The above photo of West Virginia coach Bob Huggins sums up the feeling of his absence from the list of top coaches vying for the Naismith College Coach of the Year.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club, which presents the Naismith awards for college basketball’s best coach and individual honors each season, released its list of semifinalists for the honor on Tuesday. On the list, you’ll find names usually associated with a coach of the year award like Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan as well as relatively new names like Baylor’s Scott Drew and Dayton’s Archie Miller, among the 15 semifinalists.
By no means guaranteed to be named coach of the year with such an impressive field of candidates, Huggins should have been recognized for the turnaround he has overseen with this year’s West Virginia team.
The Mountaineers, with a regular season finale against Oklahoma State Saturday in Morgantown, the Big 12 postseason tournament and a possible NCAA tournament berth yet to be played, already have the most wins (22) since 2010 where Huggins led Da’Sean Butler and West Virginia all the way to the Final Four, which they eventually lost to Duke in Indianapolis. Of those 22 victories, West Virginia has six wins against teams ranked in the top 50 of the RPI against only one loss outside of that same framing, a 74-73 loss to LSU back in December.
You can also add wins in head-to-head ranked games against Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State plus an early season upset of then-No. 17 Connecticut.
In the end, the Huggins snub is likely one that he won’t care about, or even know about with his attention focused on rebounding from the team’s Tuesday heartbreaker against Kansas ahead of a lot of basketball yet to be played this season.
Huggins could use his omission as a tactic to rally the team and start a run similar to the one that took his team within one game of returning to the NCAA Championship game for the first time since the days of Jerry West.