Head Coach Steve Howes
By Chris McManes
Steve Howes is one of the finest basketball coaches in the country and has helped develop players from high school to the NBA. The Catholic University head coach enters his 11th season at the helm having established quite a legacy. Consider:
* He has guided CUA to five 20-win seasons, eight postseason tournaments, three conference championships and three NCAA Tournaments.
* He was named 2012-13 Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year by D3Hoops.com. He and his assistants also garnered Landmark Conference Coaching Staff of the Year honors.
* He helped to mold 2013 graduate Chris Kearney into only the second Cardinal first-team All-American.
* He is one of just four CUA basketball coaches in 103 years to lead teams to the NCAA Tournament.
* He has led the Cards to nine winning seasons.
Howes’ coaching ability is so highly regarded in the national capital region that, in a four-round online poll conducted in December 2008 by The Washington Post, he was voted the area’s best men’s basketball coach.
Howes is No. 2 all-time among CUA basketball coaches in victories and winning percentage (189-91, .675). The only man he trails is his mentor and predecessor, Mike Lonergan. The current George Washington head coach led the Cardinals to the 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship and won .740 of his games (1992-2004). Last year, he guided GW to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in seven years. He attends Cardinal games when he can.
“Steve has done a tremendous job carrying on the great tradition of Catholic University basketball,” Lonergan said. “Since he is a former player and assistant of mine, I am especially proud of his success. It’s not easy to compete for a championship every season, yet Steve has done that.”
Helping Players Achieve Greatness
Howes’ coaching and mentoring has helped a string of players achieve high marks athletically and academically. His extensive network of friends and colleagues in college basketball and the pros paid handsome dividends two offseasons ago when he found an agent for Kearney, who last year started for a pro team in Spain.
Kearney said Howes worked diligently on his behalf after graduation.
“He was very helpful in sending out my tapes and my basketball resume to his whole basketball network,” he said. “He found the guy I signed with, who responded well to my tapes and everything else Steve sent him and told him about me.”
Kearney was the first CUA player to play professionally since Patrick Dwyer played for the Manchester (England) Magic in 2007-08.
The year prior, senior Scott Fumai was named first-team All-Capital Athletic Conference, while seniors Stephen Wheeler and Dwyer notched second-team honors. Wheeler and Fumai were named to the D3hoops.com All-Region third team.
At CUA’s Senior Student-Athlete Banquet, Wheeler received the highest honor for male graduating student-athletes by winning the Harris Cup in recognition of outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, leadership and service. Dwyer was honored as Male Senior Student Athlete of the Year, and Sean Kelly was presented a Student Athlete Advisory Committee role model award. In addition, Wheeler, Dwyer and Kelly were named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court with a minimum cumulative 3.2 grade-point average.
Kearney was awarded the 2013 Harris Cup.
Nick Olivero, who also played on the Cardinal football team, was honored as CUA’s Student-Athlete of the Year in 2006-07 and received the first John J. Convey Award. The latter is given to a sophomore who has succeeded academically, been active in student life and demonstrated leadership potential. Olivero was selected to the 2007-08 Winter Landmark Academic Honor Roll.
One of the Nation’s Finest Division III Programs
Howes works tirelessly to provide current and former players, students, coaches and fans with a model program in which they can take pride. He supports his players’ academic pursuits to the fullest and works to secure them valuable internships.
Howes has forged strong relationships with CUA basketball alumni and played a key role in organizing 100th-anniversary activities in 2010-11.
Howes was beaming with pride during the 2011 offseason. First, Aaron Kelly, one of his former point guards, came to Washington, D.C., as an assistant coach at Bucknell for the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Then after Lonergan left Vermont to come to GW, John Becker, one of Howes’ former assistants, succeeded him. Becker led the Catamounts to the 2011 America East title and a victory in the NCAAs. Terry Sullivan, another former Howes’ assistant coach, kept the good times rolling as assistant video coordinator of the 2011 NBA World Champion Dallas Mavericks.
Howes enjoys his perch atop one of the nation’s top Division III programs.
“I am honored and privileged each day to be at the helm of this elite program,” he said. “There are countless players, manager and coaches who have built and added to this great legacy. I take very seriously my role as caretaker and work hard to add to our rich tradition of excellence on and off the court.”
Advancing to the Postseason
Howes earned his first CAC championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006 with a 79-70 victory over Salisbury (Md.). The Cards finished 21-7 and 10-4 in the league. Dwyer was named first-team All-CAC, while Shane Sowden garnered second-team Academic All-District 2 honors and received the Harris Cup.
Cardinal fans caught a glimpse of Howes’ coaching ability during his first year (2004-05). CUA finished 20-10, advanced to the CAC title game and Sowden was selected first-team All-Conference. The Cards accepted a bid to the ECAC South Region Championship and won their first two contests to advance to the championship game.
While working under Lonergan, Howes helped the Cardinals become one of America’s most dominant programs.
