Jim Molinari Named Assistant Menís Basketball Coach
“I am honored to have Jim to join us at Ball State,” Taylor said. “He brings a wealth of experience as a Division I head coach, which will be a valuable asset to our student-athletes and our coaches. All the descriptions apply with Jim -- he works hard, he is a team player and an extremely thoughtful person with Midwest ties. Our program will flourish with Jim on staff.”
After two-plus years as an assistant coach at Minnesota, Molinari was named Interim Head Coach on November 30, 2006 after the resignation of Dan Monson. Molinari went to Minnesota as a defensive specialist, and in his first season he reconstructed the Gopher defense. Minnesota finished third in the conference in scoring defense at 62.7 points per game in Big Ten play, just a half-point behind Michigan State and two points behind Illinois. The Gophers led the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (.424) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.274) in conference play.
In 2004-05, Minnesota allowed 62.9 points per game, the fewest since the 1981-82 season when the Gophers’ stingy defense surrendered 59.3 points per contest. In 2005, Street &Smith’s named Molinari “the best assistant in the Big Ten Conference.”
Prior to Minnesota, Molinari was an NBA scout for the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat. Before joining the Heat, Molinari enjoyed a 24-year career as a collegiate head and assistant coach at the Division I level.
For 11 seasons, he was the head coach at Bradley University, where he amassed a 176-150 (.540) record and guided the Braves to the postseason six times - five National Invitation Tournament appearances and a trip to the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
From 1989-91, he was the head coach at Northern Illinois, where he posted a record of 42-17 and won the 1991 Mid-Continent Conference title. His 13-year head coaching record stands at 223-186.
A two-time conference coach of the year -- 1991 Mid-Continent Conference at Northern Illinois and 1996 Missouri Valley Conference at Bradley -- Molinari’s coaching success was built on defense. While averaging better than 17 wins per season, Molinari’s teams finished among the nation’s top 24 defensive squads 10 times.
In his two years at NIU, his teams finished fifth and second, respectively, in team defense on the national level. In his first nine years at Bradley, the Braves placed among the nation’s leaders in all but two seasons for either fewest points allowed per game or field goal percentage allowed.
In addition, Molinari graduated nearly 90 percent of his student-athletes during his head coaching career, and while at Bradley, 24 out of 26 senior student-athletes received their degrees.
Molinari earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1977 and earned a Juris Doctor from DePaul in 1980. His college basketball playing career began at Kansas State, where he teamed with current UNLV head coach Lon Kruger for two seasons. After transferring to Illinois Wesleyan, where he teamed with former NBA center Jack Sikma, Molinari helped the Titans win consecutive league titles, before entering the coaching profession in 1978 as a part-time assistant with DePaul.
After the beginning of the 1979-80 season, Molinari was elevated to a full-time assistant and helped both Ray and Joey Meyer return the Blue Demon program to national prominence. Throughout the next 10 seasons at DePaul, Molinari helped recruit college and professional stars such as Mark Aguirre, Dallas Comegys, Tyrone Corbin, Terry Cummings and Rod Strickland -- players who led DePaul to nine NCAA Tournaments and a runner-up finish in the NIT.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Molinari is a veteran of national selection committees for international competition. Molinari led the 1997 USA Basketball men’s team to a gold medal at the World University Games played in Trapani, Italy.
Molinari has three sons -- Mark, Billy and David -- and one daughter, Joy.