On Wednesday, Kelvin Sampson was named as one of 15 semifinalists for The Naismith Award, given annually to college basketball’s best coach.
Four finalists will be announced on or before March 21st, just as the round of 64 gets underway, with the winner to be revealed on Final Four weekend. Besides the Naismith, there are two other major coach of the year awards: the AP and the NABC.
Based on the results of this season, there is no coach in the country that deserves these national coach of the year awards more than Kelvin Sampson.
Why Kelvin Sampson is my national coach of the year so far. pic.twitter.com/Neps7ymhDc
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) February 25, 2019
Coach Guy V. Lewis won the NABC and the AP Coach of the Year in 1968 and the AP in 1983. Those were Guy V’s best two teams at Houston, both finishing #1 in the AP and UPI.
In addition to Coach Lewis, four coaches from current AAC teams have won the NABC while 3 have won the AP. The Naismith is relatively new, introduced in 1987, and two AAC coaches have won it.
The Naismith Award is given to the “most outstanding” coach while the AP goes to the “best” college coach. The NABC does not have codified guidelines.
Is there any coach in the country that has done more to build a great team in 2018-2019 than Kelvin Sampson? Last season, Sampson had a very good team that continued to get better right into March Madness. That team won the school’s first NCAA Tournament game in 34 years.
right now, kelvin Sampson of Houston is my national coach of the year.
— Dick Weiss (@HoopsWeiss) February 24, 2019
After the season ended on the Hail Mary by Michigan, Sampson was forced to replace the soul of that team, Rob Gray and Devin Davis. The two combined to score over 30 a game, pull down 10 boards and play 58 minutes a night. All told, Sampson lost 55% of his scoring from last year and half his rebounding.
Despite losing so much and coming into the current season with modest expectations, Sampson’s team has gotten better. Way better.
So how is this team a mile better? Coaching.
Even more than the 2018 team, this one has bought into the Kelvin Sampson system. They always make the extra pass, rebound like crazy, and play a pressure defense that wears opponents out.
With three weeks left in the regular season, Kelvin Sampson has emerged as the favorite for National Coach of the Year. 25-1 at Houston. One play away from being undefeated.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 17, 2019
Sampson’s team-first mentality has paid off: UH is #1 in FG% defense, 3rd in three-point FG% defense, 5th in scoring defense, and 5th in total rebounds. The Coogs are in the top-ten in 8 official NCAA stats.
Houston has the best record in the country at 27-1, are #4 in the NCAA NET rankings, and have jumped from unranked in the preseason to now firmly inside the top-10. Outstanding!
The coach of the year awards are based on the regular season – not on NCAA Tournament games. But how do you choose between great coaches? How do you choose between great teams, gaudy records, and various conference titles? To me, you choose the coach that has accomplished the most this season.
And without a doubt, that’s Kelvin Sampson.
Cover Photo By Mario Puente
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