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Stemen's departure leaves huge hole in successful program
September 30, 2009 - Per Peterson
With all due respect to Brad Bigler or whoever ends up replacing Greg Stemen as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Southwest Minnesota State University, the announcement of Stemen’s resignation is bad news for a program that continues to build its reputation as one of the best in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Stemen's departure leaves a hole in the program the size of the Mustang at center court at the R/A. That’s not to say the team won’t continue to succeed under its new coach, whether it’s Bigler, previously an assistant and now the team’s interim coach, or someone else, but Stemen is arguably the program’s best coach ever. Consider: Stemen finished with career record of 141-97, including 85-51 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference games. He led SMSU to six winning seasons in eight years — SMSU had just 11 the previous 34 prior. Stemen was the 2008-09 NSIC Coach of the Year and the NABC District Coach of the Year. He guided the Mustangs to three 20-plus win seasons as well as a No. 12 ranking in final 2008-09 regular season NABC Top 25 poll. Stemen’s Mustangs were consistently in the NCAA Division II Top 25. And his legacy goes beyond that. The players bought into his system. Stemen’s teams were deep, deeper than all of the Mustangs’ opponents. It was that kind of depth, along with consistently balanced scoring that propelled SMSU to the top of the region last year. Sure, he had very talented athletes — he coached seven 1,000-point players in eight years — but he got the most out of a supporting cast as a coach possibly can. Stemen, always personable and approachable, was also media-friendly, which many coaches don't dare put on their resume.
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