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A common link between opposing coaches

February 10, 2010

Walking into St. Cloud's Halenbeck Hall will be a familiar feeling for Mike Jewett on Friday.

Heading into the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest against St. Cloud State, the current Southwest Minnesota State University women's basketball coach will return to the school he once occupied.

Against a coach he once helped replace.

Jewett, in his fourth year as the Mustangs' head coach, served as an assistant for the Huskies from 2004-06.

Before his tenure, Lori Fish, the current SCSU head coach, served as an assistant from 1999-2004. After coaching at Minnesota State-Mankato for four seasons, Fish, a St. Cloud native, returned home to coach the Huskies.

Watching carefully from the sidelines will be the coach who led the way for both Jewett and Fish- Lori Ulferts.

The head coach for the Huskies from 1994-2008, Ulferts isn't shocked that two of her pupils have made it this far in their coaching careers.

"They both were head coaching material," said Ulferts, who still works at St. Cloud State as a teacher.

"It's fun to see (Jewett and Fish) get this far, and they've been good in their own right."

Their coaching ability is what got Jewett and Fish their jobs. But when she keeps tabs on her former assistants, Ulferts cares about their activity off the court.

"The first thing I look at is their families," Ulferts said. "Both (Jewett and Fish) have great families."

Jewett came to St. Cloud State after three successful seasons at Division III Franklin College (Ind.), where he compiled a 62-20 record.

The reason he came to St. Cloud: family.

"Our family was growing," said Jewett, a father of three. "We wanted to be closer to grandparents and cousins. When Fish left for Mankato, (St. Cloud State) was the best assistant coaching position in the (then-North Central Conference)."

Looking to replace Fish, Ulferts saw a coach in Jewett who was ready to move up to the next level of his career.

Ulferts also saw a valuable recruiter.

"Mike is great at communicating with recruits," Ulferts said. "He's a great recruiting talent. His personality is great, he's a great person."

At SCSU, Jewett was on the bench for two of the program's top seasons. In the 04-05 season, the Huskies went to the Division II Final Four. In 05-06, they finished in the Elite Eight SCSU went 52-15 overall in Jewett's two seasons as an assistant.

Fish was equally impressive during her time as an assistant.

"When it came to recruiting, (Fish) could pick a needle out of a haystack," Ulferts said.

Through their coaching and recruiting efforts, both Jewett and Fish have seen their stock rise in the coaching ranks.

Jewett has been stellar against his former employer, going 2-1 against the Huskies at SMSU, including a 59-47 win on Jan. 15 at the R/A Facility.

Jewett credits Ulferts for showing the way to build a Division II program. He also utilizes the post and defensive play like Ulferts' SCSU teams.

"She's tremendous at moving a program forward," Jewett said. "She worked hard to get her point and build a framework."

Before returning to St. Cloud, Fish went 62-53 in four seasons with the Mavericks, including a trip to the North Central Region championship game. She also recruited many of the players who led the Mavericks to the national title last season.

After facing Fish at Mankato and St. Cloud, Jewett believes Fish has taken Ulferts' philosophies and made them her own.

"Ulferts was into aggressive man-to-man defense, but (Fish) plays extremely agressive man-to-man," Jewett said. "It's another notch of intensity."

In his time in Marshall, Jewett's Mustangs have improved in the win column each season; 7-21 in 06-07, 12-6 in 07-08 and 14-16 last season.

Currently, SMSU is tied for seventh in the NSIC with an 8-7 record, 14-8 overall. SCSU has struggled with a young lineup, sitting at 13th place in the 14-team conference with a 3-12 conference mark, 8-14 overall.

To Ulferts, things can only go up for Jewett and the Mustangs.

"Marshall's a great location for him and his family," Ulferts said. "He's done well thus far and he'll continue to do well. He's done a terrific job."



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