Missouri's Frank Haith coach of year
NEW ORLEANS -- Frank Haith has capped his first season at Missouri by being selected The Associated Press' Coach of the Year.
Haith's first season at Missouri got off to a rough start and ended with a second-round thud in the NCAA tournament. In between his unpopular selection to replace Mike Anderson at Missouri and the Tigers' stunning loss to 15th-seeded Norfolk State, things went very well.
Missouri won 30 games and the Big 12 tournament and was ranked in the AP poll the entire season, reaching second for one week and third in the final poll.
Haith received 21 votes from the media panel, while John Calipari of Kentucky and Tom Izzo of Michigan State tied for second with 10 votes each. The voting was done before the NCAA tournament.
"It's good to see your peers at something like the Final Four, but the disappointment of your season being over is still there," Haith said. "Still, I can't tell you how honored and humbled I am with all the recognition."
Haith left Miami after seven seasons to take over the program at Missouri.
"My landing in Columbia wasn't greeted with a lot of yeas and congratulations, but I wasn't disappointed, rather encouraged because that showed me passion. And I wanted that, because that kind of passion means you have a chance to be successful," he said.
Haith's coaching style was very different from Anderson's uptempo pressure and that meant change, something a lot of college players don't take to easily.
"Mike Anderson left me some pretty good players," Haith said. "They bought into change, and that's not always easy when you have a system in place they want. I give the players a lot of credit for buying in. When the players buy in you have a chance to be successful."
Haith, who joined Norm Stewart in 1994 as the only Missouri coaches to win the award, said it was early in the season when he knew the players had bought in.
"We were in Kansas City for the CBE Classic, and we beat Cal and Notre Dame," Haith said. "We changed things, and I think you have to have success to make change. We saw success, and those guys started to buy in. And it was all because of the leadership on the team."
Haith was hired at Missouri with the knowledge the program he was leaving was under NCAA investigation for possible rules violations.
"I think we, the Mizzou nation and my family, all will be happy when it's all over with, but we can't control the NCAA and the time frame in which they work," he said.
He was asked if he was confident the investigation would come up empty.
"Absolutely," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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