When it comes to selecting a player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, generally no one can complain with the league coaches’ decision.
For example, in football, it was Scotland’s Kwashaun Quick. The boys basketball coaches voted for Hoke County’s Tarique Thompson, while the Fighting Scots’ Curt Britt picked up the honor in baseball.
All three were head and shoulders above the rest of the SEC in their respected sports.
While the coaches seem to hit the ball out of the park choosing a POY, when it comes to selecting one of their peers as coach of the year — it’s a hit-and-miss proposition.
For the most part, they give the award to the league champion. While that is always a safe bet, it does not always reflect which coach has done the best job throughout the season.
Hoke County boys basketball coach Quame Patterson was a solid pick as the SEC’s best coach, but more consideration should have been given to Lumberton’s Ted Gaskins or Purnell Swett’s Jeremy Sampson. The Bucks advanced to the East Region finals behind the leadership of Patterson and the play of Thompson, but Gaskins and Sampson accomplished much more with less.
Gaskins took an underachieving team during its nonconference schedule to a second place finish in both the regular season and conference tournament. All Sampson did was erase five years of frustration in Pembroke and guide the Rams to their first playoff berth since the 2005-06 season.
Even though Gaskins and Sampson may have had better years getting the most out of their players, you hate to punish a coach who was two wins away from a state title.
A similar scenario played out on the baseball diamond, but this time the coach within a eyelash of a championship didn’t receive the award.
Last week, an overzealous colleague at the Laurinburg Exchange released Scotland’s all-SEC baseball performers, including naming Curt Britt as POY and Tommy Britt as the top coach before Richmond was ousted from the 4A state playoffs. The early release of those awards took away any suspense that Richmond’s Ricky Young may have eked out enough votes and grabbed the coaching honor from Tommy Britt.
Did Tommy Britt deserve the honor? Of course he did, his final Scotland team marched through the SEC with a perfect 10-0 regular season mark and captured the tournament title as well.
But did Young do more? Some would think so. A team with only three seniors and the lack of varsity experience, posted 25 victories and was three wins from grabbing the state championship.
While the end result may be the same, but waiting until the final conference team is bounced from the playoffs seems to be the best thing to do when it comes to honoring players as well as coaches.
This way if two players or coaches are neck-and-neck when it comes to earning an award, the tiebreaker could be postseason performance. And isn’t that the best measure of how good a player or coach really is for that season.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org