Over the next few days, we will reveal our 2016-17 postseason awards, as voted on by our staff. Today, we start with Coach of the Year and Team of the Year.
Coach of the Year: Mark Few, Gonzaga
It should come as no surprise that Mark Few was named the Mid-Major Madness Coach of the Year by a fairly wide margin. The National Coach of the Year orchestrated a season-long masterpiece that really began when he brought in Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) as a transfer a year ago. He also added Jordan Mathews (Cal) and Johnathan Williams (Missouri), and landed his first McDonald’s All-American (Zach Collins). Throw in Przemek Karnowski, who played only five games last year, and there was every reason to question how the pieces would fit together.
That he was able to convince such talent to come to Spokane is impressive enough. But then he got this group, that for the most part had never played together, to come together early. Gonzaga beat San Diego State, Florida, and Iowa State before December even started, then added wins over Arizona, Washington, and Tennessee before conference play.
We all know what happened from there — a dominant run through the conference season, a West Coast Conference championship, a 1 seed, and the first Final Four appearance in program history.
Congrats to Coach Few on a remarkable season.
Also receiving votes: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Team of the Year: Gonzaga
Another shocker here. The team that went to its first-ever Final Four and had a lead with 1:40 to play in the National Championship game is our team of the year.
Gonzaga has long been an honorary mid-major, playing in a mid-major league but operating like the powerhouse program that it is. This season, it silenced any doubter with a shred of intellect by going 37-2 and playing on college basketball’s final night.
More than that, the Bulldogs were the most complete team in college basketball in 2016-17, boasting the most efficient defense in the country and the 15th-most efficient offense. Their backcourt was among the nation’s elite, led by player of the year candidate Williams-Goss, Mathews, and Josh Perkins. Up front, Gonzaga was loaded with Karnowski, Collins, and Williams. The team with no true weaknesses played that way, coasting through conference play and winning in the NCAA Tournament in every way imaginable.
This pick was unanimous. As it should have been.
Up Next: Newcomer of the Year, Game of the Year, Best Individual Game