Coaching feature follow-up

Friday I wrote one of the more in-depth and involved features I've taken on this year - a story about four MIAC men's basketball head coaches who are all alumni of the league and worked as assistant coaches in the conference prior to achieving their current positions. They are: Gustavus' Mark Hanson, St. Thomas' John Tauer, Hamline's Jim Hayes and Saint Mary's Jamison Rusthoven.

It ended up being a pretty long feature, but it could've gone even further with all the great stuff I got from the coaches as well as the MIAC sports information directors and St. Thomas Athletic Director Steve Fritz, who was another MIAC alum-assistant-head coach before turning the Tommies over to Tauer. In fact, there were enough additional angles and unused material that it would make for a perfect blog post. So here we are. Below are some of the things that didn't quite fit into Friday's feature, but are still worth sharing.

Coach Kosmoski honored at Williams Arena Saturday.
**The pedigree of the MIAC men's basketball coaching fraternity is pretty darn impressive. Not only did these four coaches first work as assistants in the league, several came from the Division I ranks. Jim Smith - celebrating his 50th year at Saint John's - assisted at Marquette before coming to Collegeville. Dan Kosmoski played and coached at Minnesota prior to taking over at St. Olaf, where he is now in his 20th season. In fact, Kosmoski was on the Williams Arena court Saturday at halftime of the Gophers vs. Indiana game to be honored with the 1988-89 team that reached the Sweet 16.

Concordia's Rich Glas assisted MIAC and Augsburg alum and Hall of Famer Lute Olsen at Arizona, also assisted at Hawaii, and was the head coach at then-Division-II North Dakota from 1988-2005. Augsburg' s Aaron Griess was previously the head coach at Division II-Chaminade, which is famous in the basketball world for hosting the annual Maui Invitational. In the 2003 Maui tourney, Griess' Silverswords took down Division I powerhouse Villanova.

Bethel first-year coach Doug Novak assisted at Tulane and The Citadel before taking over the Royals prior to the 2013-14 season. And Macalester Head Coach Tim Whittle was the top assistant for Washington (Mo.) when it claimed back-to-back Division III National Championships in 2008 and 2009. All 11 MIAC men's basketball head coaches come with extremely impressive resume's.

**Carleton Head Coach Guy Kalland was mentioned in the story for his mentorship of Hamline's Hayes during his seven years on Kalland's staff. Kalland is also a MIAC alum, having graduated from Concordia in 1974, and is now in his 30th season at Carleton.

Mark Hanson is one of three active MIAC
coaches with 400 or more career wins.
**It was mentioned in the feature and referenced in this blog already, but it bears repeating - three MIAC coaches are celebrating some considerable milestones this season. Smith is celebrating his 50th season at Saint John's, Kalland is in his 30th season at Carleton, and Kosmoski is in season No. 20 at St. Olaf. Smith, Kalland and Gustavus' Hanson (24th season) are three of Division III's elite 400 wins club. Smith entered 2013-14 with 755 career wins, which are the most in Minnesota collegiate basketball history. Often times Division III is thought of a stepping stone towards Division I or II, but it's clear that the MIAC has certainly become a place men's basketball coaches can call home.

**There are also plenty of examples of former MIAC men's basketball assistant coaches who have gone on to head coaching jobs. Thanks to Saint John's SID Ryan Klinkner for letting me know that former Johnnie assistant Kelly Boe has now been the head coach at D-II Concordia-St. Paul since 2006. Another former Johnnie assistant, Jim Trewick, had a head coaching stint in the MIAC at Saint Mary's, and is now the head coach at St. Cloud Tech High School.

Another former MIAC assistant turned head coach is a good friend of mine, and ended up switching over to the women's game. Aaron Kahl played for Hanson and coached under him as well, and assisted former Gustie women's head coach Mickey Haller, and now Aaron is the head women's coach at nearby Northwestern-St. Paul. He and I worked together at Dakota Wesleyan University, where he was the head women's coach and I was the sports information director.

There's another good MIAC coaching example at Division I North Dakota State, as Freddy Coleman joined the Bison coaching staff as an assistant this season. For the previous two years, Coleman was on Glas' Cobber staff at Concordia, and returned to his alma mater this summer after playing for NDSU.

Since I've only been in the MIAC since the 2010-11 season, I'm sure there are a lot of other examples of MIAC assistants moving on to head coaching positions in other leagues or divisions. If you know of one that I missed, please let me know in the comment section, or send me an email at: I wouldn't be surprised to learn if there are quite a few other examples of this that hadn't yet been brought to my attention, thanks to the MIAC's extensive coaching network, and I always love to learn more about the league.

**This story led our office to look ahead to the future and discuss current MIAC assistant coaches that could be among the next to join the head coaching ranks. Two names that immediately came to mind for us were Saint John's Assistant Coach Pat McKenzie, and Carleton Assistant Coach Ryan Kershaw. McKenzie is also the Johnnies' compliance director, and assumed head coaching duties last year in the MIAC Playoff quarterfinals when Smith's wife fell ill. Kershaw is in his first year with the Knights after spending the last six seasons as Griess' top assistant at Augsburg, so he certainly knows the MIAC well. he also played and coached for the Knights cross-town rival, St. Olaf.

