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Southern Miss Head Basketball Coach Ladner named Sun Belt Coach of the Year

By: Frank Corder - February 28, 2023

Southern Mississippi head coach Jay Ladner calls out to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisiana in Hattiesburg, Miss., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Southern Mississippi won 82-71. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis - Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

USM players Crowley, Haase and Pinckney also pick up conference honors.

On Monday, Southern Miss Head Basketball Coach Jay Ladner was named the Sun Belt’s Joe Gottfried Coach of the Year in the university’s first season in the new conference.

Ladner and the Golden Eagles men’s team produced perhaps the best turnaround in college basketball this season, winning 25 games compared to just 7 a year ago. According to Southern Miss Athletics, that 18-win swing is two shy of tying the record for the best turnaround in NCAA history. That feat was accomplished by Iowa State during the 2021-22 season.

Southern Miss won the Sun Belt Regular Season Championship last week ahead of starting conference tournament play. Their shot at a NCAA Tournament bid remains uncertain but if the Golden Eagles can win the Sun Belt conference tournament it would improve their chances.

Ladner’s team this year was undefeated at home in the Reed Green Coliseum, tying a decade old program history record. The team also tied a school record for conference wins in a single season with 14. That stat has stood since the 1949-1950 season.

Ladner is the first Southern Miss men’s basketball coach to be named conference coach of the year since Larry Eustachy in 2012.

In addition to Ladner’s honor, Southern Miss players received conference recognition as well on Monday.

Junior guard Austin Crowley, a 6’5″ Ole Miss transfer from West Point, was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. Crowley also picked up First Team All-Sun Belt honors.

Felipe Haase, the 6’8″ graduate forward from Chile, was named Second Team All-Sun Belt, while 6’9″ Senior forward DeAndre Pinckney from Florida earned Third Team All-Sun Belt Honors. It’s the first time since the 1887-88 season where three Golden Eagles land on all-conference teams.

The Sun Belt conference tournament begins today in Pensacola, Florida, and runs through March 6th. Southern Miss will open play against the winner of South Alabama and Appalachian State.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: frank@magnoliatribune.com