Jim Smith Tribute

Page 1

Jim Smith A Player’s Coach

Dear Players, Friends and Fans, It was a slam dunk to subtitle this tribute to Jim Smith A Player’s Coach. The growth and development of the young men on his teams—in all ways, not just in athletic skill—was what it was about for Jim. His players knew it, and they responded. The rest is history. Jim became the winningest coach in Minnesota college basketball. And his players had the thrill of playing great basketball as well as the privilege of being mentored by an outstanding example of the kind of man we aspire to develop at Saint John’s. As you read through this tribute, from the biographic timeline to the reflections to the statistics, you’ll encounter this theme reprised by those who knew him well. Players, competing coaches, fans and administrators alike consistently use terms like respectful, mentor, good friend and fierce competitor, team player, leader and people person to describe Jim. Michael Dady ’71, who played four years for Jim and

has been a regular at Johnnie basketball games ever since, is among the most eloquent: “Jim Smith sees the best in people, including the young people he coaches. Additionally, he sees, in his players, particular gifts that his players have not realized. A significant part of Coach Smith’s success is that he can identify as yet undiscovered gifts and bring those gifts out in his players, to allow them to perform at their highest possible level.” As we celebrate the career and character of this Minnesota basketball giant, we can only say, once again, thank you, Coach Smith! We’re honored that you chose Saint John’s University for your career. We will always be the better for it. Sincerely,

Michael Hemesath ’81 President, Saint John’s University


Jim Smith By the Decade 1950s Spring 1952 Jim Smith graduates from St. Edward Catholic High School in Elgin, Ill. Smith is an allconference performer for the Green Wave in basketball, football and track. Spring 1956 Smith graduates from Marquette University, Milwaukee, with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. Smith is a four-year letter winner on the Warriors’ basketball team. 1957 While working toward a master’s in education from Marquette, Smith serves as an assistant coach from 1957-61. 1961 Smith earns his M.Ed. in counseling and guidance.

“In 1964, when St. John’s University asked Jim Smith to become its basketball coach, Smith stayed up all night with his wife listing pros and cons. ‘We came up with about three advantages,’ he said. ‘We came up with about 15-20 disadvantages. So of course, we took the job.’ ” Star Tribune, Feb. 7, 2009 1960s 1961-64 Smith coaches two high schools, Milwaukee South and Brookfield (Wis.) East, over a three-year period before coming to Collegeville. April 20, 1964 Athletic Director George Durenberger announces that Jim Smith is hired by Saint John’s University as its head basketball coach, a vacancy left by the resignation

of Ed Hasbrouck. Smith comes to Saint John’s when the Johnnies are near the bottom of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), with only one winning season in the last 20 years and no conference titles. 1964-65 In his first season coaching the Johnnies, the team’s overall record is 9-15 and 6-10 in the MIAC. Coach Smith also serves as an associate

“The thing about Jim was that he was a leader … I encouraged him to coach because of his leadership. He could talk a lot and had just enough of a temper to make him good.” Greg True Jim Smith’s basketball coach at St. Edward Catholic High School, St. Cloud Times, 1984


professor of physical education and begins coaching golf (1981-83) and cross country (1965-1973). 1966-67 The Johnnies finish 14-10, 11-5 in the MIAC. In the season finale, Smith and Saint John’s shock St. Thomas in Collegeville, 84-76, breaking the Tommies’ 30-game undefeated streak. Smith serves as the coach of the SJU Track Team (1966-1973). 1968-69 In his fifth season coaching the Johnnies, Smith’s team earns the MIAC Regular Season Championship and makes it to the NAIA Playoffs, finishing the season 20-9, 12-4 in the MIAC. Paul Bernabei ’69 is named MIAC Most Valuable Player. 1970s 1972-73 The Johnnies finish 1116, 8-8 in the MIAC. Smith begins serving as athletic director (1972-76).

He serves for a second time (19942003) for a total of 15 years. After 71 years of service, Rat Hall—the old gymnasium affectionately nicknamed after the rowdy student cheerleaders known as the Rat Pack—is retired as a basketball venue. Saint John’s closes Rat Hall’s final season of varsity basketball with all eight conference wins there. December 9, 1973 Saint John’s defeats rival St. Cloud State 67-58 on opening night of the Warner Palaestra.

