The Associated Press announced that Virginia’s Tony Bennett was named the AP Coach of the Year after leading the Cavaliers to a 31-3 record and the ACC regular season and tournament titles.
BREAKING: Virginia's Tony Bennett is The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year after 31 wins, ACC title. Full story by @aaronbeardap: https://t.co/fqILcVcixk pic.twitter.com/OGNb6idTNy— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) March 29, 2018
Voting took place before the start of the NCAA tournament, so Virginia’s historic loss to UMBC was not factored in. Fifty of 65 voters put Bennett atop their ballots, followed by Tennessee’s Rick Barnes in second place with five votes. Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann earned four votes, Xavier’s (now Louisville’s) Chris Mack had two, and Chris Beard (Texas Tech), Eric Musselman (Nevada), Nate Oats (Buffalo), and Bruce Pearl (Auburn) each received one vote.
Virginia’s 31 wins set a new program record, and the Cavaliers climbed back to No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in over 35 years (staying there for the final five weeks of the season). The Cavaliers won 17 regular season ACC games, a new conference record, and went a perfect 9-0 on the road in conference play.
This is the second time Coach Bennett has earned the honor of AP Coach of the Year, winning it in 2007 while at Washington State University. The award triggers a $100,000 bonus, per his contract. Fellow ACC coach Roy Williams has also won the award at two different schools with wins at Kansas in 1992 and with North Carolina in 2006.
So far, Bennett has been named the ACC Coach of the Year, USBWA Coach of the Year, USA Today Coach of the Year, and College Basketball Talk (NBC Sports) Coach of the Year to go along with the AP honor. He is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Coach of the Year award, which will be announced at the Final Four in San Antonio. Barnes, Holtmann, and Villanova’s Jay Wright are the other three finalists.
Bennett received the (gigantic) trophy Thursday afternoon in San Antonio.
Virginia’s Tony Bennett picks up the AP coach of the year hardware. pic.twitter.com/jZOa4k6dsi— Brian Hamilton (@_Brian_Hamilton) March 29, 2018
UVA’s Tony Bennett: “It was a heck of a season with, of course, a heck of a loss at the end.”— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) March 29, 2018
As always, Coach Bennett perfectly sums it all up.