Undefeated regular seasons may be normal for women’s college basketball programs like UConn, but they’re a rarity in the men’s game. So when the Wichita State Shockers completed theirs in 2014, the college basketball world had to stand up and salute the team that made a Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2013. Thus, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall winning AP Coach of the Year should be no surprise, and there should be no objection.
No, the Shockers didn’t feature a hyped player who is a top NBA prospect like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Julius Randle; they win through old-school basketball that revolves around stifling defense and superb ball movement on the offensive end. So since this isn’t the award for the best recruiter, which would go to someone like John Calipari, Marshall should definitely receive the award because he was undoubtedly the best coach in college basketball this year.
Now that’s not to say Wichita State doesn’t feature some excellent players; on the contrary, guys like Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker have bright NBA futures, albeit they won’t be top-five picks like the overhyped players mentioned above. Randle’s team may still be dancing, but the others were knocked out by Cinderella squads early. At least the Shockers lost to a team that still has a chance to win it all.
Marshall did more with less at Wichita State and faced unrealistic expectations this season after the Shockers’ magical run from a year ago, so the fact he accomplished what he did with a team that didn’t include any players who might go No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft is incredible and there’s no better way to reward him for it than by giving him the award he undeniably earned. Congrats, Coach Marshall — you deserve it.