1975-76 The Johnnies make it to the NAIA Playoffs for the second time in Smith’s 11-year tenure with the team. They finish the season 17-10, 12-6 in the MIAC. Center Frank Wachlarowicz, a first-year student from Little Falls, Minn., begins a legendary career with the Johnnies. 1976-77 For two consecutive years, the Johnnies make it to the NAIA Playoffs with a season record of 14-12, 10-6 in the MIAC. 1977-78 The Johnnies are the MIAC Regular-Season Champions for the

“ … Other than two games when he (Wachlarowicz ’79) was sick or hurt, he’s started every game for four years, which illustrates his durability and great desire to play … Other players may be better in one aspect, but no one has the all-around ability like Frank.” Jim Smith, Saint John’s University Basketball Program 1978-79

“ … Congratulations to you and the team from an Old Jock. As a longtime teacher, I must hold to the primacy of education in a college, but I have always believed that athletics were an integral part of the process … there is nothing to integrate the school spirit like a winning team.” Conrad Diekmann, OSB Letter to Jim Smith, Feb. 27, 1969


first time since 1968-69 and make it to the NAIA Playoffs. They finish the season 23-8, 15-3 in the MIAC. Wachlarowicz is named MIAC Most Valuable Player. 1978-79 In his 15th year as Johnnie’s head basketball coach, Smith coaches his team to a perfect MIAC season, 18-0, and MIAC RegularSeason Champions. The Johnnies finish the season 27-3 with a fifth appearance at the NAIA Playoffs and a 27-game winning streak. Smith receives the distinguished Coaches’ Sportsmanship Award. For the second year, Wachlarowicz is named MIAC Most Valuable Player. A member of the SJU Basketball 1,000-Point Club, Wachlarowicz ends his collegiate basketball career with 2,357 points (a Minnesota all-divisions collegiate record). 1979-80 The Johnnies finish the season and Smith’s first complete

“The things that mean the most to me are the associations I’ve had with my players; the things we’ve done and the fun we’ve had have been the most important parts of the year for me.” Jim Smith, The Record, March 30, 1979 decade with the Johnnies with a NAIA Playoffs appearance for the fifth consecutive year. The team finishes second in the MIAC with a 21-7, 14-4 in the MIAC. 1980s 1983-84 Smith finishes his 20th season with the Johnnies 20-8, 16-4 in the MIAC. The Johnnies are second in the MIAC and make the NAIA Playoffs. Smith also reaches a career milestone: his 300th win at St. Mary’s with a 71-66 victory. 1984-85 The Johnnies finish 16-12, and tie for third in the MIAC with a 13-7 record. This is the first time the

Johnnies make an appearance at the NCAA Division III Playoffs. 1985-86 For the fourth time as SJU’s head basketball coach, Smith’s team is the MIAC Champion with a 23-5, 16-4 MIAC record. For the first time in school history, Saint John’s plays a national-tournament game in Collegeville when it hosts the NCAA Division III West Regional semifinals at the Warner Palaestra. SJU was selected for both its suitable site and drawing power. Phil Johnson ’87 is named the MIAC Most Valuable Player. 1986-87 Once again MIAC Champions, the Johnnies finish the season 19-8, 16-4 in the MIAC.

“Before Smith came to SJU, the Johnnies had not won a conference title since 1916 … But Smith has meant more to St. John’s than just winning. Throughout his career, he and his players have provided SJU with a model of dedication and decency quite rare in these days of cutthroat, scholarship-filled college sports.” The Record, March 30, 1979


1988-89 In his 25th season with the Johnnies, Smith coaches his team to an overall record of 16-10, finishing 13-7 in the MIAC season. With a 7873 win at St. Mary’s on Feb. 8, Smith earns his 400th career victory. 1990s 1992-93 Smith is named the NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year and is also inducted into the St. Edward’s Sports Hall of Fame and the City of Elgin Sports Hall of Fame. With a 20-8, 17-3 (MIAC) record, the Johnnies finish the season as MIAC Champions. Smith’s team makes its 13th national-tournament appearance. 1993-94 Celebrating 30 years as head basketball coach, Smith’s team finishes second in the MIAC with an overall record of 18-8, 15-5 in the MIAC. Smith is honored at a Nov. 12 dinner event that began with the annual alumni game.

