Cullop recognized as regional coach of the year

March 28, 2013 | News, UToday
By Brian DeBenedictis

UT Women’s Basketball Coach Tricia Cullop has been named the Russell Athletic/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region 4 Coach of the Year.

Coach Tricia Cullop and the Rockets celebrated after a big win.

Coach Tricia Cullop and the Rockets celebrated after a big win.

Cullop earns the regional honor for the first time in her coaching career and is a finalist for the WBCA National Coach of the Year award.

The other NCAA Division I regional winners and national coach of the year finalists are Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame, Region 1), Brenda Frese (Maryland, Region 2), Holly Warlick (Tennessee, Region 3), Kim Mulkey (Baylor, Region 5), Coquese Washington (Penn State, Region 6), Beth Burns (San Diego State, Region 7) and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford, Region 8).

The 2013 Russell Athletic /WBCA NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year will be named during the third annual WBCA Awards Show Monday, April 8, in New Orleans. The event is part of the WBCA National Convention and is held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Cullop has guided the Rockets to a 29-3 overall mark this season for their best mark in school history, including a 15-1 Mid-American Conference ledger. Toledo also captured its second MAC Regular-Season Championship in the last three years, as well as secured a berth in the WNIT for a fourth consecutive season.

Toledo’s 15-1 conference record signified the third time in school history it posted a .938 win percentage (2000-01, 1991-92). The Rockets’ 29 wins are tied for the most in school history and tied for second most in the MAC record books.

UT also has cracked the Top 25 for the first time in more than a decade. The Rockets sat at No. 25 in the Associated Press media poll with 64 total points for the week of March 4-10. The last time UT was in the Top 25 occurred during the week of Nov. 19-25, 2001, when it stood at No. 24 in the AP Poll after upsetting No. 4 Duke.

For her efforts, Cullop collected MAC Coach of the Year recognition for a third time in her first five seasons, third highest total in league history.

The Midnight Blue and Gold also has sported win streaks of 15 and 11 consecutive games this season, ranking in the top seven in school history. UT is one of just 13 programs in the country to win at least 24 games each of the last four seasons (records as of March 18).

Toledo also paced the MAC in home attendance for a 23rd straight season with an average of 4,049 fans per contest, the second highest total in school history and the 20th best mark in the country. UT totaled a season high 5,712 fans vs. Kent State, signifying the fourth largest crowd in school history.

Individually, a school record tying four Rockets earned spots on the All-MAC teams. Toledo placed senior Naama Shafir and junior Andola Dortch on the All-MAC first team, senior Yolanda Richardson on the second team, and sophomore Inma Zanoguera on the third team. UT’s total of four selections tied for the most in the conference with Central Michigan. Shafir also became the first Rocket ever to garner all-league accolades on four occasions.

In addition, Shafir was selected as one of 52 regional finalists for the WBCA Coaches’ All-America Team for a second time in the last three seasons.

Dortch also repeated as MAC Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the fourth player in league history to earn the top defensive award on more than one occasion.

Cullop and the Rockets will entertain Big Ten member Illinois in the Sweet 16 of the WNIT Thursday, March 28, in Savage Arena. The opening tip is slated for 7 p.m.

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