Like with all awards, it’s interesting to see how many different ideas people have about this. Do you go with the coach whose team has been the most successful? If so, then that’s easy: UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
But some will say, “Oh, he’s got all this talent, he’s supposed to win.”
Well, talented teams don’t always win, and they certainly don’t always go undefeated. Further, do you think that talent just dropped into UConn’s lap? Auriemma and his staff did have to recruit these kids and get them to come to UConn. Isn’t that part of coaching, too?
For some reason, though, a lot of people seem resistant to giving coaching awards to a coach who has done what they “expected” from that coach’s team. I’m not sure that’s really a fair or accurate way to look at it, but … everybody has their opinion.
There is the mindset that the award should go to the person who did the most with the least. Sometimes, coaches recruit well but have injuries and other things that happen. Sometimes they get caught in a “down” recruiting cycle. Either way, if they overcome it, that garners a lot of support for coach of the year.
There is the point of view that it should be a coach who did what was really unexpected – in a good way.
Another option for coach of the year is to award someone who got a program to a level it had never been to before – or hadn’t been to in a long time.
Or you can combine elements of all of these and make a decision. Like player of the year, there can be reasonable disagreements. At ESPN.com, where the four of us who work on women’s hoops vote for various awards via e-mail (we all live in different areas of the country and usually never see each other except at the Final Four), we all initially picked four different coaches. I don’t think it’s been resolved yet who will “win” coach of the year for our group at ESPN.com. We’re still trying to figure it out.
The Associated Press will give that award, too, and I vote on that as well. Since that’s 40 people (I think it’s still 40), one person typically more easily emerges by majority consensus than when there are four voters. We vote for that Sunday, and I don’t know how it will turn out. But I would guess Auriemma will win, and I have no quarrel at all with that.
My vote, however, goes to Maryland’s Brenda Frese. Yes, she has two great players in Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver. But she also has incorporated a freshman and a junior-college transfer as starters, replacing stars Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper.
Frese’s team doesn’t have a lot of depth, and she’s had to nurture, teach and encourage younger players. The Terps tied for the regular-season ACC title with Florida State and then won the ACC tournament. They have locked up an NCAA No. 1 seed. Did many people expect that from them when the season started?
I had Maryland ranked No. 12 in my preseason poll. Speaking of which, if you want a few laughs, check it out. I clearly had Rutgers and Tennessee way too high, and Auburn too low. I neglected Florida State entirely. But, that is the nature of those early polls. Hey, they aren’t “perfect” even after a season of watching teams.
My preseason poll, Oct. 31, 2008:
1. Connecticut, 2. Stanford, 3. Rutgers, 4. Duke, 5. Tennessee, 6. Oklahoma, 7.California, 8. Vanderbilt, 9. North Carolina, 10. Louisville, 11. Baylor, 12. Maryland, 13. Texas, 14. Virginia, 15. Texas A&M, 16. Arizona State, 17. Oklahoma State, 18. Purdue, 19. Notre Dame, 20. Iowa State, 21. Pittsburgh, 22. Auburn, 23. Ohio State, 24. Utah, 25. Georgia
Anyway, back to coach of the year, what are your thoughts?