Guru's Overniter Early Edition: Temple's Cardoza and Rider's Milligan Take Coaching Honors
(Will be updated as day goes on)
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – While Temple is still trying to catch UConn on the court in trying to win an American Athletic Conference title, the Owls on Friday afternoon prior to the start of the fourth annual tourney here at the Mohegan Sun finally got a prize alongside the Huskies away from the sidelines.
Tonya Cardoza shared coach of the year honors with her former boss, Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma.
In many ways it’s appropriate besides the fact the conference does not break ties when they occur, in this instance from the member coaches.
Subtract the UConn home-and-home matchups and Temple (23-6), which was picked second by the coaches in the preseason, fulfilled that prediction winning all but one game, which was part of a split with South Florida, which was ranked both times.
But going a bit beyond being the junior dominator in UConn’s shadow Temple beat two ranked teams in the Bulls and Big East co-champion DePaul and in the last three weeks the Owls made their way into both the USA Today coaches and Associated Press media polls for the first time in 11 seasons since 2006.
In recent days the Owls’ RPI was as high as 16, one of the best listings ever in the program’s history.
The Temple squad was in the room to watch Cardoza receive her honor as were several other teams from whom players were honored.
The way UConn has dominated the awards – Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson shared player of the year honors – the venue size has never been an issue. But looking at the packed area caused Barb Jacobs, the American’s top women’s administrator, to quip that it must be a sign of how much more talented the league has become.
Freshman of the year, incidentally, went to South Florida’s Tamara Henshaw.
“This is one of the most competitive seasons in our conference and any coach could be standing up here accepting this award,” said Cardoza, a former Virginia star on the Dawn Staley teams who eventually was on Auriemma’s staff for 14 seasons before succeeding Staley at Temple when the former left for Alabama in the spring of 2008.
Cardoza paid homage to the UConn staff, her own staff, and her players in her acceptance remarks.
That Auriemma went perfect through the conference again as he has in each of three previous season since the American was carved out of the breakup of the old Big East was not what got him the award this time.
It was the outside the conference work in the wake of the departure of graduated seniors Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck, in which Auriemma took another Huskies contingent through a perfect pre-Madness record that was not expected to be.
Temple had the day off as the No. 2 seed and will meet the winner of Friday’s 6 p.m. game between 10th-seeded Houston and 7th-seeded Cincinnati at 6 p.m. Saturday in a quarterfinal game.
The Owls are expected to land a spot in the NCAA field for the first time since 2011 without regard to have to win the tournament Monday night.
This is a big weekend for the locals elsewhere and coach of the year honors are being received in some of those places.
La Salle’s Jeff Williams won the Atlantic 10 honor and his Explorers were to meet Saint Joseph’s Friday night in Richmond in a quarterfinal game.
Rider’s Lynn Milligan earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference award for taking the Broncs to a best-ever second place finish prior to opening Friday afternoon against Monmouth at the tourney in Albany, N.Y.
Penn’s Mike McLaughlin is in contention to win the Ivy award again and the Quakers were on the road for a big weekend opening at Dartmouth Friday night while Princeton was at Harvard.
McLaughlin’s team could clinch the No. 1 seed as early as Friday if the Tigers fell to the Crimson and his team beat the Big Green.
Villanova will get under way Sunday at Marquette in Milwaukee in a Big East quarterfinal game against St. John’s, which the Wildcats swept during the season.
Around the nation, most of the ranked teams were in conference tourneys and those results will be on the late update, which a breakout of the Southeastern Conference from Mike Siroky.