Smesko Inducted into Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Florida Gulf Coast University head women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko and his 1998 NAIA National Championship team were inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in the 7th Annual Induction Ceremony on Saturday, May 19.
“The event was exceptional,” said Smesko. “It was really emotional for me to see the team back together again. It made for a great night.”
Walsh University (29-5) became the first unseeded team to win an NAIA National Championship when it came from behind to defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor, 73-66, in the Division II title game at Sioux City
Smesko began his college coaching career at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio in 1997-98. In his first year at the helm he led the Cavaliers to a 29-5 mark, a 12-win improvement over the previous year, and the 1998 NAIA Division II National Championship, which was the first national championship in school history. With a 73-66 come from behind victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor in the title game, Walsh became the first unseeded team to win a NAIA National crown.
Smesko, whose team had been predicted to finish sixth in the nine-team Mid-Ohio Conference, was named the Mid-Ohio Conference and NAIA National Coach of the Year.
This year three-time Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year Smesko and his FGCU Eagles completed the most historic season in its Division I history, advancing to the NCAA Tournament and earning a No. 12 seed in the Raleigh Region. FGCU finished with a 29-3 overall record that included a league-first 18-0 mark in the A-Sun. The Eagles verified the conference’s third-ever unbeaten regular season by cruising through the A-Sun Tournament, taking the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a convincing 67-39 win over second-seeded and 20-game winner Stetson.
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