The 2014-15 season will mark the seventh year in the tenure of
Sacramento State head men’s basketball coach Brian Katz. He
became the 13th men’s basketball coach in school history when
he was named to the position on April 10, 2008.
A graduate of Sacramento State and a native of Sacramento, Katz’s extensive basketball résumé includes a 38-year career as a basketball coach at the NCAA Div. I, junior college and high school levels. He recently received a contract extension that will keep him at Sacramento State through the 2017-18 season.
Katz took 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. That included just one player that had started more than 17 games from the previous season.
The Hornets have gotten better every year under Katz as evidence by the team improving its conference win total each season during his tenure. In fact, last year’s team went 10-10 in league play, the most Big Sky wins for the program since joining the conference in 1996-97.
Not only did the 2013-14 squad post 10 conference wins, the team also clinched a Big Sky Tournament berth for the first time since 2006, won its most home games (11-3 record) since 1989, set the Div. I era record (1991-pres.) with a .460 field goal percentage and won seven consecutive home games which matched a Div. I-era record. 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.
The season came to a close in heartbreaking fashion as the Hornets fell in the first round of the conference tournament to North Dakota, 79-76, in Ogden, Utah. However, Sacramento State will return all five starters in 2014-15, including arguably the best back court in the conference in guards Mikh McKinney and Garrity. McKinney was a unanimous first team all-Big Sky selection and became the first Hornet during the Div. I era to garner all-region accolades.
Off the court, the Hornets have excelled in the classroom during Katz’s tenure. In fact, the men’s basketball team posted a 3.092 grade point average during the 2014 spring semester, believed to be the best semester mark in school history. In addition, the team finished the 2013-14 academic year with a 3.043 gpa, also the best mark in program history.
Moreover, Katz’s players graduate at a high rate. In fact, of the 21 Hornets that have expired their eligibility under Katz, 19 have graduated.
One of Katz’s goals when hired was to create a homecourt advantage, and Sacramento State went 11-3 inside the friendly confines last year which is the best home mark during the program’s Div. I era. In fact, the team is now a combined 22-7 at home over the last two years, and outscored the opposition by nearly nine points a game in 2013-14. The Hornets ripped off seven straight Big Sky home wins last year, easily the best mark for the program since joining the conference.
Another goal was to vastly improve on the defensive end, and the Hornets allowed opponents just 65.7 points per game in 2012-13, the best mark for the program in over 40 years. In addition, Sacramento State turned the ball over 11.3 times per game last season, and 11.2 times during the 2012-13 season, the best two marks 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, and tied for the second most during the program’s Div. I era). The team’s eight conference wins had tied for the most since joining the Big Sky, until that mark was surpassed by the 2013-14 squad. Amazingly, nineteen of the team’s 29 games in 2012-13 were decided by single digits, the most since the 1983-84 season, and the Hornets had two players receive all-league accolades for the first time in seven years (John Dickson and Garrity received honorable mention honors).
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.
After the win over Oregon State during the 2009-10 season, the Hornets would later add road wins against UC Davis and Idaho State. The victory against Idaho State snapped a 27-game Big Sky road losing streak, also a streak that Katz inherited.
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 (25), Vinny (24), Megan (23), Steven (22) and Jimmy (17).