Kowalczyk just completed his third season as the Rockets’ mentor and led UT to its second-straight winning campaign as well as a first-place tie in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division with a 10-6 league record. Toledo’s 10 conference victories were its most since posting a 14-2 ledger en route to winning the 2006-07 MAC regular-season title.
Under Kowalczyk’s guidance, junior guard Rian Pearson became Toledo’s first First-Team All-MAC honoree since 2006-07, and sophomore guard Julius Brown received Third-Team All-MAC accolades. Pearson ranked second in league scoring with 17.9 points per game, while Brown topped the MAC in conference action with 6.9 assists per game. Also receiving post-season recognition was freshman center Nathan Boothe, who earned a spot on the MAC’s All-Freshman Team with 8.3 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
The other finalists are Jim Baron (Canisius), Rick Byrd (Belmont), Bill Coen (Northeastern), Keith Dambrot (Akron), Kermit Davis (Middle Tennessee), Billy Donlon (Wright State), Andy Enfield (Florida Gulf Coast), Anthony Evans (Norfolk State), Chris Holtmann (Gardner-Webb), Danny Kaspar (Stephen F. Austin), Matt Matheny (Elon), Joe Mihalich (Niagara), Jim Molinari (Western Illinois), LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central), Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook), Joe Scott (Denver), Pat Skerry (Towson), Zach Spiker (Army), Wayne Tinkle (Montana) and Michael White (Louisiana Tech).
The Hugh Durham Award is given annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach. The award is named in honor of Durham, who retired at the end of the 2004-05 season. He is one of just 12 coaches to have led two different programs to the NCAA Final Four (Florida State in 1972 and Georgia in 1983). He is the only coach among that group to have led both schools to their lone Final Four appearance.
The 2013 award will be presented at the collegeinsider.com awards banquet in Atlanta, site of the men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.