Nashville, it turns out, is a veritable hoops think tank.
Belmont’s Rick Byrd and Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings each rank among the top 10 tacticians in the game, according to a poll of roughly 250 Division I men’s basketball coaches conducted by ESPN.com.
Byrd was ninth and barely edged out his friend and neighborhood peer. Stallings was 10th.
Of Byrd, Murray State coach Steve Prohm said:
“You have to be prepared to play them. His and his team’s composure are so good. His experience [is important]. His teams are always fundamentally sound and don’t beat themselves.”
Of Stallings, Arizona’s Sean Miller said:
"On offense, his teams combine a lot of movement and teamwork with an attacking mentality. Defensively, it's the same. His teams are solid, yet will trap and change after timeouts and dead balls. He has a comprehensive system that has a way of keeping you off balance on both sides of the ball. He's just an excellent coach."
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo topped the list. Also among the top 10 were such notables as Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Louisville’s Rick Pitino.