Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall has been named the 2014 Naismith Coach of the Year after leading the Shockers to a perfect 34-0 record in the college basketball regular season and a No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament.
Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, praised Marshall's accomplishments in a press release announcing the award, via NaismithAwards.com:
Coach Marshall continued the momentum from last year’s Final Four run to an amazing 2013-14 regular season, all the while managing high expectations, and that is an incredible challenge. While we had five talented coaches who were worthy of this award, our voting academy felt that Gregg’s significant accomplishments were worthy of national coach of the year honors. We are proud to welcome him into the Naismith Awards family.
The 51-year-old has led Wichita State to a No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as well as three straight NCAA tournament appearances, reaching the Final Four in 2012-13. This season, Marshall's Shockers ran the table en route to the Big Dance, securing the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles in the process.
Marshall talked about winning the award in the release:
It’s humbling to win the Naismith Award. There were so many wonderful coaches across the country who were deserving, and I proudly accept this on behalf my players, my coaching staff and Wichita State University.
Many, including sports publicist Jeremy Pond, considered Marshall a lock as a result of Wichita State's success since last April's Final Four loss:
Gregg Marshall is a lock for coach of the year. My second choice would be Tony Bennett. #UVa— Jeremy Pond (@JeremyPond) March 16, 2014
With more than 170 wins at Wichita State since he arrived in 2007, Marshall trails only Ralph Miller, who recorded 220 wins from 1951 to 1964, as the winningest coach in program history.
According to his players, Marshall's biggest strength as a coach is his attention to detail and never-ending pursuit of perfection. Sophomore guard Ron Baker has never seen anything like it, as he told Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde:
Coach Marshall really dials in on little things. We'll be going through practice and he'll blow the whistle and everybody will look at him strangely, and he will talk about a play three weeks ago. I have never seen it from a coach.
Junior guard Tekele Cotton is also amazed by Marshall's coaching prowess, per Forde:
Coach Marshall to me is a mastermind. He knows how to strategize and break things down and really get detailed, like just really focus in on whoever we play. He knows how to motivate us and to get us jacked and ready for that game in particular.
Before arriving in Kansas seven years ago, Marshall spent nine seasons as the head coach of Winthrop in his native South Carolina. The Eagles went 194-83 during the Marshall era and reached the NCAA tournament in seven of his nine seasons.
With an impressive head coaching resume, Marshall is likely to receive several high-profile offers.
Following Buzz Williams' departure from Marquette, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that Marshall is on the Golden Eagles' list of targets:
Here's an interesting name that will surface for Marquette, per source: Gregg Marshall.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 21, 2014
In addition to the Shockers' recent dominance, Marshall's sustained success sets him apart from other attractive coaching candidates.
Having won 70 percent of his games since earning his first head coaching job at Winthrop in 1998, Marshall has proven he's no flash in the pan and will have huge bargaining power when it comes to extending his deal at Wichita State or heading elsewhere for a new challenge.
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