Florida State's Hamilton Tabbed ACC Coach of the Year
March 10, 2009
Raleigh (AP) -- Florida State's Leonard Hamilton has claimed coaching awards from two of the top conferences in college basketball.
Hamilton became the first person to win both Atlantic Coast Conference and Big East Coach of the Year awards for his career Tuesday when the ACC named him its top coach.
He was an overwhelming choice by the voting members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, receiving 55 of a possible 76 votes.
Boston College's Al Skinner was second with 10 votes, followed by Wake Forest's Dino Gaudio (6), Clemson's Oliver Purnell (2), North Carolina's Roy Williams (2) and Maryland's Gary Williams (1).
Hamilton, the Big East's coach of the year in 1995 and 1999 at Miami, was in charge of a Florida State team that was picked in the preseason to finish 10th in the ACC standings.
He guided the Seminoles to a 23-8 finish, a 10-6 mark in league play, the No. 4 seed in this week's league tournament, the No. 22 national ranking and most assuredly the school's first NCAA tournament berth since 1998.
A roster that included talented upperclassmen - led by dynamic scorer Toney Douglas and forward Uche Echefu - successfully blended with gifted newcomers - ACC All-Rookie teamer Solomon Alabi and forward Chris Singleton.
They wound up generating the kind of consistently strong performances that coaches always covet. Douglas seemed to put the team on his back once ACC play began, scoring at least 18 points while leading his team in scoring in every league game, and because of his leadership, the Seminoles never lost consecutive games all season.
"We have a very special and unusual group of first-year players," Hamilton said. "They bought into accepting their roles. That's something that's an elusive mindset, and certainly something that's difficult to obtain. That allowed the seniors ... to lead and guide this many first-year players. It's difficult to be a leader when you don't have guys to follow. We were void of those kinds of issues."
Hamilton certainly got plenty out of his players this season. Douglas - the team's only player to average double figures in scoring - ranks second in the ACC with a 20.8-point scoring average, is third with 1.9 steals per game and was his team's leading scorer in every ACC game this season. Alabi leads the conference with an average of 2.2 blocked shots.
Hamilton joins Pat Kennedy as the only Florida State coaches to win the award from the ACC. Kennedy won it in 1992, after his Sam Cassell- and Bob Sura-led Seminoles finished second to eventual national champion Duke in the ACC standings.
Voting results for the 2008-09 Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year awards, as voted on by 76 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
COACH OF THE YEAR