Since the Big 12 women’s basketball league was formed in 1996-97, only 10 coaches have led conference programs for at least eight seasons. Iowa State’s Bill Fennelly is one of them.Eight of those 10 coaches have been named Big 12 Coach of the Year. Bill Fennelly isn’t one of them. Amazing, I know. Oklahoma’s Sherri Coale has won the league’s top honor four times; Baylor’s Kim Mulkey three; Kansas State’s Deb Patterson, Texas’ Jody Conradt and Texas Tech’s Marsha Sharp twice each. Former Big 12 coaches Gary Blair (Texas A&M) and Connie Yori (Nebraska) earned the award once each. Fennelly, who has 169 wins as a Big 12 coach (second only to Coale with 179), hasn’t received the honor once. It’s about time. Picked for sixth in the pre-season rankings, Fennelly guided his group to second place. They finished four slots higher than projected in the standings. The Cyclones were nationally ranked most of the season and won at least 20 games for the 12th time in Fennelly’s career. Fennelly built the Cyclone program from the ground up. He’s done a job at ISU that is revered by observers from all over nation. It’s time for his peers in the Big 12 to publicly recognize that excellence.
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