Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 10 best first-year head coaches through January of 2023-24 season

Brigham Young v Texas Tech
Brigham Young v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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10. Rick Pitino – St. John’s

You could argue that Pitino has had one of the most colorful coaching careers in the history of this sport. We don’t have time to dive into it all, but winning a title at Kentucky, having one vacated at Louisville, and several NBA and international stops are just part of that journey. He spent his last three years continuing Iona’s success in the MAAC, but the Red Storm lured Pitino back onto the big stage in this sport.

Things weren’t awful in New York under predecessor Mike Anderson, who had four seasons above .500, but they weren’t to the level that this program expects, especially without a trip to the NCAA Tournament. While there’s still time, the Red Storm this season look like a team that could break that drought and return to the Big Dance, sitting in decent shape at 13-7 to this point.

Among the highlights, this team has swept Villanova and has wins over Providence, Utah, and Xavier, all teams that they’ll likely fight against for Tournament bids just over a month from now. Things aren’t perfect quite yet in his first season, but this program’s trajectory is as high as it’s been for years under Pitino’s leadership. They’ve come extremely close to upset wins against Connecticut, Creighton, and Marquette; imagine when those games start going their way next season, or even next month.