A couple of days after Northwest men’s basketball defeated West Texas A&M 80-54 in the Division II National Championship March 27 in Evansville, Indiana, 12th-year coach Ben McCollum was named the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Coach of the Year.
It’s the fourth time in five seasons that McCollum has been recognized as the best coach in Division II by the NABC, which moves him by Cal State Bakersfield’s Pat Douglass for the most ever.
But McCollum isn’t too concerned with, once again, receiving the award. He’s never really concerned with anything that has to do with him, more so everything that has to do with the team. Winning the program’s third national title was where his mind was prior to the championship game.
“My job’s to win the game,” McCollum said March 26 over Zoom. “That’s the coach of the year award. I think that your objective is to try and win the title, and if you do that, then I guess that’s what you are. If you don’t, then you’re not.”
“I don’t need an ego boost,” McCollum said through a laugh. “I get that every day from my lovely wife.”
However, despite his own standards, the members of the NABC knew McCollum was the best Division II coach, regardless of how the final game of the season went, just as they did in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
McCollum coached the Bearcats to a record of 28-2 in the 2020-21 season, with their two losses coming from a combined 3 points, both to Washburn. McCollum also coached the Bearcats to their eighth consecutive MIAA regular season title, which led to him being named MIAA Coach of the Year for the seventh time.
This year marked the 10th 20-win season under McCollum, which is tied with his predecessor, Steve Tappmeyer, for the most in Northwest history.
The Bearcats' win in the National Championship marked McCollum's 300th career victory, which puts him three wins away from moving to No. 8 on the MIAA's all-time list.