In no particular order:
Tina Martin, Delaware.
The Blue Hens were undefeated this season in the Colonial Athletic Association. They went from unranked, to #8. Star Elena Delle Donne is on the Naismith Player of the Year watch list.
Kim Barnes Arico, St. John’s.
The Red Storm was ranked, then unranked after injuries. They came back to the list after defeating then-#2 Connecticut two weeks ago, snapping their 99-home game winning streak. The victory gave St. John’s the second seed in the Big East Conference, and today Kim Barnes Arico was named the conference coach of the year.
Jim Crowley, St. Bonaventure.
The Bonnies proved themselves over and over this season, and were finally voted into the rankings two weeks ago. At 27-2, it’s amazing it took so long. But their fans have known they’re the real deal.
Doug Bruno, DePaul.
It was about midway through the season when DePaul lost yet another key player to injury, and Coach Doug Bruno said he’d never seen anything like their back luck in many years of coaching. Yet, the Blue Demons didn’t fall out of the rankings; they’ve continued to fight, and win most of the time. What is their secret?
Lindsay Gottlieb, Cal.
Last year the Bears were 7-11 in conference play, for sixth place. Under first-year Coach Lindsay Gottlieb this season, Cal has played incredibly inspired ball with a very young team, and they finished second in the Pac-12. They have come close to beating ranked opponents three times. The athletes love playing for Gottlieb, and their team chemistry will make them hard to beat in coming years.
Katie Meier, Miami.
The Hurricanes have been consistent all year and ranked in the top five, but of late have stumbled a bit with two key losses. Still, Meier has done wonders with this team, and has kept them functioning after the loss of a starting player in January. Two of her guards have been nominated as All-Americans.
Scott Rueck, Oregon State.
Just two years ago, Oregon State had two players left after the former coach was fired and most of the team left. Scott Rueck was hired from George Fox University, and he set about to reconstruct an entire program. Last year the Beavers were last in the Pac-10 Conference, at 2-16. This year they are 18-10 overall, tied for fourth. They’ve beat Pepperdine, USC, Arizona State, and swept the Civil War series with Oregon for the first time in 20 years. Rueck seems to know what he’s doing.
Coquese Washington, Penn State.
Other issues within the Nittany Lions athletic department didn’t seem to effect Coquese Washington or her team, who have been ranked all season long. Penn State won its first Big Ten title since 2004, and Washington was named conference coach of the year.