Chris Mack, whose Xavier Musketeers were unranked in preseason Top 25 polls but have climbed to No. 5 this week entering play in the Big East Conference Tournament, has been selected the winner of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Henry Iba Award for national coach of the year.
The Henry Iba Award is named in honor of the legendary Oklahoma State coach who won 655 games and two national championships in 36 seasons in Stillwater. The award is voted on by all members of the USBWA at the conclusion of the regular season. The USBWA has presented a National Coach of the Year Award each year since the 1958-59 season.
Mack, in his seventh season at Xavier, is the first coach in school history to win national coach of the year honors. He is a 1992 Xavier graduate with a degree in communication arts, where he was a two-time team captain as a player under then-head coach Pete Gillen.
Despite losing the team’s leading scorer, rebounder and point guard from a year ago, Mack guided the Musketeers to a 14-4 record in the Big East and a 26-4 mark overall that includes a victory over then-No. 1 ranked Villanova. The 26 victories tie a school record for most wins in a regular season. Xavier was the first team in the nation to post both 20 and 25 victories this season.
In seven seasons, the 46-year-old Mack has a 160-75 record and ranks second all-time in career victories. He has led Xavier to five NCAA Tournaments in six years.
The Musketeers enter the Big East Tournament as the No. 2 seed. Xavier plays its first game Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York against the winner of the St. John’s-Marquette game.
Mack will be formally presented with the Henry Iba Award at the College Basketball Awards gala and dinner at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on April 11.
Photo Courtesy USBWA