As the FGCU women’s basketball team makes its second-consecutive appearance in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship game, espnW named head coach Karl Smesko the Mid-Major Coach of the Year.
Smesko, who has been with the program since its creation 14 years ago, is the only coach honored along side UConn’s Geno Auriemma in the postseason awards.
The award, given by ESPN’s Graham Hays, was announced Thursday afternoon.
“Smesko is espnW’s mid-major coach of the year not so much because the Eagles exceeded expectations, but for how his team managed to yet again meet those expectations,” Hays wrote in the announcement.
Hays talked of how FGCU fared during A-Sun Player of the Year Whitney Knight’s eight-week absence. The team went 6-4 in Knight’s absence, but most notably earned an important win against George Washington.
“How does a mid-major program succeed?” Hays wrote. “Finding players like Knight helps. Developing a philosophy that can withstand her absence helps even more.”
This season, Smesko led the team to a record of 28-4 with a 21-game win streak landing its fourth perfect conference season in five years and its second-straight unbeaten conference season. The Eagles rank No. 26 in the AP Poll and are receiving votes in both the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the AP Top-25.
Smesko, the seven-time A-Sun Coach of the Year, is sitting on six-consecutive conference regular season titles and seven in the last eight seasons, while winning three of the last four A-Sun Championships each earning automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.