A modicum of attention was paid earlier this season when Miami coach Jim Larranaga’s squad secured his 700th career victory. Among active ACC coaches only Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim has won as many with 1,005 officially through Dec. 10 and another 101 subtracted due to NCAA violations.
The lanky Larranaga, 73, was an early embracer of statistical analysis to guide strategy. A former Terry Holland assistant at Virginia, he previously served as head coach at American International, Bowling Green and George Mason. He took the Patriots to the 2006 Final Four and the Hurricanes to the 2013 ACC title.
Otherwise Mike Krzyzewski, with an NCAA-record 1,202 wins at Duke and Army, was the only other ACC member of the 700 Club. (No, not Pat Robertson’s evangelical group.)
The official NCAA record for career victories may become a more heated topic of conversation should Boeheim last another season at Syracuse and win another two dozen games in the process. Then some fans and media fools will clamor to disregard the NCAA’s verdict punishing cheating that advantaged his program. As if gaining an unfair edge was just part of the game, like a hard screen or an uncalled hand check.
The close approach to the all-time victory total could prove a bit of a personal dilemma for Boeheim, especially if Syracuse continues to struggle. Last season the Orange produced their sole losing record in his first 47 years on the job. (That’s not counting the three seasons — 2006, 2007 and 2012 — in which he was administratively stripped of all but two wins by the NCAA).
There’s no easy way to depart, especially after a tenure so long and distinguished.
It’s doubtful Syracuse administrators would force out a loyal, historically successful alum who established the program as a national presence and won the 2003 NCAA championship. But if a time comes to step aside will Boeheim leave with the NCAA victory total within sight, however questionably, or will he emulate football’s Bobby Bowden (FSU) and Joe Paterno (Penn State) in creating discomfort for all? Long after Dean Smith retired at age 66, devoted lieutenant Bill Guthridge lamented his mentor left too soon. Where will that line be for Boeheim, 78?
On a more unshadowed note, by the end of the 2022 calendar year Tony Bennett should become Virginia’s leader in wins, the sixth school victory champion among current ACC coaching colleagues. Through mid-December his Cavaliers were 8-0, the league’s sole undefeated squad.
In 13 years at Charlottesville and part of a 14th, Bennett’s teams have won 324 times, a .735 winning percentage capped by the 2019 NCAA title and a pair of ACC Tournament championships (2014, 2018). That career total with the Cavs is two shy of matching Terry Holland, who lifted the program to relevance, then prominence between 1975 through 1990.
Barring catastrophe Bennett — previously at Washington State, a Pac-12 backwater where Houston’s Kelvin Sampson also honed his craft — would make it 40 percent of historic program pacesetters (6 of 15) now on ACC sidelines.
Also among the unmatched winners, Clemson’s periodically beleaguered Brad Brownell quietly set the school victory mark several years ago, as noted here at the time. FSU’s Leonard Hamilton is his school win leader, and within sight of 600 in his 34-year career. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey passed the more attention-grabbing Digger Phelps a while back and could reach 600 wins next season.
And Boeheim of course is just adding to his school record.
|RULING THE ROOST
Active ACC Coaches Holding Program Record in Victories
(Through Games of Dec. 12, 2022)
|Coach, School||Tenure||Wins At||Years At||Career Total, Yrs.|
|B. Brownell, C||2011-||226||13||393-253 (21)|
|L. Hamilton, FSU||2003-||396||21||596-461 (35)|
|J. Larranaga, UM||2012-||235||12||705-476 (39)|
|M. Brey, ND||2001-||479||23||578-313 (28)|
|J. Boeheim, SU||1977-||1,004*||47||1004-430 (47)|
|T. Bennett, V||2010-||324||14||393-150 (17)|
|* Another 101 wins vacated by NCAA.|