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June 2020
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Continuing improvement in Rutgers basketball gives Steve Pikiell 2019-20 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year honors


PISCATAWAY – Rutgers head men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell is the recipient of the 2019-20 Jim Phelan Award, presented annually to the nation’s top Division I coach. The fourth-year mentor 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, this past season.


“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 compete at the highest level for many years to come. Steve and his team exemplify everything we want Rutgers Athletics to represent.”

Steve Pikiell


Posting its first winning season in 14 years, 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, the nation’s top-rated league per Ken Pomeroy, 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, RU largest margin of victory over a ranked foe in program history.

Rated sixth nationally in defensive efficiency and 30th in the final NCAA Net ranking, Rutgers concluded the season as National Team of the Week after wins over No. 9 Maryland and at Purdue.


One of 15 coaches on the Naismith Coach of the Year Late 2020 Season Watch List, Pikiell earned his 250th career head-coaching victory in RU’s 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.


For the latest updates on Rutgers Men’s Basketball, follow the Scarlet Knights on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.



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