• 2015 National Mid-Major Coach of the Year
• 2015 District 6 Coach of the Year
• 2015 Big Sky Conference co-Coach of the Year
In eight seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at Sacramento State, Brian Katz has guided the program to its most success on the Div. I level. That included a 2014-15 season in which the team set numerous school records after finishing 21-12 overall and winning its first postseason game in 53 years. Katz became the 13th men’s basketball coach in program history when he was named to the position on April 10, 2008, and he is now the third longest tenured Hornet hoops coach.
A graduate of Sacramento State and a native of Sacramento, Katz’s extensive basketball résumé includes a 40-year career as a basketball coach at the NCAA Div. I, junior college and high school levels. He signed a contract extension in September of 2015 that will keep him at Sacramento State through at least the 2019-20 season.
Katz was named by CollegeInsider.com as the 2015 National Mid-Major Coach of the Year after having already received District 6 Coach of the Year and Big Sky Conference co-Coach of the Year honors. He became the first men’s basketball coach in Sacramento State history to receive all three of those awards. The well-deserved accolades began to trickle in after Katz led the 2014-15 Hornet squad to a 21-12 overall record, a 13-5 mark in the Big Sky Conference, the team’s first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the team’s first postseason victory in 53 years.
The overall record marked the first time in the Div. I era that Sacramento State finished above the .500 mark, and first time since the 1988-89 season. In addition, the 21 wins were tied for second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference victories were the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had entered the 2014-15 season with just three winning seasons in the previous 38 years.
After reaching the semifinal round of the Big Sky Tournament, the Hornets qualified for the CIT Postseason Tournament, marking the first time the program had qualified for a postseason event since the 1988 NCAA Div. II Tournament, and just the fifth postseason appearance in school history. Sacramento State’s 73-66 victory at Portland in the first round of the CIT marked the first time in 53 years the Hornets had won a postseason game.
The Hornets were ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Poll for the first time in school history (ranking as high as 14th), and the team finished just one game back of first place in the Big Sky standings, narrowly missing out on the program’s first conference championship since 1977. The Hornets never lost more than two consecutive games all year and had three winning streaks of at least four games, including a seven-game winning streak which tied for the sixth longest in school history. Sacramento State also won nine straight home games at one point, and finished the year with a 13-2 home record, tied for the most home wins in program history (1948-pres.).
The team set Div. I-era school records (1991-pres.) in points scored (2,342), field goals made (841), field goal percentage (.486), 3-point field goal percentage (.408), free throw percentage (.736), assists (466) and assists per game (14.1). The Hornets finished among the top 10 teams in the nation in both 3-point field goal percentage (4th) and field goal percentage (8th) while also ranking 36th in free throw percentage. In fact, those three percentages all rank as the second best marks since Sacramento State began playing basketball in 1948.
The team sold out each of its final six home games of 2015, including a CIT second round game against Northern Arizona, in which the Hornets were hosting their first postseason game since March 10, 1962. Under Katz’s tutelage, senior guard Mikh McKinney was named honorable mention All-America, first team all-District 6, and the Big Sky MVP. McKinney became the first player in the Div. I era to receive all three of those awards, and just the third player in school history to earn All-America honors.
Remarkably, Sacramento State had improved its conference record every season of Katz’s tenure until the 2015-16 squad finished 14-17 overall and 6-12 in the Big Sky. Still, the Hornets have won at least 14 games in four consecutive seasons after reaching the 14-win plateau just once the 22 previous years. Sacramento State won a Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal game in 2015, and a Big Sky Tournament first round game in 2016, marking the first time the Hornets have won games in back-to-back seasons at the league’s postseason event.
Since taking over the program almost from scratch, beginning a major rebuilding project that saw the 2008-09 squad open the year with 12 new players and only four returners, Katz’s teams have showed steady progress. That 2008-09 squad posted just one conference win, and the steady incline began with a 3-13 conference record in 2009-10, 4-12 in 2010-11, 5-11 in 2011-12, 8-12 in 2012-13, 10-10 in 2013-14, and 13-5 in 2014-15. That streak came to an end when the 2015-16 squad went 6-12 in league play during a rebuilding year that saw the program lose four seniors to graduation in 2015.
Not only has Katz’s teams performed well on the hardwood, the program has excelled in the classroom where the Hornets have posted a team grade point average of better than 3.0 three times in the last five semesters. Prior to the start of that run in the spring of 2014, the men’s basketball program had never posted a 3.0 gpa during any semester in school history. The team currently has a cumulative grade point average of 3.008. In addition, of the 25 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Katz’s tenure, 24 have graduated.
