By AJ Nelson, WHoopDirt.com staff writer
Congratulations to the following coaches who have been selected as the Week 1 WHoopDirt.com Coach of the Week presented by Pivot Analysis. These coaches are now eligible to receive the WHoopDirt.com National Coach of the Year Award presented by Pivot Analysis which will be announced at the conclusion of the 2019-20 college basketball season.
To nominate coaches for future weeks, please email [email protected] with your selection(s).
The Week 1 winners are:
NCAA DI: Dawn Staley – University of South Carolina
Four emphatic victories to begin the new season have the Gamecocks looking like a title contender in the early-going – no surprise during Coach Staley’s tenure at South Carolina. After a 103-43 victory over Alabama State in the opener that saw freshman Aliyah Boston record a triple-double with blocks (12 PTS, 12 REB, 10 BLK), the 8th ranked Gamecocks hit the road for possibly their toughest matchup of the season. Taking on No. 4 Maryland, South Carolina struggled from the field but came away with a huge 63-54 victory. Two more 25+ point wins have Coach Staley’s squad at 4-0 and up to the 5th spot in the national rankings. Next up for South Carolina is a home matchup against USC-Upstate on Thursday.
NCAA DII: Justin Payne – Georgia Southwestern State University
Coach Payne couldn’t have asked for a better start to his head coaching career, as Georgia Southwestern has won each of its first three contests. In his first game with the team, Payne led the Lady Hurricanes to their largest margin of victory (54 points) since they joined NCAA DII. GSW followed up this huge win with a far closer contest – a 72-71 victory coming thanks to a half-court buzzer beater from sophomore Jamesha Samuel. An 81-66 defeat of Albany State on Saturday pushed the Lady Hurricanes to 3-0 on the season as they head into an exhibition with Middle Georgia State. Their next regular season match-up comes against Valdosta State in the VSU Thanksgiving Classic on November 29th.
NCAA DIII: Melissa Kuberka – St. John Fisher College (NY)
Coach Kuberka’s squad has picked up three straight wins to start the season, including one over a top-25 opponent to take a tournament title. The Cardinals began the season on the road, taking a hard-fought 62-58 victory over St. Lawrence. Next up for Fisher was a trip to Boston for the Emmanuel College Tip-Off Tournament, where they defeated Husson 69-59 on Saturday before taking on the hosts, No. 25 Emmanuel, in the championship game on Sunday. The Cardinals emerged victorious, pulling away for a 76-68 victory and claiming the tournament title. They will now head to the Mark’s Pizzeria Crosstown Shootout to face off against Rochester on Thursday.
NAIA: Courtney Boyd – Clarke University (IA)
Clarke University, led by Coach Boyd, dominated its non-conference competition and came up with a huge come-from-behind victory in the conference opener to open the season 5-0. The 19th ranked Pride won each of their first four games by double-digits before Heart of America Athletic Conference play began on Saturday. Trailing by 11 with five minutes remaining against Missouri Valley College, Boyd’s team fought all the way back to force overtime, where they never trailed and took a 78-72 victory. The Pride now await another tough conference showdown – this time at home against No. 12 Central Methodist University.
JUCO: Bart Walker – Northwest Florida State College
After beginning the season with three straight wins, Northwest Florida had a weekend to remember en route to a 5-0 start. On Friday, Coach Walker led the 4th ranked Raiders to an 81-17 victory over USC-Salkehatchie where his squad only allowed five made field goals and forced 30 turnovers. NWF returned to the court the following day and put on another defensive showcase, forcing 37 more turnovers on the way to a 100-27 win against Denmark Technical College. In both of their weekend games, Northwest Florida did not allow more than eight points to be scored against them in any quarter and outscored opponents 181-44. The Raiders will look to continue their dominant play against the College of Central Florida on Friday.
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