SPRINGFIELD, Mass.(Niagara Sports Information) - Niagara men's basketball head coach Joe Mihalich has been named the 2013 The Rock MAAC Coach of the Year announced on Thursday during the MAAC Basketball Awards Show at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mihalich, who is the all-time winningest head coach in MAAC history, added another accolade to his illustrious career as head coach of the Purple Eagles. The "Dean of MAAC Coaches" navigated the youngest team in the conference and 40th youngest in the nation to its first regular season title since the 2004-05 season. Mihalich's Purple Eagles have guaranteed themselves a trip to a postseason tournament (NIT or NCAA) for the fifth time during his 15-year tenure.
This season's squad won a program-best 10-straight MAAC games while also winning eight-straight home games and seven consecutive games overall. NU's 10-straight conference wins propelled it to a 10-1 record for its best-ever MAAC start in its 24-year history as a member.
The Purple Eagles tied their second-best MAAC record at 13-5 and went 7-2 in conference road contests to tie the 2000-01 team for best MAAC road record in program history.
Niagara went 8-1 during the month of January which was its best record in January since going 7-0 during the 1958-59 season under John J. 'Taps' Gallagher. The 8-1 record was a part of a 9-2 start to the 2013 calendar for its best start to a new year since 1993.
Mihalich reached a personal milestone on Dec. 12, when he earned his 250th career win in a 75-59 victory over Hartford.
Under Mihalich's tutelage, three Purple Eagles earned All-MAAC awards. The dynamic sophomore duo of Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason earned All-MAAC First Team honors to become the first set of sophomores to be named to the first team in league history. Freshman forward T.J. Cline was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team; NU has had at least one member on the rookie team for three straight seasons and six times since 2002.
Mihalich becomes only the second coach in league history to win the award three times, joining Saint Peter's Ted Fiore (1987, 89, 91). Mihalich earned his first MAAC Coach of the Year honor during his maiden season in 1998-99 when he led NU to a 12-6 conference record and a share of the regular season crown. He accomplished the feat again during the 2004-05 season as NU went 20-10 and 13-5 in league play en route to claiming the 2005 MAAC Tournament title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 35 years.