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Expect A Coach Of The Year Split In The SEC Between Calipari And Martin

John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats yesterday became just the third SEC squad since 1956 to go through their league schedule unbeaten.  His team is currently #1 in the nation and he has done a masterful job of not only bringing in ridiculously talented players, but of getting them to put team ahead of self.  Also, is there anyone else in the country who does a better job of convincing freshmen to stress defense first?

For those reasons, expect the media to award Calipari with the SEC’s Coach of the Year trophy.

Cuonzo Martin’s Tennessee Vols have defied preseason projections of an 11th place finish and earned not only a bye in the SEC Tournament, but a #2 seed.  Taking over a program in the middle of an NCAA scandal, he led his team back from a 3-6 start to the season — including a home loss to Austin Peay — and engineered an SEC finish that included eight wins in UT’s last nine games.  The Vols have allowed 70 points in a game just once since December 20th.

For those reasons, expect the SEC’s coaches to award Martin at least a share of the SEC’s Coach of the Year vote.

The media tend to vote for the guy with the best record.  That’s Calipari.  The coaches’ vote is based a bit more on popularity and “good stories.”  There’s no better story than Martin’s.  And he’s a lot more popular in the coaching ranks than Calipari.

At this point, we would be surprised if the SEC doesn’t have two Coaches of the Year for 2011-12.  And while the two coaches’ fans might bicker that their guy deserves the accolades outright, the truth is both Calipari and Martin have done remarkable work this past season.

Remarkable work.

 


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