Patrick Chalvire/staff writer
Kermit Davis, I’m really happy for you and I’m going to let you finish, but Richard Pitino had one of the best turnarounds of all time.
I had to bring out my inner Kanye West once I found out Middle Tennessee State’s men’s basketball coach Kermit Davis won Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year for the 2012-2013 season. Davis started off the season with a team that had already succeeded in seasons past.
Davis didn’t have to take a cellar-dwelling team coming off an eight-win season (Thanks, Isaiah Thomas), Pitino did. Davis didn’t have to find ways to keep those SAME guys plus recruit players’ last minute before the beginning of the season and double their win total from last season, Pitino did.
If that wasn’t enough, Pitino is being considered for the Joe B. Hall award, a national award given to a rookie coach for his success in Division I basketball.
Think of it this way…Adrian Peterson, a running back in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings, started the season having tearing his ACL and MCL the previous season. He came back onto the field earlier than his return date and ended this season being named the NFL MVP. In the words of rapper Drake, he started from the bottom and now he’s here.
For those who enjoy statistics, Pitino not only increased wins from one year to the next, he was able to bring and coach players who would increased their points per game, field goal percentages, three points made per game, assists per game and steals.
Pitino also set school records in conference wins with 11, and the most wins with 16 since the 1999-2000 season. He also helped coach the team to lead the conference in steals and in turnover margin.
To add to the success of Pitino’s season, he coached the seventh and 14th ranked scorers in the conference in Tymell Murphy and Malik Smith respectively. He even coached Deric Hill to a starter and third in the conference in steals after starting the season coming off the bench.
How can you not give the coach of the year to a man who basically rebuilt a program from the ground up? Clearly a tough decision to choose from all the candidates available but it seems to me that a coach who “started from the bottom” deserves the title a little more.
It is already too late for Pitino to win Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, but I will go out on a limb to say watch out for him next season. A man with the knowledge and experience as Pitino, with a whole offseason to work with can definitely, can only continue to add to the success he has had so far.