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August 23, 2017

NCAA Cross Country Coaches and Their NBA Equivalent

We have quite a few NBA fans on the Citius staff, which often devolves into Steph Curry-bashing and discussions on the glory days of the San Antonio Spurs. Among those talks came a brilliant idea for NCAA coach comparisons to NCAA cross country coaches. You always think ‘Hmmm…I think X coach shares that same quality as X.” So, in light of our NBA article on LeBron James’ mile time that’s making headlines, we decided to make this to complement it.

Mark Wetmore = Phil Jackson

The Wetmore Factor meets the Zen Master. Both obviously have impeccable championship resumes (Wetmore’s teams have won seven NCAA cross country teams titles; Jackson has 11 championship rings). Beyond that, they carry an aurora of mystique about them that give both men a mythical reputation in their respective circles.

Andy Powell = Erik Spoelstra

The abilities of Powell and Spoelstra could easily be dismissed by some because of the talent they have to work with. With Powell at the helm of the men’s distance program, Oregon consistently recruits some of the nation’s best high school talent. Similarly, Spoelstra had the big three of LeBron/Wade/Bosh dropped in his lap in the summer of 2010. Because of that talent  they have to work with, both men end up being underrated coaches since they don’t get their due credit for making the most of their athletes’ potential.

Rob Conner = Gregg Popovich

Scruffy facial hair aside, Conner and Popovich have both built top-notch programs in non-marquee locations — at a mid-major school like Portland for Conner, and in a small-market city like San Antonio for Pop. Both haven’t been afraid to embrace foreign athletes. Then there are some of the similar quirks — they have weird hobbies and are fairly liberal in their political views.

Mike Smith = Luke Walton

Walton is in his second year leading a young Lakers squad, while Smith is in his second season at NAU. They both exude a youthful swagger that make them two of the more interesting guys to follow in their respective sports. They also share a deep voice and a twangy manner of speech.

Steve Magness = Brad Stevens

Call them the wiz kids. Magness is known in the running world for his scientific approach and overall nerdiness – IN A GOOD WAY. Stevens has reputation throughout the league as a wonk and is known for running some of the most innovative set pieces and out-of-bounds plays.

Ed Eyestone = Rick Carlisle

Veteran, consistent, rock solid — those are terms that apply to Ed Eyestone and Rick Carlisle. Both were professional athletes back in their day, though Eyestone, a two-time Olympic marathoner, was much more successful than Carlisle, whose playing career highlight was riding the bench on the Celtics 1986 championship team. When it comes to coaching, they’ve both had long runs of success. Eyestone is entering his 18th year at BYU and has lead the Cougars to six top-1o NCAA cross country finishes, while Carlisle has been a head coach for 14 years, including winning the 2011 NBA title with the Mavericks.

Eric Houle = Mike D’Antoni

Call these two the innovators. Houle coached Cam Levins when they experimented with some pretty crazy mileage, up to 140-150 miles a week. It worked well for Levins, who swept the NCAA 5k and 10k titles in 2012. D’Antoni was the innovator behind the Phoenix Suns’ “seven seconds or less” offense, where the Steve Nash-led team ran a blistering offense that would try to score within seven seconds of getting the ball on a new possession.

Chris Solinsky = Jason Kidd

This one comes from our friend Al Lowe on Twitter. “Best former runner coaching and best former player coaching,” Lowe wrote. It makes plenty of sense to me — Kidd will soon be enshrined in the basketball hall of fame, and Solinsky would most certainly be U.S. distance running hall of famer, if such a thing existed.

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