Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Top 10 College Basketball Coaches This Year

The best-of or top-of lists are always hard to figure out if not controversial. We’d like to take a stab at the list of the best college basketball coaches for this year (make sure you understand what this means lest you come out stupid).

We took into consideration the titles won thus far with a small nod at what has been accomplished previously.

And here is our list of coaches from the Metro Manila leagues:

1) Norman Black (Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles) -- Champions for the Nike Summer League, UAAP, and Uni-Games. And counting... While having a solid recruiting program, his ability to produce great title runs by his Ateneo teams is something that cannot be overlooked. After LA Tenorio moved on to the pros in 2005, his Blue Eagles were pegged to collapse or fall into the middle of the pack. Yet they came within a JC Intal lay-up of winning a championship. In 2007, again without the key players who lead them to the 2006 title game, they produced another magical and masterful run that ended in Game Two of the Final Four. And this year, despite a bumper recruiting crop, no one knew how good they would be. And that has netted then three titles so far in a six month span. And there’s the matter of turning his players into solid big game performers.

2) Frankie Lim (San Beda College Red Lions) -- Steered SBC to the two straight NCAA titles in their historic three-peat. Critics may deride he not being a solid X’s and O’s man, but those two titles in the NCAA cannot be disregarded. Some may say that he has a solid crew there. Okay, here’s how I feel about San Beda, without Sam Ekwe, they wouldn’t win it at all. But he got this group to play together even through all their problems this past season. If some will say he won with Koy Banal’s squad (who won with Nash Racela’s team), this year was his alone. And San Beda is again on top of the basketball world.

3) Franz Pumaren (De La Salle University Green Archers) -- If we were handing out prizes for the best college coach ever then Pumaren wins it hands down. So far this year, his squad lost all its titles, but that doesn’t make him any less of a coach. There’s his ability to pick out players heralded and not-so ones then to get them to produce title runs year after year is astonishing and his Green Archers will be back with a vengeance. A great basketball mind of our time.

4) Leo Isaac (Arellano University Chiefs and Mapua Cardinals) -- Who would have thought this former Ginebra San Miguel had the coaching chops. He piloted his Arellano U team to several Fr. Martin II titles and to back-to-back NCRAA crowns. And in his spare time, he found the time to guide his alma mater Mapua to the Final Four of the NCAA.

5) Glenn Capacio (Far Eastern University Tamaraws) -- Here’s another former player who you can put into the category of who-could-have-thought-he-could be-a-good-coach? But Capacio is no stranger to reinvention. As an off-guard on star-studded National teams that featured Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa, Nelson Asaytono, Ronnie Magsanoc etc, for him to earn a berth he became a defensive stopper who could stick the outside shot making him indispensable. And after a great PBA career with Purefoods, he’s now back at his alma mater where as a player, he won three UAAP titles. And he’s on the verge of leading the Tams to glory this time as the head coach. This season he kept his team in the hunt despite the Mac Baracael shooting and the departure of Robert Kave.

6) Ariel Vanguardia (Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers) -- He turned a lousy program around and the Heavy Bombers into a college version of those old Ginebra teams (minus the crowd darling tag). But beyond their rough and tumble game, his squads play every single minute of the game and for their efforts gave San Beda a fight in this year’s NCAA Finals.

7) Dindo Pumaren (University of the East Red Warriors) -- See the above praise lavished on Capacio and Isaac about former jocks turning coach. Almost as every bit as good as elder brother Franz. His UE teams have won a smattering of off-season titles but have yet to take home the big enchilada. Picked up from where Boysie Zamar left off and produced even more entertaining Red Warriors teams who demolish teams with their pressure D and pedal-to-the-metal game. So far this year won the Fil Oil Pre-Season Tournament.

8) Louie Alas (Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights) -- A great basketball mind who seems to win everywhere he goes. The Fabio Capello of Philippine college hoops. He wins even with non-descript squads. Coaches like he played – smart and steady even if below the radar.

9) Edgar Macaraya (San Sebastian College-Cavite Baycats) -- The former SSC Recoletos Stag stamped his class with his alma mater’s brother school by leading the Baycats to the NAASCU title by beating the defending champions STI. After losing the league scoring champion Jerome Cenita and high-scoring gunner Glen Bolocon, he changed his offense into a pressing team. And when his Baycats went up against the Olympians who played the same type of offense, his team with the faster and more athletic players reigned supreme.

10) Vic Ycasiano (Systems Technology Institute Olympians) -- You’re going to have fun watching him coach. Animated and highly-opinionated, he squeezes great performances out of his no-name players. He led them to a title defense of NAASCU but fell short when he lost do-it-all swingman Mike Cabangon to eligibility in mid-season. Cabangon was the missing link in the title game loss to San Sebastian.

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