Thursday afternoon the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced its five finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year award, with Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Florida’s Billy Donovan among the five finalists.
The other three finalists for the award, with the winner to be announced on April 6 in Dallas, are Michigan’s John Beilein, Virginia’s Tony Bennett and SMU’s Larry Brown. Of the five finalists four won at least their conference’s regular season title, with three of those four (Bennett, Donovan and Marshall) pulling off the regular season/tournament conference title double.
Brown is the only finalist whose team did not reach the NCAA tournament, with the Mustangs being one of the last teams left out of the field. SMU began Postseason NIT play with a win over UC Irvine on Wednesday.
Both Brown and Bennett have won this award in the past, with Brown doing so in 1988 after leading Kansas to the national title and Bennett doing so at Washington State in 2007.