Connie Yori, who earned Big 12 Coach-of-the-Year honors after leading Nebraska to one of the best regular seasons in conference history, is joined on the list of Naismith finalists by UConn's Geno Auriemma and Tennessee's Pat Summitt, who have combined to win 11 of the previous 23 Naismith Women's College Coach-of-the-Year awards. Stanford's Tara VanDerveer, the 1990 Naismith coaching winner, rounds out the quartet of finalists. The Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce the winner of the award in early April in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four in San Antonio.
The finalists were voted on by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on player performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largest independent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.
ABOUT THE FINALISTS
Connie Yori: The 2010 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year has led Nebraska (30-1, 16-0 Big 12) to the best season in school history. The Huskers tied the Big 12 record with a 30-game winning streak, shattering the school record (23) in the process. The Huskers are also the nation's most improved team, winning 15 more games than the previous season. Nebraska became the first Big 12 Conference team to finish a regular season with an unbeaten record (29-0), and just the second Big 12 team to go 16-0 through league play. Yori's record at Nebraska (eight seasons) is 151-98 and her overall career mark is 346-238 in 20 seasons.
Geno Auriemma: Auriemma, who has won sixth Naismith Awards, has led the Huskies to their sixth perfect regular season amidst an NCAA-record 72-game winning streak. He shared Big East Coach of the Year honors for the third straight year and won the award for the ninth time overall. Connecticut earned its 18th outright regular-season championship in 2009-10, went undefeated in league play for the eighth time in program history and became the 10th league team to accomplish the feat. In 25 seasons at Connecticut he has a 723-122 record and his squad has been ranked number one by the Associated Press for 41 straight weeks, a poll record.
Pat Summitt: The Volunteers won their 15th SEC regular season title and 14th SEC Tournament title this year, pushing Summitt's career record to 1,035-195 (.841 overall). The five-time Naismith Women's Coach of the Year has led UT to all 29 NCAA Tournaments, the only school to achieve that feat, and earned a number one seed for the 20th time.
Tara VanDerveer: Stanford went 18-0 to win their 10th consecutive Pac-10 regular-season title, and followed that up by winning the conference tournament. The Cardinal (31-1) is making its 23rd consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and 24th overall. The top seed in the Sacramento region, Stanford seeks its third consecutive Final Four appearance.
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THE ATLANTA TIPOFF CLUB
The Atlanta Tipoff Club, an Atlanta Sports Council property, is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded during the 1956-57 season, has presented the Naismith Trophy every year since UCLA's Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. Old Dominion's Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women's Naismith Trophy in 1983.
The Naismith Award has become the most prestigious award in all of college basketball, recognizing the Men's and Women's College Basketball Player of the Year, Men's and Women's College Basketball Coach of the Year, as well as awards for outstanding achievement in high school basketball, officiating, and contribution to the game.