A two-horse race for ACC Coach of the Year
Feb 25, 2011
As the college basketball regular season winds down, the discussion starts about post-season superlatives. Who is the Player of the Year? Which players deserve to be named All-Conference? All-American?
How about Coach of the Year in the ACC? There are really only two truly deserving candidates this season: Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams. Both have done an outstanding job this year.
Too often over the last few seasons the COY has become the "Overachiever of the Year" Award. It has gone to the coach who got decent results out of a squad that had low expectations, pushing them to a finish in the upper-middle portion of the ACC.
Four times in the last 10 years, it has gone to a coach who finished FOURTH or WORSE in the league. Do you know how many times Coach K, arguably the best coach in the game right now, has won it in that time frame? Zero. Do you know how many times Roy Williams has won it in his eight years in Chapel Hill? Once – and even that falls into the "overachiever" category. Ol' Roy won it in 2006, when he led a team consisting mostly of freshmen and role players to a 23-8 record and a second-place finish in the conference. Heck, even Dave Leitao has taken home the trophy since the last time Roy or K has had their hands on it.
Just take a look at what these two Hall of Famers have done this year. Duke lost their most dynamic player, Kyrie Irving, eight games into the season, yet Coach K has kept them in the top 5 of the polls and at the top of the conference standings all season long. The Blue Devils are in great position to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and are still considered one of the favorites for the national championship. How many other teams could lose a talent like Irving and still not miss a beat?
Meanwhile, things got off to a slow start in Chapel Hill this season. Coming off of a disastrous 2010 season, which Roy Williams has said many times was the most difficult of his career, the Tar Heels stumbled to a 4-3 start this season. There was talk that Roy had lost his touch, and that it was going to be a second straight NIT trip for UNC this year. That seems like decades ago now as UNC heads into its final three games with 21 wins and a legitimate shot at winning the ACC regular season title.
The Tar Heels also had their own in-season roster changes to deal with. While Larry Drew II is certainly no Kyrie Irving, he was a player UNC had counted on to play significant minutes, and his sudden mid-season departure could have thrown a monkey wrench into what has developed into a very successful season. Roy Williams managed his team through those tumultuous times and the Tar Heels have been a much better team since Drew took his ball and went home.
While other coaches like Leonard Hamilton, Brad Brownell and Steve Donahue have also done good things given their respective situations, it pales in comparison to the job done by Krzyzewski and WIlliams. Just because we have come to expect greatness out of these two legendary coaches on a consistent basis doesn't mean it should no longer be acknowledged.
Most Recent Comments
RE: A two-horse race for ACC Coach of the YearI'd be OK with Greenberg winning it. He's a really good coach. He'd be an upgrade for most of the ACC schools.
RE: A two-horse race for ACC Coach of the YearI guess that it's not really a 2-way K/Roy lovefest. Yahoo Sports has selected VT's Seth Greenberg as their ACC COY. How bout them apples for ya.
RE: A two-horse race for ACC Coach of the Year"WRONG, KI only played 8 games against the biggest cupcakes on the d00k schedule. and totally have to adjust? come on, they played 8 games with him, the rest of the team has years of experience including big time seniors. Not taking anything away from k but there is no way it's a hand down victory. it's a close race."
Irving played against Michigan State, who was 6th in the country, Kansas State, who was 4th in the country, and Butler. So where are you getting this cupcake garbage from? True, those three teams were overrated at the beginning of the year, but that has NOTHING to do with Duke. They shouldn't be penalized because those teams failed to live up to expectations.
The other thing that bothers me is that all of a sudden Tar Heel fans want to give Williams credit for overcoming the loss of the Wear twins and Larry Drew. When they left, all I saw were a bunch of "Well, they're no good, who cares" messages. Can't have it both ways. Having said that, I will give credit to him for being successful with so many freshmen playing key roles and no depth in the backcourt.
I think Williams wins the award. K just does what people expect of him-win. So they take it for granted how he gets it done. Williams kind of wins by default, because there's really no else who deserves it.