With his win on Saturday, men’s head basketball coach Mark Johnson became the all-time wins leader among Fort Hays State University men’s basketball coaches with his 258th win.
Johnson tied Suran’s 257 wins last Wednesday night with a 70-61 victory over Lindenwood and sealed his fate as the winningest coach in FHSU history on Saturday holding off conference opponent Lincoln, 88-85 at home.
Johnson started the season with 246 wins, just 11 wins shy of Suran’s 257 wins; a feat that took Suran almost two decades to accomplish. Suran coached from 1946-65.
Johnson came to FHSU as an assistant in 1996 and briefly served as the interim head coach during the 1997-98 season. He took the reigns as the Tiger’s head coach in 2001 and has developed a tradition of winning over his 13 seasons at the helm.
In just his second season as head coach Johnson led the Tigers to a 23-8 season and a berth in the 2003 NCAA tournament. Johnson hasn’t looked back since, posting one losing season during his 12 seasons.
Prior to this season the Tigers have made post-season conference tournament appearances in each of the 12 seasons under Johnson. Over the last 12 seasons Johnson has averaged 20.5 wins per season.
The 2005-06 season, the last season FHSU was part of the Rocky Mountain Conference, Johnson had his best season to date with the team. The team posted a 27-4 record and won the regular season conference title with an 18-1 record.
The Tigers reached the NCAA Division II North Central Regional semifinals that year and spent two weeks as the number one team in the nation. Johnson received the RMAC coach of the year honors for the first time that year. Johnson was also named the MIAA co-coach of the year after the 2009-10 season.
The 2010-11 season Johnson led the Tigers to an MIAA Tournament Championship after finishing second in the regular season for the second straight season. This was the school’s first league title in any sport since joining the MIAA in 2006. That same year Johnson became just the third men’s coach at FHSU to eclipse the 200-win mark beating Washburn on Feb. 5, 2011.
Johnson is coming off another season that earned him the MIAA coach of the year honors last year. Johnson’s team finished 20-8 overall and claimed a share of the regular season title before being snubbed by the selection committee for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament again.
Last season was the seventh time during the Johnson-era that the Tigers finished with 20 or more wins and the sixth straight of at least 19 wins. Johnson’s seven 20-win seasons ties him with Mill Morse for the most in FHSU history. Johnson also holds the FHSU record for 36 consecutive weeks ranked in the Div. II Top 25 that lasted from 2009-12.
The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the MIAA preseason poll to start this year before dropping their first three conference games. The Tigers will face Central Oklahoma on Thursday in Edmond, Okla.