Dec. 9, 1995 Smith moves into college basketball’s “500 Club” thanks to a big 86-51 victory over Macalester in Collegeville. This is an elite group of college coaches, which includes John Wooden, Bobby Knight, Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp. Nov. 30, 1998 Smith and his grandson Brandon, a first-year student at SJU, are featured on the Midwest Sports Channel during MSC Sports Connection. The feature focuses on the fact that this is most likely the first time in NCAA collegiate men’s basketball history that a grandson will be playing for his grandfather.

1999-2000 Returning to post season play with Smith’s 15th national tournament appearance, the Johnnies finish the season 20-7, 14-6 in the MIAC. Troy Bigalke ’01 is named MIAC Most Valuable Player. 2000s 2000-01 Smith is named the NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year. He is named MIAC Coach of the Year for the sixth time. The Johnnies are MIAC Champions for the seventh time in Coach Smith’s career. They finish the season 22-6, 17-3 in the MIAC and make a NCAA

“What amazes me about the 800 games is how anybody can remain sane enough to last that long … Coaching is so difficult because you go from the peak of joy with a victory to the depth of despair with a loss in the span of a couple of days. It’s like you’re in a pinball machine.” Jim Smith, Star Tribune, Feb. 23, 1994

“The guy doesn’t get any older,” (Tom) Feely [University of St. Thomas basketball coach, 1954-1980] said. “You know why? It’s a one-point game, there’s a couple of minutes left and you look over there and there’s Jim chewing gum and smiling. It’s amazing, the way he enjoys the big games.” Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune, 1986


Playoff appearance. Bigalke is named the MIAC’s MVP for the second time.

milestone: coaching his 1,000th career game.

March 3, 2001 Smith becomes the winningest coach in Minnesota collegiate basketball history when SJU defeats Gustavus Adolphus in the second round of the NCAA Division III basketball championship tournament, passing legendary Hamline head coach Joe Hutton.

2003-04 Smith celebrates 40 years as head coach for the Johnnies.

Feb. 6, 2002 With a win over St. Olaf, Smith earns his 600th collegiate victory. He is the 38th coach in NCAA men’s basketball history to do so. Feb. 13, 2002 Smith reaches another

2006-07 The Johnnies finish second in the MIAC (17-3) with a season record of 21-8. For the 17th time, Smith makes a national-tournament appearance at the NCAA Playoffs. June 5, 2008 Saint John’s University President Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, announces that the SJU basketball team will play on a refinished and redesigned court floor named in honor of its head coach and his wife. The floor in Sexton Arena will be known

“‘The way we have always operated is that academics come first,’ Smith said. ‘There’s no question about that in past or present. Our basketball players are students first, basketball players second.’” Jim Smith, Star Tribune, March 19, 2015

as the Jim and Adrienne Smith Court. Nov. 22, 2008 Saint John’s formally dedicates the Jim and Adrienne Smith Court before playing host to St. Cloud State in its first regularseason home game. 2008-09 In his 45th season with the Johnnies, Smith and his team finish 14-12, 12-8 in the MIAC. April 2009 Smith receives the National Association of Basketball Coaches Outstanding Service Award. Presented annually since 1997, the award is given to coaches whose actions “inside and outside the lines” of coaching have distinguished them as valuable members of their communities. Nov. 21, 2009 Smith gains his 700th win, beating NCAA Division II MSUMoorhead. Smith is the 27th coach in NCAA men’s basketball history to win 700 career games.

“Over the years, Jim has been a record-setting coach, but even more importantly he has demonstrated his character, commitment, dedication and genuine humility at every turn. And, of course, Adrienne has been with him every step of the way. It is fitting that this beautiful court is named in honor of this most distinguished couple.” Br. Dietrich Reinhart, OSB, June 2008


“ … I will miss my associations with our basketball players more than anything else but will always relish the times that we spent together. Our alumni are very special people and I look forward to continued relationships with them.” Jim Smith, March 17, 2015 2010s Jan. 21, 2013 Saint John’s ends the game on a 28-11 run in the final 8:03 to give head coach Jim Smith his 750th career win, 73-66, over Carleton in Collegeville. Smith becomes the 19th coach in college basketball history, all divisions (NCAA), to reach 750 coaching victories (750-531 record in 49 seasons at SJU). 2013-14 Smith celebrates 50 seasons at Saint John’s. He begins the 2013-14 season with a 755-535 career record (.585). The team finishes 15-11, 13-7 in the MIAC.