Building Championship Teams
During Howes’ two tenures (1998-2000, 2001-2004) as a CUA assistant, the Cardinals amassed a record of 121-26 (.823), won five CAC regular-season titles and two CAC Tournament championships. The Cards advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year, twice going to the Sweet Sixteen and once to the Elite Eight. The 2001-02 team went 26-3 to set the school’s season winning percentage record (.897). Howes has coached 14 players who have scored more than 1,000 career points.
Howes’ recruiting ability and talent-evaluation skills helped CUA land many of the recruits that formed the nucleus of the Cardinals’ 2001 National Championship team. Sophomore Matt Hilleary was named All-Tournament of the 2001 Final Four and was a two-time second-team All-American. He played professionally in 2006-07 in Ireland and the following year in Italy. William Morley, a freshman on the title-winning team, was CUA’s first first-team All-American in 2004.
Howes specializes in shooting instruction and has conducted individual workouts for many top college and professional players. Roger Mason (10-year NBA veteran); Earl Hunt (Brown University); Chris Monroe (George Washington); Eddie Lucas, a 1999 second-round draft pick of the Utah Jazz; and James Gist, a 2008 San Antonio Spurs’ draft pick who is playing in Greece, are among the athletes he helped develop. Monroe played in Europe for years before retiring in 2013, and he and Hunt are their respective school’s all-time scoring leaders. Mason retired in 2014 after finishing his career with the Miami Heat.
When Mason played for San Antonio in 2009-10, Howes was a guest of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich for the start of training camp. He has also been a guest of Tommy Sheppard, the Washington Wizards’ vice president of basketball operations, for rookie and training camp since 2009. Howes has for the last five summers participated in the invitation-only University of Florida coaches’ clinic.
Howes worked as head JV and assistant boys varsity coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School when it was in Wheaton, Md. During his three seasons (1995-98), he helped the Falcons achieve a Top 20 local ranking each year. He coached a host of NCAA Division I players, including Mason (Virginia), Monroe, Hunt, Gist (Maryland), Omari Isreal (Loyola, Md.) and Gini Chukura (Maryland). Another player, Kevin App, is head coach at Williams College.
In addition, Howes worked with two players (Zach Hilton and Chas Gessner) who played in the NFL. Hilton caught 35 passes for the New Orleans Saints in 2005, and Gessner earned a Super Bowl ring with the 2003 New England Patriots.
In 1998, Howes served as an assistant in the prestigious Capital Classic high school All-Star game. The contest featured NBA veteran Troy Murphy. Howes was on Lonergan’s staff for the following two seasons and then returned to Good Counsel before rejoining the Cards in 2001.
Howes and former CUA Athletic Director Mike Allen joined the 2008 NBA World Champion Boston Celtics when they were honored at the White House in September 2008 by President George W. Bush.
Playing Big-Time Opponents
For four straight seasons, the Cardinals opened the year with an exhibition game against a Division I opponent. After beginning their centennial season at Notre Dame in 2010, the Cards played Florida in 2011, GW in 2012 and Maryland last year.
“How many Division III programs can say they’ve played teams from the Big East, Atlantic 10, SEC and ACC?,” Howes said.
The games provide a tremendous atmosphere for CUA players, staff and fans and bring the university an enormous amount of visibility.
“We can’t buy this exposure,” Howes said. “The more that Catholic U. is in the media, whether we’re playing Notre Dame, Florida, George Washington or Maryland, the coverage is invaluable. Catholic U.’s name is out there in a positive way, and that aids everybody – past and present – associated with the university.”
Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon agreed to the contest partly because of his respect for the job Howes has done. The Terrapin coach had this to say about the Cardinals prior to their 2013 contest:
“Steve Howes and his staff have done a tremendous job building an outstanding program at Catholic University. They won 25 games and advanced to the Division III NCAA Tournament last season. We will be competing against a strong and disciplined team in Catholic. They value each possession and have a roster with good shooters and ball-handlers.”
Florida Coach Billy Donovan, who led the Gators to national championships in 2006 and 2007, said Howes has “a terrific program.”
“In terms of where they compete and what they do, it’s impressive with how well they win, and they’re in the hunt every single year,” said Donovan, whose son Billy played two seasons (2010-12) at CUA before transferring to Florida. “I think that kind of success gets bred over time, from team to team, year to year, player to player.
“And I think Steve has done a great job carrying on the tradition.”
The Cardinals also played a Division I opponent in last year’s regular season when they traveled to Baltimore to play Loyola (Md.). The Cards will open in Charlotte, N.C., this year against Davidson.
The Cardinals (14-12) qualified for the four-team Landmark Conference Tournament. Corey Stanford was named Landmark and D3Hoops.com Rookie of the Year, and named to the DIII News All-Freshman Team. Bryson Fonville was voted first-team All-Landmark, and Steve Limberiou was named second team. Fonville was also honored with a spot on the league’s All-Sportsmanship team.
Limberiou and Jared Prince were selected to NABC Honors Court. In addition, CUA earned an NABC Team Academic Excellence Award (min. cumulative 3.0 GPA) for the second straight year.
