Nov. 16, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head men's basketball coach Larry Hunter reached a coaching milestone on Tuesday night as the Catamounts routed Montreat College, 109-63, in the Ramsey Center. Hunter, who is amidst his 41st season on the job and 32nd as a head, notched his 600th career victory as a NCAA men's basketball head coach.
According to available research, Hunter (600-325, .649) becomes the 61st NCAA men's basketball coach all-time at all levels and 38th at the NCAA Division I level including the 12th active coach to reach the 600-win plateau. Hunter joins the likes of all-time wins leader - Mike Krzyzewski; Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Bob Huggins, Roy Williams, Jerry Slocum, Bo Ryan, Cliff Ellis, Mike Montgomery, Rick Byrd and Rick Pitino among the active coaches with 600 victories.
A combined 91 of his 600 career victories have come in Cullowhee after taking over a Catamount program which had suffered five-consecutive losing seasons including three with single-digit win totals.
Hunter has guided Western Carolina to three-consecutive winning seasons - the program's longest run of above-.500 finishes since five-consecutive winning seasons from 1979 through 1984. He has helped claim two of WCU's three Southern Conference divisional titles including sharing the North Division crown in two of the past three years. He also led the Catamounts to their first-ever, 20-win season as a NCAA Division I program, halting a drought of 38 years between milestone seasons.
After five years on the bench as an assistant between both Marietta College and Wittenberg University in Ohio, Hunter made his head coaching debut in the 1976-77 season at Wittenberg. He guided the Tigers to a 23-5 mark and the NCAA Division III National championship, collecting individual hardware as the national Coach of the Year that same season. His teams won 20-or-more games 11 times during his tenure.
In 1996, Hunter was enshrined in Wittenberg's Athletics Hall of Honor. Just prior to this season, Hunter returned to Wittenberg as the school celebrated its 100-years of collegiate basketball this season.
Hunter's legend continue to grow as he left Wittenberg after 305 career wins against just 76 losses in 13 seasons to return to his alma mater of Ohio University in Athens. In a dozen seasons on the bench with the Bobcats, Hunter experienced just two losing records and amassed 204 victories including a school-record 25 games in 1993-94 and the preseason NIT championship in 1994-95.
He coached three of Ohio's all-time leading scorers including Dave Jamerson who continues to rank first in school's record books with 2,336 career points.
Hunter already ranks third in WCU's record books for career wins by a head coach, behind only Steve Cottrell (145 from 1977-1987) and all-time leader, Jim Gudger who recorded 311 victories from 1950 until 1969.
Western Carolina squads under Hunter's tutelage have re-written the school's record books in several categories including surpassing the 3-pointers made in a season benchmark in four of his first six years. The 2009-10 Catamounts set the bar high with 274 made treys that season, headlined by former sharp-shooter Jake Robinson eclipsing current assistant coach Anquell McCollum's record for individual career 3-pointers.
Hunter has recruited and coached two SoCon Freshmen of the Year during his tenure on the Catamount bench. Redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo garnered the honor in 2008-09 marking the first for a WCU squad since Jarvis Hayes in 2000, with redshirt sophomore Trey Sumler following suit a season ago. And six different Catamounts have earned All-SoCon honors under Hunter with two - Brigham Waginger in 2009-10 and Richie Gordon in 2010-11 - earning the league's top defensive player honors.
Western Carolina continues its 2011-12 season on Thursday night as it travels to Clinton, S.C., to face Presbyterian in nonconference action.