Less than 24 hours after watching his team clinch the first conference title in program history, veteran USF women’s coach Jose Fernandez has been named a Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year semifinalist.
Fernandez, in his 21st season, is among 10 semifinalists, and the only one from the American Athletic Conference. Others on the list include Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, Louisville’s Jeff Walz and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer.
USF (15-2, 13-1) clinched the AAC regular-season crown with Tuesday’s 65-62 home triumph against UCF, giving the program — which has been part of five conferences — its first league title of any kind.
The Bulls will be the top seed entering next week’s conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas, and are a lock to make the program’s seventh NCAA tourney appearance.
Earlier in the season, they won a school-record 13 consecutive games and reached the program’s highest ranking (12th) in mid-February. They enter Thursday’s regular-season finale at UCF ranked 15th, having won five of six since a one-month layoff due to coronavirus concerns within the league.
A conference tournament title and solid NCAA tourney run would give Fernandez, 49, his 10th 20-win season. He currently stands 12 victories shy of 400 for his career.