Hickory Rotary club’s Thursday meeting featured two head basketball coaches – John Lentz (R), head men’s basketball coach at Lenoir Rhyne University was joined by Todd Starkey (L), head coach of Lenoir Rhyne’s women’s basketball team.
It is next to impossible to talk about Lenoir-Rhyne men’s basketball without mentioning John Lentz, not only for what he has accomplished as a player but also as the current head coach.
Lentz is beginning his 28th season as mentor of the L-R men’s basketball program. As the school’s all-time winningest coach, he is entering the 2013-14 campaign with a 408-345 mark at Lenoir-Rhyne and a 461-378 record in his collegiate career overall.
Lentz has led L-R to eight South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Titles, four Food Lion SAC Tournament Championships and five trips to the NCAA Division II Playoffs. In addition, Lentz has captured six conference coach-of-the-year honors.
Five years ago, the Bears rolled to their second straight SAC Regular Season Title (18-11 overall and 12-4 in league play) and a second consecutive berth in the playoffs. For his efforts, Lentz was named conference coach of the year for the second year in a row.
Lentz has coached four South Atlantic Conference Most Valuable Players: Jody Petty (1990-91), Brian Lewis (1994-95), Daniel Willis (2000-01) and Roman Davis (2003-04 and 2004-05). Willis was an NCAA Division II All-American, while Davis was the first player in league history to win league MVP honors twice.
Under Lentz’s direction, the Bears improved from just eight victories in 1986-87 to a stellar 21-6 mark just three short seasons later (1989-90). That same year, Lenoir-Rhyne won the inaugural South Atlantic Conference Championship and advanced to the NAIA District 26 Championship game. Those results earned him SAC and NAIA District 26 Coach of the Year honors.
Prior to Lenoir-Rhyne, Lentz was Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Pfeiffer College (1983-86) where he compiled a 53-33 mark. His 1984-85 team finished 23-9 and represented District 26 at the NAIA National Tournament.
Todd Starkey is beginning his ninth year as Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University. Last year, Starkey guided L-R to its third NCAA Division II Playoff berth in five years, as the Bears finished with a 19-10 mark on the season including a 13-5 ledger in the South Atlantic Conference, good for second place in the league standings. Lenoir-Rhyne also put together its seventh straight winning campaign.
In 2011-12, Starkey led the Bears to a 19-9 mark including an 11-7 record in league play. The performance was good for a third-place tie in the conference standings for the Bears. In addition, Starkey became the winningest coach in school history during the season as well.
Four years ago, Starkey led the Bears to their second straight South Atlantic Conference Regular Season Championship and subsequent berth in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. L-R finished with a 21-8 record and a 13-3 mark in league play, while Starkey garnered league coach-of-the-year accolades for the second consecutive season as well. Three Lenoir- Rhyne players (Amber Holt, Brittany Mitch and Cameron Sealey) earned All-SAC honors, while Holt was named to the second-team all-region squad.
In 2008-09, Starkey led Lenoir-Rhyne to one of its greatest seasons in school history. L-R finished the year with a 27-5 record overall and a 13-3 mark in the South Atlantic Conference. The Bears, who finished with the second-most wins in program history, also captured the 2008-09 SAC Regular Season and Tournament Championships.
For his efforts, Starkey was named the 2008-09 South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year and the 2009 Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year.
Starkey, the first L-R Head Coach to win national coach-of-the-year honors in 50 years (Clarence Stasavich in 1959), was honored at the Women’s Final Four in St. Louis in April of 2009.
Starkey came to L-R in 2003 after coaching five seasons as an Assistant for the Men’s Basketball Team at Montreat College (1998-03), where he helped the Cavaliers earn a berth in the NAIA National Tournament during the 1999-00 season.