The allure that initially brought Carl Armato to Northern Illinois University in 1979 as a guard for coach John McDougal worked once again. A 12-year head coach at Rock Valley College, Armato took on a new role in 2001 as an assistant on Rob Judson's Huskie basketball staff.
Known for being one of the toughest players on the floor during his time in a Huskie uniform, Armato has passed that toughness onto his players as he not only coordinates the team's strength and conditioning program, but also plays a key role in NIU's recruiting efforts, academic monitoring and summer camps.
Just like his off-the-court duties, Armato is a jack of all trades in the gym, working with both the backcourt and frontcourt players.
Last season, Northern Illinois was one of the Mid-American Conference's top shooting clubs thanks to Armato's tutelage, ranking first in both three-point shooting (39.4) and free throw shooting (74.8), while ranking fourth in assists. Known for his unselfish play as a collegiate, Armato helped Anthony Maestranzi and Cory Sims become the No. 2 assist tandem in school history, with Sims' 133 dimes being the second highest single-season total in school history. Maestranzi wasn't far behind, as his 86 assists moved him into the NIU career top 10.
Prior to his second stint at Northern Illinois, Armato headed up a Golden Eagles' staff from 1988-2001, helping Rock Valley compile a 219-135 (.619) record with three appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament. Rock Valley capped off its 2000-01 tourney run by taking seventh place nationally with an overall record of 25-8.
Inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1989, Armato made his coaching debut at his alma mater, Rockford Boylan High School. The following year he took over at Winnebago High School, leading the Indians to a 21-6 mark and a Mid-Northern Conference title. Armato completed his two-year run at WHS with a 33-18 mark before taking a job as an assistant at DeKalb High School in 1987. After one year as an assistant to Art Rohlman, Armato guided the Barbs to a 15-12 record during his only year as head coach before moving on to RVC.
Taking over a Golden Eagles' team that went 3-26 the year before, Armato quickly worked his magic. After a 1-3 record to start the year, Rock Valley went on to post its first of 11 winning seasons with an 18-12 record. Over the next four seasons the Golden Eagles posted at least 15 wins four times, but it wasn't until 1995-96 that they would have the hardware to show for their efforts.
The Golden Eagles' seventh-place showing in the 2001 NJCAA Tournament earned Armato his first NJCAA Regional IV and NJCAA Division III, Section II Coach of the Year accolades, as well as IBCA NJCAA Division III Coach of the Year honor.
A native of Rockford, Armato was a three-year letterwinner at Northern Illinois in the early 1980's. Playing alongside NIU Hall of Famers Tim Dillon and Allen Rayhorn, Armato became an NIU All-Century player as one of the top setup men in school history.
One of the top assist men in the league his junior campaign with a 4.3 assists per game norm--including a career-high 12 against Toledo--Armato earned Honorable Mention All-MAC honors that year while scoring 8.1 ppg. with 3.8 rebounds per contest and 3.3 steals per outing.
When he graduated from Northern Illinois in 1984, his 284 career assists ranked him No. 2 on the all-time list. Armato's 115 assists in both his junior and senior campaign are the fifth-best Northern Illinois single-season totals, while ranking as the second most for a Huskie junior and third on the senior charts. His final campaign he led the Mid-American Conference and ranked 15th in the country from the free throw line at 87 percent (83-of-96), and his 4.3 apg. placed him seventh in the league.
Armato is married to the former Shari Balzer of Rockford. The two have a pair of daughters and one son, four-year-old Abby, two-year-old, Anna and four-month-old Sam.
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