Ahead of such legends as Wooden, Carnesecca
Buena Vista University men's basketball coach Brian Van Haaften reached a coaching landmark Saturday night with his team's win over Coe College.
Now in his eighth-season at BVU, the win gave Van Haaften a 160-44 mark, good enough to become the all-time winningest coach in BVU men's basketball history.
Van Haaften gave most of the credit to his players in an interview with the Pilot-Tribune Monday morning.
"We've just been fortunate to have great players and great athletes in our program while I've been here," Van Haaften said. "We've had the Iowa Conference MVP at BVU four times in my tenure here."
But Van Haaften admits the most important part of his job after taking care of his players is recruiting.
"It's the second most important thing we do in our program," he said. "We're very selective on which players we recruit at BVU. If we feel a player will hurt the chemistry of our team, we won't recruit him."
College coaching has often been broken down into two areas, recruiting talented players which fit into a system and coaching during games.
Van Haaften has succeeded greatly at both.
With his 160-44 mark, Van Haaften has a winning percentage of .778. That is second among all Division III coaches in the nation.
He reached the 100-win plateau in just his fifth season, in the 132nd game of his college career - faster than nearly any coach in Division III. It ranks Van Haaften above legendary coaches John Wooden and St. Johns' legendary Lou Carneseca.
His record vs. conference opponents is 124-25. And prior to this season, his record in games decided by five points or less is 34-14, proving that his ability to coach on the floor is nearly unmatched in the Iowa Conference.
All those impressive statistics have translated into lots of success for Van Haaften and the Beavers. During his previous seven seasons as head coach at BVU, the Beavers have won four Iowa Conference titles and have finished runners-up twice and fourth once.
He has compiled four 20-win seasons in a row, including 27-2 in 2000, 21-6 in 2001, 23-6 in 2002 and 27-4 in 2003.
His teams have competed in four national tournaments and reached the Division III Sweet 16 tournament twice during his tenure.
"That national tournaments have really been the highlights," the coach said. "But our number one goal every season is to win the Iowa Conference title, because you can't make the national tournament unless you do that.
"And over the years, there have been some great Iowa Conference wins and those have also been highlights."
That's on the court. Van Haaften is close to his players, and says his relationship with them is something that's special to him.
"I really enjoy working every day with the players and I especially like the alumni games we have each year when former players come back," he said. "I've kept in touch with many of my former players over the years."
Van Haaften has virtually turned around the BVU men's basketball fortunes. In the 17 years prior to his arrival, BVU men's teams won just 26 percent of their games.
Van Haaften holds a BVU record with 23 consecutive victories in 2000 and has been Iowa Conference coach of the Year four times. He was the West Region Coach of the year in 2000.
He joined the BVU men's basketball program as an assistant coach in 1994 and was named head coach in 1996.
He also has deep seeded roots in Storm Lake. He served as principal of St. Mary's High School from 1992-1994 and was a baseball coach there. In 1993 as baseball coach at St. Mary's, Van Haaften led the Panthers to the Class 1A state championship.