NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Fourth-year Merrimack College men’s basketball head coach Joe Gallo added a pair of honors on Thursday when the Warriors’ head coach received both the Coach John McLendon Award as well as ECAC Coach of the Year.
The Coach John McLendon award is presented annually to the top collegiate head coach. The award encompasses Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and JUCO.
Gallo’s end-of-season recognitions now include Northeast Conference Coach of the Year, USBWA District I Coach of Year and NABC District 15 Coach of the Year in addition to the John McLendon Award and ECAC honor.
In what proved to be a noteworthy season for the men’s basketball program, Gallo directed his Warriors to the outright NEC Regular Season Championship, becoming the first program ever to win an outright conference regular season crown in its first season reclassifying to Division I. The Warriors’ 20 wins finished as the most of the eight Division I men’s basketball programs in the state of Massachusetts, and 2019-20 season marked the first time in school history that the program posted three consecutive 20-win seasons. The program set a wins record for a first-year program reclassifying to Division I, becoming the first team in NCAA history to win 20 games in its first Division I season after making the elevation from Division II.
Notable in-season moments included the program’s first-ever Division I win at Northwestern, which was the first time that a reclassifying program’s first win came against a Power Five opponent and the second-ever win for a NEC program against a Big Ten foe. In NEC play, Merrimack rattled off a nine-game winning streak, which was the longest for the program during Gallo’s tenure and the longest winning streak in school history in a decade. Merrimack’s win in its season finale against Central Connecticut guaranteed the Warriors a share of the NEC Regular Season Championship.
Gallo’s four-year tenure for the program has seen his teams win at least 19 games in every year – the first time that has occurred in school history. His 81 wins over the last four years are the most the program has accrued in a four-year span in school history, as well. He boasts the most wins over a coach’s first four years in program history.