Sacramento State head men’s basketball coach Brian Katz was the recipient of the Hugh Durham Award today, given annually by CollegeInsider.com to the National Mid-Major Coach of the Year. Katz, who recently completed his seventh season at Sacramento State, was voted ahead of 15 other finalists for the award.
Katz, who was at today’s banquet in Indianapolis to accept the award, becomes the program’s first-ever Hugh Durham Award winner. Katz has been raking in the honors after leading his team to arguably the best season in school history, as he was already the recipient of District 6 Coach of the Year, and Big Sky Conference co-Coach of the Year accolades.
Katz led the Hornets to a 21-12 overall record, a 13-5 mark in the Big Sky Conference, the team’s first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the team’s first postseason win in 53 years.
“This award is extremely humbling,” Katz said. “Every coach on the list of finalists is deserving of this award. I want to thank our players and coaching staff. Ultimately, basketball is a team game and a coach is nothing without good players and good people surrounding him.”
The overall record marked the first time in the Div. I era that Sacramento State finished above the .500 mark, and first time since the 1988-89 season. In addition, the 21 wins are tied for second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference wins are the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had entered the season with just three winning seasons in the previous 38 years.
The Hornets qualified for the CIT Postseason Tournament, marking the first time the program had qualified for a postseason event since the 1988 NCAA Div. II Tournament, and just the fifth postseason appearance in school history. Sacramento State’s 73-66 victory over Portland in the first round of the CIT marked the first time in 53 years the Hornets had won a postseason game.
Sacramento State has improved its conference record every season of Katz’s tenure. The Hornets were ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Poll for the first time in school history (ranking as high as 14th), and the team finished just one game back of first place in the Big Sky standings, narrowly missing out on the program’s first conference championship since 1977.
The Hornets never lost more than two consecutive games all year and had three winning streaks of at least four games, including a seven-game winning streak which tied for the sixth longest in school history. Sacramento State also won nine straight home games at one point, and finished the year with a 13-2 home record, tied for the most home wins in program history.
Sacramento State sold out each of its final six home games, including a CIT second round game against Northern Arizona, in which the Hornets were hosting their first postseason game since March 10, 1962.
Under Katz’s tutelage, senior guard Mikh McKinney was named honorable mention All-America, first team all-District 6, and the Big Sky MVP. McKinney became the first player in the Div. I era to receive all three of those awards, and just the third player in school history to earn All-America honors.
Not only has Katz’s team performed well on the hardwood, the program has also excelled in the classroom where the Hornets posted a 3.15 grade point average during the fall semester, the highest cumulative gpa in school history for the men’s basketball program. Of the 21 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Katz’s tenure, 19 have graduated. In addition, of the team’s current four seniors, three are on pace to graduate this spring, and the fourth is on pace to graduate next fall.
Presented on an annual basis, the Mid-Major Coach of the Year award is named in honor of Hugh Durham, who retired at the end of the 2004-05 season. Durham is one of just 12 coaches to lead two different programs to the NCAA Final Four (Florida State in 1972, Georgia in 1983), and the only coach among that group to earn each institution’s lone Final Four appearance.
Other finalists for this year’s Hugh Durham Award included Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Will Brown (Albany), Bobby Collins (UMES), Keno Davis (Central Michigan), Bryce Drew (Valparaiso), Jim Engles (NJIT), Bill Herrion (New Hampshire), Bobby Hurley (Buffalo), Ben Jacobson (Northern Iowa), James Jones (Yale), Jim Les (UC Davis), LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central), Steve Prohm (Murray State), Heath Schroyer (UT-Martin) and Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin).
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