The two are both MIAC alums and have some interesting family ties. McKenzie currently coaches his brother, Kevin, who is a senior guard on the Johnnie roster. Their father, also named Pat, is a 1979 SJU basketball alum and the current team physician of the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, when Kershaw moved to Carleton this season, he did something brave - he signed up to work for his father-in-law. He's married to Kalland's daughter, Abby. Kershaw is also the cousin of St. Olaf Asst. AD, SID and Assistant Women's Basketball Coach Mike Ludwig. The family ties run deep in the MIAC.

Those are just two examples of the many talented assistant coaches in the conference that could ascend to the head coaching ranks someday soon. Put in your plug for your favorite MIAC assistants in the comments section, or email them to me at

Tauer has the Tommies in first place in 2013-14.
**There were also a few good leftover quotes from all my interviews that I didn't get to use in the story that some MIAC basketball fans may find interesting, so I'm going to share them here.

Tauer, on how he combined his academic and athletic interests into a career: "[That balance] I do think is one of the reasons I pursued a doctorate. I was really interested in motivation ... I was never the most talented athlete and had to get by with a lot of hard work and some degree of intelligence. From a coaching perspective, we preach that balance to our players. Being a student comes first, but basketball should complement their academic studies."

Tauer, on coaching with - and now against - Jim Hayes, as well as some of the other conference coaches: "I've known [Hayes] since I was 18. We had already had a healthy rivalry. He called to congratulate me when I got the head job and we struck up a conversation and talked about his career goals ... I'm very grateful to him for his two years at St. Thomas, and he's well respected by all of his peers. We certainly understand his loyalty to Hamline, and when that job opened it seemed like a no brainer. We were sad to see him go, but were excited for the opportunity he had. We know he'll do a good job.

Hayes is back at his alma mater.
"It was a little different coaching against him. We're not going to surprise him. I think he knows everything we're doing. That's what's fun about the MIAC, whether it's a guy like Jim who coached with us, or guys like Coach Smith, Coach Kosmoski, Coach Kalland, Mark Hanson. There are some great coaches. There aren't a whole lot of suprises in our league. You're not going to trick anyone in a big game. There's healthy rivalries, and the coaches all have great values."

Hayes, on what he learned as an assistant at Carleton and St. Thomas: "I learned that flexibility piece with Guy. Being at a place like Carleton where the academic standards are a little different, our roster wasn't always that deep. You had to learn that flexibility. I took that away as much as anything. I learned how to build a strong family community atmosphere within the program.  

"The biggest thing I took from [St. Thomas] is just how well they get talented players to buy into the team concept. Generally they don't have one individual average 20 or even 18 points a game. They have several guys who average eight to 12 points a game. That's a strength of theirs and what separates them. When you look at the level of talent, most of us would agree that some of those individual players could score more points or hunt their shot more, but that's how they strengthen their program. It's not an easy task."

Rusthoven patrols the Saint Mary's sideline.
Rusthoven, on deciding he wanted to pursue a career in Division III: For a long time I chased the bigger, faster, stronger that may come with this job or that job. I realized I didn't want to sacrifice my family for a job. The higher you go, it's high risk, high reward. I've heard a lot of stories. There aren't a lot of guys who put their family first. This is a level where I could have it all. We're not going to get rich, but my kids can be involved.

"My son Trey, who's 9, he's an untypical 9-year-old who loves to be on the bench and with the guys. To have him involved made me understand this is the level I want to be at. you can never get these years back. To get paid six figures and have 18,000 people watching you is one thing, but I was born and raised in the Cities. It was important to be around family. That was big. It's still a little strange to me, taking the bus for our road games back to where I grew up."

Fritz, on what he learned as an assistant coach: "I was lucky enough to work under Tom Feely who I played for. I spent nine years as his assistant and we had some good teams. The early teams went to the NAIA tournament and did very well. You learn a lot of things. He was ahead of his time. You try to soak all those things up, things you either will use or won't use in the future. None of us are very completely ready; it's all just a learning process and a maturing process."

**If you didn't get a chance to listen to the most recent episode of MIAC Weekly, I highly recommend it. Host Mike Gallagher had a great conversation with Gustavus tennis alum Eric Butorac, who recently completed a stellar doubles run all the way to the championship match of the Australian Open. Gustie Women's Basketball Coach Laurie Kelly also joins the show. A must-listen episode for all MIAC fans.

If you have any questions for Mike on the podcast, email them to me at or leave them in the comments section. Also, if you have a coach or student-athlete or alumni you'd like to hear on the show, let us know and we'll do our best to get them on.

One other bit of big news for MIAC Weekly. The podcast is now available on iTunes! Be sure to visit the iTunes podcast page and subscribe or download your favorite episodes. All are free to download.

**The 2014 MIAC Swimming and Diving Championships begin Thursday, and MIAC Media started the hype machine today with this promo video. We're looking forward to an outstanding three days at the U of M Aquatic Center!

If you're at the MIAC S&D Championships, interact with us on Twitter using the hashtag #MIACSD or post a picture to our Facebook page. It's always an action-packed three days, so we'd love to see it from the fans' perspective as well!

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