When Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few had an opening on his staff in the spring of 2007 he didn't waste any time summoning RAY GIACOLETTI to become a Bulldog.
Giacoletti is no stranger to Gonzaga or the Pacific Northwest.
"Ray has ties to the Pacific Northwest as well as around the country," Few said. "He has coached at almost all levels of basketball as both an assistant and head coach and has a thorough understanding of the game. He has injected new ideas to help us continue to grow as a staff and as a program."
A native of Peoria, Ill., Giacoletti went 69-50 in four seasons at EWU, the best mark of any coach in the school's NCAA Division I history. He led the Eagles to their inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004, as well as the Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament titles. In each of Giacoletti's first three years the Eagles placed second in the Big Sky during the regular season and advanced to the tournament championship game. In 2002-03, Giacoletti led EWU to the NIT for the program's first postseason bid since 1947 when it was a NAIA member.
Named the 2004 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, Giacoletti directed EWU to a 17-13 overall record and an 11-3 mark in conference play. The Eagles won 14 of their last 18 games on their way to winning the Big Sky Tournament. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, EWU fell to eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma State University after playing the Cowboys to a 36-36 draw after one half.
Giacoletti led EWU to 41-17 record in Big Sky Conference games for a .707 winning percentage, seventh in the league's 41-year history. He ranked ahead of such coaches as Don Monson, Mike Montgomery, Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy.
Giacoletti moved from EWU to assume the University of Utah reigns March 31, 2004. Giacoletti led the 2005 Utes to a 29-6 record, tying the third-most wins in a season in school history. He also had the best record among NCAA Division I first-year head coaches. Utah claimed the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship outright and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. As a result, Giacoletti was named the NABC District 13, USBWA District 8, and Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year. Sophomore center Andrew Bogut became Utah's inaugural consensus national Player of the Year, winning the John R. Wooden Award, Naismith, National Association of Basketball Coaches and Associated Press Player of the Year honors.
After starting out 5-3, the Utes reeled off 18 consecutive wins to tie the second-longest winning streak in school history. The Runnin' Utes won the MWC title with the best record in the league's six-year history at 13-1. Giacoletti then directed the Utes to the championship game of the MWC Tournament, marking the fifth straight season that Giacoletti led his team (Utah or EWU) to the conference tournament title game. Giacoletti went 54-40 in his three years at Utah.
Giacoletti's first head coaching job was a three-year stint (1998-2000) at NCAA Division II North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., where he went 48-33. His 10-year record as a head coach is 171-123.
Before becoming a head coach, Giacoletti was an assistant for four years at both Illinois State University (1990-93) and the University of Washington (1994-97) under Bob Bender.
Giacoletti graduated from Minot State University in North Dakota with a degree in physical education in 1985. He was a 4-year letterman, started three seasons and served as team captain twice. He got his start in coaching as a student assistant coach at Minot State in 1984-85 while he finished his degree. Giacoletti was a graduate assistant coach at Western Illinois University in 1985-86. He was an assistant at Oral Roberts University in 1986-87.
Giacoletti was an assistant coach and director of player personnel for the Fresno Flames of the World Basketball League from 1988-89.
"Ray brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to this program," Few said. "He did a great job as both a head coach and assistant coach at the Division I level and he continued that professionalism and success in his first year at Gonzaga. There was no hesitation to make Ray a part of this staff. He was excited about returning to this area and we were excited he accepted the opportunity to become a Zag."
Giacolett married the former Kim Lankford in 1994.
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