|Title:||Head Men's Basketball Coach|
A year after passing one legendary coach on the Catholic University all-time victories list, Steve Howes passed another. He enters his ninth year as the third-winningest coach in school history.
Howes passed the late Jack Bruen in 2010 and Tom Young last season. Bruen led the Cardinals from 1982-89 and built the foundation upon which the program resides today. He went on to lead Colgate University to two Patriot League championships and a pair of NCAA Tournaments.
Young, who coached the Cards from 1958-67, led CUA to the 1964 Mason-Dixon Conference championship and NCAA College Division Tournament. His greatest success came at Rutgers University, where he was named 1976 Coach of the Year by The Sporting News and UPI after leading the 31-2 Scarlet Knights to the Final Four.
Howes’ record of 150-75 is good for the school’s second-highest winning percentage (.667). The only man he trails is his mentor and predecessor, Mike Lonergan, who led CUA to the 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship and won .740 of his games from 1992-2004. Lonergan is now head coach at nearby George Washington University, and the Colonials and Cardinals will meet in a preseason game.
This will be the third year in a row that CUA opens with a Division I opponent. The Cards kicked off their 100th-anniversary season at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, and last year played at the University of Florida.
Fighting Irish Coach Mike Brey praised Howes prior to his team’s 72-47 victory.
“He’s done a great job,” Brey said. “Look at his record, how prepared his kids are, how kids improve in his program. You know, at the end of the day at a place like Catholic U. and a place like Notre Dame, you’re a teacher and the style of the teacher is important.
“I’d say this about Steve: I’d want my son to play for him – a positive guy who’s enthusiastic every day, who’s in it for the right reasons. So I think Catholic U. has a gem in their head coach.”
Florida Coach Billy Donovan also thinks highly of Coach Howes and the program he’s built.
“It’s a terrific program,” said Donovan, who led the Gators to consecutive National Championships (2006, 2007). “It’s not at the highest level – Division I – but I think in terms of their 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.
“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.”
Howes is one of only four CUA basketball coaches in 102 years to lead teams to the NCAA playoffs. He has guided the Cardinals to four 20-win seasons, seven postseason tournaments, two conference championships and two NCAA Tournaments.
His coaching ability is so highly regarded in the national capital area 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 guided CUA to the best start in school history last year when the club won its first 11 games, breaking a mark that had stood for 84 years. The Cardinals won two games in the postseason ECAC South Region Championship before losing the title to Alvernia University. CUA finished 19-9, the seventh time in Howes’ eight years his team has won at least 18 games.
Point guard Shawn 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 grade-point average. He was the only Division III student-athlete in the nation to be among the 10 finalists for the Arthur Ashe Award.
One of the Nation’s Finest Division III
Away from his coaching duties, 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 has expanded and upgraded the Cardinals’ media guide. He also played a key role in organizing 100th-anniversary activities.
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 University for the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Then after Lonergan left the University of 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 NCAA 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.”
CUA has shown steady progress since becoming a charter member of the Landmark Conference in 2007-08. After winning 10 games, the Cardinals improved to 18-10 in 2008-09 and 18-9 (10-4 Landmark) the following year. Their 21-9 mark in 2010-11 included a 9-5 league record. Howes piloted CUA to its first Landmark Tournament victory that season and an appearance in the Landmark title game. The Cards won two contests in the ECAC South Region Championship before falling at Lebanon Valley College.
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.
CUA, the most successful team in Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) 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.
Helping Players Soar
Howes’ coaching and mentoring has helped a bevy of Cardinals achieve high marks athletically and academically. In 2006-07, senior Scott Fumai was named first-team All-CAC, while seniors Patrick Dwyer and Stephen Wheeler 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 NABC Honors Court.
Dwyer continued his career on the professional level by playing the 2007-08 season for the Manchester (England) Magic.
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 has demonstrated leadership potential. Olivero was selected to the 2007-08 Winter Landmark Academic Honor Roll.
In 2010-11, 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 also just the second player in school history to be named honorable mention All-American three times.
Advancing to the Postseason
Howes earned his first CAC championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006 with a 79-70 victory over Salisbury (Md.) University. 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 CUA’s Harris Cup.
Cardinal fans caught a glimpse of Howes’ coaching ability during his first year (2004-05). CUA finished 20-10 and 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 his predecessor 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 12 players who have scored more than 1,000 career points.
Howes’ recruiting ability and talent-evaluation skills helped CUA land many of the top 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, became CUA’s only 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 (New Orleans Hornets); 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 Spain, are among the athletes he helped develop. Monroe plays in Russia, and he and Hunt are their respective school’s all-time scoring leaders.
When Mason played for San Antonio in 2009-10, Howes was a guest of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich for the start of training camp. Tommy Sheppard, the Washington Wizards’ vice president of basketball operations, invited Howes to Washington’s 2009 rookie camp and 2010 training camp. He has for the last three summers participated in the invitation-only University of Florida coaches’ clinic.
Howes worked as head JV and assistant boys varsity coach at Good Counsel High School when it was in Wheaton, Md. During his three seasons (1995-98), he helped the Falcons achieve a local Top 20 ranking each year. He coached a host of NCAA Division I players, including Mason (University of Virginia), Monroe, Hunt, Gist (University of Maryland), Omari Isreal (Loyola University Maryland) and Gini Chukura (Maryland). Another player, Kevin App, is an assistant coach at Army.
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 game 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 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 former President George W. Bush.
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 Young, Lonergan and Bruen, 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 last year led the Greyhounds to the NCAA Tournament.
Along with Becker, Kelly and Sullivan, 2010-11 assistant coach Garrett Kelly is director of basketball operations at Radford (Va.) University. Former point guard Mike Wasilenko was an assistant at Salisbury (Md.) University, and former manager Andrew Gunderson was an assistant coach at Averett University.
After playing at Frostburg (Md.) State University 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 College. 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 National Association of Basketball Coaches and has been a featured speaker at numerous basketball camps. He hosts a camp at CUA each summer.
Stephen Todd Howes, 39, is a native of Washington, D.C. His wife, Melanie, also graduated from Good Counsel and played varsity field hockey and soccer at Immaculata College. They live in Olney with their son Michael Patrick, 8; daughter Sarah Elizabeth, 4; and infant daughter Allyson Marie.