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Thursday, March 05, 2009 | Men's Basketball
UNI's Ben Jacobson Named Valley?s Top Men?s Basketball Coach
ST. LOUIS -- For the first time since 1997 and only the second time in school history, a Northern Iowa coach has earned the Rawlings MVC Coach of the Year honor as Ben Jacobson is this year's winner. He led the Panthers to a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title - the first in UNI's 18th season in the league.
Jacobson received 34 of a possible 40 first-place tallies and 112 total points to outdistance Creighton's Dana Altman in the voting. Evansville's Marty Simmons was third in the balloting, conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
2009 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year Voting
Coaches received 3 points for a first-place vote, two points for a
second-place vote and one point for a third-place vote.
In his third year as head coach at UNI, Jacobson engineered a surprise regular-season championship for the Panthers, who were picked sixth in the league's pre-season poll. It marks the second-straight year a team tabbed for the bottom division won the regular-season title. Drake, last year, was the lowest pre-season pick to win the league title, after being slotted ninth in the pre-season. The league has maintained records of its pre-season poll since 1985-86.
Jacobson has guided the Panthers to a 20-10 overall record, 14-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference, and a share of their first-ever MVC regular-season title. UNI received the top seed in this week's State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
While this is Jacobson's first head-coaching job, he had 12 years of prior assistant coaching experience, including as an assistant at UNI for former Panther coach Greg McDermott since 2001-02. In Jacobson's three seasons as head coach at UNI the Panthers have won 18, 18, and 20 games. His 18 wins in his rookie campaign in 2006-07 marked the most for a first-year Panther coach since the team joined the Division I ranks for the 1980-81 season.
He has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2009 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award, which is given annually to the nation's top mid-major coach, as voted on by a 20-member panel. The winner will be presented with the award at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit.
Jacobson joins Eldon Miller (1997) as the only UNI coaches to have won the league's top coaching honor. The Valley began recognizing a Coach of the Year in 1949.
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