Tommie Sports - Men's Basketball

MBB's John Tauer finalist for elite award

April 03, 2013

Coach picSt. Thomas head coach John Tauer is a finalist for three prominent national coaching awards for the 2012-13 season.  

He’s one of two Division III coaches -– and one of 10 from all NCAA, NAIA and junior colleges -– up for the John McLendon National Coach of the Year Award.  

He’s also one of 12 finalists for the Glenn Robinson Award as Division III Coach of the Year.  

Tauer is also among 11 finalists for the Division III National Coach of the Year honor by the National Basketball Coaches’ Association (NABC).  

McLendon Award

That finalist list includes Division I head coaches Dana Altman (Oregon), John Beilein (Michigan), Jim Crews (St. Louis), Jim Larranaga (Miami) and John Thompson III (Georgetown).  

A trailblazer and one pioneer, McLendon became the first African American coach to win an integrated national championship. His team went on to win the NAIA Division I Men's Tournament in 1957, 1958 and 1959, making him the first coach in history to win three consecutive NAIA championships.

In 1962 he became the first African American head coach in a major professional league (ABL) with the Cleveland Pipers. In 1966 he became the first African American head coach of predominantly-white university, when he took over the Cleveland State program. In 1969, McLendon was hired by the Denver Rockets and became the first African American head coach in the American Basketball Association. After a brief stint with the Rockets, McLendon ended his 25-year professional coaching career with a winning percentage of .760 and 523 victories.

The 2013 award will be presented on April 5 at the awards banquet in Atlanta, site of the men's NCAA Basketball Championship.  

Glenn Robinson Award

The award is presented annually to the top Division III men's basketball coach. It’s named after the longtime Franklin & Marshall coach who has surpassed 800 career victories and is currently 12th on the all-time wins list. He has taken F&M to NCAA Division III tournament 22 times. Robinson guided the Diplomats to the Division III Final Fours in 1979, 1991, 1996, 2000 and 2009. This season, he picked up his 23rd 21-plus win season. 

The 2013 award will be presented on April 5 at the awards banquet in Atlanta, site of the men's NCAA Basketball Championship.


30-Win Season

Tauer guided the Tommies to a 30-2 record and a trip to the national semifinal playoff round. It was St. Thomas’ third 30-win season since 2009 and second Final Four berth in the last three years.   Action pic

The Toms won 21 of 22 games against conference opponents and won an unprecedented eighth consecutive MIAC regular-season title.  

After being ranked No. 11 in the national preseason poll, the Tommies quickly moved up to the No. 1 spot, and stayed nine weeks. They won six games against nationally-ranked teams.  

Not only did it lead all 1,000 NCAA programs in field-goal percentage, St. Thomas ranked first or second in Division III in five stat categories, including first in scoring margin. Its 52.4 percent field-goal percentage and 43.3 percent 3-point proficiency set new school records. The former was set in 2009 when the Tommies went 30-1, and the latter was set in 1991-92 when Tauer was a freshman.  

"We are proud of both our national rankings and school records in both categories," Tauer said. "No school in the nation posted shooting numbers like these, and they reflect three things: we are blessed with good shooters who work exceptionally hard on their skills, they have a keen awareness of the difference between a good shot and a great shot, and they are exceptionally unselfish in their willingness to pass up a good shot for themself to create a great shot for a teammate," evidenced by UST's No. 2 national ranking in assist-turnover ratio.  

The 30-2 record is the second-best winning percentage (.938) in program history and ranks in the top five this season among all NCAA programs. The Toms had only two defeats, a total that tied three others this winter for the fewest in all of NCAA basketball.  

Tauer said any coaching awards are a reflection of the team and coaching staff commitment.  

“Our seniors set the bar high and were part of sustained success over their four-year era. They won 105 games, four MIAC Championships, played in four NCAA tournaments, two Final Fours and won a national championship.” Tauer said.  

“The members of our coaching staff are really unsung heroes. Any of the coaching awards we receive are considered team awards and staff awards. We believe that everyone involved with Tommie basketball is a role player, and that’s true of our staff, too.  

“Mike Keating, with the number of hours he spends breaking down film, really helps our players’ preparation. Nobody sees that. We’re happy for Jim Hayes that he’s going to be the Hamline head coach. His work with our defense the last two years was invaluable. He was tireless and diligent so that we were always prepared and had a system our guys believed in and trusted one another to execute. Jon Hughes been here 22 years, he works a lot with our press and provides experience and wisdom that benefits our coaches and players. Don Johnson is a jack of all trades and helps in so many areas ranging from player development to recruiting to the scouting of opponents. Tommy Fritz and B.J. Viau coach our junior varsity, which is an important piece of our program and speaks volumes of guys wanting to come back and stay involved with our program.  

“I like that we work really hard, but we also get along well. The camaraderie we have within our staff and between our staff and players is both unique and genuine. We all share the same goal, and we appreciate the different roles it takes to pursue excellence at the level we strive to achieve.”  

Action pic


Future Bright

Tauer said his five seniors won’t be easy to replace, but said the program is in good shape.  

“We’re working hard to sustain the success we’ve had,” Tauer said. “We know others will be gunning for us. As a program, you’re either moving forward or moving backward. You can’t be static. We always want to be dynamic and evolving.  

“I have been blessed to play in a Final Four, to serve as an assistant coach in a Final Four, and to be a head coach in a Final Four. It’s pretty neat to think of the Final Four and know that for our program, it’s not a pipedream. ” Tauer said.  

“We’ve wired our basketball program to be sustainable and we have set our goals high. We’ve established a certain culture predicated on depth, balance, and pressure, and a key to all of those is to have an exceptional group of unselfish individuals. The freshmen and sophomores who have been the leading scorers on their high school teams look at our juniors and seniors and recognize that the upperclassmen are far more concerned with winning than scoring points and their stats, and that permeates the culture we have at UST.  

“We will continue to recruit the right players, team-oriented guys from winning programs. If our two preseason All-Americans are content in averaging 10 points per game and being a part of a record-setting team, that’s a better example for our young players than any words we can speak as coaches.”  

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