Klay Knueppel is in his 13th season as head coach of the Wisconsin Lutheran College women's basketball program. A two-time NACC Coach of the Year, Knueppel spent 12 seasons as an assistant with the Warriors before being named head coach in 2004.
Wisconsin Lutheran reached the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year a season ago, extending its NCAA Tournament streak to the longest among all women's basketball program's in Wisconsin. The Warriors amassed their sixth straight 20-win season and won the NACC Tournament for the sixth consecutive year as the second seed. WLC was defeated by eventual Final Four qualifier, Wartburg, in the first round, 65-49.
The 2014-2015 Warriors won their seventh straight NACC championship and fifth consecutive NACC Tournament title. Wisconsin Lutheran reached the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season and upset 10th-ranked Wheaton (Ill.) 70-67 in overtime in the first round for their second NCAA Tournament win in program history. Knueppel, who won his 200th game January 10 when the Warriors defeated Aurora, 62-38, mentored Kristen Schulz to D3hoops.com First-Team All-American honors, the college's first-ever First Team All-American.
In 2013-2014, WLC reeled off a school-record 23 straight victories to win its sixth straight NACC championship and fourth consecutive NACC Tournament title. The Warriors reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season and fell 60-54 in the first round against second-ranked Hope.
The 2012-2013 Warriors won their fifth straight conference title and earned a third straight NCAA Tournament berth. WLC defeated Concordia Wisconsin 75-52 to win its third consecutive NACC Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament, where it fell 68-48 to national runner-up UW-Whitewater in the first round. The Warriors went 25-3 overall, including a perfect 17-0 mark in conference play.
In 2011-2012, Knueppel guided the Warriors to a fourth consecutive conference championship and a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Warriors advanced to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning their second straight NACC Tournament. After falling to fifth-ranked Calvin 59-47 in the NCAA Tournament First Round, Wisconsin Lutheran finished 24-5 overall, including 17-1 in conference play.
Knueppel coached Wisconsin Lutheran to its best season in school history in 2010-2011 as it won a school-record 26 games, including the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament win, a 73-59 victory over UW-La Crosse.
In the last six seasons, Knueppel has guided the Warriors to a 103-10 conference record, while owning an overall coaching record of 235-97. He has coached 34 players to all-conference honors, including three NACC Players of the Year; Kristen Schulz (2014-2015), Shavon Dillon (2012-2013), and Erika Laete (2010-2011).
Wisconsin Lutheran has enjoyed a successful run with Knueppel on the bench, including his time as an assistant. In 2003, the Warriors finished 18-7 overall and posted an 11-1 record in the Lake Michigan Conference en route to the program's first outright regular-season title. The Warriors swept through the conference tournament, defeating Lakeland, 59-41, in the championship game before losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to UW-Eau Claire, the top-ranked team in the country.
From 1998 to 2003, the Warriors advanced to the title game of the LMC Tournament five times (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003) and earned the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament twice (2000, 2003).
While he still exhibits the same hard work and intensity he did as an assistant coach for 12 years under Wayne Smith (who started the program in 1983), Knueppel employs some of the coaching techniques of his father, Paul Knueppel, the college's retired vice president of student affairs and former men's basketball head coach and athletic director. "He was my coach in high school and college," Knueppel said. "I use many of his team philosophies with my current players."
Knueppel studied psychology while a student at Wisconsin Lutheran. He was the first of three Knueppel brothers to play basketball for the forest green and white. During his three seasons (1989-1992), Knueppel established himself as the most prolific free throw shooter (.917) in school history. As a senior, he led the NAIA in free throw percentage with a school-record mark of .950. More importantly, Knueppel helped the 1992 Warriors to their first 20-win season with a 21-9 overall record. He still ranks 11th in career scoring (1,188 points) and 12th in assists (205).
He and his brothers Kon, Kole, and Klint, known as "The Flying Knueppel Brothers," were named to the Gus Macker Hall of Fame in Belding, Mich., after they won the top men's flight in a national 3-on-3 basketball tournament held in Hilton Head, S.C., in the summer of 2003.
Knueppel, who was born in Valier, Mont., lives today in Milwaukee with his wife, Lisa. They have four children; Kaila, Caitlin, Jakob, and Joshua.