The All-ACC Honors came and went without much controversy. Zion, catapulted by ESPN’s infatuation with him, swept the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Kerry Blackshear Jr. was slighted with his position on the 2nd team, but was appropriately named a 2nd teamer nonetheless. Nickeill Alexander-Walker may have been worth a higher honor, but it’s hard to complain about a 3rd team honor in a league with as much talent as the ACC.
But, Tony Bennett winning Coach of the Year over Buzz Williams is as bad of a choice as the voters could have convinced themselves was appropriate.
Tony Bennett took the wildly under talented first overall seed from last year’s NCAA tournament and dragged them up a level to be a first seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. What an unbelievable transformation he led this season, from a really good team to a really good team.
UVA ended the season with two first team All-ACC players in Hunter and Guy and a second team All-ACC player in Jerome. They have more individual player accolades on their roster than any team other than Duke. And Duke is the only team that they couldn’t beat. If a coach manages to lead his team to wins over all of the overmatched opponents on their roster, and losses to the opponents that match you in player talent, they probably shouldn’t win Coach of the Year.
Now, let’s look at Buzz’s case. He simply led the best season in school history here in Blacksburg despite seeing a top-100 recruit expected to play a crucial role never gain eligibility, one of the most accomplished returning players get suspended for the whole season, and the best player on the team miss a large portion of the conference schedule. He beat Duke without Justin Robinson. He coaxed an All-ACC season out of Kerry Blackshear Jr despite KJ being the only player on the roster over 6’7”.
Buzz made the Hokies’ collection of talent better than it would be by itself. That is a great coach. That is a Coach of the Year in the ACC. Tony Bennett is #NOTMYCOACHOFTHEYEAR