NATCHITOCHES - Northwestern State's Mike McConathy is on the verge of becoming the winningest men's basketball coach in state history, but Monday he was honored for his incredible playing career at Louisiana Tech when he was included on the 20-man Southland Conference All-Decade Team for the 1970s.
McConathy has 571 career victories in 30 seasons as a head coach heading into the Demons' contest Saturday night at 6 at Stephen F. Austin in a matchup of the co-leaders in the conference standings. The winner will have a one-game lead with two home games remaining March 7 and 9.
Grambling's Fred Hobdy had 572 career wins in 30 seasons as the Tigers' coach and is in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. McConathy won 352 games in 16 seasons after starting the program at Bossier Parish Community College, and has 219 wins in 14 years at Northwestern.
The Southland, as part of its year-long 50th anniversary commemoration, is announcing all-decade teams in basketball over the last two weeks of the regular season. The 1970s team includes McConathy and three Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame members: Dwight "Bo" Lamar and Andrew Toney of Louisiana-Lafayette, and Louisiana Tech's Mike Green.
McConathy was a three-year All-Southland guard who averaged 20.7 points per game in his career, scoring 2,033 points in 98 games. He was the 1975-76 Southland Player of the Year while averaging 24.7 per game (13th nationally) and leading Louisiana Tech, coached by NSU alumnus Emmett Hendricks, to the conference championship in his junior season.
As a senior, he had a 27.5 scoring average, seventh-best in the nation, was chosen to play in the Big Apple All-Star Classic and became a fourth-round draft pick of the NBA's Chicago Bulls. He was released on the final round of cuts, briefly played professionally in Europe, and returned home to marry his wife Connie and begin his coaching career.
A four-year starter, McConathy still holds Louisiana Tech school records for free throws made in a game (19), season (200) and career (465) and ranks 10th in Southland history in career scoring.
His career scoring high was 47 at Lamar in his junior year, one of six games in which he scored 40 or more. Two came against Northwestern, where his father and two uncles starred in the 1950s.
Basketball greats such as Lamar, Green, Toney, Robert Parish, Joe Dumars, Karl Malone and Calvin Natt have visited Prather Coliseum, which opened in 1964. But despite the stars who have come calling, McConathy holds the Prather single-game scoring record with 45 as on Dec. 11, 1976, when he shot 16 of 26 from the field and sank 13 of 15 free throws.
Two of McConathy's college teammates made the team. Lanky Wells was, like McConathy, a three-time All-Southland selection from 1973-77. Wells joined McConathy's staff at NSU for two seasons before graduating from NSU in 2010 and remains an avid supporter of the NSU program as an unofficial chaplain. Victor King (1975-79) also made the Southland's All-1970s team.
The Southland will announce the 1980s teams for women's and men's basketball this week, and the men's and women's teams for the 1990s and the 2000s next week.