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Former UK star, assistant coach Dwane Casey tabbed NBA Coach of the Year

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Former Kentucky standout and assistant coach Dwane Casey received one of the highest honors in the NBA Monday night.

Casey was named the NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Raptors to a 59-23 record and a berth in the playoffs. The record was the best in the Eastern Conference but the Raptors fired Casey after dropping a series to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

One of the biggest regrets, Casey said, is not being able to defeat the Cavaliers in the playoffs.

“A lot of coaches have regrets,” he said. “Not beating Cleveland is one of my regrets. We got better every year … I’m excited about the new journey in Detroit (Pistons) with the group we have to look in the rear view mirror. Winston Churchill said success is measured by failure, failure, and then come back with enthusiasm, and that’s what I’ve done.”

Pat Riley, another former Kentucky standout, won the Red Auerbach Trophy in 1997. Casey was a member of Kentucky’s national championship team in 1978 and later served as a graduate assistant (1980) and then as an assistant coach from 1987-89.

Casey is Toronto’s career leader in wins and guided the Raptors to four Atlantic Division titles in the past five years. He coached the NBA All-Star game last year, the first coach in franchise history to achieve the honor.

During his introductory press conference in Detroit earlier this month, Casey is eager to take the Pistons to next level.

“Our time is now,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say it. We’re not developing. We’re not two or three years away. We want to win now.”

Casey said his first priority in Detroit is to empower his team to be successful.

“I think the key word is trust,” he said. “There is no magic wand to wave over Young players, but it starts out with giving them confidence and letting them know that we believe in them.”

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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