While there has been a tendency over the years to look at Virginia’s 1984 Final Four appearance as something of a fluke, coming as it did in the year after Ralph Sampson’s graduation, here’s something else to consider:
If current Miami coach Jim Larranaga is named ACC coach of the year, which is almost a certainty with the Hurricanes still undefeated in league play, he would be the fourth member of the 1983-84 UVa staff to be named ACC coach of the year.
Larranaga and his brethren would have a total of eight ACC coach-of-the-year plaques, including two for then-head coach Terry Holland (1981, 1982), three for Dave Odom (1991, 1994, 1995), two for Seth Greenberg (2005, 2008) and one for Larranaga.
A fifth member of that staff, Jeff Jones, received ACC coach-of-the-year votes on three occasions between 1991-95 and, in 1995, finished second in the balloting behind Odom, then at Wake Forest. That was the year UVa went to the Midwest Region final and finished 25-9.
And, if you want to go one step further, one of the best players on that team was fifth-year guard Rick Carlisle, who was named NBA coach of the year in 2011 after leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 4-2 NBA Finals victory over the Miami Heat.
One of his backcourt mates at Virginia, Ricky Stokes, was the head coach at Virginia Tech for four seasons (1999-2003) and later at East Carolina (2005-2007) for two seasons.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED that not all of the assistants on the 1983-84 staff were full-time assistants, most notably Greenberg, who was a restricted-earnings coach, or whatever the equivalent was in those days.
I had that debate with friend and past associate Jack Bogaczyk, who is a University of Kentucky graduate and said that the Wildcats’ staff in 1971-72, when he was a student, might have been the winningest of all time.
It included head coach Adolph Rupp (876) and assistants Gale Catlett (565) and Joe B. Hall (297).
Their total was 1,738 and eclipsed the total of 1,630 that I had given him for Holland, Odom, Larranaga and Jones.
Larranaga and Jones (American University) are still coaching, so that total has risen to 1,652. Larranaga, who had 27 coaching wins at Division II American International, leads the way with 512.
HOWEVER, THROW IN Greenberg, with his 378 victories at Long Beach State, South Florida and Virginia Tech and the 1983-84 Virginia staff stands at 2,030. You can toss out Larranaga’s wins at AIU and they’re still over 2,000.
So, should you count Greenberg? Greenberg says so. Now a commentator with ESPN, says he is honored to have his name on that list. It’s not his fault that Adolph Rupp couldn’t find any future greats to serve as his No. 3 and 4 assistants.
I covered that ’83-84 team and you definitely knew Greenberg was around.
Efforts to determine whether there is a record for career victories by a single coaching staff have been to no avail. John Wooden won 664 games at UCLA, where one of his assistants was Denny Crum, who won 675 games at Louisville.
Another of Wooden’s assistants was Gary Cunningham, who later served as the Bruins’ coach but went into administration after posting a 50-8 record. I thought another of Wooden’s successors, Gene Bartow, may have been a Bruins’ assistant but couldn’t find a record of that.
I’m betting the winner would be the 1974-75 Indiana staff that may or not have included Mike Krzyzewski, who possibly could have been in one of those Seth Greenberg-type roles for the Hoosiers.
Even if you don’t count Krzyzewski and his 949 wins, the Hoosiers had a staff of head coach Bob Knight (902), Dave Bliss (525), Bob Donewald (358) and Bob Weltlich (300). Just those four had a combined 2,085 wins.
Larranaga and Jones better keep cranking.