ST. LOUIS (USBWA) Two coaches of mid-major schools who have guided their teams into first-ever national rankings and an Ivy League coach who has brought her team to the cusp of a first-ever national ranking highlight a 10-person watch list selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association for the 2011-12 Women's National Coach of the Year award.
The announcement of the winner will come at the annual USBWA breakfast at the NCAA Women's Final Four on Tues., April 3, in Denver. The event is open to all credentialed Final Four media with limited availability to others interested in attending the event.
Delaware's Tina Martin has led the Blue Hens to an unbeaten conference run and just one overall loss in dominating the Colonial Athletic Association while Jim Crowley guided his Bonnies to a program-best unbeaten run to the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Meanwhile, Princeton's Courtney Banghart, a former Dartmouth star, has taken the Tigers to a third straight Ivy title with the potential to finish unbeaten in the league for the second time in three seasons. This week Princeton fell one point short of cracking the AP women's poll, a best-ever showing for an Ivy League school.
The other seven members of the watch list are Duke's Joanne P. McCallie, who led the Blue Devils to the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament; Baylor's Kim Mulkey, whose Bears are unbeaten and have been No. 1 all season in both the AP and USA Today polls; Muffet McGraw, whose Notre Dame group won a first-ever Big East regular-season title and has been in the AP Top 5 all season; Coquese Washington, a former Notre Dame star who has led Penn State to the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 2004; Kim Barnes Arico, who has guided St. John's to a second seed in the Big East tournament after the Red Storm tagged UConn with its first home loss in 100 games; Matthew Mitchell, who steered Kentucky to the No. 1 tournament seed in the Southeastern Conference; and Tara VanDerveer, who coached a younger Stanford squad back to another Pac-12 regular season title.
Although these ten coaches have been selected to the watch list, all Division I coach remain eligible to earn the coach of the year award when balloting by the entire USBWA membership begins next Monday.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-444-4300.
All-time USBWA women's honors