College Basketball

College basketball rankings: Missouri rises in Top 25 And 1 thanks to quick turnaround by coach Dennis Gates


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Texas A&M’s Buzz Williams and Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse were named co-SEC Coaches of the Year earlier this week. It was a reasonable split; Williams guided the Aggies to a second-place finish in the conference after starting the season 6-5, and Stackhouse’s Commodores finished tied for fourth in the league thanks to an 8-1 record in their final nine games of the regular season.

I’m happy for both men.

But the truth is that, if folks just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Alabama’s Nate Oats because of the way his school handled the Brandon Miller controversy, the SEC Coach of the Year should’ve probably been Missouri’s Dennis Gates. That’s whom I would’ve voted for, at least.

“Pretty good for a bunch of mid-major guys!” Gates reportedly yelled in the tunnel following his Tigers’ 79-71 win over Tennessee in Friday’s quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

It’s actually really good.

Gates took over a program that went 12-21 last season while finishing 12th in the SEC. In his first offseason, this former mid-major coach at Cleveland State totally revamped Missouri’s roster through the transfer portal, largely with former mid-major players — hence the mid-major quote from Friday. The result is a first-year Missouri coach with first-year Missouri players serving as nine of the team’s top 10 scorers. 

Despite that type of turnover, or perhaps because of it, the Tigers have a 24-8 record and are 20th in Saturday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Impressively, Missouri hasn’t lost a game outside of Quadrant 1 all season.

All of this is why coaches asking fans for patience doesn’t really fly these days — not with the transfer portal, one-time transfer waivers and NIL rights serving as tools for staffs to quickly remake rosters. As Gates just showed, it’s possible to turn around a high-major program in literally one offseason. You just have to be excellent at your job, which Gates obviously is.

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Publish Date:2023-03-12 03:08:55

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