Archie Miller’s Point Guard Pedigree — Does it Matter?

There is a belief that exists among many that point guards make better basketball coaches because the point guard is the floor general, runs the offense and is often the player that conveys the communication from the coaches to the players.  Most of us know by now that new Indiana basketball coach Archie Miller grew up as a coach’s son, played point guard in high school, and in college, at North Carolina State.  So we wondered, do point guards really make better coaches?  Unaware of any scientific method to test this, we started by selecting the Top 10 winningest coaches in men’s NCAA Division 1 history:

  1. Mike Krzyzewski – PG
  2. Jim Boeheim – SG
  3. Bob Knight – F
  4. Dean Smith – PG
  5. Adolph Rupp – PG
  6. Jim Calhoun – F
  7. Roy Williams – PG
  8. Bob Huggins – PG
  9. Eddie Sutton – F
  10. Lefty Driesell – C
Photo Credit – Army/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Since the point guard only makes up 1 of 5 positions on the floor, we’d expect 20% of the most successful coaches to be point guards.  Of the top 10 winningest coaches, 50% played point guard.  So perhaps there is something to this?  Obviously 10 coaches, even if the winningest 10 coaches, is not a convincing enough sample size.

Our next thought was to find the NCAA Division 1 coaches that had at least 600 wins with the highest winning percentages.  The top six that emerged under that approach were the following new names that were not on our original list:

  1. John Wooden – PG
  2. Jerry Tarkanian – PG
  3. John Calipari – PG
  4. Bo Ryan – PG
  5. Bill Self – PG
  6. Rick Pitino – PG

Well I guess we could just stop right there, right?  We are now at 11 of 16, or 69% vs. an expected 20%.  Pretty convincing stuff.  From there, we get even less scientific.  You could cherry pick a few national championship winning coaches off the list of highest winning percentage and a few more point guards emerge:

  • Tom Izzo – PG
  • Jay Wright -PG
  • Al McGuire – PG

There were other coaches that we wondered about but were not able to definitively confirm including Branch McCracken (we know he played multiple positions at IU), Denny Crum, Phog Allen and Hank Iba.  The analysis could go on forever but we believe it has become clear enough that playing point guard is at least one of the variables that can help make a great college basketball coach.  Conversely, it clearly isn’t the only attribute that matters.  There have been enough great non-point guard coaches including our own Bob Knight.  And there have certainly been some point guards that have flopped as coaches.  In the end, Archie Miller’s point guard pedigree can be counted as just one more variable that leaves Hoosier fans optimistic about the future of Indiana basketball.

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Main photo credit – Bob Jordan/AP

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