Naismith Coach of the Year finalists named
Not surprisingly, University of Kentucky coach John Calipari made the cut after leading his Wildcats to a 34-0 record and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. He’s joined by Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, Virginia coach Tony Bennett and Villanova coach Jay Wright.Calipari has won the award twice but never with Kentucky (he previously won at UMass and Memphis). Bennett won in 2007 at Washington State and Wright took the award in 2006. Ryan is a two-time finalist.
The winner will be announced April 5.
ABOUT THE FINALISTS (From NaismithTrophy.com):
Tony Bennett, University of Virginia: He became the first coach since Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in 1999 and 2000 to win back-to-back coach ACC Coach of the Year honors. Bennett won his 200th career game this season, and led Virginia to the first outright ACC regular-season titles in consecutive seasons by a team outside the state of North Carolina in conference history. The Cavaliers are also the first team in ACC history to win 16 conference games in back-to-back seasons. Virginia (29-3) is a No. 2 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament.
John Calipari, University of Kentucky: The SEC coach of the year guided Kentucky to a perfect 31-0 overall regular-season record, including an 18-0 mark in the league, en route to the school’s 46th conference championship. The Wildcats (34-0) also won the SEC Tournament championship and head into the NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed, assigned to the Midwest Region. Calipari has led the Wildcats to its best start in school history, best start for an SEC team, longest overall winning streak in school history and his personal overall longest winning streak.
Bo Ryan, University of Wisconsin: Ryan was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media after leading the Badgers to the 2015 Big Ten regular season championship, his fourth as the Wisconsin head coach, and the Big Ten tournament crown. The 31 wins ties the mark for the most in school history (2007-08). The Badgers head into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed (West Region) for the first time in school history.
Jay Wright, Villanova University: Wright led Villanova to a single-season school record of 32 wins (32-2 overall), including 16-2 in the conference as the Wildcats claimed their second consecutive Big East crown. Villanova also won the Big East tournament championship. Wright was named the 2015 Big East Coach of the Year, his fourth such honor since 2006. The Wildcats enter the NCAA Tournament as the top seed in the East Region.