Underwood up for another national coaching award

By Stephen F. Austin Sports Information
March 26, 2014
Stephen F. Austin Sports Information

BOSTON, Mass. —  Stephen F. Austin first-year head men's basketball coach Brad Underwood, a McPherson native, was named one of the 10 finalists for the 2014 Joe B. Hall award announced by the award committee on Tuesday.

The award is named in the honor of Joe B. Hall, who was given the task of following the legendary Adolph Rupp. In his first season at the University of Kentucky, Hall finished 20-8, won the SEC and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals.

Underwood, the 2013-14 Southland Conference Coach of the Year, inherited a team that won a program-best 27 games in the Division I era and was the reigning SLC champions from the previous season. He pushed them further, going 32-3 overall and 18-0 in conference this season.

Also a Jim Phelan Coach of the Year finalist, Underwood put the Lumberjacks on the national map by upsetting fifth-seeded VCU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on a four-point play to send the game into overtime, the first NCAA Tournament win in program history.

SFA, the conference regular-season and tournament champion, set a new school record for most wins in a single season with the upset of Shaka Smart's havoc-run VCU squad for win No. 32.

Under Underwood's guidance, the `Jacks became the first Southland school in the league's 51-year history to win 29 games in the regular season and first 30-game winner, passing the 1984-85 Louisiana Tech squad that went 29-3 and reached the Sweet 16 with Karl Malone. Along the way, SFA joined top-ranked Florida and second-ranked Wichita State as the only schools to go undefeated in conference play this season. The `Jacks became just the 18th team all-time to do so at the Division I level in conference schedules of 18 games or more.

In Week 17, SFA closed out its conference road schedule 9-0, the first time the `Jacks have gone undefeated on the road in league play in the Division I era.

With 32 wins, Underwood ranks third all-time in the NCAA's top 10 best career starts at the Division I level. Underwood passed Steve Prohm (Murray State - 31-2, 2012) and Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh - 31-5, 2004) with the won over VCU.

SFA, which had its nation-leading 29-game overall win streak ended by fourth-seeded UCLA in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, carries both its home and road winning streaks over into next season. The `Jacks will enter 2014-15 tied with Duke for the longest active home winning streak at 33 straight and tied with Wichita State for the longest active road win streak at 12 games. SFA also lead the nation with 14 road wins this season.

The nine other finalists include: Mike Brennan (American), Tim Craft (Gardner-Webb), Pat Duquette (UMass-Lowell), Bobby Hurley (Buffalo), Robert Jones (Norfolk State), Dan Majerle (Grand Canyon), Nicholas McDevitt (UNC Asheville), Craig Neal (New Mexico) and Will Wade (Chattanoonga).

The winner of the 2014 Hall award will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 4 in Dallas, site of the Division I Men's Basketball Championship.