Few Announces Basketball Staff Changes
April 12, 2007
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University head men's basketball coach Mark Few has announced changes to his staff.
In the wake of former assistant Bill Grier leaving to take the head coaching position at the University of San Diego, Few said he is promoting assistant coach Leon Rice to associate head coach and also elevating assistant coach Tommy Lloyd. Few also officially announced the addition of former University of Utah and Eastern Washington University head coach Ray Giacoletti to his staff.
"Leon and Tommy have been extremely integral parts of our success," Few said. "They deserve to be rewarded for what they've done to keep Gonzaga among the elite teams in NCAA Division I basketball. Ray will be a great addition to our staff. He knows us, knows our style and we've had a long-time association, so I don't think we'll miss a beat. I'm looking forward to working with this staff."
Rice was the inaugural hire for Few when he assumed the head coaching position in the summer of 1999.
And since becoming a Bulldog, Rice has contributed to the wildest ride in Gonzaga's storied basketball history. In his eight seasons Rice has been a major part of the Bulldogs' NCAA Sweet 16 berths in 2000, 2001, and 2006; a NCAA berth in 2002; a 2003 NCAA second-round appearance that ended with a thrilling, albeit disappointing, 96-95 double-overtime loss to top-seeded University of Arizona and second-round rides again in 2004 and '05. This past season the Bulldogs made their ninth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, and Rice has been a part of the last eight. The Bulldogs finished the 2004 season ranked third in the final Associated Press Top 25, and followed that with a No. 10 ranking in 2005 and a No. 5 spot in the final 2006 AP poll.
"Coaching both as a head coach and a Division I assistant, Leon has been a fantastic addition to our staff. To be able to get someone with as much experience as Leon has recruiting on the road and knowing the ins and outs of the Northwest was a big advantage for us," Few said at the time of Rice's hiring. "He has grown with this program and has been a great asset for me to rely on the past eight seasons. He'll continue to help lead this program to the next level with his high level of enthusiasm and his positive attitude."
Gonzaga is 211-52 in Rice's tenure, including a school-best 29-4 record in 2002 - a record that was matched in 2006 - and a No. 6 ranking in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs received their best-ever seed into the 2004 NCAA Tournament at No. 2.
Rice joined the Bulldogs from Yakima Valley College where he served two seasons as an assistant coach and one as co-head coach with the legendary Dean Nicholson, then served as head coach for the 1998-99 campaign. YVC went from worst to first in the first season of the Rice-Nicholson partnership, and in 1999 YVC went 31-2 in capturing its fourth straight Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Eastern Region title. The 31 wins were a school record and came four seasons after Rice and Nicholson inherited a program which had gone 3-20 overall during the 1994-95 season. YVC went a perfect 12-0 in the NWAACC in 1999 and Rice earned his second straight Eastern Region Coach of the Year honor.
The duo coached YVC to a 103-26 overall record and 40-8 league record in four seasons. Rice has coached 18 student-athletes who have gone on to play basketball at 4-year schools, including the Bulldogs' Quentin Hall who was a 1999 Gonzaga senior. YVC had six players from the 1999 squad who joined 4-year programs.
Few and Rice have known each other for 17 years, the two of them becoming acquainted when Rice was on Don Monson's staff at the University of Oregon and the two worked Monson's camp together.
Rice received his B.A. in physical education from Washington State University in 1986 and his M.A. in athletic administration, management and program development from Oregon in 1991. After one year of high school coaching, he began his collegiate career as a graduate assistant coach at Oregon in 1989, then served two seasons as a fulltime assistant coach for the Ducks. He was the head assistant coach at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley for three seasons prior to going to YVC.
Lloyd joined Few's fulltime staff for the 2001-02 season after serving as an administrative assistant the previous season.
"Tommy is one of the great young coaches in the game," Few said. "He is very well connected nationally and internationally and has been a big plus in all our recruiting of our foreign players. He has also done an excellent job on the court with his coaching and game preparation. He continues to grow as a coach and I think he has a bright future in this profession."
A 1993 graduate of Kelso, Wash., High, Lloyd attended Walla Walla Community College for two seasons and graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., in 1998.
While at WWCC he was an All-Northwest Athletic Association of Community College (NWAACC) All-Easton Region selection in 1995. He set the WWCC single-game scoring record with 52 points against Treasure Valley CC. He was also the leading scorer in the NWAACC All-Star game with 22 points his sophomore season.
Following graduation from WWCC he finished his career at Whitman College, playing for Gonzaga alum Skip Molitor. He earned a degree in biology and a secondary teaching credential.
Lloyd also played two seasons overseas, playing in Brisbane, Australia, in 1997 and Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1999.
Lloyd's knowledge of the European game has been instrumental in placing Gonzaga players overseas to continue their basketball careers.
Giacoletti is no stranger to Gonzaga or the Pacific Northwest.
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 - including 11 straight victories for the school's longest winning streak in 21 years as a NCAA Division I member - on their way to winning the Big Sky Tournament. The Eagles battled back from a halftime deficit to defeat Northern Arizona 71-59 in the championship game. 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 that was seventh best in the 41-year history of the league. He ranked ahead of such coaches as Don Monson, Mike Montgomery, Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy.
Giacoletti's players were named first team all-conference 10 times. Alvin Snow was an Associated Press honorable mention All-American in 2003-04. He won his 100th game as a college head coach when the Eagles beat Idaho State 76-67 on March 11, 2003.
Following his success at EWU Giacoletti assumed the reigns at Utah on 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. Utah also achieved two other milestones by recording the 10th 25-win season in school annals and winning its 11th regular-season conference championship in the last 15 years to continue the nation's best run over that period. 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. It marked the fifth straight season that Giacoletti led his team (Utah or EWU) to the conference tournament title game. He then became the first rookie coach to lead Utah to the NCAA Tournament. The sixth-seeded Utes defeated UTEP (60-54) and third-seeded Oklahoma (67-58) to advance to the program's first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 1998. Utah fell to Kentucky 62-52 in the Austin Regional semifinals.
After cracking the Top 25 on Jan. 24, Utah was ranked the last nine weeks of the season and finished No. 14 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and No. 18 in the Associated Press poll.
Giacoletti went 54-40 in his three years at Utah.
Giacoletti's first head coaching job was a three-year stint (1997-2000) at NCAA Division II North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., where he went 48-33. His teams finished with a winning record all three years, including an 18-9 record in 1997-98. 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 (1989-93) and the University of Washington (1993-97) under Bob Bender. Washington was 16-12 and 17-10 with NIT appearances in Giacoletti's final two years. He was pivotal in assembling the school's 1994 recruiting class that was rated among the top 20 in the nation. At ISU he helped lead the Redbirds to the 1990 NCAA Tournament and three Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championships.
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 moved on to the professional ranks as an assistant coach and director of player personnel for the Fresno Flames of the World Basketball League from 1987-89. While he was in Fresno, Giacoletti was also a regional college scout for the Seattle Sonics.
"Ray brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this program," Few said. "He has done a great job as both a head coach and assistant coach at the Division 1 level and that's why there was no hesitation to pursue Ray to be a part of this staff. He's excited about returning to this area and we're excited he has accepted this opportunity to become a Zag."
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