College basketball coach and television commentator Al McGuire (1928-2001) is credited for saying, “The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.” That is, a college basketball coach can become familiar with a player and help that player to improve—unlike a senior, who will soon leave the program. It’s not certain when McGuire first said this, but he was quoted in February 1980 as saying, “You’ve got good talent, but we all know the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”
Although the saying is still most used in college basketball, it’s been used to describe college academics as well. The saying has also been used to describe freshman and sophomore legislators.
Wikipedia: Al McGuire
Alfred James “Al” McGuire (September 7, 1928 – January 26, 2001) was the head coach of the Marquette University men’s basketball team from 1964 to 1977. He compiled impressive numbers throughout his coaching career, resulting in his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, and was also well known for his colorful personality.
9 February 1980, Boston (MA) Globe, “Youth is served as Kentucky posts 20th win” (Associated Press), Sports, pg. 1:
“Al said, You’ve got good talent, but we all know the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”
4 April 1981, The New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), pg. B1, cols. 2-3:
“That’s why Al McGuire says the best thing about freshmen is that they get to be sophomores. You gain weight, become smarter.”
(A University of New Mexico player—ed.)
12 November 1981, San Diego (CA) Union, ‘Aztec Women Good And Ready To Open The 1981-82 Season” by Linda Murphy, pg. C-7, col. 1:
The only thing Richie Spears loves as much as coaching basketball is talking basketball.
Another: “The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores,” underlying his belief that it takes time for a new player to learn the Spears brand of defensive basketball.
March 08, 1982
Rookie Of The Year? It’s CBS
The network that grabbed the NCAA tournament is scoring in other ways
Perhaps NBC commentator Al McGuire’s belief that “the best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores” isn’t entirely true.
The Writer in You:
A Writing Process Reader
By Barbara Lounsberry
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
College coaches often say, “The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores,” and this is true in writing as well as in athletics.
Limiting Legislative Terms
By Gerald Benjamin and Michael J. Malbin
Washington, DC: CQ Press
The underlying premise: an inexperienced legislator is a less effective legislator than a career professional. One is reminded of the college basketball coach’s aphorism: the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.
Google News Archive
3 February 1992, Hudson Valley News (Newburgh, NY), “Buchanan steps up for Marist” by James Quinlisk, pg. B1, col. 4:
“I think it’s the age-old cliche, the best thing about freshmen is they turn into sophomores,” stated Marist basketball coach Dave Magarity.
The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. That applies to both education and making pork chops! #CookingFail
3:45 PM - 22 Jan 13
Big Ten Basketball: Which B1G Program Is Best Built for Long-Term Success?
BY MIKE SINGER (FEATURED COLUMNIST) ON FEBRUARY 19, 2013
Finally, to quote legendary former Marquette coach Al McGuire, “The best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.”