UNI head coach Ben Jacobson is entering his eighth season at the helm of the Panther men's basketball program.
Jacobson has guided the Panthers to five straight 20-win seasons - the longest active streak in the Missouri Valley Conference. UNI is one of 27 NCAA Division I programs to have won 20 or more games in each of the last five seasons.
Jacobson and the Panthers have also won at least one postseason game in each of the last four seasons - a feat acccomplished by only 11 NCAA Division I programs (Butler, BYU, Creighton, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse and VCU).
In seven seasons at UNI, Jacobson has posted an overall record of 150-86 (.636 winning percentage). Jacobson ranks third on the UNI coaching wins chart, trailing only Eldon Miller (164 wins from 1987-98) and O.M. "Hon" Nordly (166 wins from 1938-43, 1946-54).
UNI has earned a postseason berth in each of the last five seasons. UNI has played in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010. The Panthers competed in the National Invitational Tournament in 2012. UNI took part in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2011 and 2013.
The Panthers finished in third place in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season in 2012-13. It marked the 10th straight season that UNI finished in the upper-half of the rugged MVC. Prior to the current streak starting in 2003-04 (when UNI tied for second and won the MVC Tournament), the Panthers had only finished in the top half of the league standings twice since joining the conference in 1991.
UNI reached the semifinals of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Tournament with victories over North Dakota, Illinois-Chicago and Bradley.
Jacobson led the Panthers to a tie for third place in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2011-12. The 2011-12 season also saw freshman forward Seth Tuttle named the MVC Freshman of the Year. UNI earned the program's first-ever appearance in the National Invitational Tournament in 2011-12. UNI scored a 67-65 opening round road win at Saint Joseph's, before dropping a 65-63 decision at Drexel in the second round.
Coach Jake became the fastest coach in Panther history to tally 100 career wins. It took him only 149 games as the Panther head coach to accomplish the feat. The previous mark was set by Art Dickinson at 164 games.
What a season it was in 2009-2010 for the UNI Panthers under fourth-year head coach Ben Jacobson. The Panthers posted a 30-5 mark to eclipse the school record for wins by seven games and earned the program's first-ever Sweet 16 appearance by knocking off the No. 1-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament's second round in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The Panthers finished the 2009-2010 season ranked No. 13 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll - marking the highest ranking in school history.
Jacobson-coached squads have made defense a priority and none more prevalent than the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, which saw the Panthers named the Missouri Valley Conference's Army National Guard Defensive Team of the Year in back-to-back years.
The Panthers made their mark in 2008-09 on the road as the squad put up an impressive 11-1 mark on the road against league foes. Included in that impressive road mark was a streak of eight straight victories away from the McLeod Center, which was the eighth-longest road winning streak in the history of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Panthers were named the league's Army National Guard Defensive Team of the Year in 2008-09 and 2009-10. The Panthers held the competition to 63.5 points per game and 41.9 percent field goal shooting in 2008-09.
The 2007-08 UNI team, which posted an 18-14 overall mark and advanced to the semifinals of the State Farm MVC Tournament, ranked 14th in the nation in fewest turnovers per game, averaging just 11.8. The Panthers turned it over more than 13 times in a game just 11 times, with a low of five against both Loyola (Dec. 1) and Illinois State (Jan. 30).
Jacobson's 2007-08 Panthers were also stalwarts on the defensive end of the floor. They led the Missouri Valley Conference in field goal percentage defense (.395), and were third in scoring defense (60.3 ppg) - ranking 17th and 14th nationally in those categories. UNI allowed only six opponents to score more than 68 points in any game in the 2007-08 season, holding its foes to 50 points or less six times, and holding 13 opponents to less than 38 percent shooting.
In addition, its 61-48 win at Iowa State on Nov. 27, 2007 marked just UNI's third win in 27 games played in Ames, and only the school's second-ever win at Hilton Coliseum. The Panthers last win at Hilton was in 1997 under Eldon Miller, while UNI's other win at ISU was a 59-54 victory in the 1963-64 season, when it was a Division II school known as the State College of Iowa under the direction of Norm Stewart.
Jacobson also coached UNI as it became the first college program ever to represent the United States of America at an international basketball competition. In August 2007, UNI was chosen to be Team USA at the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Donning the Red, White and Blue, UNI went 5-1 in the tournament, losing only to eventual gold medalist Lithuania, while posting wins over Angola, Turkey, China, Finland and Israel.
Jacobson, 42, was hired as head men's basketball coach on March 22, 2006, becoming the 21st head coach in UNI history.
Jacobson finished his first campaign at the helm of UNI with an 18-13 record. The 18 wins were the most for a first-year Panther head coach since the team joined the Division I ranks in 1980. In addition, UNI posted wins over Iowa State and Iowa - sweeping the Cyclones and Hawkeyes in the same season for just the second time ever - including posting a win in Iowa City for the first time in program history.
Academics also are of the highest priority under Jacobson. The UNI men's basketball team posted a 3.09 GPA in the fall 2012 semester. UNI entered the 2012-13 season with a 2.98 cumulative team GPA. A total of 22 Panther basketball players have earned first-team, second-team or honorable mention Academic All-Conference honors since 2003.
Before taking over as head coach, Jacobson was the Panthers' top assistant coach starting in 2001, and was a key cog in bringing the Panthers from the basement of the Missouri Valley Conference to the penthouse. With Jacobson on staff, the development of UNI basketball has been remarkable.
UNI has won at least 18 games each of the past ten seasons, the first time in school history it has accomplished that feat. The Panthers have won 215 games since the start of the 2003-04 season, marking the most successful stretch in school history.
UNI has also advanced to the NCAA tournament five times since the start of the 2003-04 season (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010), including receiving two at-large bids. UNI also achieved its first-ever Division I top-25 ranking during the 2005-06 season.
While this is Jacobson's first head coaching job, he had 12 years of prior assistant coaching experience. Before joining former UNI head coach Greg McDermott in Cedar Falls beginning with the 2001-02 campaign, he served one season as an assistant coach under McDermott at Division II North Dakota State. His responsibilities there included serving as recruiting and academic coordinator.
Jacobson has a long history in the North Central Conference, having played at the University of North Dakota from 1989-93. He was a four-year letterman for the Sioux, a two-year starter, and he ended his career as the school's all-time assist leader. UND made two Elite Eight appearances and four regional appearances, along with winning two conference championships, during his career. He was team captain in 1991-92 and 1992-93, was named to the NCC's All-Academic Team in 1993, and was a player representative to UND's letterwinner's association from 1991-93.
In September of 2008, his 1989-90 team from the University of North Dakota - when he was a freshman guard for the Fighting Sioux - was inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame. That squad finished 28-7 overall, including a perfect 16-0 at home, and finished third in the nation.
He was a student assistant coach at North Dakota from 1993-94. From 1994-96, he was a graduate assistant at UND and became a full-time assistant coach for the Sioux from 1996-2000, prior to spending the 2000-01 season at North Dakota State University.
A native of Mayville, N.D., Jacobson graduated from Mayville-Portland High School in 1989 as valedictorian. He received his bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of North Dakota in 1994.
Jacobson and his wife, Dawn, have two children, Hunter (10) and Tanner (8).