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March 8, 2013FIU Head Coach Richard Pitino has been named a finalist for the 2013 Joe B. Hall award, presented annually to the top first-year coach in Division I college basketball, announced by CollegeInsider.com on Thursday.
Pitino has guided the Panthers to a 16-13 regular season record (11-9 SBC), marking the first winning season at FIU in 13 years. The 16 wins are also the most by a Panther squad since the 1999-2000 season.
FIU's 11 conference victories were the most by any Panther squad since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 1998-1999. With the 11-9 mark, FIU has earned a first-round bye in this year's SBC Championship, earning the team's highest seed since the Panthers earned the No. 4 seed for the 2000 tournament.
The ten finalists include Kevin Baggett (Rider), Jamion Christian (Mount St. Mary's), Mike Martin (Brown), Bashir Mason (Wagner), Dan Muller (Illinois State), Kevin Ollie (Connecticut), Jack Perri (LIU-Brooklyn), Richard Pitino (FIU), Nick Robinson (Southern Utah), and Travis Williams (Tennessee State).
The award is named in the honor of Joe B. Hall who was given the task of following the legendary Adolph Rupp. In his first season at the University of Kentucky, Hall finished 20-8, won the SEC and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals.
From 1972 to 1985 Hall would win two-thirds of his games (297-100), receive four SEC Coach of the Year honors and win a National Championship (1978). Along with the 1978 title, Hall also guided Kentucky to a runner-up finish to UCLA in the 1975 NCAA tournament, a Final Four appearance in the 1984 NCAA Tournament and an NIT championship in 1976. He won 8 Southeastern Conference regular season championships and one Southeastern Conference tournament championship (1984).
Hall is one of only three men to win an NCAA championship as a player
(1949- Kentucky) and coach (1978- Kentucky). The only others to achieve this feat are Bob Knight and Dean Smith.
The 2013 recipient will be announced on April 5 at the CollegeInsider.com awards banquet in Atlanta, site of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.
FIU will next head to Hot Springs, Ark., to take part in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Tournament (March 8-11). The Panthers will play the UALR Trojans on Saturday, March 9. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET. Check back on FIUSports.com for the official seedings announcement and tournament information.
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