Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball coach Brandon Rinta, who led the Warriors to one of their most successful seasons in program history in his second year leading the program, was honored with the Don Meyer Award, presented annually to the top NAIA basketball coach in the nation.
The award, named in honor of Meyer, who accumulated 923 wins in 38 seasons at three programs, was presented on Friday night at the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet at the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta.
“Just the fact that it’s the Don Meyer Award is incredible to me,” Rinta said. “Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as a man like that is very humbling. He’s an absolute legend.”
Since arriving at Lewis-Clark State from Northwest Nazarene University prior to the 2011-12 season, Rinta has restored the Warrior program as one of the most preeminent in the West.
The Warriors are 42-19 in two seasons under Rinta’s leadership, including 26-7 in the friendly confines of the LCSC Activity Center.
During the 2012-13 season, Lewis-Clark State finished the year 26-6, won the Frontier Conference regular season championship and advanced to the NAIA Tournament for the first time since 2008. The Warriors were ranked in the top five of the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 poll for the majority of the season, and reached a program-high No. 3 ranking after an 18-0 start.
“The award is a reflection of what our guys were able to accomplish this season, and I gratefully accept this award on their behalf,” Rinta said.
Under Rinta’s tutelage, senior forward P.J. Bolte was named a third team All-American after the season, and junior guard Jacob Champoux was an honorable mention pick.
“Being named the coach of the year and receiving an award with Don Meyer’s name attached to it is an incredible honor, and Brandon is more than deserving of it,” Lewis-Clark State athletic director Gary Picone said.
“What he’s accomplished at LCSC in just two years has clearly been recognized by people throughout the country, but nobody here is surprised by it. We’re very happy for him.”
Rinta, who coached at Eastern Washington for five seasons before moving to NNU, credits his wife Deanna and both of their families for his success.
“My family and I have made a lot of sacrifices for an opportunity like this, so in that respect it means a little bit more to them,” he said. “My wife is all in on this thing, and it’s great.”