Tim McDonald – Cabrini - Colonial States Athletic Conference - DIII
Finishing off an action packed season, Cabrini claimed their first CSAC title under McDonald; who continues the winning tradition in Radnor, PA. by developing all star performers leading the nation in rebounding and scoring.
Tim Sweeney – Hobart – Liberty League - DIII
Sweeney gets the job done by committee developing league leading stats in scoring offense, scoring defense, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, rebounding margin and steals. The former DI associate hc (Elon), returns Hobart to the top spot in three years on the job.
Matt Fletcher - Bethany Lutheran -Upper Midwest Athletics Conference - DIII
In just his second season and for just the second time in conference history, the trophy will spend the next year in Mankato, Minnesota. Wasting no time in developing the current roaster, Fletcher captured thirteen wins this season and only three losses which was strong enough for his first regular season championship.
Ryan Ridder - Bethune-Cookman Wildcats - MEAC
Its a race coming down to the last game for the MEAC championship with four other teams. If BC can keep pace ,they will earn a share of the tittle. Just like they shared the top spot for most home wins in conference play. Ridder captures scoring and rebounding offense titles putting him in a great position for a tournament championship in his first year.
Paul Sather - Northern State -
Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference - DII
Eight years in one of the league’s top coaches and top staff finally shake the monkey off their back. Northern concludes the regular season with 23 double figure victories, and 11 by 20 points or more. They shot 50.0 percent from the floor or better in 16 contests, and tallied 13 games with double figure 3-pointers made.
Kelvin Starr – The Masters – Golden State Athletic Conference - NAIA
Known for transition basketball, Starr completes a quick and dramatic turnaround. Winning the GSAC tournament title in year one, he follows through in year two with the regular season title.
Tony Bates – Governers State - Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference – NAIA
Bates began building a program from scratch, creating an exciting brand of basketball that thrives on an up-tempo offense and pressure defense that has captured the schools first ever regular season championship and its first in the CCAC.
Darwin Cook - Antelope Valley – California Pacific Conference - NAIA
Antelope Valley clinched their first-ever regular season championship behind the strategy of hc Cook. The former pro spent eight years in the NBA and another four overseas in Italy. His career began at UNLV under Massimino where he coached 1993 All-American and NBA Lottery Pick Isaiah “J.R.” Rider.
Donte’ Jackson - Grambling State - Southwestern Athletic Conference
Preseason polls had Grambling State finishing seventh from the top and only fourth from the bottom. But first year HC Jackson had other plans. His strategy included top marks in scoring offense and defense, scoring margin, free throws, FG and 3pt Defense, rebounding, and steals.
Kevin Baggett – Rider - MAAC
It came down to the last and their highest scoring game. They needed all 110 points to beat Iona and capture a share of the regular season championship winning the tie breaker for more overall wins than Canisius. The DI veteran coach of twenty-two years finally has his first regular season championship after six years at the head of the Rider program.
Adam Bohac - Southern Nazarene - Great American Conference - DII
Lighting struck three times this season when The Storm swallowed their first Conference title, their first 20-win season since the 2011-12 season. And all of theses are firsts since joining DII. The ten year hc has been a steady guide for the Storm. His ability is seen at the highest level as a former AAU coach to Blake Griffin.
Tom Brown - West Texas A&M - Lone Star Conference - DII
For the first time since 1994, the Buffs capture their conference regular season outright. Perhaps more importantly, the team has continuously set new standards for the program on and off the court in each of the years Brown has been walking the sidelines.
Josh Loeffler – Johns Hopkins University - DIII
Coming back to haunt another one, the former Atlantic Region Coach of the Year makes a triumphant return to DIII. Loeffler becomes the first coach in Centennial Conference history to win the league championship in his first year. Getting better every day, he preaches leadership, togetherness, and improvement.
Jay Joyner - North Carolina A&T - MEAC
A clear example of strong leadership, Joyner did what had to be done this past off season in adjusting his staff to play their strengths. The result was a worst to first turn around. A well rounded coach with experience from JUCIO to NAIA to the elite levels of DI (Big East Staffer), he leads NC A&T to a tie breaker win over four other teams in a muddled MEAC season championship.
Travis DeCuire – Montana – Big Sky
Another first time outright winner, DeCuire has secured three twenty plus win seasons during his four years as head coach. DeCuire has pushed hard enough to get through the conditioning struggles, the pain of the initial run, and it appears that he’s hit his stride.
T.J. Otzelberger - South Dakota State - Summit
SDSU finished the regular season 25-6 overall and 13-1 in league play. They are 17-5 all-time at The Summit League Tournament and have claimed four titles. But this is the first time under second year HC Otzelberger as he continues the Jackrabbits winning ways without skipping a beat.
Porter Moser – Loyola Chicago - Missouri Valley Conference
Making a career out of flipping programs, Moser has done it again in Chicago. Moser captures his first MVC regular season championship with a keen eye on the upcoming tournament. Simply put, he did this season what he always does; he gets the best out of his players as the team lead in most conference stas.
Nate Oats – Buffalo - MAC
Climbing over the hurdle, Oats moves up from two consecutive second place finishes finally capturing the outright MAC regular season championship for the first time in school history. Enhancing both the individual and the team, Oats and company continue to develop defense and all conference performers ready to capture the MAC tournament.
Matt McMahon – Murray State - OVC
Some may say his championship was sheer providence. A tornado warning screamed through the County, lightning struck the roof. A loud boom was heard in the arena just before water started coming in landing baseline across from the Racers' bench. The game was stopped and could have easily been canceled. After a three hour delay they resumed around midnight and MSU claimed their 25th OVC regular season title.
Drew Cooper – Thomas More - Presidents' Athletic Conference - DIII
Cooper is one of the brightest and most talented coaches on the rise from any division. This season he captures his first outright regular season championship; having shared the honor last season.
Richie Riley - Nicholls Colonels - Southland Conference
The job Riley had done in only two years at Nicholls is nothing short of amazing. The young and up and coming coach should get lots of looks this off season particularly for ad’s interested in instant and potent offense.
Earl Grant – Charleston - CAA
Finishing with a share of the regular season championship with Northeastern, Grant has accomplished a very difficult task in turning things around to restore Charleston to the glory days of Bobby Cremins and the winning ways of the mid-nineties through the early 2000’s. But this is the first championship both for Grant and for the school in the CAA.
Matt Croci – Wittenberg – North Atlantic Coast Conference - DIII
Picked to finish third in the preseason polls for Croci’s second season on the sideline, instead they ran the table to claim the crown finishing 14-2. The eighteen year veteran proudly leads his alma mater to exceeding expectations as the norm.
Chris Jans - NMSU - Western Athletic Conference
Jans and the entire staff at NMSU have found their way on our lists all season long for good reason. It’s no surprise to see the collective efforts of this staff culminating in a conference championship. Finishing in the top five of every stat on both sides of the ball (and most of the time coming in at number one). With so much success its hard to believe this is still Jans first season leading the Aggies.
Chris Mack – Xavier- Big East
Hard to believe that with three Elite Eights, eight Sweet Sixteens, sixteen round of thirty two appearances, and twenty-eight NCAA tournaments, Mack and Xavier have never won the Big East. That was until now.
These are the top head coaches from DI, DII, DIII, and NAIA levels on the verge of winning their first regular season championship (either of their career, in that conference, or with their current school) and putting themselves in a strong position to capture their conference tournament championship as well. These coaches get the best out of their team while demonstrating a will to win coupled with a never quit, scrappy, attitude.