Coach Pearl named finalist for Naismith Award

One hundred ten victories. Three regular-season conference championships. One conference tournament championship. High expectations heading into the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. That’s the collective resume for John Calipari (Memphis), Keno Davis (Drake), Matt Painter (Purdue) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee), the 2008 Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year finalists announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The Naismith Award is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the men’s and women’s college basketball coaches of the year. The winner will be announced during the 2008 NCAA Men’s Final Four in San Antonio, TX.

Finalists were chosen through a vote by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, who narrowed the mid-season list of 25 candidates down to the final four. The Board, which is comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, based its criteria on coaching performances this season.

“Beyond this current season, these coaches have built successful programs and in a very short period of time,” said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. “The present and future are extremely bright at all of these schools.”

ABOUT THE FINALISTS:

John Calipari: Led the Tigers (30-1, 16-0) to a third straight Conference USA regular season championship, including consecutive years going undefeated through conference play, amidst a 39-game conference win streak. He is only the second coach in NCAA history to record three straight 30-win seasons (Adolph Rupp). In eight years at Memphis, Calipari has gone 211-64.

Keno Davis: In his rookie campaign, Davis led Drake, picked to finish ninth, to a sweep of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and conference tournament titles – first school to achieve that since 2002. The Bulldogs (28-4 15-3) clinched their first NCAA tournament bid since 1971.

Matt Painter: The Boilermakers (24-7, 15-3 Big Ten) earned sole possession of second place in the conference. Painter, who has gone 55-38 in his three seasons at Purdue, was named 2008 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Bruce Pearl: The Volunteers (28-3, 14-2) clinched their first outright Southeastern Conference regular-season title since 1967. Tennessee extended its home-court winning streak to 32 with the win – third best in the nation – and finished 16-0 at home for the second-straight season. Pearl’s three-year mark stands at 74-22.

For more information, visit www.naismithawards.com.

Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information


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