Coach and First Class

Around the Nation has a nice piece on St. John Fisher Women’s Head Coach Phil Kahler who is back on the Cardinals’ bench after missing time due to a heart attack. Kahler has 739 wins, the most of any coach at the Division III level.

Meanwhile one of the Hall of Fame message board posters (Sac) noted that two 500-win coaches meet tonight when Glenn Van Wieren and No. 11 Hope (574 wins) take on Mike Turner and Albion (500 wins). The natural, interesting follow up question is whether there are any other coaching match-ups with more wins on the line.

While I’m no Elias Sports Bureau, here are the top three men’s games I could find on the schedule this year (win totals should be through yesterday):

1102: No. 2 Amherst (Dave Hixon 532) vs. Colby (Dick Whitmore 570)
1074: Hope vs. Albion
1054: Franklin & Marshall (Glenn Robinson 715) vs. Johns Hopkins (Bill Nelson 339)

On the women’s side, I think the top match-up is Salem State (Tim Shea 586) versus Emmanuel (555) for a combined total of 1141.

And for those who are curious, it looks like the top match-up at any level this season is UConn (Jim Calhoun 745) versus Syracuse (Jim Boeheim 739) for 1,484.

NOTE: Initially I had posted that the top match-up was Texas Tech (Bobby Knight 882) versus Oklahoma State (Eddie Sutton 828) for a total of 1,710. It turns out Sutton’s son, Sean, now coaches the Cowboys. That’ll also show why won’t be calling me anytime soon.

Thanks to ‘Just Bill’ for the correction.

* * *

So much for home court advantage.

All four road teams lost tonight in the CCIW, though the higher ranked teams won in the games involving Top 25 opponents. No. 14 Elmhurst kept No. 18 Carthage at arms length throughout the second half in beating the Red Men 72-62. The Blue Jays have won 12 straight since losing the opener to Simpson. No. 15 Augustana shot 56.0 percent in both halves (14-25 twice) and got 22 points from Jordan Delp to put No. 21 Wheaton away 75-69. In the other two games Millikin and North Park showed that there will be no easy games in this conference – even when you are the favorite at home – beating IWU and North Central respectively. And that after the Titans and Cards beat ranked teams on Saturday night.

Though I’m admittedly observing from a distance, I offer a few thoughts to the CCIW pundits.

1 – This conference is a lot of fun to watch…and I do mean watch. Saturday’s IWU/Carthage videocast and tonight’s Augustana/Wheaton videocast seriously increased the capacity for me to spend even more time monitoring Division III basketball.

2 – Wheaton (Ill.) needs to go on a serious run if they are going to have any chance at a Pool C bid. The wins against Calvin is losing luster by the day with the Knights dropping another one to Adrian (4-8) tonight. And almost beating a Big 10 team is nice, but it won’t mean much come selection time.

Other somewhat random thoughts…

Parity will make the OAC and NJAC fun to follow as well this year. Capital followed up Saturday’s big win over No. 5 ONU by losing to Mount Union. The Purple Raiders are in seventh place (though only two games out of first) and weren’t picked to finish much higher in the preseason. But I saw them in person and was impressed by some of Lee Hood’s young talent. If that’s the seventh best squad in the OAC, the teams better buckle up for a rough-and-tumble regular season.

In the NJAC the favorite is William Paterson. Oh, they lost to NJCU? Then the favorite is Rutgers-Newark who is undefeat – oh, make that Ramapo who hasn’t lost…unless you count that game against Kean.

Meanwhile conference play has been good to Widener. The Pioneers have loses to F&M (5-8) and Philadelphia Bible (5-6) but are 3-0 in conference.