LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - For UW-La Crosse head men's basketball coach Ken Koelbl, there's no single memory that stands out to him.
"Just carrying on those relationships when the playing years are done, going to players' weddings," Koelbl said. "I'm still following one of my players, Joe Werner. It was kind of neat when he was here when he got to try out with the Packers. He's still playing in Japan. It's just neat to continue to follow the progress of guys that have been in our program."
There's no shortage of players to keep in touch with, either. 2012 marks Koelbl's 10th year on the Eagles bench. In that time, the Onalaska native has maintained a winning record. That's a point of pride for the coach who says he doesn't recall having any specific milestones when he took the job, just consistency.
Koelbl said, "We've had teams that maybe haven't done as well as some others, but by and large we've been a program that has been pretty consistent in the time that I've been here and pretty competitive. That's a good thing."
It's also a good thing that Koelbl draws such respect from his players. They said they'll remember his nature both on and off the court.
"He's very vocal," said sophomore Lucas Collom. "He helps us out a lot. He'll come back to the huddle and tell us what we're doing wrong, what we need to work on and what we need to keep doing."
Senior Lucas Morrissey added, "He's really inspirational. He knows a lot about the game of basketball, x's and o's wise. Everybody always listens to him, and he always has a good game plan going into every game."
It all translates into a La Crosse program on the rise. The WIAC picked the Eagles to finish third, but Koelbl's aim is even higher. He said he wants a conference championship before all is said and done.
"It's something I know we're capable of. It's something we've talked about. It won't come easy. It's a great league. That's what makes it so fun. That's what makes it so challenging, but I'd really like to be able to see this program reach something like that," said Koelbl.
A WIAC title and the team that achieves it would almost certainly find a place of honor in Koelbl's memories.
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