Bennett wins coach of year; Matta, Gillispie second

Updated: March 30, 2007, 4:47 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Tony Bennett, who led Washington State to its best season in 60 years, was selected The Associated Press' college basketball coach of the year Friday.

Coach of the Year Voting
Tony Bennett
Bennett

In just his first season after taking over for his father, Tony Bennett led Washington State to a 26-8 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance after being picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10.

Coach School Votes
Tony Bennett Washington St. 40
Billy Gillispie Texas A&M 10
Thad Matta Ohio State 10
Bo Ryan Wisconsin 7
Billy Donovan Florida 1
Ernie Kent Oregon 1
Dave Leitao Virginia 1
Todd Lickliter Butler 1
Thompson III Georgetown 1
The 37-year-old Bennett, who succeeded his father, Dick, this season at Washington State, is the second coach to win the award after his first season as a head coach, joining Bill Hodges of Indiana State in 1979.

Bennett laughed when asked what it meant to be selected coach of the year after his first season in that position.

"What do you do from here?" he asked. "Having grown up with a father who was a coach and spending my life in this game, I know how fleeting things can be. So I will enjoy this and remember that it is a privilege to coach."

The Cougars, who were picked ninth in the Pac-10 preseason poll, finished 26-8, were second to UCLA in the conference and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was their first tournament appearance since 1994 and the fifth in school history.

Bennett received 40 votes from the 72-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Thad Matta of Ohio State and Billy Gillispie of Texas A&M each received 10 votes, while Bo Ryan of Wisconsin got seven.

The Cougars reached as high as ninth in the rankings this season and were 13th in the final poll. He was an assistant to his father at Washington State for three seasons and played for him at Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Bennett and Washington State agreed to a seven-year contract extension earlier this week.

Bennett is the first Washington State coach to win the award, which was first given in 1967.

Roy Williams of North Carolina won the award last season.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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