NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - After leading the Rutgers men's basketball team to its first winning season in 14 years, coach Steve Pikiell has been named the winner of the Jim Phelan Award, presented annually to the nation's top Division I coach.
Pikiell directed the Scarlet Knights to their first national ranking in 41 years, first 20-win regular season in 37 years and most conference victories in 29 years.
"Steve Pikiell has done an extraordinary job and I'm delighted to see him receive this recognition," said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs. "In four short years he has transformed Rutgers Basketball into a program that will compete at the highest level for many years to come. Steve and his team exemplify everything we want Rutgers Athletics to represent."
Rutgers (20-11, 11-9) secured the most home regular-season wins in the nation (18), while also setting a program record for home victories. The Scarlet Knights tied for fifth in the Big Ten Conference after being selected 12th in the preseason media poll. As a result, RU earned its first opening-round bye in a conference tournament in 25 years and was poised to secure its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1991.
Nicknamed the "Trapezoid of Terror," the RAC hosted a program-record 10 sell-outs, including the final nine games of the regular season. Before the capacity crowds, the Scarlet Knights had four double-digit victories over ranked opponents, including a 20-point win over Seton Hall in the annual Garden State Hardwood Classic, Rutgers' largest margin of victory over a ranked foe in program history.
Pikiell earned his 250th career head-coaching victory in Rutgers' 64-56 defeat of Minnesota on Jan. 19 at the RAC.
Prior to his arrival "On the Banks," he was a four-time America East Conference Coach of the Year at Stony Brook.
The Jim Phelan Award is named in honor of the legendary bow-tied coach who spent his entire career at Mount Saint Mary's University, leading the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Championship. When he retired in 2003, after coaching for 49 years, he had amassed 830 wins (overall record of 830-524) in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season.