The Cards finished 25-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Howes was one of 15 finalists for the Glenn Robinson National Coach of the Year award. Here are more achievements from that season:
* 25-4 record tied for third-best in school history
* Won first-round NCAA Tournament game
* Ranked 12th in D3hoops.com final poll
* 15-0 home record & 12-2 conference mark
* Kearney first player in league history honored simultaneously as Player of the Year & Defensive Player of the Year
* Kearney named Mid-Atlantic Player of the Year, an ECAC All-Star & first Cardinal chosen to play in Reese’s Division III College All-Star Game
* Shawn Holmes named first-team All-Landmark & third-team All-Mid-Atlantic Region
* Nate Koenig & Kearney selected to NABC Honors Court
* Opened season with victories over two ranked opponents
* 5-1 record against NCAA Tournament participants
* Led nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68)
* 10th in won-lost percentage (.862)
* 14th in scoring defense (58.7 ppg)
* 17th in field-goal percentage defense (38.8)
* 21st in 3-point field-goal percentage (38.9)
* 37th in assists per game (15.7)
Howes guided CUA to the best start in school history (11-0), breaking a mark that had stood for 84 years. The Cardinals won two games in the postseason ECAC South Region Championship before losing in the title game. CUA finished 19-9, the seventh time in Howes’ first eight years his team won at least 18 games.
Holmes was named second-team All-Landmark Conference and Darrell Carroll’s name appeared on the Winter Landmark Conference Academic Honor Roll. Carroll graduated with a double major in international economics and finance and a 3.9 GPA. He was the nation’s only Division III student-athlete to be among the 10 finalists for the Arthur Ashe Award.
The Cardinals’ 21-9 mark included a 9-5 league record. Howes piloted the Cards to their first Landmark Tournament victory that season and an appearance in the Landmark title game. The Cardinals won twice in the ECAC playoffs before falling in the championship game.
CUA also won three league games that year by a combined 110 points, the program’s largest aggregate margin of victory in three consecutive contests. The Cards, playing at home, downed Moravian, 105-58; Susquehanna, 84-57; and Juniata, 68-32. The latter win, Jan. 29, 2011, was the day the program celebrated its centennial season by honoring former players and coaches.
Seniors Jason Banzhaf and R.J. Dixon were named first-team All-Landmark. It was Banzhaf’s third such honor and Dixon’s second. Banzhaf finished as the Cardinals’ third all-time leading scorer (1,822 points) and ranks No. 1 among players who competed exclusively in Division III. He is the only player in school history to be named honorable mention All-American three times.
CUA, the most successful team in Capital Athletic Conference history, punctuated its league affiliation by winning its second straight CAC championship in 2007. The crowning moment came in the Cardinals’ 85-75 come-from-behind victory on the road over Hood College. The CAC title was CUA’s seventh.
The win over top-seeded Hood put the Cards (23-6) into the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 10 years. Howes enjoyed his first NCAA playoff victory with a 58-37 triumph at home over Messiah College. CUA held Messiah to the third-lowest point total in NCAA Division III tournament history.
Howes led the Cards to three straight CAC title games, compiled an 8-1 league tournament record and won six consecutive contests in the CAC playoffs.
When Howes became the 20th head basketball coach in CUA history on July 19, 2004, he stepped into a role that has launched the careers of many successful coaches. In addition to Tom Young (Rutgers), Lonergan and Jack Bruen (Colgate), Jack Kvancz served as George Washington’s athletic director from 1994-2011, and Bob Valvano is an ESPN broadcaster.
Although he never coached the Cardinals, former CUA standout Jimmy Patsos followed his successful tenure as a Maryland assistant by becoming head coach at Division I Loyola (Md.). He was on Gary Williams’ staff when the Terrapins won the 2002 National Championship and is now head coach at Siena.
Along with Becker, Kelly and Sullivan, 2010-11 assistant coach Garrett Kelly is Siena’s director of basketball operations. Ryan Hyland, a graduate assistant the past two years, is now head coach at John Jay College in New York.
After playing at Frostburg (Md.) State from 1991-93, Howes transferred to CUA for his final two seasons. He started 14 games as a junior under Lonergan, including a 12-point, 12-rebound performance at Gettysburg. He graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
A team captain and Coach’s Award winner at Good Counsel, Howes played on a team that set the Falcons’ record for most wins up to that time. He received the school’s Christian Conduct Award as a junior and graduated in 1991.
Community Service and Family
Howes, who taught religion and history at Good Counsel from 1997-2004, stresses the importance of community service to his players. They have visited youngsters at nearby Children’s National Medical Center and are active each year in events such as “Wreaths Across America” at Arlington National Cemetery. He also participates in SOME (So Others Might Eat) at his church, St. Peter’s in Olney, Md.
Howes is active in the NABC and has been a featured speaker at numerous basketball camps. He is co-director each summer of CUA’s Cardinal Basketball Academy.
Stephen Todd Howes, 41, is a native of Washington, D.C. He lives in Olney with his son Michael Patrick, 10; daughter Sarah Elizabeth, 6; and daughter Allyson Marie, 2.