ATLANTA – Six-time winner Geno Auriemma of Connecticut and the award’s most recent recipient, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw, headline the four finalists vying for the 2014 Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. They are joined by North Carolina State coach Wes Moore and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.
The four finalists were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, which based its criteria on the coaches’ performances to this point in the 2013-14 women’s college basketball season.
The Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award will be announced during the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Nashville.
“These four finalists have turned in some of the most impressive coaching jobs in college basketball this season, especially considering the challenges each has had to overcome. They set the standard of exemplary leadership, and we commend them for the tremendous seasons thus far,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which administers the Naismith Awards, among the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Players of the Year. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Coaches of the Year, Boy’s and Girl’s high school basketball players and coaches of the year, high school scholar-athletes, basketball officials, student sections and overall contributors to the game. The Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Naismith Trophy in 1983.
ABOUT THE FINALISTS:
Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut: He has led the Huskies to a 34-0 mark and a No. 1 seed entering the NCAA tournament. This is the sixth time that UConn will enter the NCAA Tournament without a loss. The team won both the regular season and conference championships in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference. Auriemma, who has won the Naismith Award on six previous occasions, was named the conference coach of the year.
Muffet McGraw, University of Notre Dame: After losing a four-time All-America point guard and joining a new conference, all McGraw did this season was lead the Irish to its best start and longest winning streak in school history (32-0). They finished with a perfect 19-0 record in ACC play, winning both the conference regular season and tournament titles – the first ACC school ever to win the league title in its first season in the conference. She was the unanimous choice as ACC Coach of the Year, the sixth time in her career she's been a conference Coach of the Year, and second year in a row (also BIG EAST in 2013). McGraw has won the Naismith Coach of the Year award twice, including in 2013.
Wes Moore, North Carolina State University: Led NC State to a 21-3 start, the school’s best beginning since the 1981-82 season, en route to a 25-7 regular season record. The 16th-ranked Wolfpack (25-7) spent 11 straight weeks in the AP and Coaches top-25 polls, and won 10 games over top-100 RPI team. In his first season at the helm, Moore led the Pack to the NCAA women’s tournament for the first time in four years.
Dawn Staley, University of South Carolina: A unanimous selection for SEC Coach of the Year by the media, the three-time Olympian guided South Carolina (27-4, 14-2) to its first SEC championship with a record 14 conference wins. The Gamecocks also landed a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. South Carolina's 26 regular-season victories are a school record and include four wins against nationally ranked teams with three of those coming on the road. The Gamecocks were ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, the highest mark since January 1982.
Source: Atlanta Tip-Off Club Press Release