|Tod Kowalczyk Biography|
Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Head coach Tod Kowalczyk has already put his stamp on the University of Toledo men's basketball program as he enters his second season at the helm of the Rockets.
Upon his arrival, Kowalczyk began to institute a culture of discipline and accountability for a Toledo program that had endured three straight losing seasons following its 2006-07 Mid-American Conference title.
That scenario is something the former UW-Green Bay mentor is familiar with after taking over the Phoenix in 2002 under similar circumstances.
Kowalczyk turned around the Green Bay program rather quickly, producing an eight-year run of success that saw the Phoenix post a 136-112 (.548) win-loss mark including a pair of 22-win campaigns in his final two seasons. That period of prosperity also enabled UWGB to become one of just 18 teams in the nation to place among the top four in its conference for seven straight seasons.
Kowalczyk was named the fifth head coach in the history of Phoenix men's basketball in 2002, taking over a program that was coming off three consecutive losing seasons and possessed an RPI rating over 270. It didn't take long for the De Pere, WI native to put his signature on UWGB basketball both on and off the court.
In his first season, the Phoenix soared from consecutive years as the seventh-ranked rebounding team in the Horizon League to the league leader by following Kowalczyk's mantra of toughness and sound fundamental play. Also in 2002-03, the team posted a grade-point average above 3.0 in the classroom for the first time in four years.
During the 2003-04 campaign, Kowalczyk orchestrated one of the nation's top single-season turnarounds. The rise of the Phoenix to a 17-11 record was among the top 10 improvements in the NCAA that year. Despite being picked to finish seventh in the preseason league poll, Kowalczyk and the Phoenix vaulted to third in the standings, posting the team's best finish in five seasons and the most wins in conference play in eight years.
Green Bay's second-place showing in the 2004-05 conference race was the team's best in nearly a decade, since an undefeated 1995-96 league championship season. With a 12-1 record in single-digit games, Kowalczyk's Phoenix earned a reputation for poise under pressure. The 2004-05 team placed two Kowalczyk products on the All-Horizon League teams, first-team pick Javier Mendiburu and second-team choice Benito Flores. The selections marked the first time a pair of Phoenix players earned all-league honors since 2000.
The 2005-06 campaign saw a freshman-dominated squad finish in a third-place tie in the Horizon League with an 8-8 mark after being tabbed to place seventh in the pre-season poll. That year continued a four-year stretch where the Phoenix finished higher in the Horizon League standings than the preseason polls had predicted.
In 2006-07, Green Bay posted 18 wins, the most by a Phoenix team since finishing 20-11 in 1998-99. Green Bay freshmen and sophomores played an average of 132 minutes out of a possible 200, easily the most of any team in the league. Despite facing the toughest schedule in school history and injuries to several key players, the Phoenix tallied a 15-15 record in 2007-08 and tied for fourth place in the Horizon League standings at 9-9.
Kowalczyk's 2008-09 unit also enjoyed an outstanding campaign, making the program's first postseason appearance since 1996 and notching a runner-up finish in the Horizon League with a 13-5 ledger. The Phoenix's 22-11 record was the program's highest win total since the 1995-96 season and included a 75-66 victory over No. 11 Butler before nearly 7,000 fans at the Resch Center. UWGB also hosted Vermont in a first-round game of the College Basketball Invitational for the first post-season game ever played in Titletown.
Green Bay proved to be one of the nation's most prolific shooting teams in 2008-09 as well. The Phoenix finished the season ranked second nationally in free-throw shooting percentage (78.7) and fifth in three-point shooting percentage (41.0). UWGB was the only team in the country to rate among the top five in both categories.
In Kowalczyk's final year at UWGB, his squad posted a 22-13 mark and won the program's first post-season game since 1994 when it registered a first-round victory at Akron in the College Basketball Invitational. Another major highlight came when the Phoenix knocked off No. 20 Wisconsin, 88-84, at home in an overtime thriller. The Phoenix's 88 points were 17 more than any other school scored against the Badgers, who ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense.
Under Kowalczyk's direction, Green Bay restored its strong basketball tradition while playing in a league that ranked among the nation's top 12 in RPI. The Phoenix were particularly strong at home, amassing a 76-28 record (.731) at the Resch Center.
On an individual basis, Kowalczyk coached 10 all-conference and four all-newcomer honorees during his UWGB tenure, in addition to 2007-08 Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Terry Evans, 2008-09 Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year Ryan Tillema and three-time Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-American Mike Schachtner. Evans, Schachtner and Tillema each scored 1,000 points in their career marking the first time three players from one recruiting class had done so in school history.
In the classroom, the Phoenix were just as impressive as every student-athlete who completed his eligibility with the program graduated. The men's basketball program's five-year APR rating under Kowalczyk was an impressive 964, the highest figure in the state.
