It has been a banner year for college basketball coaches with strong ties to Kansas University, none more so than former Jayhawk great and assistant coach Danny Manning.
Manning, Tulsa’s second-year coach, was voted Conference USA’s Gene Bartow Coach of the Year on Wednesday.
Manning became the school’s first basketball coach to earn conference coach of the year honors since Bill Self (1999-2000), Manning’s boss at Kansas for nine years, the Tulsa World reported.
Manning’s young squad — six of the top seven scorers are sophomores — grew up in a hurry under him. The Hurricane started this season 1-6 and take an eight-game winning streak into today’s Conference USA tournament game vs. Tulane. Manning’s team is 18-12 and won a share of the conference regular-season title. Former KU guards Brett Ballard and Steve Woodberry are on Manning’s staff.
“Our team had a good year in conference,” Manning told the Tulsa World. “That’s the reason I was selected for the award — the energy and determination of our team. This is a team award, for our players and our staff.”
Former Jayhawk guard Rex Walters earned coach of the year honors in the West Coast Conference after guiding his University of San Francisco Dons to a tie for second in conference with a 13-5 record. Walters’ season has not come without controversy. All-WCC guard Cody Doolin, who had started 103 consecutive games for USF, quit the team early in the season after a fight, reportedly in practice, with a teammate. The San Jose Mercury News reported that 21 players have left the Dons with remaining eligibility since Walters was hired in April 2008. Walters coached USF to its first 20-victory regular season since 1981-82.
Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson, former assistant to Self at Oral Roberts and Kansas, finished second to Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall in Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year voting. Hinson’s Salukis finished in a tie for fourth with a 9-9 league record after being picked for eighth. The Salukis finished last a year ago, Hinson’s first at the school.
Former KU head coach Larry Brown is in his second season leading SMU, which has rocketed to national relevance this year. Brown coached the Mustangs to a No. 18 ranking and a 23-7 record, and a likely NCAA tournament appearance would be the school’s first since 1993. Former KU assistant Tim Jankovich is an assistant under Brown at SMU.
Colorado, coached by ex-Jayhawk Tad Boyle, firmed up its chances of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament with a three-point victory vs. USC in the Pac-12 tourney. Boyle's Buffaloes scored a more significant three-point victory at home in December against KU. The Buffaloes (22-10) have rebounded well from the midseason loss of their leading scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie, out for the season with a torn ACL.
Second-year UAB coach Jerod Haase had a 7-9 record in Conference USA play and took an overall record of 18-12 into Wednesday’s conference tournament loss vs. Charlotte. Haase gained national attention when he earned a 63-59 victory against his college coach, Roy Williams of North Carolina, in Birmingham on Dec. 1. Working for Williams at 15th-ranked North Carolina are Steve Robinson, his assistant at KU, former KU guard C.B. McGrath, and Brad Frederick, son of the late Bob Frederick, who hired Williams at Kansas. Brad Frederick is in his first season at North Carolina. He had been an assistant at Vanderbilt, which is 15-16 under Kevin Stallings, Williams’ ex-assistant at KU.
In his first season as head coach at Florida Gulf Coast, Joe Dooley, an assistant to Self at KU for 10 seasons, coached his team to a share of the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title. The Eagles’ chance at a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance died when they lost to Mercer in the conference tourney title game.
Former Jayhawk guard Mark Turgeon will lead the 17-14 Maryland Terrapins in their ACC tournament opener today against Florida State.
And it was announced last December that former KU sharp-shooter Jeff Boschee would be promoted to interim head coach at Missouri Southern on July 1, when 25th-year head coach Robert Corn retires. Boschee has been on Corn’s staff for four years, the past year as associate head coach. Nick Bradford, a teammate of Boschee’s at Kansas, is in his first year as an assistant at Missouri Southern, which competes in the Div. II MIAA.