CollegeInsider.com's 10 finalists for its Joe B. Hall Award, presented to its top first-year Division I men's basketball head coach, includes FIU's Richard Pitino.
Pitino's up against Rider's Kevin Baggett; Mount S. Mary's Jamion Christian; Brown's Mike Martin; Wagner's Bashir mason; Illinois State's Dan Muller; UConn's Kevin Ollie; Long Island University-Brooklyn's Jack Perri; Southern Utah's Nick Robinson; and Tennessee State's Travis Williams.
The winner will be announced April 5 at the CollegeInsider.com awards banquet. I don't know how to handicap this award. I don't know who the favorite should be. I don't know if any of those other guys had to take the bottom of the roster of an eight-win team, mix that in with guys you were able to recruit at the last minute and coach up the whole thing into a 16-win gholaush.
Those who know of Joe B. Hall can probably appreciate the irony. Hall was a University of Kentucky graduate, played on Kentucky's 1949 national champions and coached Kentucky's 1978 national champions. While Pitino's father helped return Kentucky to prominence, Pitino senior and junior have much stronger ties to Louisville, Kentucky's hated in-state rival.