John Pigatti says his players don't like him.
"I work them very, very hard and I'm kinda fiery," said the South Suburban College men's basketball coach.
"But when they come back later to visit or watch our games, they tell me I got them ready for life more than the four-year colleges."
Pigatti is doing a John Wooden number at SSC, where he's compiled an incredible 221-41 record in this, his eighth season.
Included is a 111-5 record at home, with two of those losses coming at the buzzer, and upset wins over three teams ranked No. 1 nationally.
The Bulldogs currently are 6-0.
What's the secret, you ask?
"We get OK crowds but our guys have shown a sense of tradition where we take pride in our home court," Pigatti said. "We're taking care of our house and seeing what we can steal on the road.
"It's tough to schedule games (here). We've had three or four teams cancel contracts where they were supposed to come back to our place and backed out."
The Bulldogs had back-to-back perfect home records in 2007-08 and 2008-09, a string of 33 consecutive wins.
SSC has been ranked in the top 10 nationally among junior colleges in defense, a Pigatti staple, and rebounding margin.
This was his first head coaching job after serving as an assistant at Creighton, Texas A&M, Akron, Western Michigan, Chicago State, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Kent State.
It hasn't been all ice cream and chocolate sprinkles for the Rockford native, whose first team at SSC began 6-6 and finished with his "worst" record.
Those Bulldogs were 26-10.
VOLLEYBALL SEARCH CONTINUES: Purdue Calumet has begun a national search for its next head volleyball coach to replace Natalie Shadowen, who stepped down Nov. 14 following her fourth season.
The Peregrines were 5-21 this past season.
"Natalie has represented Purdue University Calumet and its volleyball program with pride and dedication," said Rick Costello, director of athletics. "She has been a strong ambassador as an alum and former student-athlete."
PRINCE OF THIEVES: Purdue Cal guard Noah Allen ranks second in NAIA Division II in both steals (25) and steals per game (4.17).
DOUBLE-DIP TREAT: No need for flashy billboards along Indianapolis Blvd. or spotlights lighting up the night sky on the Purdue Calumet campus.
The word is out. These Peregrines are ballin'.
Purdue Cal's men's team has won four straight games and is 5-1 -- the program's best start since Gary Hayes' 2001-02 squad opened with the same record.
The Peregrine women, ranked No. 21 in NAIA Division II, recently picked up their sixth victory over a ranked opponent in the last two years, knocking off No. 20 Grace College 76-65.
Purdue Cal is now 4-2.