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Atlanta Tipoff Club Announces Four Finalists for the 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year

Mar 16, 2017

ATLANTA(March 16, 2017) – Chris Collins, who led Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, and Gonzaga’s Mark Few, whose Zags flirted all season with perfection, join former winners Bill Self (Kansas) and Jay Wright (Villanova) as the four finalists for the 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today.

The group was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former Naismith Award winners and conference commissioners, who based their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2016-17 college basketball season.  The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, formerly Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, the largest full-service, independent CPA-led business advisory firm, based in Atlanta.

This year, fans have a say in the choosing the winner. Between March 20-31 fans can vote and cast their ballot for one of these four Naismith Award finalists. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EDT on March 31 and fans are limited to one vote per day. The fan vote will account for 5% of the total vote.

The 2017 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year will be announced on Sunday, April 2 at the Naismith Awards Brunch delivered by UPS at the Final Four in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“There are so many story lines associated with these coaches and their teams this season, and each one is unique and compelling,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “They all have strong cases to be named the Werner Ladder Coach of the Year, and that presents the challenge that our voters will face over the next couple weeks.”

“It is an incredible honor to be aligned with the Naismith Coach of the Year Award recognizing these legendary coaches and their accomplishments,” said Chris Filardi, vice president of marketing at Werner Co. “Throughout the season these coaches challenged their student-athletes both on and off the court and deserve this special recognition.”

About the finalists:

Chris Collins

  • Took the Wildcats to a school-record 22 victories
  • Led the team to 10 Big Ten wins, featuring a six-game conference winning streak, for the first time since the 1932-33 season
  • Fastest team to 20 wins in school history (27 games)
  • Guided the team to five Big Ten road wins, one shy of the school record and the most since 1958-59
  • Led Northwestern to its first NCAA tournament appearance in school history, earning the No. 8 seed in the West Region

Mark Few

  • Led Gonzaga to the program’s fifth consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season championship and its fifth straight WCC tournament championship
  • Named WCC Coach of the Year for the 11thtime
  • The Gonzaga men’s basketball program lost 70% of its points, 65% of its rebounds from last season’s team and welcomed nine new players for this season
  • Few has guided the Bulldogs to a 32-1 record thus far, which marks their 10th  straight season with at least 25 wins, and third 30-win season in program history
  • Gonzaga had its second number-one ranking in program history this season, and earned the top seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament

Bill Self

  • Self led Kansas (28-4) to its NCAA-record-tying 13th-consecutive Big 12 regular-season title
  • Had an 18-game winning streak, and was 5-0 against teams ranked in the top-10 this season and 4-0 against top-five opponents
  • Self was named the 2017 Big 12 Coach of the Year earning conference coach of the year accolades for the eighth time in his career and the seventh time at Kansas
  • The Jayhawks earned a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament
  • Self won the 2012 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award

Jay Wright

  • Guided Villanova (31-3) to its fourth consecutive regular season BIG EAST Conference Championship
  • Won the BIG EAST Conference Tournament title for the second time in three years
  • The Wildcats have not been ranked outside of the Top 4 in either the media or coaches poll all season
  • Earned the overall No. 1 seed (East Region) in the NCAA Tournament
  • Is one of only three (John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski) coaches to win multiple Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year awards; Wright previously won in 2006 and 2016

Notable past Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year winners include Bob Knight (1987; Indiana University), Mike Krzyzewski (1999, 1992, 1989; Duke University), Dean Smith (1993; University of North Carolina) and John Calipari (2015, University of Kentucky; 2008 University of Memphis; 1996, University of Massachusetts).

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Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which are the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s college basketball players, coaches, administrators and officials.  The Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Naismith Trophy in 1983. The Werner Ladder Naismith College Coach of the Year was first presented in 1987 to Bob Knight (Indiana University) and Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee).


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