PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You can add another historic moment to the storied history of the Palestra.
On Saturday afternoon, Penn women’s basketball coach Mike McLaughlin earned his 500th career coaching win as his Quakers held off a good Drexel team, 72-67.
“It’s a great game to finally get to 500,” McLaughlin told KYW Newsradio after the game. “Good atmosphere, good environment to play in. Both teams played really well. Two good teams just playing and competing.”
Listen to the entire interview with Penn’s Mike McLaughlin:
McLaughlin needed just 650 games to hit the 500-win plateau, as his career record now sits at 500-150. 407 of the wins came during his time at Division II Holy Family where he turned the Tigers into a national power. He is 93-89 at Penn and he has turned the program into a force in the Ivy League. The Quakers have reached the postseason in each of the last three seasons with McLaughlin at the helm. They won the Ivy League title in 2013-14 and won the program’s first ever Big 5 title last season.
McLaughlin has an incredible career winning percentage of .770 as a head coach. He talks about what 500 wins means to him.
“I haven’t really reflected a whole lot on it,” McLaughlin says. “I thought about it, just because I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I’ve coached hundreds of kids and I think it probably means a lot more to them. And that means a lot to me that they do care, because I’ve gotten an enormous amount of emails and text messages over the last couple of weeks. So the fact that it’s important to them really makes it humbling for me.”
McLaughlin has been the Big 5 Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons and he reflects on how he has improved as a coach since his first season at the helm of a program in 1995-96.
“I think I’m a better head coach because I rely on my assistant coaches a lot better than I probably have done in the past,” McLaughlin says. “I’m able to think two, three, four plays ahead in a more relaxing way than maybe I did when I first started. I do prepare really hard, myself, for any situation; it’s usually for situations that don’t come up. So I think I’ve grown, I think I’ve matured. I study the game, I love the game and I listen to people who do coach the game. So I’m open to get better at what I’m doing. I’m always trying to get better. I’m willing to create a new way for each team. I don’t want to throw a system down to them that may not fit them. So I’ve been very flexible and that’s something I’ve really grown with.”
McLaughlin will go for win No. 501 on Monday afternoon as Penn hosts Wagner.