Reporting Tim Kephart
COLUMBIA, Mo. (CBSMiami) – It’s been quite a year for former University of Miami head basketball coach Frank Haith. He’s gone from persona non grata as a Hurricane to the AP Big 12 Coach of the Year as the leader of the Missouri Tigers basketball team.
Haith received the award Monday from the Associated Press and is a leading candidate for national coach of the year for the job he’s done at Mizzou in 2011-2012.
The former Cane took over Mizzou’s team full of seniors that lacked direction in the final year under Mike Anderson and turned them into one of the top teams in the country and a likely number two overall seed in the NCAA Tournament starting next week.
Haith’s Tigers have run roughshod over every team not in Kansas this season to a 27-4 overall record. Three of those four losses have been to either the Kansas Jayhawks or the Kansas State Wildcats.
It’s quite the turnaround for Haith’s career after he was happily let go by the Hurricanes. Haith took Miami to its last NCAA tournament berth in 2007-2008 when the Canes got to the second round of the big dance.
Most other years, Haith’s Hurricanes teams were NIT bound and struggled mightily in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Haith never was above .500 in conference play at Miami, but in his first season at Mizzou has put up a conference record of 14-4.
Haith’s Tigers won their 27th game of the season over the weekend when they knocked off the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 81-59 in Lubbock. Mizzou made a season-best 16 3-pointers in the victory over Tech.
The 27 victories are the regular season victories in one season in the storied history of Tigers basketball.
But, next year will get considerably tougher for Haith as he loses five of the seven players who carried the Tigers to new heights in 2011-2012. Plus, Haith’s Tigers will be moving to the SEC and will have to compete with the likes of Kentucky, Florida, and Vanderbilt starting next season.
Still, for this year, Haith has left the memories of Miami behind and become the AP Coach of the Year in the Big XII as his Tigers prepare for postseason play starting this week.