Harmon: Dave Rose, Mark Few face off as top hoopmeisters

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23 2013 8:50 a.m. MST

Gonzaga coach Mark Few talks to his team during a timeout during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Indianapolis. Butler won 64-63.

AJ Mast, AP Photo

Dave Rose and Mark Few: Men who, if found in a room of mirrors, could look at at oneself and actually see the other.

These two coaches are win machines. They hop on front-end loaders and scoop up victories and pile them at season’s end.

The two square off Thursday night in Spokane, Wash., where Few’s Gonzaga Zags host Rose’s BYU Cougars. One will lose, the other will win. About eight out of 10 times, when these two coaches' teams take to the court, they chalk up wins. They do this better than 342 of the 346 other coaches in NCAA Division I.

No kidding.

Mark Few and Dave Rose. They are more alike than one would think. In fact, if you made a poster of college basketball mentors and what they should be like, this pair would be at the top.

Few and Rose rank among the NCAA’s top four current coaches in winning percentage behind leader Roy Williams of North Carolina. Thing is, Williams has had the benefit of coaching at mighty Kansas and with the legendary Tar Heels. He’s had a built-in treadmill to generate wins season after season, a machine destined to always churn out victories and NBA stars.

Few enters Thursday's game with a 359-92 record for a win percentage of .796, second behind Williams. Rose is 200-59 with a winning percentage of .772, and that was ranked No. 4 when this season began.

In the WCC, Few has a win-loss record of 166-22 (.883). In the Mountain West and now WCC, Rose’s league records are a combined 93-22 (.808).

See the similarities.

Few and Rose have spent their careers coaching at private religious institutions in small, out-of-the-way college towns in mid-major conferences. They’ve had to recruit against the big boys. They’ve had to build systems that work, that maximize talent, that produce conference championships and appearances in postseason play.

Rose discovered Jimmer Fredette; Few collected Adam Morrison.

Few works for the Jesuits, the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. Rose works for a school sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly referred to as the Mormons.

Both better not cheat. Actually, both are mutually admired by their peers for the way they recruit, compete and generally deal in the business of college basketball.

These men are private, humble and don’t seek the limelight. Few quietly makes his program the train that pulls the WCC along. Last Saturday when Rose earned his 200th career win in the Marriott Center, he sat in front of the media and immediately deferred every aspect of his victories to everyone around him, from assistants to managers.

These guys rarely speak out of turn or say things that just come off bad. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find quotes attributed to either man that would be considered inflammatory, embarrassing or just plain stupid.

In a world where many if not most college coaches are also exemplary men with personalities worthy of adoration and praise, we’ve got to be frank here, there are a few that are bullies, jerks and egotistical, narcissistic maniacs.

Few is the son of a pastor who has preached to the same congregation in a small Oregon town for 51 years. Rose took two years out of his life to dedicate himself to a full-time mission to Manchester, England, in the mid-'70s.

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