February 18, 2021 

2021 Naismith Coach of the Year late season watch list revealed

Geno Auriemma, Dawn Staley and Tara VanDerveer among familiar faces on the list

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Photo via Stanford Athletics

The late season watch list for this year’s Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year was revealed this week. The list highlights a few past winners, including Geno Auriemma of UConn, Dawn Staley of South Carolina and Tara VanDerveer of Stanford, all three of which are strong contenders for the award once again.

Geno Auriemma, UConn (8 previous awards)

UConn has been in the spotlight this season as much as ever. Earlier this week, the Huskies reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the AP top-25 poll after beating then-No. 1 South Carolina in overtime. The Gamecocks are now No. 2 in the poll.

UConn has now sat atop the poll for at least one week in every season since 2012-13. Since their first-ever appearance in the top-25, the Huskies have been at the top 246 times.

Auriemma has a great appreciation for the development and growth he’s seen in his program throughout the years.

Dawn Staley, South Carolina (1 previous award)

Last season, Staley became the first person to be named Naismith Coach of the Year after previously winning the Naismith Trophy for Player of the Year.

Her 2020-21 Gamecocks have been ranked in the top five all season long, including two weeks in the No. 1 slot. They are undefeated in SEC play and currently rank second in the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

South Carolina excels on both sides of the ball, racking up 70-plus points in 14 of 19 games and holding 10 teams to 60 or fewer points.

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford (2 previous awards)

Tara VanDerveer secured the coveted title of All-Time Winningest Coach in Women’s College Basketball History when the Cardinal beat Pacific earlier this season. It marked her 1,099th win in her 41-year career. What’s more: over 900 of those wins were at Stanford alone.

Not to mention her dominance in the Pac-12 Tournament. VanDerveer and her team have won 13 of the 19 Pac-10/12 tournaments in the conference’s history, dating back to the 2001-02 season. The Cardinal has also won 22 Pac-12 regular season titles with VanDerveer at the helm.

This year, Stanford is 16-2 in conference play and are ranked No. 6 in the latest AP top-25 poll.

Full 2021 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Late Season Watch List:

  • Geno Auriemma, UConn

  • Adia Barnes, Arizona

  • Kim Barnes Arico, Michigan

  • Gary Blair, Texas A&M

  • Mike Carey, West Virginia

  • Cori Close, UCLA

  • Jose Fernandez, USF

  • Brend Frese, Maryland

  • Kellie Harper, Tennessee

  • Aaron Johnston, South Dakota State

  • Kevin McGuff, Ohio State

  • Wes Moore, NC State

  • Dawn Staley, South Carolina

  • Tara VanDerveer, Stanford

  • Jeff Walz, Louisville

Written by Sydney Olmstead

Pac-12 and Las Vegas Aces reporter.

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