Crean a finalist for Naismith coach of the year

DES MOINES, Iowa — Tom Crean already has one coaching award and he could soon add another.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday that Crean is one of four finalists for the Naismith College Coach of the Year award, joining a four-man group that includes Kansas’ Bill Self, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Xavier’s Chris Mack.

Crean was a consensus choice as Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Hoosiers to a 25-6 record and the program’s 22nd conference championship. IU’s 15 Big Ten wins are the most since the 1992-93 season.

Meanwhile, Mack guided a Musketeers program that started the year unranked to a school-record 26 wins and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Self helped Kansas to the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and Wright has the Wildcats entering the tournament on the heels of their third consecutive Big East regular season championship.

“In a season where unpredictability has been the norm, it’s amazing what these four coaches have been able to accomplish,” Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, said in a statement. “We salute their teams’ amazing accomplishments and wish them well heading into the tournament. Our voters had a challenge getting down to four finalists, and it’s going to be even harder selecting the winner.”

The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, which includes writers, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners.

The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 3.