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Mid-Season National Coach of the Year candidates

Since we are at the midway point of the season, we take a look at potential candidates for National Coach of the Year honors. There’s been some exceptional basketball being played this year, and that can’t come without brilliant minds leading their teams as coaches.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

This year, it's been a bevy of upsets and for the first time in a while, there's seems to be more credence to the fact that there's more parity than ever before.

Well, this couldn't take place without great coaching. So I've comprised a list of notable coaches who are doing an exceptional job -- and should be considered as potential National Coach of the Year contenders.

*Listed in no particular order

1. Tony Bozzella, Seton Hall (#25): There might not be a better program builder in the country than Bozzella. After cultivating a winning culture at Iona, he's now doing the same at his alma mater.

The Pirates are now 19-2 -- best start since 1994-95 -- and atop the Big East with an 8-1 conference record. This is one of the best turnarounds in the country -- and Bozzella's inimitable ability to reach his players is truly something to marvel at.

2. Scott Rueck, Oregon State (#7): Not many people in women's basketball foresaw the job he would do, particularly after the debacle of Lavonda Wagner -- and the turmoil she left the program.

Rueck has exceeded everyone's expectations as he has the Beavers in the top-10 -- he's one of the best teachers in the sport. One can't be flippant of what Rueck has accomplished, especially with all he had to overcome.

3. Courtney Banghart, Princeton (#17/#21): She has done some unassailable things during her tenure at Princeton.

Banghart has not only dominated the Ivy League for the past few years, she's built this program into a true top-25 team -- which is an achievement in itself, as the Ivy League hasn't been known to place teams in that esteemed club. With the academic rigors that are Princeton, one can't underestimate the exceptional job that Banghart continues to do.

4. Jim Foster, Chattanooga (#25): While Foster is not a neophyte, as he's had great success in his career, the job he's doing at Chattanooga is nothing short of remarkable.

In his first year with the Mocs, they won the SoCon conference, and went undefeated (18-0). What does Foster do for an encore this year? Oh, he simply defeats two top-10 programs in the same year: Tennessee and Stanford.

5. Dawn Staley, South Carolina (#1): It's no minute task of how Staley has brought South Carolina to national prominence. The job Staley has done at South Carolina is phenomenal. Before her arrival, the Gamecocks for a lack of a better word, were one of the laughing stocks of the SEC -- a true doormat.

In her sixth year at the helm, Staley has taken South Carolina to heights that exceeded the expectations of most aficionados. They are undefeated, ranked No. 1 in the country and play a style of defense that the Seattle Seahawks would find stifling.

Staley has always risen to the apex of any scenario in her basketball career, but this is one of her best feats.

6. Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State (#18): In just two years on the sidelines for Mississippi State, Schaefer has done a restoration job unlike many. He's already has them near the top of the quagmire that is the SEC -- which is the nation's top conference.

Often extolled as the "Secretary of Defense", Schaefer's imprint on his team is palpable, as the Bulldogs are second in the SEC in blocked shots (4.9) and top-5 in points allowed.

7. Marlene Stollings, Minnesota: After the past few years of not reaching their true potential under ex-head coach Pam Borton, athletic director Norwood Teague decided to make a change. And Teague, who is widely recognized as a genius when it comes to hiring basketball coaches, decided to go with Stollings -- and it's been a home run.

She's completely revamped the Gophers in only her first year. Stollings' innovative offense has been a joy to watch, as she's invigorated the Minnesota fan base. Without their best player in Rachel Banhem, the Gophers still haven't missed a beat.

They were ranked this year at No. 23, and as of right now, still are receiving votes for the top-25.