This Week in the A-10 (3/1): Could Kyle Neptune Really Win Coach of the Year?


Image: The Fordham Ram


We're a week away from the tip-off of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in DC, and with the end of the season approaching, awards talk has reached a boiling point. After an 85-73 win over the UMass Minutemen in the Bronx last night, Coach Kyle Neptune and his Fordham Rams generated a decent amount of buzz for how much they've improved this season. According to some prominent college basketball reporters, such as CBS' Jon Rothstein and the New York Post's Mike Vaccaro, Coach Neptune should be a frontrunner for A-10 coach of the year.


Does Coach Neptune have a chance to win the conference's top coaching honor, or are other coaches in the conference way ahead in terms of odds?


The case for Neptune

If there's one thing that Coach Neptune has brought in his first year at Fordham, it's buzz. Since taking over in the spring of last year, the national attention that Fordham has gotten has increased exponentially. Fueled largely by the idea that he can bring what he learned while winning 3 National Championships at Nova, Coach Neptune and his team have guys like Rothstein tweeting about Fordham during prime bid chasing season for just maintaining a .500 record. While in a vacuum, a 14-14 overall, 7-9 conference record isn't much to gawk at, Fordham has the same amount of conference wins this season than they had in the last three seasons combined. On the court, the Rams play with an energy not seen from the Men's team in a very long time, something Neptune said was a main goal coming into Fordham.


Aside from the plays his team runs, Neptune has shown that he can manage a strong roster via recruiting and maintaining competent rotations. Darius Quisenberry, Antrell Charlton, and Patrick Kelly have all made major strides in their development as transfers to the program, while incoming recruits like Will Richardson show some serious potential. Neptune also helped get Chuba Ohams out of the transfer portal and back onto Fordham's roster, allowing the graduate guard to develop and play possibly his best season ever. As injuries and departures put Fordham's roster in flux, Neptune was able to switch up his guard heavy game plan for something that allowed the team's big men to flourish.


In his first season at Fordham, Neptune has laid the foundation for a bright Rams future after nearly 30 years of being a bottom feeder in the conference. If that's not Coach of the Year material, then what is?


What's going against Neptune


I'll tell you what is...a winning record in conference play! If Fordham wins it's last two regular season games, they will finish 9-9. While this would be there best record in conference play since 2007, Coaches in the A-10 usually don't win hardware unless they're floating around the top of the conference. Funny enough, the last coach to win A-10 Coach of the Year without a winning record in conference was Fordham's Nick Macarchuk, who earned a 5-11 record in conference play that year. Unfortunately for Neptune, I don't think voters will be as generous as they were in 1999, especially considering this year's competition.


In terms of a frontrunner, look no further than Bob McKillop. In his 32nd season at Davidson, McKillop may be leading one of his most talented teams yet right into March Madness, and doing it all right after the departure of last year's start Kellan Grady. After amassing a 14-2 record in conference so far, as well as a win streak that lasted over two months, McKillop is no doubt the strongest contender for this year's award.


Conclusion

There's no way to overstate just how much Neptune has done at Fordham in so little time, and this season will no doubt be a great way to start his head coaching career. That being said, the numbers don't really work out in his favor.



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