Time To Look Out West For Coach Of Year

Time To Look Out West For Coach Of Year
January 11, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Coaches---I have often said, coaching is college basketball is the most important coaching position in all of sports. Not only the Xs and Os part, but you will not even get to that, if you can't recruit properly. Most coaches can teach the game properly and motivate, but so many get fired in college basketball because they just can't recruit.

For years now, there has been lack of respect for college basketball teams and coaches when it comes to the western half of the United States. Heck, half the media can't even pronounce Gonzaga correctly. But if you really examine the situation this year is different. Many more good team and so many coaches just doing a terrific job. And most important the teams have earned the respect this year hopefully.

Really would like to know your opinion on this issue. Choose someone from the east as well, it is permissible. But halfway through the college basketball season, who is your coach of year? Right now I have several people in mind, led by Dana Altman of Oregon, Herb Sendek of Arizona State and Larry Shyatt of Wyoming. But following closely is Sean Miller (Arizona), Mark Few (Gonzaga), Steve Alford (New Mexico) and Steve Fisher of San Diego State. I might also have to throw in Stew Morrill of Utah State and Ben Howland at UCLA. As matter of fact, when everyone was getting Howland fired in November, since then his team at UCLA has performed as well as any team in the country.

There is enormous pressure on coaches in college basketball, from ADs, fans, big time boosters and even parents, so you really have to admire the coaches that not only win, but win consistently.

Now my mid-season choice for national coach of the year, would be Mark Few. He has done a wonderful job this year, the Zags are a deep team and also a dangerous road team. Something has told me all year long, they are a Final Four team and I am sticking with it until I am proven wrong.

Draft Sleeper---Speaking of Gonzaga, have you been paying attention to the year that Kelly Olynk is having at the center postion? The 7-foot junior out of Kamloops, British Columbia is not only scoring big numbers for the Zags, but he is also rebounding, blocking shots and leading his team to some great victories. He was projected at the start of the year to be a possible late second round pick if he came out in the 2013 draft, if he continues at the pace he is playing right now, then you can move that position in the draft up to first round, top 15. He is a terrific player and getting better by the day.

Adopted Team---You never give up on an adoption, especially when times are tough. My adopted team, the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, led by coach Rod Barnes are having a tough season at 6-13. But I am not giving up and neither should you. Some really winnable games in the second half of the year and look out next year, when the team enters the Western Athletic Conference. Let's Go Roadrunners.

Rapid Reaction---My colleagues here at CSNNW.com, Jordan Whitley and Chris Haynes have had some great success with their "RAPID REACTION" stories following games they attend and cover. So why not, since I go to many college basketball games, I am going to give it a try following all Portland State Vikings and Portland Pilot home games. And speaking of CSNNW.com, let me know what you think of our new look, really admire the work that Kevin Berry and Peter Socotch have put in to help develop the new site for all our great readers. As Dwight Jaynes always says, I hope you will come back often each day for all the latest sports news and beyond.

Attendance---In my continuing effort to bring up basketball attendance at college basketball games, can't ignore the bad at times. Last night in Corvallis, 4,796 fans showed up to see a really good Pac-12 team, Arizona State face the Beavers. Sad, shameful and pathetic. Boo on you Beaver nation. Up the road, 80 miles, was not much better as 807 fans "jammed" the Stott Center to see the Vikings take on Sacramento State. Sickening. Stott Center at the estimated 1,500 seats and the size of Portland, Oregon should be sold out every night. And where were the students at Portland State last night, non-existent.

Sacramento State---Sadly, the Hornets are the worst D-1 basketball team I have seen this year. I thought there was hope for the team this season, but it is the same old Sacramento State from what I could see. No standout players and zero defense, so many wide open shots for Portland State, the game could have been played outside in 30 degree Portland weather and it would have made no difference. Hornets, someday I want you to win 20 games in a season, the people of Sacramento have had enough bad news already.

GregCrawford@csnnw.com