When I first saw that Mike Krzyzewski was named USA Basketball Coach of the Year, I had the same reaction most people did - there's a USA Basketball Coach of the Year Award? Is there more than one head coach to choose from? (It turns out there are five - one for the men's team, the women's, a women's under-20 squad, and two under-18 teams, one per gender.) Beyond that, I didn't give it much thought. It's not the first undeserved award he's be granted, and it won't be the last. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and guys with trophies have to pass over worthy candidates to fellate Duke.
Nestor at Bruins Nation expresses the proper level of outrage, having not been browbeaten into just accepting this as an unremarkable lapse in judgement. It did get me curious enough to examine the illustrious company our friend in Durham is joining, though:
- Gail Goestenkors (2005) - Gold medal, U19 World Championship
- Van Chancellor (2004, 2002) - Gold medal, Olympics and World Championships
- Larry Brown (2003, 1999) - Gold medal, Olympic Qualifier and Pre-Olympic Tournament of the America
- Jim Boeheim (2001) - Gold medal, FIBA World Championship
- Nell Fortner (2000) - Gold medal, Olympics
- Clem Haskins (1998) - Gold medal, Goodwill Games
- Mo McHone (1997) - Gold medal, Tournament of the Americas
- Tara VanDerveer (1996) - Gold medal, Olympic Games
So USA Basketball has just named it's first Coach of the Year recipient who didn't win a gold medal. And it wasn't for lack of options - three of the five coaches did bring home gold medals this year. (Two of them, Doug Bruno and Lorenzo Romar, were named USA Basketball Co-Developmental Coaches of the Year.) So what happened?
Well, the impression I get is that the Coach of the Year award is for either the men's or women's head coach. Yes, Goestenkors got it last year for a U19 team - she's another Duke coach if you're fishing for a conspiracy - but that's an aberration, helped along by an embarassing 4-6 performace by the men's squad last year. But combine the three-year drought since the award last went to men's coach with Anne Donovan also coaching the women to an 8-1 record and a bronze medal, and toss in a dash of the Krzyzewski reality-warping field, and voila! The worst coach of the year in USA Basketball history. Wear it with pride.