Most important coaching traits

How Miller, Calipari, Izzo and others embody key characteristics

Updated: May 24, 2014, 10:31 AM ET
By Seth Greenberg | ESPN Insider

Sean Miller, John Calipari and Tom Izzo Getty ImagesSean Miller, John Calipari and Tom Izzo all carry traits that fuel their programs' success.

Who is the best coach in men's college basketball? For me, it's impossible to name just one. There are a multitude of factors that go into determining the top tier. Is the best coach the one who wins the most or who maximizes his situation? Is a system coach more successful than a coach who is constantly redefining his system? How important is his ability to recruit?

There are many components to a coach's job, and his ability to excel in those individual areas will lead to success. Of course, certain coaches stand out in some areas more than others. Let's take a look at what makes a coach special, and the individuals who best exhibit these traits.

Trait: Vision
Coach: John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats

The best coaches have a clear vision of where they are going and how they are going to get there. In their first meeting with the team, they present that vision. In essence, it's a road map for the season.

Calipari does a great job of creating a vision for his program. He is ahead of the curve in regard to using every media platform to share it. Calipari has 1.2 million followers on Twitter and a personal website, and he recently wrote a book. His plan for the season is initially unveiled at Big Blue Madness in October to not only his players but also recruits and fans. His message remains consistent throughout the season. Last season's centered on getting better every day and buying into the good of the group. That became a reality as the Wildcats played their best basketball at the end of the season and reached the national title game.

Other coaches considered: Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Rick Pitino (Louisville)


Trait: Flexibility
Coach: Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks

The best coaches have a system, but are not married to it. A staff will recruit to the system, but each year the overall makeup of the team will determine adjustments. The best coaches put players in position to play to their strengths.