Becker: Gonzaga Is A Blueprint I'd Like To Replicate

Vermont isn't a national power like Gonzaga, but John Becker believes it could be

The DA Show
February 12, 2019 - 1:00 pm

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You might not know a lot about John Becker, but perhaps you should. The Vermont basketball coach recently became the fastest America East coach to reach 100 conference wins, this after the Catamounts beat UMass Lowell, 74-65, on Feb. 2.

Becker needed just 120 games to reach the century mark, joining Mark Few, Bill Self, John Chaney and Adolph Rupp, among others, as the fastest coaches to achieve that milestone.

Becker, 50, admitted it’s a bit surreal to hear his name mentioned with some of the all-time coaching legends.

“It’s really amazing,” he said on The DA Show. “I had no idea. It’s been pretty cool to be on that list for sure.”

Vermont (19-5, 9-1) actually played Kansas in November, losing 84-68 in Lawrence.

“Bill Self has been one of the best in the business for a while now, and certainly I’ve always been a fan of his program,” Becker said. “And Mark Few, what he’s been able to do at Gonzaga in a mid-major league turning them into a perennial top-10 team – is certainly a blueprint that I’ve looked at to try to replicate. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do it, but I think all of us mid-major teams aspire to be able to do what they’ve done.”

No. 3 Gonzaga (23-2) has played in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1999. During that time, they have reached nine Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights, one Final Four, and one national championship game.

“Burlington and Spokane, Washington, are similar type of locations, and the conferences have some similarities,” said Becker, who became Vermont's head coach in 2011. “How do you continue to push the thing forward? What do you need? We’re getting a new arena here at Vermont, so I think that’s going to be a huge step for us to continue to push this thing forward, and how do you start to get the level of players that they’ve gotten? Dan Dickau was the guy they got early and Adam Morrison and guys like that. It’s turned into a team that has a few NBA guys every year. So how do you acquire the talent you need to get to the level they’re at? 

“Some of those answers are hard to come by, and some of it’s luck,” Becker continued. “Obviously he’s a tremendous coach and has had a great staff, and guys have gone on to do well as head coaches themselves. So there’s a lot to it, and there’s no clear path or right or wrong answer. But I think with the arena coming here, that’s the next huge step for us, and we’re looking forward to opening that arena in a couple of years.”