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K-State, Mizzou coaches coaches on Naismith Coach of Year watch list

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The men’s basketball teams overseen by Kansas State’s Jerome Tang and Missouri’s Dennis Gates exceeded expectations this season, and now both coaches are being recognized for their efforts.

Tang, a former Baylor assistant who replaced Bruce Weber, and Gates, a former Cleveland State head coach before replacing Cuonzo Martin, are among 15 coaches on the season-ending watchlist for the Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year 2023.

Tang helped No. 12 Kansas State (19-7, 7-6 Big 12) to one of the program’s best starts in 50 years. Only six Wildcats teams – 1972-73, 1976-77, 1981-82, 2009-10, 2012-13 and 2018-19 – have a better record to start the season.

Five of K-State’s 19 wins are against AP Top 25 opponents, which tied for second in school history and most since the 2014-15 season.

The Wildcats’ seven wins in Big 12 play are the most by the program since they shared the 2018-19 conference title with Texas Tech.

Tang also guided K-State to a 12-1 record in non-conference play, which represents the most wins in non-conference play since the program’s top 13 in 2009-10.

The Wildcats also won the Cayman Islands Classic in November, the school’s first season tournament title since 2017.

Tang previously served as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor for 19 seasons (2003-2022), helping build that program into a national powerhouse alongside Scott Drew.

Missouri (19-7, 7-6 SEC), which was picked 11th in the SEC’s preseason poll, already has the program’s most wins since the 2017-18 season, which is last that the Tigers reached 20 wins.

Gates, like Tang, led his team to five victories over ranked opponents.

He became the second Mizzou coach to earn a national ranking in his first season as the Tigers entered the AP Top 25 poll on January 2 after back-to-back victories against ranked opponents.

Prior to joining the Tigers, Gates spent three years as head coach at Cleveland State, where he won Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in 2020 and 2021.

Tang and Gates are two of 15 coaches on the watch list, which also includes:

  • TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State)
  • Rodney Terry (Texas)
  • Randy Bennett (Santa Maria)
  • Jeff Capel (Pittsburgh)
  • Chris Collins (Northwest)
  • Mick Cronin (UCLA)
  • Pat Kelsey (Charleston)
  • Dusty May (Atlantic Florida)
  • Sean MillerXavier
  • Nate Avena (Alabama)
  • Matt Painter (Purdue)
  • Kelvin Sampson (Houston)
  • Shaka Smart (Marquetta)

Gates and Tang are two of only four on the watchlist in the first year with their program.

The 10 semifinalists will be announced on March 9 and the four finalists will be revealed on March 20 with the winner announced April 2 at the Naismith Awards Brunch during the NCAA Final Four in Houston.

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