Nov. 2, 2014 Smith receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Elgin Sports Hall of Fame Foundation’s (ESHOF) annual induction ceremony and recognition banquet at The Centre in Elgin, Ill. 2014-15 In his 51st and final season at Saint John’s, Smith has a 16-10 overall record (14-6 MIAC), a third-place finish in the conference standings. Advances to the MIAC Playoff quarterfinals. March 17, 2015 Minnesota’s alltime leader in college basketball wins announces his retirement. Smith ends his career second in NCAA Division

III history with 786 wins (786-556 career record) and tied for 14th in NCAA basketball history with Lefty Driesell. He led his teams to seven MIAC titles, five MIAC playoff titles, nine trips to the NAIA tournament and eight trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs, most recently in 2007. Smith won MIAC titles in each of the past five decades and totaled a 599-341 (.637) record in conference play. More than 160 media outlets— newspaper, radio, television and blogs—covered Smith’s retirement. Many lead with the headline: “Coach retires tops in wins in Minnesota college basketball.” In addition to articles in the St. Cloud Times and Star Tribune, the story was also picked up by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.

“One of his strengths is he knows just what position to put players in to make sure that they are successful. He always made it enjoyable in practice. He just got you excited to play basketball.” Troy Bigalke ’01, Quoted in St. Cloud Times, Nov. 13, 2013



A Great Basketball Tradition Is Born Joe Mucha ’66 Play your best game every day, not just on game day. When we started basketball practice in the fall of 1964— Jim’s first year—my teammates and I were eager to improve, and Jim was eager to teach us. In the next two years, we went from being the doormats of the league to third in the conference. The team won the conference championship a few years later. That was the beginning of the great basketball tradition created under Jim’s leadership. But that tradition is only half of the legacy that Jim established. The other half is that he is a mentor and lifelong friend to the student-athletes he coached. One story about Jim’s lifelong impact on me says it all. It happened soon after we started basketball pre-season practice. Teammate Hardy Reyerson ’65 and I were on both the football and basketball teams, and we were used to 1 1/2 hour football practices. Jim’s practices lasted 2 1/2 hours! It was a real culture shock for us. At one practice, I was not having a very good day. To be A two-sport athlete and All-MIAC in football and honest, I was dogging it! Jim blew the whistle, instructed my basketball, Mucha played center for Smith’s first teammates to practice free throws and asked me to join him on two seasons as the Johnnies progressed from the sidelines. He asked if there was something wrong, because bottom of the league to third place. He is a retired I was not working very hard. I said, “Coach, don’t worry about vice president of human resources for General me. I’m a gamer, and I’ll be there when it counts.” Jim replied, Mills and currently serves as the Chair of the Saint “Joe, your teammates need your best game every minute that John’s Board of Trustees. you practice and play with them. They expect that of you, I expect that of you and, most importantly, you should expect it of yourself.” His words hit me hard. I took that lesson to heart the rest of my time at SJU as well as in my life and career to this day. I am blessed to have had Jim Smith as a coach, mentor and role model for the past 51 years. His accomplishments as SJU’s basketball coach are legendary, and he leaves the program with a solid foundation for the future. Congratulations and thank you, Jim.


