Windsor, N.J. -- The legendary Howie Landa will never be forgotten
at Mercer County Community College. The former men's basketball
coach, who came to the college in 1962 and coached for 25
years, will be honored in the coming year. A committee chaired
by former MCCC Athletics Director/Professor Emeritus Al Leister
is organizing the Howie Landa Tribute.
The committee also includes current Men's Basketball Coach
Howard Levy; Trentonian sports writer George O'Gorman (the
college's former sports information director); MCCC Physical
Education Professor Bob Pugh, who was Landa's assistant coach
for six seasons; current Athletics Director John Simone; MCCC
retiree Charles Smith, another assistant coach; and Academic
Counselor Fred Weiner, who advised Landa's players.
himself couldn't be more pleased with the honor. "I'm
looking forward to coming back. I have been inducted into
12 Halls of Fame, but the greatest honor is to have a court
with my name on it. I really appreciate what they are doing
for me," Landa said.
According to Leister, fundraising for the tribute is already
underway. In addition to inscribing Landa's name on the gymnasium
floor in the West Windsor Campus Physical Education Building,
an event for the public will be held September 15, 2012 to
unveil the inscription, followed by dinner at the MCCC Conference
Center on the West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.
The committee expects many alumni and retirees, as well as
long-time faculty and staff still at the college to donate
to the tribute and to attend the dinner to reunite with Landa,
who will attend the event with his family.
and Pugh note that the project is the college's way of recognizing
Landa's legacy. "He made a huge mark on the Mercer athletics
program, the college's reputation at the national level, and
the many students - not only basketball players - who were
positively impacted by his mentoring and guidance," Leister
With a total won-loss record of 555-152, Landa first took
the Vikings to the national tournament in Hutchinson, KS,
in 1964, and returned to nationals in 1968, advancing all
the way to the championship game before losing by two points.
The 1972-73 team finally brought home the national title,
defeating host team Hutchinson and completing a record-breaking
34-3 season. The streak continued with another national title
in the 1973-74 season. The Vikings played in two additional
national finals in 1976 and 1979. Many of Mercer's players
continued their successful basketball careers at four-year
schools. With their two national titles, Mercer remains the
only Northeast school to win the NJCAA title in men's basketball.
Landa led Mercer to 10 Regional Championships and 15 District
Championships. He was named NJCAA Region 19 Coach of the Year
ten times and National Coach of the Year three times.
In addition to basketball, Landa coached baseball, men's soccer,
and also served as athletics director in the 1960s. Most importantly,
Landa was a professor and mentor to hundreds of students.
from Philadelphia, Landa had a stellar career as a basketball
player at Central High School and then played at Lebanon Valley
College in the early 1950s, where he established 16 individual
records. In 1953, he was the teams leading scorer, and
the Flying Dutchmen won the Middle Atlantic Conference. He
then played basketball in the Eastern Pro League and was named
All-League in 1957.
his retirement from Mercer, Landa moved to Henderson, Nevada,
where he became an assistant coach at the University of Nevada-Las
Vegas (UNLV) under Jerry Tarkanian. From 1990-1994, he was
also an assistant coach for UNLV's women's basketball team.
In 1994, Landa coached the men's team for seven games as interim
coach, compiling a record of 5-2. He recently retired from
teaching at UNLV. Landa
is a member of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.