Links: Hoop Dirt Announcement
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Head coach Joe Gallo of the Merrimack College men’s basketball program has been named HoopDirt.com NCAA D1 Coach of the Year presented by Just Play Solutions.
The fourth-year Merrimack boss qualified for the honor after being selected as HoopDirt.com/Just Play Solutions Coach of the Week during the 2019-20 season. Gallo joined prominent coaches such as Tony Bennett (Virginia) and Scott Drew (Baylor) among the weekly honorees during the 2019-20 regular season.
The honor signified Gallo’s sixth different end-of-year honor after being recognized by the Northeast Conference (Coach of the Year), USBWA (District 1 Coach of the Year), NABC (District 15 Coach of the Year), ECAC (Coach of the Year) and College Insider (John McLendon Award – National Coach of the Year).
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.
The 2019-20 campaign included memorable moments including 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.
The New Jersey native’s four-year tenure 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.