Head coach Paul Thomas enters his 11th season at Saint Mary’s in 2016-17. Thomas is the eighth head coach in the program’s 30-year history.
In his 10 seasons, Thomas has accumulated a 197-124 record at SMC and a career record of 430-281 in 21 years of coaching.
Additionally, the Gaels have been one of the winningest programs in the state of California. Since the 2009-10 season through 2015-16, the Gaels have a seven-year win total of 155 wins, which ranks fourth in the state ahead of notable schools in San Diego (153), UCLA (151), San Diego State (124) and USC (128).
In 2015-16, the Gaels improved upon a successful 2014-15 campaign, finishing second in the WCC and capturing the second most wins in school history with 24. During the record-setting season, SMC advanced to its seventh consecutive postseason appearance as the Gaels competed in the WNIT. Saint Mary’s also scored the most points in school history with 2,388 and led the nation in free-throws made with 559.
The Gaels finished among the top-15 in the nation in several statistical categories: 11th in the nation in rebound margin, 14th in the NCAA in field-goal percentage and 10th in three-point percentage.
SMC finished the season ranked No. 69 in the RPI and had an impressive total of nine victories over top-100 teams like nationally ranked California, Villanova and Washington State.
Under Thomas in 2015-16, the Gaels produced four All-WCC award winners. Senior Lauren Nicholson collected her second All-WCC First-Team award while Stella Beck was selected to the Second-Team. Senior Devon Brookshire earned All-WCC Honorable Mention and freshman Sydney Raggio was named to the All-WCC Freshman Team.
In 2014-15, Thomas earned the West Coast Conference Co-Coach of the Year Award as the Gaels improved to a third-place finish, despite losing a trio of 1,000 point scorers from the previous year. During the year the Gaels completed their third consecutive 23-win season and advanced to the WNIT Quarterfinals. The Gaels finished the year ranked 7th in the Nation in Rebounding Margin. SMC spent much of the year on the NCAA bubble, finishing with an RPI of 52.
Since his first season with the Gaels in 2006-07, the Gaels have had 24 WCC All-Conference award winners, including the 2009-10 Defensive Player of the Year in Louella Tomlinson. The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball record book has numerous of Thomas’ student-athletes in various categories. Jackie Nared (2013-14) ranks first in single-season scoring, while Lauren Nicholson (2014-15, 3rd), Danielle Mauldin (2013-14, 5th), Nared (2012-13, 7th) and Jasmine Smith (2010-11, 10th) all rank in the single-season top-10.
Continuing with the record book theme, Thomas has coached several of the best statistical student-athletes who have stepped foot in McKeon Pavilion. He has coached the career points leader at SMC in Louella Tomlinson and five of the top 10 in career scoring. Thomas has also coached the top two three-point shooters in school history (Jontelle Smith, Kate Gaze) and the top two career rebounders in Danielle Mauldin and Tomlinson.
Thomas joined Saint Mary’s after serving as head women’s coach at Cal Poly Pomona for 12 seasons. Thomas led Cal Poly Pomona to back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships in 2001 and 2002. While at Cal Poly Pomona, Thomas reached the Sweet Sixteen four out of the last seven seasons, won five California Collegiate Athletic Association champions and was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year in 2002.
In 12 seasons at Cal Poly Pomona, Thomas' accumulated an overall record 235-108 (.685), and was 115-32 (.782) over his last five seasons, which included three conference championships and two national titles.
Thomas reached the Division II NCAA Tournament eight out of the 12 seasons with a 14-6 postseason record. He has recruited and coached two National Players of the Year, six First Team Kodak All-Americans, four CCAA Players of the Year and 15 First Team All-Conference players. Prior to becoming head coach at Cal Poly Pomona, Thomas served as an assistant coach at Cal Poly Pomona for four seasons.
Thomas joined Cal Poly Pomona out of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota where he served as head coach for a pair of seasons. Prior to joining Hamline, Thomas was the women's assistant coach at his alma mater of Wayne State College. He worked with the Wildcats for three seasons (1985-88) earning his bachelor's degree (1986) and his master's degree (1988) in physical education. Thomas also worked at Pender High School in Pender, Nebraska where he was a girls' basketball assistant coach.
Thomas played two years of college basketball at Midland Lutheran College (Fremont, Nebraska) before transferring to Wayne State to concentrate on coaching. He played his high school ball at Creighton High School in Creighton, Nebraska, where he was an all-state forward and the team's Most Valuable Player for the Bulldogs.
Paul resides in Concord with his wife Alexis and has three children Jacob, Michaela and Annika.