Geno Auriemma coached the UCONN Huskies to a historic 111 game win streak, before falling to Mississippi State in the Final Four. Thirty –six of those wins came during a “rebuilding year.” Despite not winning the NCAA Championship for a fifth year in a row few coaches deserved the dual honor of being named the AP and Naismith Coach of the Year more than Auriemma.
This is his ninth time winning AP Coach of the Year, and his eighth time winning the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year award.
“I really feel like this is one of those years where our coaching staff had a tremendous challenge going into the season with a lot of questions marks and a lot of uncertainty as to how we were going to play and how we were going to try and live up to the expectations that we have always had here,” Auriemma said. “Maybe more than any time in recent years, we really earned it. So, it’s an honor to get this award. The Naismith Trophy means a lot to the game of basketball and our staff is proud to represent it for the 2017 season.”
Later this month, Auriemma will be presented with a bronze trophy featuring Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, holding the original peach basket and ball used to play the first game.
This is Auriemma’s fourth straight American Athletic Conference Tournament championship, and the ninth time the Huskies have gone undefeated in the regular season since Auriemma began coaching at the esteemed program.
The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious award in college basketball. The distinguished honor has been awarded to Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan. Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee) and Bob Knight (Indiana University) have also been awarded to Naismith Coach of the year honors.
Gonzaga started the season ranked 13th in the Coaches poll and 14th in the AP poll. The Bulldogs have won 36 of 37 games and recorded seven top-25 RPI victories. During the NCAA tournament, they’ve shown repeatedly that they earned and deserved their #1 seed. They’ve defeated Arizona, Xavier, and South Carolina in their run to the NCAA Championship game. In short, Gonzaga is a force to be reckoned with and that is largely due to Coach Mark Few.
“I desperately want it for this group of guys,” Few said “I desperately want it for everybody who has played at Gonzaga…But my legacy is going to be about other things, at least as far as I’m concerned.”
Few is the first coach in Gonzaga history to win the AP coach of the year honors. The Zags have made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament in each of Few’s 18 seasons at Gonzaga. Including the loss Monday night his record with the Bulldogs is 502-113.
Geno Auriemma and the Uconn Huskies lost in overtime in the semi-final round to Mississippi State. Mississippi ended Connecticut’s 111 game win-streak 66-64 with a buzzer beater by Morgan William as time expired.
Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost to North Carolina Monday night in the Championship game. North Carolina defeated the Bulldogs 71-65 to win their 6th NCAA title in school in history.