Overall, Kowalczyk has amassed two decades of collegiate coaching experience. He came to Green Bay from Marquette University, where he served as an assistant coach. While with the Golden Eagles, Kowalczyk coordinated efforts that outfitted consecutive top-25 recruiting classes in Marquette uniforms.
In 2001-02, the Golden Eagles finished Kowalczyk's last season ranked in the top 10 nationally, tallied a 26-7 overall record, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Marquette followed up that season with a Final Four appearance and a 27-6 mark in 2002-03.
"Coach Kowalczyk worked with me every day," said Marquette All-American and 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade. "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for him."
Kowalczyk embarked on his coaching journey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1988 on the heels of a prosperous collegiate playing career with the Bulldogs. While playing under former Phoenix assistant Dale Race, Kowalczyk was part of squads that posted a 95-29 (.766) win-loss mark, earning Team MVP honors and leading UMD to four consecutive national tournament berths.
Kowalczyk graduated from UMD in 1989 with a bachelor of applied sciences degree in health education and physical education.
Two seasons on the coaching staff at the University of New Hampshire (1989-91) were followed by a two-year stint at St. Anselm College (1991-93), where Kowalczyk and the Hawks advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Kowalczyk returned to the Division I ranks with Rider University in 1993. The Broncs played in an NCAA Tournament and posted a 72-45 record (49-23 in conference play) during Kowalczyk's four years in Lawrenceville, NJ. He earned his master's degree in education administration in 1997 while at Rider.
Before joining Tom Crean's staff at Marquette, Kowalczyk spent three years (1997-2000) coaching in the Big East Conference at Rutgers, including one season as associate head coach. Kowalczyk helped land two recruiting classes ranked among the top 15 nationally that led the Scarlet Knights to consecutive NIT appearances as well as four wins over Top 25 teams, two coming vs. Syracuse.
Well-respected among his coaching peers, Kowalczyk was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Ethics Committee in 2005.
A standout prep star at De Pere (WI) High School for coach Jake Orlowski, Kowalczyk still holds the school record with 53 points scored in a single game for the Redbirds. He is the son of Rod Kowalczyk, longtime coach and athletics director at De Pere.
Kowalczyk and his wife, Julie, reside in Ottawa Hills and have two children, Race (4) and Rose (2).
The Tod Kowalczyk File
Head Coaching Experience
Assistant Coaching Experience
Named to National Association of Basketball Coaches Ethics Committee in 2005.
B.S., Health Education and Physical Education, Minnesota-Duluth, 1989
M.A., Education Administration, Rider University, 1997
Coach Kowlaczyk's Player Honors at UW-Green Bay
Division I-AAA Scholar-Athlete
Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year
Horizon League Sixth Man of the Year
Horizon League All-Conference
Horizon League All-Defensive Team
What They Are Saying About Tod Kowalczyk
"The combinations of toughness, integrity, character and humbleness describe Tod Kowalczyk. It's a privilege to watch him coach and an honor to have worked with him at Marquette. Most importantly, he is an example for people to look at in the sense of doing it the right way and making those around him better. The fans at Toledo are going to be energized by his passion, commitment, and willingness to lock in with them as they build the UT program back to where it belongs. The only people that will be more excited will be the players who will feel themselves getting better every day."
- Indiana head coach Tom Crean
"Coach Kowalczyk worked with me every day. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for him."
- Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade (Marquette, 2000-03)
"I can think of no better choice for Toledo than Tod Kowalczyk. I've been close to Tod since he entered the coaching ranks, and I've watched him do a phenomenal job on and off the court at Green Bay. I'm looking forward to watching his championship runs and tournament appearances at Toledo in the future."
- Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo
"I've known Tod for a number of years. Wherever he has been-including Green Bay, Marquette, Rutgers-those programs have improved and become factors in the college basketball world."
- ESPN college basketball analyst Bill Rafftery
"Tod Kowalczyk has done great job at UW-Green Bay. He is well-deserving of the opportunity to be the head coach at Toledo and I'm sure his teams will be extremely competitive in the MAC. Tod's brand of basketball is exciting and Toledo fans will come to love it. I wish him the best of luck."
- Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan
"Toledo has made a terrific hire. They are getting a guy who understands what it takes to build a program through recruiting, academic success, and individual improvement on the floor. Tod knows the Midwest and he will do a great job."
- South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn
"I welcome Tod to the state of Ohio. He's had success wherever he has been and I'm sure that will continue at Toledo."
- Ohio State head coach Thad Matta
"Tod Kowalczyk is one of the bright young coaches in the college game. He is an outstanding teacher, tactician, and recruiter, and he has a great feel for the game. Tod also stresses the importance of competing in the classroom just as hard they compete on the court. Toledo made a great hire in Tod Kowalczyk."
- ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas
"This is a great opportunity for both Tod and the University of Toledo. He brings a no-nonsense, blue-collar approach to a program that has had a rich basketball tradition. I'm confident that through his hard work he will have the Rockets in contention for MAC championships for many years to come."
- ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla