clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Fri-YAY Listicle: Ranking Anthony Solomon’s 21st Century Coaching Stints Based on How NDMBB Performed

New, 2 comments

I wanted to know not only if the Irish would be better with Anthony Solomon back yet again, but also how the Irish fared at each stop along his career during the Brey era

Photo Credit: Twitter (@NDmbb)

Welcome, everyone, to the weekly One Foot Down listicle! Each week on Friday, Matt Greene and I will alternate providing for you all a listicle of the greatest/top/best Notre Dame Fighting Irish-related things we can think of. They might be more serious, but mostly they will probably be wacky (what else would you honestly expect from the two of us?). We are AMPED to provide these for you each week.

This week, folks, I’m gonna use my listicle to steer us back to our absolute favorite topic – Notre Dame men’s basketball!!!!

HOOPS HOOPS HOOPS

Sure, it’s the off-season – but that doesn’t mean NOTHING has been happening related to the ND men’s hoops program. Monty Williams won NBA Coach of the Year and has his Suns looking like a real contender to make the NBA Finals. John Mutton has been off in Australia absolutely crushing it, and various other former Irish players are seeing lots of success overseas as well.

ND’s signees have been tearing it up in exhibition games. Oh, and somehow Paul Atkinson Jr. got ranked as the #73 grad transfer in the country (???). Top 100, baybeeeeee!!!!!

Mike Brey hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands either – a change in the staff was much needed after the 4th straight year of missing the NCAA Tournament, and so our boy Maui Mike went back to a very familiar face to inject some life into the program: Anthony Solomon.

You may remember Anthony “Slo” Solomon from either of his two previous stints with the Irish, or perhaps from his time as head coach at St. Bonaventure, his multiple Dayton assistant coaching gigs, or his brief time spent on John Thompson III’s final staff at Georgetown in 2016-2017.

Solomon has made lots of moves over the course of the Mike Brey era at Notre Dame, and so I wanted to rank his different coaching stints – not just with ND, but all of his jobs over the last 21 years – in terms of how good Notre Dame was during those stints. It’s important to know what we’re getting into here, and if it’s the best thing for the program.

So, without further ado, I’m gonna go ahead and define the “stints” and then we can jump into it.

  • Slo’s Debut at ND: 2000-2003
  • Slo Tries to Resurrect the Bonnies: 2003-2007
  • Slo Dips His Toe in at Dayton: 2007-2008
  • Slo’s Second Stint: 2008-2016
  • Hoya Slo: 2016-2017
  • Slo’s a Flyer Again: 2017-2021
  • RETURN OF THE SLO: 2021-Present

Ranking Anthony Solomon’s 21st Century Coaching Stints by ND Men’s Basketball’s Performance

Dead Last: RETURN OF THE SLO (2021-Present)

Winning Pct: 0.000

Overall Record: 0-0

# of Seasons: 0

Avg. Record: 0-0

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 0

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: N/A

Explanation: The Irish haven’t even won a game since Anthony Solomon returned, let alone made an NCAA Tournament appearance. Color me unimpressed.

6. Slo’s a Flyer Again (2017-2021)

Winning Pct: 0.520

Overall Record: 66-61

# of Seasons: 4

Avg. Record: 17-15

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 0

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: N/A

Explanation: Nothing is clearer from analyzing this data than what Slo’s 2nd stint at Dayton says about the Notre Dame men’s basketball program: the Irish CANNOT succeed when Anthony Solomon is associate head coach of the Dayton Flyers.

Sure, you could point to his first, one-season assistant job at Dayton in 2007-2008 and say that proves the Irish can be very good with Solomon over in Ohio, considering the Irish had a decent season that year. But that was clearly a one-year fluke that ended in an embarrassing loss to Washington State, a team coached by some scrub named Tony Bennett (that team also had a guy named Aron Baynes, if you’re familiar). Clearly, that happened because Solomon was walking the sidelines in Dayton. That just doesn’t work for ND.

The last four years have been abysmal with Anthony Solomon selfishly spending his time on Anthony Grant’s coaching staff. Thank the good lord Slo has seen the light and returned home, no matter what it might mean for the Flyers!

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament-Dayton vs VCU Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

5. Slo Tries to Resurrect the Bonnies (2003-2007)

Winning Pct: 0.618

Overall Record: 76-47

# of Seasons: 4

Avg. Record: 19-12

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: 1st Round

Explanation: After a successful 3 years as an assistant under Mike Brey (see #4 below), Solomon was given the job of rebuilding St. Bonaventure, a program rocked by scandal.

Slo was chosen because he was a squeaky-clean coach who would try to do it the right way, but unfortunately that wasn’t enough for how far the Bonnies had fallen. That tough-luck juju clearly extended to the Irish during this stretch as well – ND only made one NCAA Tournament in that 4-year stretch (a one-and-done loss to Winthrop…woof), including 3 straight years of missing the Big Dance.

