In his 12 years as the head coach at Saint Mary’s, two-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Randy Bennett has developed a program that has brought a level of excitement and expectation never before seen on the picturesque Moraga, Calif. campus.
During his tenure, Bennett has become the school's men's basketball all-time wins leader (263 victories, going into 2013-14), guided SMC to seven post-season appearances (5 NCAA and 2 NIT), led the Gaels to their first post-season victories and had a player drafted (Patrick Mills, 2009) into the NBA for the first time since 1984. He has earned two WCC Coach of the Year honors and was named a USA Basketball assistant coach for the team that represented the USA at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships in Latvia.
With the team's 28 wins in 2012-13, Bennett guided the Gaels to six-straight 25-win seasons and is the only coach in school history to lead teams to back-to-back 20-win campaigns. Only four programs nationally (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Saint Mary's) have won 25 or more games over the last six seasons. Over the last six years, Saint Mary's has an 161-43 overall record for a .789 winning percentage.
Bennett has led his teams to the post season seven times, with five NCAA Tournament appearances (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013) and the school's first two NIT appearances (2009 and 2011). No other SMC coach has guided his squad to more than one post-season appearance.
En route to his school record for men's basketball wins in his career, Bennett averages 21.9 wins per season at Saint Mary's. He tied the school record for wins in 2004-05 and 2007-08 with 25, then in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2012-13, his teams set a new school mark with 28 wins, including two wins in the 2009 National Invitational Tournament, marking the first post-season wins for SMC since 1959. In 2010, Bennett led the Gaels to a Sweet 16 finish with wins over Richmond and Villanova, marking the first NCAA Tournament wins in 51 years.
In addition to team accomplishments, Bennett has had 14 different players earn All-WCC recognition, with a total of 20 first team and six honorable mention selections. In 2011, Mickey McConnell, a two-time all-WCC selection, was named the WCC Player of the Year - SMC's sixth ever and first since 1999.
In 2012, Matthew Dellavedova gave the Gaels the first back-to-back WCC players of the year since 1962. He also became the school's first-ever male first-team Academic All-America selection and was among five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's best point guard. He earned all-WCC honors three times and twice was a honorable mention All-America selection.
After going undrafted as a senior in 2013, he earned a spot on the Cleveland Cavaliers 15-man roster.
Additionally, Bennett has guided four players to WCC Defensive Player of the Year awards, Anthony Woodards (2003), Diamon Simpson (2008 and 2009) and Omar Samhan (2010). Patrick Mills was selected as the 2008 WCC Newcomer of the Year. Six of the last seven seasons (2006-2012), the Gaels have placed a member on the league's all-freshman team.
In 12 seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to a 263-125 (.678) overall record while compiling an 117-55 (.680) mark in WCC action. Bennett became the college's winningest coach when the Gaels defeated East Tennessee State in the semifinals of the Rainbow Classic on December 21, 2007, passing James Weaver (110-67), who held the record for 47 years.
Bennett became just the fourth head coach in school history to lead SMC to the NCAA Tournament when the Gaels garnered a No. 10 seed in 2005. In 2008, he became the only coach in the program's history to guide two teams to the NCAA Tournament when the Gaels again earned a 10-seed. In 2012, the Gaels earned a program-best number seven seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Over the past 10 seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to 239 total wins, averaging nearly 24 wins during that stretch. The Gaels have compiled an 108-36 (.750) in regular-season WCC competition, and are just one of two teams in the WCC that have a winning record in conference play over that stretch.
In addition to being tough against WCC opponents, Bennett's Gaels are even tougher at home. In the last eight years, SMC has a 137-23 (.856) in McKeon Pavilion, which includes a 89-9 (.908) mark over the last six seasons. He has led SMC to the semifinals of the WCC Tournament in each of his 12 seasons, which include WCC Tournament final appearances in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. The 2010 team won the school's first WCC Tournament since 1997 and the 2012 squad gave the Gaels both the regular-season and tournament titles in the same season.
Under Bennett's tutelage, the Gaels have posted seven second place finishes in the WCC (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013) and won the 2011 regular-season co-championship and the 2012 outright title.
Combined with his 12 years as the head coach at SMC, Bennett has more than 29 years of coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level. After serving as an assistant coach for 16 years at San Diego (1985-96), Pepperdine (1996-99) and Saint Louis (1999-01), Bennett was hired as the 27th head coach at Saint Mary's in April 10, 2001. His tremendous wealth of knowledge and coaching expertise helped SMC to its first NCAA tournament berth in nine years and he was rewarded with a new six-year contract in April of 2005. In the fall of 2011, he signed a new 10-year contract.
Prior to Saint Mary's, Bennett was the top assistant at Saint Louis University for two years under Lorenzo Romar. Taking over after a season in which the Billikens were sub .500, Romar and Bennett coached Saint Louis to an NCAA Tournament berth after winning the Conference USA Tournament with four consecutive wins in four consecutive days, holding all opponents under 60 points. Saint Louis was the first team in NCAA history to accomplish this feat. Included was an upset of then-no. 1 ranked Cincinnati.
Bennett's on-court duties at Saint Louis included coordinating the conference-best field goal defense, working daily with individual players and teaching team concepts. Off the court, Bennett served as the program's recruiting coordinator, organized practice schedules, and scouting.
Before working with Romar at Saint Louis, Bennett was also his top assistant at Pepperdine University from 1996-99, where he helped rebuild the Waves' program. The 11-win turnaround following the 1996-97 season was the second biggest improvement in the nation from the year prior. Two years after taking over a program that finished last in the WCC, the Waves finished second in 1998 and 1999 and advanced to the NIT following a 19-12 finish to the 1998-99 regular season. As recruiting coordinator at Pepperdine, Bennett helped attract a top-20 nationally-ranked class in 2007, which included talented players such as 2001 all-WCC honorees Kelvin Gibbs, Cal transfer Jelani Gardner and Arizona State transfer Tommie Prince. In 1998, Bennett coordinated the successful recruitment of 2001 all-WCC honoree Brandon Armstrong out of Vallejo High School. Armstrong went on to be the first WCC player to be drafted in the first round since Steve Nash and the first player since Dennis Johnson to depart school early to go to the NBA. He was also responsible for coordinating the program's defense, which was ranked no. 1 in the WCC in 1997 and 1998. Bennett worked with individual players on a daily basis, teaching team concepts and coordinating and evaluating practices.
Bennett began his coaching career with a one-year stint as an assistant coach at the University of San Diego. He then moved to the University of Idaho for two-years, before returning to San Diego for another eight seasons as the Toreros top assistant. Bennett started at San Diego under Hank Egan before returning as an assistant coach for Brad Holland. During his time at San Diego, the Toreros amassed a 122-102 (.598) overall record. Bennett serve as recruiting coordinator for the Toreros and worked daily with individual players, taught team concepts, coordinated and executed practice and assisted with the coordination of the preseason conditioning program. In his two-year stint at Idaho, Bennett worked under former Chicago Bulls and USC Trojans head coach Tim Floyd from 1987-88. The Vandals finished the 1988 season 19-11 and placed second in the Big Sky Conference.
Bennett earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of California at San Diego in 1986, where he played basketball from 1983-85 and served as team captain. Prior to UCSD he attended Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., where he played basketball for his father from 1980-82. At Mesa, Bennett helped his team to a 31-4 record and an Arizona Junior College championship and no. 10 national ranking in the 1980-81 season. In the 1981-82 season Bennett was the team captain and led the team to a 25-6 record and second-straight Arizona Junior College championship. Randy married Darlene (Darby) in the summer of 1998, and lives in Moraga with their two sons Chase and Cade.