From Brazil to China to Europe Roman Paur, OSB Traveling overseas with the basketball team was a great opportunity—and full of surprises! I observed to Jim one day that his players used a lot of energy running back and forth between hoops, and wouldn’t it be easier on them if they just had one? (I had similar thoughts about football that didn’t wash very well either.) Jim suggested that I take Basketball 101, and so I did. It is Saint John’s great fortune to be blessed with an impressive list of extraordinary people on the world stage, mentors who, through their vision, values and vocation, have influenced the learning of many in their attitudes and lives. We are gratefully celebrating Jim Smith’s golden-jubilee-plus-one of continuous service to Saint John’s as coach, teacher and administrator, and his commitment to the highest standards. Jim is on that prestigious list, and Saint John’s is better because of him. It is a privilege that our paths crossed while I was in university administration and that Jim welcomed me into his work and family. We did a lot together at home, and we put on many miles together with his teams overseas, from Brazil to China to Europe. While Jim and his players chalked up an increasingly impressive scorecard, we all enjoyed the opportunities of international travel, and the adventures—avoiding drowning in Rio de Janeiro, worrying about heart failure in Beijing, surviving food sickness in Sarajevo and celebrating an underfunded birthday party in San Margareta! Jim’s greatest legacy is the students he attracted to the university sports programs. He also inspired high academic achievement by emphasizing that the way to the Saint John’s athletic facilities is through the library. Over the years, Jim has earned an impressive game Smith made a priority of international travel for the team, record with his athletes, and high regard, not only both for the additional practice it provided as well as for within the MIAC and in regional competitions, but its educational benefits. Fr. Roman Paur, a monk of Saint nationally as well. Perhaps more important, however, John’s and vice president of student affairs from 1980-92, is the love and loyalty of his players and fans. Jim became an avid basketball fan, accompanying the team on has endeared himself to many for his compassion, many of these trips. He is now prior of Trinity Benedictine thoughtfulness, and sensitivity, always devoted to the Monastery, Fujimi, Japan. students and respectful of staff. Hopefully he will have more time now with his devoted wife, Ade, and his large family. Congratulations, Jim, and thank you.


Man, Mentor, Coach and Icon Frank “Frankie Alphabet” Wachlarowicz ’79 “Are we having fun yet?” This coach knew just what to say and how to say it. Where does one begin to give a tribute to a man, a mentor, a coach and an icon who has meant so much to so many people? My first interaction with Coach Smith was when I was a senior at Little Falls. I knew from the start that Coach Smith was a genuine and unique individual. He made no guarantees of starting on or even playing for Saint John’s. He did sell me with the academics and the community atmosphere at Saint John’s. One of Coach Smith’s top five seasons was in my senior year, when we compiled a 27-3 season, including a perfect 18-0 in the MIAC. I imagine Coach Smith will never forget our opening game at Jamestown, North Dakota, that season. It was bad enough that we were defeated, but it was nothing compared to our trip home. Our bus broke down twice, and we were stranded at some “Dew Drop Inn” for over five hours. A bus was dispatched from St. Cloud to pick us up. Our team endured a 12-hour trip home! I believe Coach Smith may still hold that against North Dakota. Another memorable moment was when we were playing Mankato State University for the District 13 Championship and the right to go to Kansas City to play in the NAIA National Tournament. The game was nip and tuck all the way until there was 3:06 left on the clock. At that point we had hit a cold spot, and the Johnnies were A two-time All-American, four-time All-MIAC, down by eight points and reeling. Our hopes were fading. two-time MIAC MVP and holder of the Minnesota Coach Smith called a timeout. When we got to the bench, All-Division Collegiate Record for points scored he said, with a smile on his face, “Are we having fun yet?” (2,357), forward Frank Wachlarowicz played on two That seemed to rally the troops, and we went on to defeat of Smith’s MIAC Championship teams including the MSU in overtime. Some people called it the greatest college undefeated MIAC team of 1978-79. He is currently a basketball game ever played in Minnesota. retired corrections officer. The memories and stories could go on and on. I want to thank Coach Smith for his integrity and his personal commitment to student-athletes and the community of Saint John’s and surroundings. Coach Smith is without a doubt one of the nicest people I have ever met. It is with great sincerity that I would like to thank him for being a part of my life. I truly am a better person for that opportunity.


A Great Competitor and Friend Steve Fritz

Mike Ekern/University of St. Thomas

He was a role model for this future competitor.