Add St. Bonaventure to the list of programs Anthony Solomon is no longer allowed to coach at, for the sake of Notre Dame’s potential success.

4. Slo’s Debut at ND (2000-2003)

Winning Pct: 0.680

Overall Record: 66-31

# of Seasons: 3

Avg. Record: 22-10

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: Sweet 16 (2003)

Notre Dame v Connecticut Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Explanation: When Mike Brey was hired to succeed Matt Doherty, he brought on a young (35 years old) whippersnapper of a coach by the name of Anthony Solomon. Solomon quickly helped Brey build a helluva squad within the always-vicious Big East, deploying talents like Troy Murphy, Ryan Humphrey, Chris Thomas, and Tom Timmermans in a 3-year stretch where the Irish won 4 NCAA Tourney games and made the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1987.

They also captured a Big East West Division title in 2001, something the Irish had never done in their 6 whole years in the conference (or in their many more years not in the conference…which I guess goes without saying).

Solomon’s work on this staff — as well as Jamil Terrell getting approved to transfer to and play for St. Bonaventure with just a welding certificate in-hand — propelled him to the St. Bonaventure head coaching job for the 2003-2004 season.

3. Hoya Slo (2016-2017)

Winning Pct: 0.722

Overall Record: 26-10

# of Seasons: 1

Avg. Record: 26-10

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: 2nd Round

Explanation: Slo spent just one season on JT III’s Georgetown staff, so it’s a small sample size for sure. But the Irish, hot off back-to-back Elite Eight appearances but now missing most of the core that got them there (Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant, Demetrius Jackson, Zach Auguste), the Irish still managed an ACC Tourney title game appearance and earned a 5 seed behind the leadership of Bonzie Colson, Steve Vasturia, Matt Farrell, and VJ Beachem.

They ended up falling to a relentless 4th-seeded West Virginia team in a game when a one-legged Bonzie carried all of South Bend on his shoulders, but it was a surprisingly successful season nonetheless and deserves the #3 spot in this list. If Slo isn’t gonna coach at ND, coaching at Georgetown seems to be an effective alternative for the Irish.

2. Slo Dips His Toe in at Dayton (2007-2008)

Winning Pct: 0.758

Overall Record: 25-8

# of Seasons: 1

Avg. Record: 25-8

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: 2nd Round

Explanation: Similar to #3, this one is hampered a bit by it being such a small sample size, and even more so because #6 taught us that, over time, Anthony Solomon coaching at Dayton is an absolute hellscape in terms of what it means for Notre Dame basketball.

Still, we can’t ignore that this one-season stint gives us the best win percentage of all of the stints, as well as a tourney appearance and one tourney win. The team’s inability to look like they know how to play basketball against Washington State keeps this stint at #2, though – and we all know which stint is keeping these bad boys out of the top spot, anyway.

1. Slo’s Second Stint (2008-2016)

Winning Pct: 0.675

Overall Record: 189-91

# of Seasons: 8

Avg. Record: 24-11

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6

Best NCAA Tournament Finish: Elite Eight (2015, 2016)

Explanation: This couldn’t have been more obvious, but OF COURSE Solomon’s second go-around at Notre Dame would be considered his best coaching stint of the Mike Brey era.

In 8 seasons, the team made the tourney 6 times, won 7 tournament games, and not only made the program’s first Elite Eight since the ‘70s, but also went to two of them in a row, and with an ACC Championship tossed in for good measure (also the first conference title for the Irish men’s program, ever).

Notre Dame v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Anthony Solomon was a key piece on the bench and in assembling, developing, and deploying the teams during this stint — and so we can all rest assured that the Irish are in very good hands with him back on board.

Let’s Summarize Our Findings

In performing this analysis and ranking of Anthony Solomon’s various coaching gigs over the last 21 years, I was hoping to discover whether or not the Irish faithful can expect ND to improve with him back in the fold, or whether the program performed best with him elsewhere. To me, the numbers speak for themselves:

  • With Solomon: 255-122 record, 0.676 win pct., Made NCAA Tourney in 73% of Seasons (8 of 11), 11 NCAA Tournament Victories, 2 Elite Eights, 3 Sweet Sixteens, 1 ACC Championship, 2 ACC Championship Appearances
  • Without Solomon: 193-126 record, 0.605 win pct., Made NCAA Tourney in 30% of Seasons (3 of 10), 2 NCAA Tournament Victories, Nothing Else of Note

So, welcome back Coach Slo — we all look forward to the massive turnaround you will help architect for our beloved Brey-Boys, and can rest easy as long as you don’t try to coach Dayton or St. Bonaventure ever again.