University of South Dakota head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith is one of 10 finalists for the Joe B. Hall award given annually to the top first-year coach in Division I college basketball.

Smith was named South Dakota’s 17th head coach last March. He was one of 46 first-year head coaches in NCAA Division I and was one of 28 in their first season as a head coach at the Division I level.

Smith led the Coyotes to a 17-16 record for the program’s first winning season in four years. South Dakota beat every team in the Summit League at least once and finished with a 9-7 mark in league play, good for fourth place. The Coyotes also won their first Summit League Tournament game in three tries.

South Dakota was the only Summit League team with a winning record on the road at 8-7. The Coyotes’ eight road victories rank in the top 30 nationally. The team also had four winning streaks of three games or more.

The award is named in the honor of Joe B. Hall who was given the task of following the legendary Adolph Rupp. In his first season at the University of Kentucky, Hall finished 20-8, won the SEC and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals.

From 1972-85, Hall would win two-thirds of his games (297-100), receive four SEC Coach of the Year honors and win a national championship (1978). He is one of only three men to win an NCAA championship as a player (1949-Kentucky) and coach (1978-Kentucky). The only others to achieve this feat are Bob Knight and Dean Smith.

The recipient of the 2015 award will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet on April 3 in Indianapolis, site of the 2015 men’s division I basketball championship.

Joe B. Hall Award Finalists:

Jon Coffman, Fort Wayne

Dennis Cutts, UC Riverside

Travis DeCuire, Montana

James Fox, Appalachian State

Chris Jans, Bowling Green

Kevin Keatts, UNC Wilmington

Scott Padgett, Samford

David Richmond, North Dakota State

Craig Smith, South Dakota

Keith Walker, Delaware State

- Courtesy of USD Sports Information

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