DES MOINES, Iowa – Drake University introduced Ray Giacoletti as the Bulldogs' men's basketball head coach during a press conference Thursday, March 28 inside Old Main on the Drake University campus.
“I’m ecstatic to announce Ray Giacoletti as our men’s basketball coach,” Drake director of athletics Sandy Hatfield Clubb said. “He has an extraordinary combination of experience as a head coach and has spent the last six seasons as an integral part of one of the winningest basketball programs in the nation. Ray shares our commitment to the holistic development of our student-athletes. He has a firm grasp on the potential of our program and the level of sustainable competitive excellence we aspire to achieve. Our goal is for the men's basketball program to serve as a catalyst for the Bulldogs to become a source of pride and joy for the campus and our community.”
“We are delighted that Ray Giacoletti has agreed to be the men's basketball coach at Drake University,” Drake president David Maxwell said. “His coaching experience, his values and his aspirations for Drake basketball are in perfect alignment with ours—to have a highly competitive men's basketball program with young men of high character who excel in the classroom as well as on the court. We demonstrated in the 2007-08 season that it's a realistic and attainable model, and we know that Coach Giacoletti is the right person to guide the program in achieving and sustaining that level of competitive success.”
Giacoletti has served as an assistant coach at Gonzaga University for the past six seasons, where he helped lead the perennial basketball power to six straight NCAA appearances, five West Coast Conference titles and a 163-41 (.799) record during his time on campus in Spokane, Wash.
“I’m excited to be a part of the Drake family and Des Moines community,” Giacoletti said. “I’ve followed Missouri Valley Conference basketball my whole life and I’m looking forward to making Drake basketball the best it can be. There are a lot of similarities to where I’ve been and this is a similar situation where there is the potential to grow a program. My wife and I are both Midwest natives, so the opportunity to return is an added bonus.”
This past season, Gonzaga marched to a 32-3 record and spent the final three weeks of the season ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls to earn a No. 1 seed in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Giacoletti came to Gonzaga after with 10 total years of head coaching experience and a three-year tenure as the head coach at the University of Utah where he led the Utes to a 29-6 record in his first season to tie for the third-most wins in program history and advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. That squad won 18-straight games to win the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and recorded the best league record to date (13-1) in the then six-year history of the league.
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 first 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. In three seasons on the Utah bench, he amassed a 54-40 record.
Prior to taking the reins at Utah, he served as the head coach at Eastern Washington University where he went 69-50 in four seasons, the best mark of any coach in the school's NCAA Division I history. He guided the Eagles to their first 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 program.
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 that season as the Eagles won 14 of their last 18 games en route to winning the Big Sky Tournament. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, EWU fell to eventual Final Four participant Oklahoma State.
In four seasons under Giacoletti, EWU posted a 41-17 record in Big Sky Conference games for a .707 winning percentage, eighth in the league's 41-year history of the league that has produced notable coaches such as Don Monson, Mike Montgomery, Larry Eustachy, Jug Heathcote, Tim Floyd and Ben Howland.
Giacoletti's first head coaching job was a three-year stint (1998-2000) at North Dakota State University, a Division II program at the time, where he went 48-33. In his 10 seasons as a head coach, he has amassed a 171-123 (.582) record.
Before assuming his first head coaching assignment, Giacoletti was an assistant for four years at both at Missouri Valley Conference member Illinois State University (1990-93) and the University of Washington (1994-97) under mentor Bob Bender.
Giacoletti, a native of Peoria, Ill., graduated from Minot State University with a degree in physical education in 1985. There he was a 4-year letterman on the court, started three seasons and served as team captain twice. His coaching career began as a student assistant coach at Minot State in 1984-85 while he finished his degree. He was also a graduate assistant at Western Illinois University in 1985-86 and an assistant at Oral Roberts University in 1986-87. His resume also includes one season of professional basketball experience as an assistant coach and director of player personnel for the Fresno Flames of the World Basketball League from 1988-89.