Coach of the Year Chatter
College basketball's Player of the Year award is all but locked up, thanks to the brilliance of Creighton senior Doug McDermott. McDermott, who leads the nation in scoring (26 points per game), hasn't dropped less than 25 points since Jan. 25. Douggie McBuckets' sole focuses now are leading the Bluejays an a deep postseason run and continuing to move up the NCAA all-time scoring list-he's currently 10 with 2,944 career points.
When it comes to Coach of the Year, however, things get a lot more foggy and complicated. There are many laudable candidates, from the coaches who have quickly brought their program back to national relevance to the ones who have sustained excellence for a while. Below are 15 headmen who are definitely in consideration.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State: Hopefully it's not breaking news to you that the Shockers are 31-0 and the only undefeated team left in America. Let's momentarily forget that their schedule consists of glorified junior varsity clubs. 31-0 is impressive no matter who you play, and Marshall will be one of the main frontrunners for Coach of the Year.
John Beilein, Michigan: Due to his "player's coach" feel and the well-spaced, efficient offense he runs annually, Beilein would have to be in my top 10 of guys I'd most like to play for. Michigan lost Trey Burke (NBA), Tim Hardaway Jr. (NBA) and Mitch McGary (back surgery) for this season, and all they've done is roll through the Big10, also known as the most rigorous league in the land. The Wolverines have a two-game cushion over Wisconsin and Michigan State and they've already clinched at least a share of the Big-10 title.
Tony Bennett, Virginia: Along with Marshall and Larry Brown (see below), Tony Bennett fills out the triumvirate of probably the three most serious nominees to win Coach of the Year. Virginia lost by 35 points at Tennessee on Dec. 30. They're 16-1 since, with the lone setback occurring at Duke in a game in which the Cavaliers nearly pulled off. In those 16 wins, UVA has allowed their opponent to eclipse the 65-point mark just twice. Also, did you know Bennett was AP Coach of the Year in 2007 while at Washington State?
Larry Brown, SMU: The national media rudely snickered at the idea of Brown, who already had an NCAA (with Kansas in 1988) and NBA (with the Pistons in 2004) title under his belt, returning to the sidelines to (of all places) Southern Methodist-the program that hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since '88. Well, Brown is the one laughing now. Paced by impact transfers Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy, the magic has been restored in Moody Coliseum (the Mustangs are 15-0 at home). Next order of business: Winning in the Big Dance.
Roy Williams, UNC: Williams has already referred to the current college basketball season as the most challenging of his career, so it must speak volumes as to how good of a coach he is that he still appears in this column. Throughout all the trauma-losing P.J. Hairston for good, getting upset by Belmont and UAB after beating Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville-UNC is on a bigger roll than anyone in America. The Tar Heels have ripped off 11 wins in a row, and Marcus Paige is making a nice case for ACC Player of the Year. Credit Williams for righting the ship.
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