The program showed signs of really taking off in 2013-14 when the Hornets not only posted a then school-record 10 conference wins, the team also clinched a Big Sky Tournament berth for the first time since 2006 and won 11 home games. One of the season’s highlights included Dylan Garrity’s 75-foot shot at the buzzer to defeat Weber State, and instantly gain national exposure for the program. Video of the shot went viral and was named the No. 1 play on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays that evening.
One of Katz’s goals when hired was to create a homecourt advantage, and the Hornets have responded by winning at least 10 home games four straight years. Highlighted by the 2014-15 team’s 13-2 record at home, the program is a combined 44-14 (.759 winning percentage) inside the Nest over the last four years. In fact, during the 2014-15 season, the Hornets went a perfect 9-0 at home against Big Sky competition for the first time in school history.
The 2012-13 squad went 14-15 overall and 8-12 in the Big Sky while the 14 victories were the most in seven years at the time. In addition, the team’s eight conference wins had tied for the most since joining the Big Sky in 1996, until that mark was surpassed by the 2013-14 and 2014-15 squads. Nineteen of the team’s 29 games in 2012-13 were decided by single digits, the most since the 1983-84 season.
During Katz’s first four seasons (2008-12) at Sacramento State, some of the highlights included defeating Oregon State on Nov. 21, 2009, which ended a 39-game road losing streak that Katz inherited. In addition, that win was the first against a Pacific-12 Conference opponent since Dec. 17, 1953. Three years later, the Hornets would add another Pac-12 victory when the team knocked off Utah on the road (74-71) on Nov. 16, 2012. In fact, including the Hornets’ 66-63 win at Arizona State to begin the 2015-16 season, Katz’s teams beat three Pac-12 schools over a six-year span.
Prior to Sacramento State, Katz spent 19 years as a junior college head coach, compiling a 435-185 record (.702 winning percentage) while leading his teams to the playoffs 18 times, including three Sweet 16 appearances, three Elite 8 appearances and one trip to the Final Four. Also during that 19-year span, his teams combined for seven conference championships and he received conference coach of the year accolades seven times. For his efforts, Katz was inducted into the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on March 13, 2009.
He spent 15 seasons (1993-08) as head coach at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, where he posted a 348-138 record (.716 winning percentage) and led the team to 14 playoff appearances, six conference championships, two Elite Eight appearances and one Final Four.
A six-time conference coach of the year at Delta College, Katz guided the team to three league championships and a 130-32 combined record during his final five years with the program.
Katz had just one losing season during his tenure at Delta, and that came in his first season (1993-94) when the team posted a 10-19 overall record. However, the very next year (1994-95), the Mustangs more than doubled their win total and finished with a 21-11 mark. From that point on, Delta became one of the top junior college programs in the state, winning at least 22 games 11 times during Katz’s final 13 seasons at the helm. The high point came in 2004-05, when the team finished the year 30-2 overall, 14-0 in league and reached the Final Four before falling to San Bernardino Valley College, 85-84, in double overtime.
Prior to his tenure at Delta College, Katz spent four years (1989-93) at Lassen College in Susanville, Calif., where he led the team to an 87-47 record, four playoff appearances and a league championship. One of those playoff appearances came in 1992 when he guided the team to the Elite Eight despite the school having just 800 students.
In addition, during Katz’s junior college head coaching tenure, of the 115 players that finished their sophomore years under his tutelage, 109 of them advanced to four-year institutions – 66 on scholarships.
Before entering the junior college head coaching ranks, Katz was an assistant under Carroll Williams at Santa Clara where the team combined for a 40-22 overall record and reached the National Invitational Tournament both seasons during his two-year stay (1987-89).
Previous to his stint with Santa Clara, Katz was the head coach at Antelope’s Center High School (1983-87) where he led the team to a four-year combined record of 72-42, including three Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearances, one league championship and a season-ending No. 1 ranking among all schools (big or small) in the Sacramento area. Katz was the first head men’s basketball coach in Center High School history, which had an enrollment of just 273 students at the time.
Katz earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Sacramento State in 1980, and his master’s degree in counseling psychology from Santa Clara in 1989.
Katz and his wife, Lori, have five children – Katie (27), Vinny (26), Megan (25), Steven (24) and Jimmy (19).