Pitt Panthers: Discovering Top 5 Coaches Of All-Time

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Ben Howland


Photo courtesy of Zachary Weiss

Ben Howland, could possibly the most infamous coach in Pitt history, besides Arizona State’s own, Todd Graham.

So he may not be a popular choice, but he certainly put the Pitt Basketball program on the map, in a big way. After inheriting the team from Ralph Willard in 1999, he turned them into a winner and advanced to the Big East Championship in his second season at the helm.

Some of his awards include:

  • 2003 Big East Coach of the Year
  • 2003 Naismith Coach of the Year
  • 2003 USBWA Best College Basketball Coach

If you didn’t guess, 2003 was a big year for Pitt in basketball. They had finally broken free from their plateau of and won the Big East Tournament. Which was viewed as the second highest pinnacle in college basketball at that time beyond the NCAA Tournament itself.

What keeps Howland back a few notches in people’s minds is in the way he vanished from Pitt. Vowing repeatedly that he was not going to leave Pitt after finding prolonged and stable success and noting they can be a major winner, he found himself on the next flight to California and landed at UCLA to be their next men’s basketball coach.

Why he deserves to be third is short but sweet. Besides Jerome Lane annihilating a backboard and Bill Raftery’s classic line of “Send it in Jerome!” What is their to hang your hat on for Pitt basketball concluding the 2003 season?

That’s right, Ben Howland coached and how he coached the crap and recruited the living crap using all of his possible resources to be competitive for the first time in a long, and I mean long time. He provided a reason to be excited, to have expectations, and to ultimately believe.

He was sly, as we all found out, but he was even more so devilishly sly when it came to formulating a plan for success. Ben Howland is one of the main cogs and centerpieces of continued success for the men’s basketball program at Pitt.

Next: Another hoops leader is No. 2