Steve Fritz served as head basketball coach at the University of St. Thomas for 31 years, from 1980-2011. Throughout their intense Johnnie-Tommie athletic rivalry, the two coaches maintained a sincere and enduring colleagueship. Fritz is currently athletic director at UST, a position he has held since 1991. I have had the wonderful opportunity of knowing Coach Smith since the spring of 1967. I was a senior in high school, and Saint John’s was one of the schools I was considering attending. In so many ways, although it is now 48 years later, Coach Smith has not changed much. (I have always been amazed by how Jim never showed his aging as much as the rest of us.) I remember being impressed with his love of the game, the players he coached and Saint John’s. The next four years were spent playing against Smitty’s teams. We had some memorable battles in Rat Hall and O’Shaughnessy Hall. I will always have fond memories of packed crowds, warmups interrupted when balls went into the crowd and introductions with the lights out, which were always risky. Most of all, I will remember coaching against Smitty’s teams during the last 40 years, first as an assistant and then as a head coach. Jim was always a great competitor, but he

was an even better friend. Our teams could battle hard one night, and we could sit down the next night and talk about family and life over a beer. Some of my fondest memories are from state tournaments and Final Fours—after the heat of the competitions were over, Smitty and I had time to socialize. Coach Smith is one of the reasons I chose to make coaching my profession. I admired how he treated family, players, alumni and friends. Win or lose, he treated everyone with dignity and was willing to spend time with parents and families, which is not always easy to do. I always looked forward to playing Saint John’s, certainly for the competition, but more because it provided time to sit down with Jim and catch up on family, former players and other topics of the day. My sincerest wishes to Jim and Adrienne and their family for many years of healthy and happy retirement.


An Excellent Coach and a Greater Human Being Sharon “The General” Storr ’79 Former players from The Bahamas credit Smith for successes far beyond the basketball court. It is with august pride that the Bahamians who have matriculated at Saint John’s University as studentathletes pay homage and respect to the inimitable Coach Jim Smith upon his retirement as head basketball coach. The “Bahamian Connection” salutes you, sir. Coach, you have guided a line of basketballers from the archipelago of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, not only in the honing and development of talents on the basketball court, but also in teaching us life skills and urging us to strive for academic excellence. It is indeed an honor for Trevor Burgzorg ’84, Burke Williams ’87, Oral Hudson ’88, et al., to salute you as a fine coach, great mentor and an exceptional human being. When we interact, Smitty and his quiet but forceful demeanor arise. Personally, it echoes daily: “Sharon, take care”—I was not sure what it meant at the time but the notion stayed with me. Through the 1970s and 1980s, Smith attracted a number As SJU basketball folklore holds, in Rat Hall a of players from The Bahamas who played outstanding very humble Coach Smith audaciously decided that he basketball at SJU. Sharon Storr was a two-time All-MIAC would allow a diminutive 5-foot-10 guard by the name player and a teammate of Frank Wachlarowicz on the of Sharon Storr to take the opening tip against archrival undefeated 1978-1979 team. He currently works with the St. Thomas’s Bob Rosier at 7-foot-5. Incredibly, the Ministry of Sports in The Bahamas. notorious Rat section went silent. My teammates Scott Furey ’74, Mike Snyder ’77 and Fred Hill ’73 looked at each other curiously, and the opponents thought it was a prank. Voila! The St. Cloud Times, Pioneer Press and the Sagatagan Seasons highlighted the story. It demonstrated Coach’s foresight to size up and seize the moment. Another time, in Duluth, I sprang into the crowd after a loose ball, and their version of the Rats would not let me out. In fact, I was stripped of my shoes, and a security guard had to be called. Coach stood there and did not budge until I was safely out. Talk about courage! Coach Smith, the Bahamian Connection is eternally grateful for your helping to build our country through your efforts with us. We have been able to take up positions of repute and importance via the kind of examples that you have fostered. You, your dear wife, Adrienne, and rest of your family will forever be in our hearts and minds. Thanks for all you have done!


