Niagara men’s basketball head coach Joe Mihalich received the 2013 Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award on Friday. Mihalich, who was one of 20 finalists, graciously accepted the award at the CollgeInsider.com Awards banquet in Atlanta, which is the site of this weekend’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.
The Skip Prosser Award was established in 2008 to honor those who not only achieve success on the basketball court but who display moral integrity off of it as well. Prosser posted a career record of 291-146 in 14 seasons as a head coach. During his time at Wake Forest, his teams averaged 21 wins per season while playing in arguably the nation’s most difficult league, the Atlantic Coast Conference. Prosser passed away in July 2007.
Mihalich led the 2012-13 Purple Eagles to unprecedented success while reaching career milestones of his own. In his 15th season at the helm, Mihalich steered the youngest team in the MAAC with a starting lineup consisting of three sophomores, one freshman and a red-shirt transfer senior to its first regular-season title since the 2004-05 season. The regular-season crown clinched Niagara a bid into the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) as Mihalich guided the Purple Eagles to a postseason tournament for the fifth time during his tenure.
The 2012-13 team had a plus-5 win improvement from last season and won a program-best 10-straight conference games which propelled the Purple Eagles to a 10-1 record for their best-ever MAAC start in their 24-year history as a member. 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. Niagara cracked the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll at No. 25 in January to enter the poll for the first time in five seasons.
By the end of the regular season, the Purple Eagles had 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.
Mihalich reached a personal milestone on Dec. 12, when he earned his 250th career win in a 75-59 victory over Hartford.
The season’s accomplishments brought individual accolades. Mihalich was named MAAC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career to become only the second coach in league history to win the award three times. He was named National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 1 Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. Mihalich was also a finalist for the 2013 Lou Henson National Mid-Major Coach of the Year.