USM Basketball Coach Jay Ladner, Austin Crowley win Sun Belt Conference awards
Most of the time, coaches say that weekly polls simply don’t matter, but this one does. The Sun Belt Pre-Season Coaches Poll predicted the Southern Miss men’s basketball team to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the league. It wasn’t funny then, but it is now, considering the Golden Eagles went onto win the regular season championship.
Today Head Coach Jay Ladner winning Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year and Ole Miss transfer Austin Crowley Newcomer of the Year as a part of the Sun Belt post-season awards.
After winning just 24 games across his first three years combined, Ladner guided USM to 25-6 regular season and a league best 14-4 conference record.
The 18 win improvement is two shy of tying the record for the best turn around in NCAA history, set by Iowa State last year.
The Golden Eagles also went undefeated at home, matching an 11-year-old program record.
They certainly couldn’t have done it without Crowley, who paces the team with more than 16 points per game. The junior scored in double figures in 24 out of USM’s 31 games, and his team leading 61 steals are just ten shy of tying the single-season school record. He dropped a career high 30 points on Christmas Eve.
Crowley one of three men’s players named to the All Sun Belt post-season teams as a first team selection, alongside Felipe Haase on the second team and DeAndre Pinckney on the third team.
On the women’s side, Domonique Davis earned her place on the first team.