season:
The buzz: Dunphy and Morrill are two of the more respected coaches in the nation, but they have only one NCAA tournament win apiece. Morrill's lone tournament win in eight appearances came in 2001, when 12th-seeded Utah State defeated Ohio State. Dunphy led 11th-seeded Penn to a win over Nebraska in 1994 before beginning an 11-game NCAA tournament losing streak. This isn't necessarily an indictment of either coach. Between them, only one of their teams has received a single-digit seed. That came last season, when Temple was a No. 5 seed. Cornell -- led by former Dunphy assistant Steve Donahue -- upset the Owls in the first round on its way to the Sweet 16. Temple is projected to get another seeding in the top half of the bracket this season. Meanwhile, Utah State rolled to the WAC regular-season title, but the Aggies will be a bubble team if they don't win the WAC tourney.
GONZAGA COACH MARK FEW
What's on the resume: 312-82 career record, 11 consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season titles, seven WCC tournament tiles, 11 NCAA tournament appearances, four Sweet 16 appearances, seven-time WCC coach of the year
What's missing: An NCAA regional final appearance
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Gonzaga reached the Elite Eight in the final season for Few's predecessor, Don Monson. After that, Few turned Gonzaga into a consistent power and NCAA tournament participant, but the Bulldogs still are looking for another extended run through the tournament. Their best shot came in 2006, when the Adam Morrison-led Bulldogs reached the Sweet 16. But Morrison finished the regional semifinal game in tears as UCLA rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 5:13 to win 73-71. That game probably said more about UCLA than Gonzaga, as the Bruins went on to play for the national title. Gonzaga may have another chance at the Elite Eight in the future, but if it happens this season, it would be a shocker. Gonzaga is a marginal NCAA tournament team this season as it prepares for the West Coast Conference tourney.
What's on the resume: 285-87 career record, 2007 national runner-up, three Big Ten regular season titles, two Big Ten tournament titles, two Atlantic 10 regular-season titles, two A-10 tournament titles, Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles, three-time conference coach of the year.
What's missing: A national championship
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Matta is on the short list of "Most Accomplished Active Coaches Without a National Title." Coaches such as UCLA's Ben Howland and Kentucky's John Calipari are just as accomplished as Matta and have come just as close (all three lost in the national championship game). While Howland and Calipari should lead their teams to the NCAA tournament this season, only Matta will be a national title favorite. That said, we can't give any team better than a three-star chance to get to the Final Four, much less win a national title, at this point of the season.
What's on the resume: 594-217 career record, 15 NCAA tournament appearances, 1996 national championship, five Final Fours
What's missing: Big East coach of the year
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Louisville has been in the Big East for six of Pitino's 10 seasons at the school, so it's not totally shocking he's never received the award. Then again, Pitino did go 25-9 at Providence in 1986-87, taking the Friars to the Final Four that season; the award went to Georgetown's John Thompson. Pitino was Conference USA Coach of the Year with the Cardinals (2005) and SEC Coach of the Year with Kentucky (1996). Being named Big East coach of the year would give him top coach honors in three leagues. Pitino is worthy of conference coach of the year honors, but so are a handful of other Big East coaches -- Notre Dame's Mike Brey and St. John's Steve Lavin, for starters.
What's on the resume: 593-598 all-time Division I record, six NCAA tournament appearances
What's missing: An NCAA tournament win
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: The Aztecs as a program don't have as lofty a resume as some of the others on this list. For example, let's look at the number of NCAA tournament wins of other programs seeking a No. 1 seed this season: Duke (94), Kansas (85), Ohio State (45), Texas (33), Pitt (22) and even Mountain West rival BYU (12). As with the aforementioned Dunphy and Morrill, San Diego State hasn't exactly enjoyed good seedings through the course of its 0-6 NCAA tournament record. In four appearances (three under coach Steve Fisher) since tournament expansion in 1985, the Aztecs never have been seeded higher than 11th. San Diego State should receive a highly favorable seed this season against a team from a one-bid conference, meaning it would be a major upset for San Diego State to continue its NCAA tournament losing streak.
DUKE GUARD NOLAN SMITH
What's on the resume: 1,747 career points, 365 career assists, starter for 2010 national champions, 2010 All-NCAA tournament team, 2010 second-team All-ACC honors
What's missing: First-team All-ACC honors
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Teammate Kyle Singler received the fanfare in the preseason, but Smith has become Duke's most indispensible player at 21.7 points per game. He's never been first-team all-conference, but he may end up as the ACC player of the year or even national player of the year. Duke's last to earn both honors was J.J. Redick. Through his first three seasons, Smith spent most of his time deferring to Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson and Singler. As a senior, he's become the focal point of a team that needed one after the (as of now) season-ending injury to freshman G Kyrie Irving. For three years, Smith was a sidekick. Now, he's the hero.
What's on the resume: 1,634-960 all-time Division I record, three regular-season Big 12 championships, two Southwest Conference tournament championships, 31 NCAA tournament appearances, three Final Fours
What's missing: Big 12 tournament title
Can it happen this season?
The buzz: Even with Kevin Durant averaging a record 30.7 points in the Big 12 tournament in 2007, the Longhorns couldn't beat Kansas in the title game. T.J. Ford led the Longhorns to the Final Four but not a Big 12 tournament title. Texas hasn't won a conference tournament since 1995, the second-to-last season of the Southwest Conference. Texas has made five trips to the Big 12 tournament championship game, losing all five. The Longhorns made the finals three seasons in a row from 2006-08, only to lose each time to Kansas. With Texas and Kansas vying for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, it would only be fitting for the two to meet in the final Big 12 tourney championship game before the league shrinks to 10 teams.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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