March 7, 2012
Memphis sophomore guard Will Barton has been named the Conference USA Player of the Year for the 2011-12 season, while Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy has been named the Gene Bartow Coach of the Year, it was announced today prior to the opening of the 2012 Conference USA Men's Basketball Championship.
Barton leads the team and Conference USA in scoring with an 18.7 average. The 6-foot-6 guard is also ranked among the league leaders in rebounding (6th), field goal percentage (7th), free throw percentage (13th), assists (13th), steals (4th) and minutes played (4th). He is the only guard ranked in the top-10 of C-USA's rebounding leaders.
A Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy midseason candidate, Barton reached the 1,000-point milestone for his career with his 30 points in the regular-season finale victory over Tulsa Mar. 3. He is one of nine players in Tigers history to reach the 1,000-point plateau in only two seasons. The Baltimore, Md., native has 10 double-doubles this season and is one of three players in the nation to average at least 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Last year, Barton was an All-C-USA third team selection and a C-USA All-Freshman Team pick. He is the fourth Tiger to win C-USA Player of the Year honors and the first since Chris Douglas-Roberts in 2008.
In his eighth season at Southern Miss, Eustachy takes home his first C-USA Coach of the Year award after guiding the Golden Eagles (24-7) to its highest win total as a Division I school (surpassing the 1986-87 squad) and a second place finish in the regular season with an 11-5 league mark. That ties the 2001 Southern Miss squad for its best regular season showing as a member of C-USA.
On February 25, Eustachy posted his 400th career victory with a win over Rice, becoming the 43rd active head coach to reach that milestone. He enters the C-USA Championship with a career record of 401-256 in 21 seasons as a head coach. At Southern Miss, Eustachy is currently at 141 wins, and is behind only M.K. Turk (301) and Lee Floyd (246). His average of 17.6 wins a season is tied for second with Floyd and behind only Fred Lewis (17.8).
This is the fifth conference Coach of the Year award for Eustachy, who was twice named Big West Coach of the Year at Utah State and twice earned Big 12 Coaching honors at Iowa State. In 2000, he was the Associated Press National Coach of the Year and was the runner-up for that same award in 2001.
The Golden Eagles enter the Conference USA Championship as the No. 2 seed for the first time since 2001. Southern Miss will face either Rice or East Carolina in a quarterfinal round game on Thursday.
The C-USA Coach of the Year award is named in honor of Gene Bartow, the legendary former coach at Memphis and UAB, along with other schools, who passed away in January.
2011-12 CONFERENCE USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Will Barton, Memphis, G, 6-6, 175, So., Baltimore, Md.
2011-12 CONFERENCE USA GENE BARTOW COACH OF THE YEAR
Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss (141-115 at Southern Miss; 401-256 career)