The Important Things in Life John Wiehoff ’84 Teamwork and unselfish play were his watchwords. I met Coach Smith at his summer basketball camps during the 1970s. Those intense summer sessions were the foundation of my love for basketball and my respect for Coach Smith. It was hard work, but also really fun. I had the privilege of playing for him from 1980-84. I remember questioning him in 1980 to be certain he intended to stay at SJU for four more years. He said yes, and I guess he meant it! I was the first person in my family to attend college. While I was excited about all that Saint John’s had to offer, there was no doubt that my primary motivation to go to college was to play basketball for Coach Smith. Playing basketball was the fun I hoped for, but playing for Coach Smith provided values, friendships and memories that positively impacted my family and career experiences in a bigger way. When I think of Coach Smith on game day, I think about teamwork and emphasis on unselfish play. I also think about competing hard and instilling confidence at big moments. I will never forget our upset playoff win at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1983 and how he inspired us to compete and believe we could win. When I think of him off the court, I think of his love and commitment to his family, and how often he has been there for big life events for me and many other of his players. All the way from summer camps in the 70s to losing a parent a few years ago, it has always been clear to me that he understands the important things in life are bigger than basketball. Thank you, Coach Smith, for all that you did for me and for so many others. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m proud to be a small part of it. A member of the 1982-83 team that advanced to the MIAC playoffs, John Wiehoff played wing for the Johnnies and was All-MIAC in 1983 and 1984. He is currently CEO of C.H. Robinson Worldwide.


A Career in Numbers Games Coached

1,342 Games Won

Years Coaching at SJU Years Coaching




MIAC Championships


1968-69, 1977-78, 1978-79, 1985-86, 1986-87, 1992-93, 2000-01

MIAC Playoff Championships


1983, 1986, 1988, 2000, 2001

Undefeated Conference Seasons All-Americans Conference Winning Percentage


1 1978-79 5 .637

SJU Basketball 1,000-Point Club

Overall Winning Percentage International Team Trips



SJU Basketball Record Book

12 individual records 13 team records The Awards Coach of the Year • Six-time MIAC Coach of the Year • NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year 1992-93 and 2000-01 • Three-time NAIA District Coach of the Year

National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) • Outstanding Service Award 2009 • NABC Past President 1981-1983

MIAC Distinguished Service Award 2015

1. 2,357 - Frank Wachlarowicz ’79 Minnesota All-Divisions Collegiate Record 2. 1,581 - Dick Matchinsky ’57 3. 1,568 - Troy Bigalke ’01 4. 1,480 - Bill Sexton ’55 5. 1,413 - Paul Bernabei ’69 6. 1,406 - Norb Kowalkowski ’59 7. 1,389 - Bernie Kukar ’62 8. 1,344 - Craig Muyres ’63 9. 1,314 - Mike Nester ’02 10. 1,238 - Paul Henrichs ’06 11. 1,217 - Tom Grudnowski ’72 12. 1,166 - Tom Melancon ’68 13. 1,164 - Bill Christopherson ’53 14. 1,153 - Aaron Burtzel ’11 15. 1,136 - Darrick Buettner ’91 16. 1,131 - Josh Cherry ’96 17. 1,129 - John Eisenschenk ’81 18. 1,121 - Matt Ohme ’07 19. 1,113 - Joe Deignan ’95 20. 1,106 - John Wiehoff ’84 21. 1,099 - Kevin Buth ’03 22. 1,093 - Luke Witt ’02 23. 1,080 - Eric Kohorst ’93 24. 1,079 - Tim Muller ’71 25. 1,072 - Larry Bassett ’92 26. 1,068 - Andy Burns ’12 27. 1,065 - Kevin Coleman ’72 28. 1,057 - Ryan Lieser ’08 29. 1,044 - Mark Lenss ’78 30. 1,042 - Steve Ward ’75 31. 1,025 - Kipp Christianson ’97 32. 1,018 - Nate Guetter ’99 33. 1,015 - Corey Jackson ’96 Note: Bold type indicates a ranked player who played for Smith.


The Home Team

No tribute to Coach Smith would be complete without a heartfelt thank-you to his wife, Adrienne, and their children, Mike, Tim, Pat, Megan, Maura, Deirdre and Bridget. Jim would be the first to say that his long and distinguished career on the basketball court is as much their success as his. They cheered on Jim and the Johnnies every step of the way. And now, as Jim looks forward to more time with them, we offer a rousing hurrah for the home team.


EDITOR Jean Scoon

RESEARCH/COPYWRITING Margaret Wethington Arnold

SPORTS INFORMATION Michael Hemmesch ’96 Ryan Klinkner ’04

DESIGN Lori Gnahn


PHOTO CREDITS Dawid Chabowski ’11 Tommy O’Laughlin ’13 SJU Archives Jim and Adrienne Smith Family Bill Moeller ’71

© 2015 Saint John’s University

INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage

PAID Twin Cities, MN Permit No.1096


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.