2008 CollegeHoops.net Program & Conference of the Year
After a lengthy run of individual awards, we finally reach CHN's program and conference awards. As always, CHN writers voted for the best of the best:
CollegeHoops.net Program of the Year: Drake
By now, Drake’s surprise success has been discussed many times over. The 28-5 record, the MVC Championship, the Top 25 Ranking. The unknown players like Adam Emmenecker turning in all-star seasons, and a first year coach earning National Coach of the Year plaudits. But every time you read about the success of Keno Davis’s squad, the more shocking it truly seems.
Here at CHN, we pride ourselves on our top quality season preview and preseason rankings. Yet when it came to Drake, like everyone else, we were completely wrong. 165th place was our prediction.. and we were only about 140 places off. In fact, Drake was projected to be 85 places worse than the 2nd lowest team (Western Kentucky) that ended up in our Final Top 40. For shocking CHN’s experts and college basketball nation, Drake is a worthy program of the year.
Runner Up: Texas
After losing NBA All-Rookie performer Kevin Durant to the Draft, many thought that the Longhorns would regress. But instead, Rick Barnes led Texas to a record 31 win season as well as their 3rd Elite Eight trip of the last six years. Amazingly, not one major contributor from the co-Big 12 champion is a senior, and the program’s continued success seems like a lock.
CollegeHoops.net Mid-Major Program of the Year: Davidson
Davidson was arguably the national Program of the Year due to their amazing Elite Eight tournament run, but their success wasn’t nearly as surprising as Drake’s. After losing some close games to major Top 10 powers like UNC and UCLA, the Wildcats bounced back to utterly dominate the Southern Conference. They won all 20 league games, and swept the conference tournament with an average margin of victory of 26 points. Their overall 25-game winning streak was the best in the nation, and helped Coach Bob McKillop and star guard Stephen Curry amass some impressive hardware. More impressive than their 29-7 record or any individual’s numbers is the way they captivated the country by letting it all out during the NCAA Tournament.
Runner Up: South Alabama
The Jaguars had an impressive season this culminated in at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. This was the first time in 14 years that a Sun Belt team had received at-large consideration. Their 26-7 overall record included two wins over Sweet Sixteen team (and conference rival) Western Kentucky, as well as tournament squads Mississippi State and San Diego. Coach Ronnie Arrow won Sun Belt Coach of the Year honors, returning to a position he once held 13 years ago.
CollegeHoops.net Conference of the Year: Pac-10
Simply put, no league offered more exciting individual and team matchups than the Pac-10 on a weekly basis. With the exception of Oregon State, every team in the league was capable of beating every other team.. and this overall depth of talent lead to an amazing 9 postseason bids for the 10 team league.
At the team level, UCLA was the true class of the league leading the way with a 16-2 record. The Bruins were led by Kevin Love, just one of many potential NBA lottery picks scattered throughout league rosters. Brook Lopez, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, Ryan Anderson and others lit up the scoreboards on a nightly basis.
Overall, the Pac-10 ended up 2nd in RPI to the ACC, but the league members led the country with an amazing .798 out-of-conference winning %. This is even more impressive when you consider that as recently as 2004, the Pac-10 was 9th in overall RPI. With big time coaches and big time programs, there’s no reason not to expect another great Pac-10 run next year.
Runner Up: Atlantic 10
This was somewhat of a renaissance season for the A10, as the league finished 7th in overall RPI, easily its best season in a decade. Conference leader Xavier made an impressive run to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight, and they were joined in the Big Dance by conference tournament winner Temple and St. Joseph’s. Even more impressively, the league had great depth as teams like Dayton, UMASS, and URI all made strong claims to Top 25 consideration at one point or another.
Check out all the: CHN 2007-08 Postseason Awards
All-Americans, All-Rookie, Top Coaches & more