Tennessee State men's basketball Coach John Cooper was announced as a finalist for the Hugh Durham and Ben Jobe awards as announced by CollegeInsider.com on Thursday.
In just three seasons as Tennessee State, Cooper has resurrected a TSU program that had suffered through 16 consecutive losing seasons. The Tigers went 9-23 in Cooper's first season and completed a 14-16 mark in 2010-11.
This season, the Tigers notched a 20-12 record - the first winning season since 1995-96. TSU's 59-52 win over Morehead State in semifinals of the OVC Tournament ensured the Tigers first 20-win campaign in 32 years.
There were plenty of notable firsts for Cooper. His squad was the first ever to knock off an SEC opponent (64-63 at South Carolina) and the first since the NCAA Division I era to defeat a top-10 program (72-68 at No. 7/9 Murray State).
On Tuesday, it was announced the Tigers earned their third postseason bid in the NCAA D-I era and the first since 1993-94. TSU will play at Mercer in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament next Tuesday, March 13. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.
The Hugh Durham award is presented annually to the top mid-major coach in Division I college basketball. The award is named after Hugh Durham. He is the first and only coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball to lead two different schools to the NCAA Final Four for the first and only time in each school's history (Florida State University in 1972 and University of Georgia in 1983). Durham is the only coach in NCAA Division I history to be the all-time winningest coach at three different schools (Florida State, Georgia, and Jacksonville). He finished is his career with 634 wins.
The Ben Jobe Award is presented annually to the top minority coach in Division I men's basketball. Coach Jobe is an icon in the history of basketball at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, being best known as the head coach of the Southern University, a position he held for 12 seasons. He was also head coach at Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Talladega, Tuskegee and South Carolina State. Jobe, a native of Nashville, earned his bachelor's degree from Fisk University and his master's at Tennessee State.
The awards winners will be announced during the week of NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four Championships held in New Orleans (March 31-April 2).
-- TSU TIGERS --