Men's Basketball Head Coach Curt Kietzer resigns

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

Two days after his team finished 2008-09 with a winless season, Macalester men’s basketball head coach Curt Kietzer announced his resignation.”The whole team was very surprised,” Kyle Hamblett ’11 said of Kietzer’s resignation. “From the standpoint of someone not on the team I can see how it could be expected, but when you’re on the team you just can’t picture the team without him. There are going to be a lot of changes and right now it’s just difficult thinking that Coach Kietzer is not our coach anymore.”

The Scots finished 0-25 in Kietzer’s 12th season with Macalester, and concluded the season with a 68-47 loss to St. Olaf College.

In the twelve seasons under Kietzer, Macalester posted a record of 112-189. Kietzer’s crowning achievements include three conference playoff berths from 2001-05 and a victory over Division I Yale University in 2001-02.

“As I said to my team when I announced my resignation, as much as I love Macalester and all that it stands for on the surface, my experience of Mac been has been entirely grounded in them [the students],” Kietzer said. “It will be sad to not continue building these relationships, but I will enjoy maintaining those established these past twelve years.”

Kietzer was responsible for coaching and recruiting two All-West Region players, including an All-American and MIAC player of the year (Ben Van Thorre ’04 and Tom Conboy ’08).

While the Scot’s victory over Yale landed them on Sportscenter, Kietzer’s favorite Macalester memory is from a 2001 MIAC playoffgame, the Scots’ first ever.

“My fondest memory is of defeating St. John’s in Macalester’s first-ever MIAC men’s basketball playoff appearance,” Kietzer said. We trailed by 17 points midway through the second half and came roaring back to win on a 3-point shot at the buzzer.”

While Kietzer has no definite post-Macalester plans, he says he envisions leading a more balanced life.

“College basketball coaching and recruiting makes for a rather myopic existence,” Kietzer said.

Athletic Director Kim Chandler, who declined comment with The Mac Weekly, said in a Macalester College press release that a nationwide search for Kietzer’s replacement would commence immediately.

“It will be important for the players in our program as well as the prospective student athletes who are being recruited to Mac, to have a chance to meet the new head coach and to understand the vision and the future aspirations of the program,” Chandler said in the release. “The search committee will be given the charge to move forward immediately to meet this critical deadline in April and to name a successor, prior to student-athletes making their final decisions on their college choice.”

In the meantime, Macalester players will look to rebound from the worst season in school and MIAC history. The loss of last year’s leading scorers (Conboy and Abe Woldeslassie ’08) proved to be fatal for the Scots, as they averaged a measly 56 points per game on the season. Opponents outscored Macalester by an average margin of 22.5 points per game.

Still, with a relatively young team, optimism remains for seasons to come.

“Coming into this season we had a lot of questions specifically who’s going to pick up the roles left by the seniors,” Hamblett said. “I feel like it took us a while to figure out our roles, but by the end of the season we started becoming pretty competitive. There’s definitely going to be less of a learning curve for next season, in terms of roles, and I feel like we have a solid core of guys coming back.”

Macalester will return leading scorers Colin Keeley ’11 (13.8 ppg) and Hamblett (11.7 ppg), along with captain Paul Richie ’10. 20008-09 projected point-guard Holden Bigler-Johnson ’11, who missed all of this season with an ankle injury, also returns next season.

Keeley and Hamblett capped off the season by receiving honorable mention All-MIAC recognition from College Sporting News. Hamblett’s in-conference scoring average of 12.4 ppg ranked him tenth overall in the MIAC.