By Kelsey Whaley, St. Catherine Sports Information
ST. PAUL, Minn. – In the past five years, the St. Catherine University basketball team has undergone quite the turnaround. With Sean Pinkerton at the helm, the Wildcats have transformed into a top-tier team in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), making their first conference tournament appearance since the 2009-10 season. Next season, the basketball team will look to continue its rise up the conference standings with a new coach at the helm, as Pinkerton is stepping down from St. Kate's to become the head coach at Oswego State, Athletic Director Eric Stacey announced Monday.
"I'm so very grateful for my time at St. Kate's," Pinkerton commented on Monday. "I couldn't have possibly been in a better place in terms of opportunity and support for the last five years."
Since taking over in 2012, Pinkerton revitalized the Wildcat basketball program, helping the team return to the MIAC playoffs. In each of his five seasons, Pinkerton increased the team's winning percentage both in MIAC play and overall. St. Kate's overall record of 15-11 in 2016-17 matched the program record for wins in a single season and the team's nine wins in conference play was a program best since the team won 10 in 2009-10.
Additionally, several Wildcat student-athletes broke multiple school records in the past five seasons, and two individuals eclipsed the 1000-point mark in the past two seasons. In 2015-16, former point guard LaShay Holt (Minneapolis, Minn. / Humboldt) became the first player in program history to be named the MIAC Sixth-Player-of-the-Year and graduated the following year as arguably the most successful player in program history. Holt currently holds five school records, including career points and rebounds, and is a three-time All-Conference honoree.
In addition to Holt, several other Wildcats earned MIAC recognition during Pinkerton's tenure. Current senior Audra Clark (Kenyon, Minn. / Kenyon-Wanamingo) earned All-MIAC honors in 2016-17 after earning All-Conference Honorable Mention honors the previous two seasons. Holt, Clark and current sophomore Danica Cambrice (Minneapolis, Minn. / St. Croix Lutheran) also represented St. Kate's on the MIAC's All-First Year team after their respective first seasons with the program.
"I will always be thankful for everyone I encountered in my time here, especially my colleagues, Eric Stacey for his tremendous support and belief, Coach Kjar, Coach Peper and Coach Davis for everything they have done to help get St. Kate's basketball to where it is today," Pinkerton said. "Thank you to all my players who I will miss more than I'm capable of expressing. It is their belief in us, their dedication and commitment that has made the past five years so special and will continue to make the future of St. Kate's basketball so bright."
"Coach Pinkerton has done tremendous work with our basketball program and we are sorry to see him leave," Stacey said on Monday. "The team has made impressive progress under his leadership and the program has a strong foundation to build upon. I want to thank Sean for all he has done for St. Kate's and wish he and his family the best moving forward."