We asked a few Big Ten writers for Coach of the Year picks
Who is your choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year? Fran McCaffery? Tom Crean? Greg Gard? Lots of good options. I asked several people who cover the league for their choice as the season is about to draw to a close.
Chad Leistikow, Des Moines Register: Right now I’ve got Iowa’s Fran McCaffery with a slight lead, but he’s got to show he can finish off what the Hawkeyes have started. I think McCaffery’s case is helped by the unwarranted low expectations placed on Iowa to start the season (picked ninth in the league by a BTN panel, which was silly considering four senior starters returned off a team that won a first-round NCAA Tournament game by 32 points). Indiana’s Tom Crean and Wisconsin’s Greg Gard are right behind McCaffery, though, if the Hawkeyes slip down the stretch. Crean has to be praised for how he’s dealt with the loss of James Blackmon, Jr. And it goes without saying that Gard has found his way after taking over midseason for Bo Ryan.
Scott Richey, Champaign News-Gazette: Fran McCaffery. The majority opinion in the preseason had Iowa in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten, if not a couple spots lower. The non-conference didn’t do the Hawkeyes any favors, other than beating Wichita State, but the two wins against Michigan State turned the tide in the Big Ten. Now, Iowa is a top 10 team and competing for a conference title. That’s a long way from being considered the seventh-, eighth- or ninth-best team in the league.
Dan Duggan, NJ Advance Media: Fran McCaffery, Iowa. McCaffery has led the development of a veteran Iowa team that is fighting for the Big Ten crown.
Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star: Can already tell you, unless something drastically changes: Tom Crean. Folks will call me a homer, and that’s fine. But Crean had to work through or overcome 1) a season that looked like it was careening off course in early December, 2) a fan base that was furious after Maui and Duke, and 3) a team that was shorn of its second-leading scorer on the eve of Big Ten play and essentially had to self-evaluate and adapt on the fly. And now he’s got the inside lane to win the league. If Iowa takes the title eventually, McCaffrey could snatch my vote at the end. But right now, it’s Crean, easily.
Dan Dakich, ESPN and 1070 The Fan: Fran McCaffery and Tom Crean fighting it out down the stretch. To the victors go the spoils. Fran has done a great job bringing a team no one expected much out of to Big Ten title contention. Crean without James Blackmon has made his team better.
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