Continuing with our season preview posts, here’s a quick rundown of the coaching carousel in Division II. (You can check out yesterday’s Division I post here.) As a disclaimer, I’m going off athletic websites that overworked SIDs haven’t had the time to update in some cases, so if I missed anyone or got anything wrong, let me know in the comments. Enjoy!
About a year ago, the big news in D2 was the departure of Southern New Hampshire head coach Scott Loiseau for an assistant job at Oklahoma. After one season on the Sooners’ staff, he’ll be back in Manchester for 2016. Under interim coaches Pat Austin and Chris Shank (who’ll stay on as assistants), the Penmen did just fine in 2015, going 31-14 and making another NCAA Tournament appearance. That said, they’ll definitely be happy to see the most successful coach in program history return. SNHU had never made an NCAA Tournament before Loiseau’s arrival in 2009, but his 2015 seniors graduated without ever having missed one. The Northeast-10 will be as competitive as ever, of course, but this is a big boost for the program moving forward.
Loiseau’s return represents the only head coaching movement in D2, but there was plenty of reshuffling in the assistant ranks. Three programs brought new pitching minds into the mix. At Southern Connecticut, alum Ed Bethke returns to the Owls’ program as an assistant. Bethke, who pitched for Southern in the late 2000s, replaces the departed Nate Cole. Across town, New Haven added Tom Rispoli as a volunteer assistant. Rispoli, who played at Campbell and pitched in indy ball, spent the past five seasons helping to make Mitchell one of the region’s most successful Division III programs. The Chargers also brought on 2015 graduate Joe Royer (@Joe_Royer32) as a GA. In the Northeast Division, meanwhile, Saint Michael’s hired ex-Nichols pitching coach Tyler Gauthier (@CoachGauth), a former SNHU standout and Rays minor leaguer. Former player Michael Dougherty also comes onto the staff as a volunteer.
The offseason’s busiest clubs were Post and Saint Anselm, who each welcomed three new faces to their staffs. The Eagles will have Jon Plefka (@JonPlefka), Julien Casaubon (@JulienCasaubon), and Nick McConnell on board as they look to build on last year’s second-place finish in the CACC. Plefka is a former Angels draftee and Texas Tech player. (Just for good measure, he averaged better than six points a game in two seasons for Bobby Knight’s basketball team, too.) The Hawks, meanwhile, welcome Mike Miller as an assistant and brothers Jason and Markus Kalber (former IPFW players) as volunteers.
Five other schools will have a new face on staff heading into 2016. Assumption hired former SNHU and FCBL star and indy ball veteran Jon Minucci as an assistant; former Notre Dame player Tommy Chase moved from Navy to join the staff at SNHU; Franklin Pierce welcomed former player Cody Kauffman back for his second stint on the coaching staff; AIC’s Lucas Vallas stays with the program as a volunteer after finishing up his playing career; and Coley Lyons joins Stonehill as an assistant.