Mid-season Awards: Top Coaches
NCAA titles are not won in the fall, but the foundations for most championship teams are laid during the first semester. Coaches set the tone early and hope that the lessons they pass along are remembered come the postseason. Here's a look at those coaches who seem to have their teams heading in the right direction as we prepare for the spring. __COACHES OF THE MIDSEASON
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__Steve Desimone, California
__Start with premise that it's hard to find a more optimistic man than the Golden Bears' veteran coach. You can imagine then just how excited Desimone was in late August as the best team he has assembled in his previous 33 years overseeing the golf program at his alma mater was set to begin the 2012-13 season. Contain himself? Heck Desimone was practically ready to bust out in song about what might be in store.
Turns out Desimone can carry a tune. That the Golden Bears won or shared the title in all five starts this fall isn't necessarily a surprise, given the talented roster of Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver, Michael Kim__and Joel Stalter__ (not to mention a bench that includes Pace Johnson). Yet living up to expectations is never easy, and the fact Desimone was able to keep his team focused throughout the fall as they claimed the No. 1 spot in the Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll and made themselves the odds-on favorite to claim the NCAA title next spring, is a testament to his skills as a leader and motivator.
Honorable mention: Glen Millican, New Mexico
A little home cooking—a victory at the Tucker Intercollegiate—allowed Millican and his crew to close as the fall with some momentum. Runner-up finishes at the Isleworth Collegiate and Royal Oaks lifted the Lobos to No. 6 in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf ranking despite the fact that no player stands inside the top 50 in the Golfstat Cup rankings. Still, four of Millican's charges have posted top-10 finishes individually, suggesting he's doing something right in Albuquerque.
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__Mary Lou Mulflur, Washington
__She's been overseeing the Husky program for nearly three decades, but never before has Mulflur had a squad that's won two of its first four tournaments (with runner-up finishes in the other two). Unranked in the Golf World/WGCA women's preseason coaches' poll, UW will end the fall with a top-five ranking and tons of confidence thanks to the standout play of sophomore SooBin Kim and freshman Charlotte Thomas.
"They are good," Mulflur said about her Huskies "But, they also want to get better and they know they can. ... To be able to have that depth. It is just a good feeling for all of them to know that on any given day they can contribute."
Honorable mention: Emily Bastel, Florida
The first-year coach for the Gators has looked anything like a rookie as her squad has claimed two team titles (Cougar Classic, Betsy Rawls Longhorn Intercollegiate). Meanwhile, she has had one of her charges earn medalist honors in all four of Florida's starts. Bastel's brief tenure as an assistant with the squad in 2011-12 seems to have more influential than previously appreciated.