Mass. College Hoops: WPI’s Bartley A Finalist For John McLendon National Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year


Courtesy of the WPI sports information department, here’s this morning’s release about men’s basketball coach Chris Bartley, who was named a finalist on Monday for 2013 John McLendon National Coach of the Year:

Boston, MA —  WPI men’s basketball coach Chris Bartley was announced on Monday as a finalist for the 2013 John McLendon National Coach of the Year.

The finalists include Dana Altman (Oregon), John Beilein (Michigan), Tom Billeter (Augustana College), Derrick Clark (Metropolitan State), Jim Crews (Saint Louis), Jim Crutchfield (West Liberty), Jim Larranaga (Miami), Johnny Tauer (Saint Thomas) and John Thompson III (Georgetown)

The John McLendon award is presented annually to the top collegiate head coach. The award will encompass Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO.

Bartley led WPI to a school-best 26 wins this winter as the Engineers won an NCAA Tournament game and as vaulted as high as No. 2 in the Top 25.  The 12th-year head coach grabbed his fourth NEWMAC Coach of the Year nod, the most in the 15-year history of the conference. He guided the Crimson and Gray to 22 straight wins to begin the season and were the last undefeated team of over 400 in Division III. Bartley helped the Engineers win their eighth NEWMAC regular season crown in the last 10 years and third NEWMAC Tournament title.

A trailblazer and one of the true pioneers of the game, McLendon became the first African American coach to win an integrated national championship. His team went on to win the NAIA Division I Men’s Tournament in 1957, 1958 and 1959, making him the first coach in history to win three consecutive NAIA championships.

In 1962 he became the first African American head coach in a major professional league (ABL) with the Cleveland Pipers. In 1966 he became the first African American head coach of predominantly-white university, when he took over the Cleveland State program. He led the team to their best record in school history.

In 1969, McLendon was hired by the Denver Rockets and became the first African American head coach in the American Basketball Association. After a brief stint with the Rockets, McLendon ended his 25-year professional coaching career with a winning percentage of .760 and a lifetime career average of 523 victories and 165 losses.

The 2013 award will be presented on April 5 at the awards banquet in Atlanta, site of the men’s NCAA Basketball Championship.

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