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Tough choices mark player, coach of the year races

Caitlin Clark drives to the basket. Iowa Athletics photo.
Caitlin Clark drives to the basket. Iowa Athletics photo.

The staff at WomensHoopsWorld agrees on many basketball things, but when it came to selecting the 2022-2023 Coach of the Year, we completely diverged in making our picks. Player of the Year, on the other hand, was almost unanimous, with 75 percent of us choosing the same athlete.

Disclaimer: we made our selections 10 days ago, well before “the shot” that sent the Hawkeyes past the Hoosiers over the weekend.

Lamarr Fields:

Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa 

Clark is putting up amazing numbers, she is second in the nation in scoring with 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. She is also, arguably, the team’s emotional leader: when she is on, it lifts the entire Hawkeye squad.

Coach of the Year: Lindy La Rocque, UNLV

What UNLV coach Lindy La Rocque is doing in Las Vegas is amazing. The Rebels entered AP top 25 rankings earlier this month for the first time in almost 30 years, and they claimed their second straight Mountain West title soon afterward. La Rocque, in her second season, has the team playing great basketball, and they could be dangerous in the Tournament

Avery Wiggins:

Player of the Year: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

I acknowledge that Caitlin Clark has had the better individual season statistically, but in terms of overall team impact and importance, there is none like Aliyah. She is the one piece that makes South Carolina so much better than everyone else. If they didn’t have her, they would not be the unbeatable juggernaut that they are, or ready to claim a second straight national title.

Coach of the Year: Kara Lawson, Duke

Duke has been by far the biggest surprise this season, as one of the nation’s top defensive teams. Lawson has managed to turn a team that wasn’t in the Tournament last year into one that projected as a top-4 seed heading into the March play.

Jim Clark:

Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

For me it was down to Clark, Boston, Mackenzie Holmes and Maddy Siegrist. The national media is so hyped on Clark vs. Boston, without considering others, that I was tempted to pick anyone but them.

However, Clark is responsible, by scoring or assisting, for 53 percent of all Iowa baskets. She is a below-average defender. She leads the team in rebounds! Second in the nation in scoring. She gets my vote.

Coach of the Year: Lynne Roberts, Utah

Roberts has gotten the Utes from nowhere to a program-high No. 3 ranking without dives into the transfer portal. And her team has much less experience, with all those sophomores starting or playing regular minutes.

I gave thought to Kara Lawson for the resurgence of Duke, but I think Utah is the biggest surprise this season.

Sue Favor:

Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Clark fills up the stat sheet every game and is a triple-double machine, but she is also “that kid” for Iowa: they wouldn’t be where they are without her. The passion she has for the game spills on to her teammates, and is a big part of their spirited play and cohesion.

Coach of the Year: Teri Moren, Indiana

My COY candidates were Moren, Roberts, La Rocque, Shauna Green of Dayton and Virginia’s Amaka Agugua-Hamilton. Moren wins out because of what she’s been able to do during adverse circumstances.

On Nov. 25, starting point guard Grace Berger injured her knee in a tournament game, and didn’t return to the lineup until Jan. 8. The Hoosiers were ranked No. 6 at that time, and despite the fact that the senior is regarded as the glue of the team, they didn’t miss a beat in her absence. Chloe Moore-McNeil stepped in for Berger, and everyone else stepped up.

Indiana never fell out of the top 10, and didn’t lose a game until Dec. 29. They are 26-2 on the season and reached a program-best No. 2 ranking earlier this month. Despite a buzzer-beater loss to the Hawkeyes over the weekend, the Hoosiers have a legitimate chance at cracking their first Final Four.

Moren has patiently built the program over the last decade, and has inched them forward a bit every year. This season she has done a masterful job of taking the team to the next level. It has been the stuff of the coach of the year.

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