Clemson women’s basketball coach Amanda Butler has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced Wednesday.
Clemson’s turnaround in Butler’s first year at the helm has been nothing short of remarkable. The Tigers enter the ACC Tournament with an 18-11 overall record and posted nine conference wins – the Tigers’ most since 2002 and one more than the previous five years combined. Butler’s troops are eyeing their first postseason appearance since 2004 (WNIT) or 2002 (NCAA).
Butler is the first Clemson coach to be named ACC Coach of the Year since Jim Davis in 1994.
“I’m grateful to each and every person that brought me to this point, from our tremendous administration to my fantastic coaching staff to our dedicated players and the rest of the Clemson family,” Butler said. “I’m so humbled to have had all this support as we have journeyed through this incredible season.”
Playing an uptempo style of basketball, the Tigers are averaging almost 20 points more than they did a season ago (50.5 to 68.7). With an emphasis on aggressive defense, Clemson leads the ACC in steals and ranks among the nation’s leaders with 345.
“I’m so proud of the work that Amanda and her staff have done revitalizing Clemson Women’s basketball,” said Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich. “This honor is well-deserved for an amazing turnaround this season.”
Finishing the regular season as the No. 7 team in the conference, the Tigers (9-7) finished eight spots ahead of where the team was predicted to finish (15) in the preseason poll. That number ties the 2014-15 Pittsburgh team for the highest finish ahead of prediction in ACC history.
In her first season as head coach, Butler coached the Tigers to nine ACC wins, eight victories over last year’s mark — the largest turnaround in wins by a first-year head coach in league history.
Only two ACC coaches have manufactured a better turnaround … Katie Meier in her sixth year at Miami (eight wins, 2011) and Kay Yow in her 14th year at NC State (nine wins, 1989).
Bringing in just two players of her own, Butler quickly identified a gritty style of play that would highlight the talent and skill sets of the players on the current roster. Playing an up-tempo style of basketball, the Tigers are averaging almost 20 points more than they did a season ago (50.5 to 68.7).
With an emphasis on aggressive defense, Clemson ranks fourth in the nation (first in ACC) in total steals (345).
Butler’s first year at the helm has been highlighted by many firsts for Clemson. The Tigers tallied their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2012 after downing No. 23 Miami, 76-67 on Jan. 10. Just three days later, Clemson pulled off another upset, defeating No. 18 Florida State, 57-45, marking the first time in program history that the Tigers posted back-to-back road wins over ranked opponents.