MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Sit with Dan Kosmoski and it’s easy to get caught up in the good old days.

The St. Olaf head basketball coach grew up to play for the Gopher basketball team, and then served as one of its coaches. He used to play and coach with some pretty impressive talent.

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Kosmoski went on to coach with current Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders at Golden Valley Junior College.

“He played for Bill Musselman, then played Jim Dutcher,” Kosmoski said of Saunders. “He was the point guard, and was always asking questions. There was no question in anybody’s mind where Flip was heading.”

Kosmoski went on to help Clem Haskins as an for 9 years.

“He was fair, he pushed the staff,” Kosmoski said of Haskins. “He always kept us on our toes. He always kept us hungry, and you knew where you were.”

After that, 21 years ago, Kosmoski made a leap: from an assistant at the division level to head coach at St. Olaf College.

“I think this is really what athletics are intended to be when it all started 30 or 40 years ago,” he said. “Division one has really enters more of entertainment and big business.”

That means his duties go beyond just coaching; he also teaches some activity classes. More importantly, it keeps him connected to the community.

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“It’s good to connect with the students on campus,” Kosmoski said.

But make no mistake, there is still a burning desire to win basketball games. Another 20-win season gives them a lot of pride, but it’s what they get out of it along the way that’s different.

“It’s a perfect fit for my faith, for what I love to do in coaching,” he said. “Helping these young men grow, and watching them grow, and help them maybe put themselves in good positions, and not in difficult positions.”

So he works in a cramped office, on a campus he enjoys, doing what he loves: coaching basketball, and preparing young men.

“This brings balance. In the summertime I get away for a couple fishing trips, and I’m able to run basketball camps,” Kosmoski said.

He says he’s well aware that the number of wins his team records is important, but just as in tune with another number that, in some ways, means even more.

“I’ve been to 27 weddings in the past many years,” he said. “Why do you get into coaching at this level? That’s why.”

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The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) tournament starts next week. St. Thomas and St. Olaf both get byes and will play at home on Friday.