Month of Milestones

It seems like once or twice each year, we highlight a MIAC coach who reaches a milestone victory, however this January it seems like there is a coach recording a significant victory on a weekly basis. Let's take a closer look at some of these great coaching accomplishments.

The biggest number and the most significant milestone this season belongs to a veteran coach in Collegeville. Now that legendary Johnnie football coach John Gagliardi has retired, Jim Smith is finally the dean of SJU coaches, and he celebrated his new status as the elder statesman by recording win No. 750. That is an incredible number. I started working at the MIAC in late July, 2010, so that means right now I've got about as many days on the job as Coach Smith does coaching victories. Remarkable.

Smith got his milestone win on Jan. 21 with a 73-66 home win over Carleton. Smith is just the 19th coach in NCAA history - all divisions - to record 750 victories. In his 49th season, Smith is the winningest college coach in MIAC and Minnesota collegiate history, and currently ranked No. 2 in Division III and No. 19 among all active coaches.

To hear more from the coach about reaching 750 and his team's season, check out the Jan. 24 episode of the MIAC Media Weekly Podcast with Mike Gallagher, as Smith was last week's featured guest.

Smith wasn't the only men's basketball coach to hit a landmark win this season, as Carleton's Guy Kalland became the third active MIAC men's coach with 400 victories earlier this month. He joins Smith and Gustavus' Mark Hanson in the 400-win club in his 29th season on the Knights' bench. Win No. 400 came in a 63-56 victory over Macalester.

Overall, Kalland is the seventh MIAC men's basketball coach to win 400 games, and he now ranks 30th in career victories among active coaches in Division III. This season, Kalland became the third coach in the division to hit the 400-win plateau.

Kalland's 400 career victories are certainly impressive, and in a way, they help also put a spotlight on just how amazing Smith's achievement is as well. Getting to 400 career victories is certainly a reason for celebration and a tremendous mark of long-sustained success. But stacked next to Smith ... it's a little more than half of the win total of the SJU coach, which simultaneously adds marvel to both accomplishments.

We couldn't talk about milestones in the "State of Hockey" without taking a look down to St. Peter at the No. 2-ranked Gustavus women. Mike Carroll joined the MIAC Milestone club in January as he notched his 300th career victory on Jan. 18 in a 2-1 victory over St. Catherine. Carroll is just the second coach in Division III women's hockey history to reach 300 wins, and he's the eighth to reach that mark in all of women's collegiate hockey. In 13-plus seasons with the Gusties, Carroll was 301-68-22 (.798) at the time of his milestone win, and ranked sixth among all active collegiate women's hockey coaches in career victories.

There are two other aspects that make Carroll's milestone victory even more intriguing. First of all, it's the fact that the significant win came during a remarkable season for his Gustie team. Thus far, Gustavus is 16-0 overall and a perfect 10-0 in the MIAC, and its 20 points lead the conference standings by eight points over the second place team. The second-ranked Gustavus team is the only perfect team in Division III, as top-ranked Plattsburgh has a tie on its record at 18-0-1.

In Division III, it's common to hear about multi-sport athletes, but it's certainly more rare to see a multi-sport head coach. However, Carroll fits that bill, as he also leads the Gustie baseball team in the spring. Carroll also has eclipsed the 300-win plateau on the diamond, giving him more than 610 wins as a head coach in his two sports combined. Incredible.

The first two tickets to the MIAC Playoffs were punched Wednesday night. The St. Thomas men have locked up a spot in the postseason with just one loss this season, and a win Saturday at Augsburg would give the Tommies at least a share of the conference title. Also, the Concordia women locked up their postseason bid with a win over St. Olaf. The Cobbers are now six games ahead of the seventh-place Oles with six to play, and Concordia would hold the tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep of STO.

Bethel's Taylor Hall and Augsburg's Dan Kornbaum are putting together a pair of incredible seasons on the basketball court. They are 1-2 in scoring (22.6 ppg to 18.7 ppg) and rebounding (10.1 rpg to 8.0 rpg) with Hall edging Kornbaum in both categories, and the duo has claimed five of the six MIAC Men's Basketball Athlete-of-the-Week awards.

The two each put up an amazing performance last week. Hall had a jaw-dropping stat line Saturday in a one-point win over Carleton with 37 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks to help earn his third MIAC AOW award in a four-week span. However, Kornbaum was largely responsible for Bethel's only loss of the week, as the Auggie star was a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor in a 27-point, 12-rebound performance to help Augsburg beat Bethel, 69-65, last Monday. Hall also had 27 in the game to go along with nine boards. As the calendar flips to February, it should be fun to see these two continue their season-long battle for MIAC Player-of-the-Year honors, and hopefully for MIAC basketball fans, another head-to-head showdown in the Playoffs.

Make sure to visit the MIAC Media Page to view all our new online content. A new episode of the MIAC Media Podcast with Mike Gallagher went up today, and features a great interview with Saint Benedict Head Women's Basketball Coach Mike Durbin. Also, stay tuned to the MIAC's YouTube channel for new MIAC Media Video Spotlights each week.

We want this to become an interactive thing, so please leave thoughts and feedback in the comments section below, or interact with us via Twitter, Facebook or email. Mike and myself would love to field some questions from MIAC fans on the blog and podcast, so ask away and get involved!
Also, if you like what you've seen on the blog so far, make sure to click the "Subscribe by email" link on the bottom of this post and sign up to receive an update right to your inbox every time I publish a new post. Thanks and stay warm, Minnesota.

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