Carleton College men’s basketball climbs toward top of 113-year program history

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Back in 1910, most American homes didn’t have electricity but they were already playing basketball at Carleton College in Northfield.

This year, the 113th edition of Knights men’s basketball is chasing accomplishments that could leave this season standing as the best in program history.

Click the video box on this page to watch KSTP Sports’ story on the 2022-23 Carleton Knights’ pursuit of history, plus extended interviews with head coach Ryan Kershaw and players Jeremy Beckler (White Bear Lake) and Matt Wyffels (Centennial)

With five regular season games to go, the Knights lead the MIAC conference by 2.5 games. They’re in position to claim their third MIAC title since re-joining the conference in 1983. Three prior MIAC men’s basketball titles came in the 1920’s, before Carleton moved to the Midwest Conference for several decades.

The 2023 Knights are also pursuing the program’s third appearance in the NCAA tournament (2006, 2010).

Even beyond those lofty-enough goals, a 17-3 record has this year’s Knights rising toward the top of more than a century of Carleton College basketball history.

They’re four wins away from the program’s all-time win record (21 in 2005-06) with five games and any potential MIAC and NCAA postseason games still to play.

Their current .850 win percentage ranks better than any Knights team since World War II. The last time Carleton finished with a win percentage better than .850 was the 1932-33 team that finished 13-1.

Making the history-making season even more impressive, they’ve done it under a first-year head coach.

Ryan Kershaw took over after longtime coach Guy Kalland retired after last season.

Kalland’s 38 seasons at Carleton saw him go 506-439, making him one of only five men’s college basketball coaches in Minnesota to surpass 500 career wins.

Kershaw’s presence on Kalland’s staff helped ease the team’s transition this season. It’s also helped that Kalland is Kershaw’s father-in-law.