In his 16 years as the head coach at Saint Mary’s, 3-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Randy Bennett has developed a program that has brought a level of excitement, expectation and competitiveness 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 (362 victories, going into 2017-18), guided SMC to 11 post-season appearances (6 NCAA and 5 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 three 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.
In potentially the most historic season in program history, the 2016-17 team tied the program record of 29 wins. The Gaels also went 16-2 in WCC action, the most wins in conference play during a single season. Saint Mary's advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013 and went to the Round of 32. The Gaels defeated VCU in the Round of 64 before falling to No. 2-seed Arizona.
Bennett led the Gaels to being nationally-ranked in both the AP and USA Today Coaches poll for every week during the season. The streak is the first time in school history the team was ranked in every week of the year. Saint Mary's was also ranked second in the entire nation in scoring defense.
With the team's 29 wins in 2015-16, Bennett guided the Gaels to its ninth-straight 20-win season. The team won a program-most 20 home games and posted a 15-game home win streak. In addition to league coach of the year honors, he was named the District 9 Coach of the Year by the NABC - only the second coach in program history to earn the honor.
During a six year span from 2008-2013, SMC won 25 or more games to join only four programs nationally (Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Saint Mary's) to have achieved that feat.
Over the last 10 years, Saint Mary's has an 263-76 overall record for a .776 winning percentage.
Bennett has led his teams to the post season 11 times, with six NCAA Tournament appearances (2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2017) and the school's first NIT appearances (2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 & 2016). 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 22.6 wins per season at Saint Mary's. In 2016-17, Bennett led the Gaels to tie the program record of 29 wins. In 2015-16, his team won a program-record 29 games, earned its third WCC title in six seasons and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals for the second time.
After tying the then-school record for wins in 2004-05 and 2007-08, his 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2012-13 teams set a new mark with 28 victories, including the program's first post-season wins since 1959. In 2010, Bennett led the Gaels to a Sweet 16 finish with wins over Richmond and Villanova, marking the school's first NCAA Tournament wins in 51 years.
In addition to team accomplishments, Bennett has had 20 different players earn All-WCC recognition, with a total of 29 first team and eight 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 2017, Jock Landale was named the first Gael to be in the top-5 for the Kareem Abdul Jabaar award. The center was an AP Honorable Mention and member of the WCC First Team after averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
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. In 2015, he played in the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend and played a significant role in helping the Cavaliers advance to the NBA Finals.
Additionally, Bennett has guided five players to WCC Defensive Player of the Year awards, Anthony Woodards (2003), Diamon Simpson (2008 and 2009), Omar Samhan (2010) and Joe Rahon (2017). Patrick Mills was selected as the 2008 WCC Newcomer of the Year.
In 16 seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to a 362-156 (.698) overall record while compiling an 170-70 (.708) 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. The 2016-17 squad tied the program-best number seven seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Over the past 14 seasons, Bennett has guided the Gaels to 322 total wins, averaging 23 wins during that stretch. The Gaels have compiled a 154-48 (.762) 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 13 years, SMC has a 194-31 (.862) in McKeon Pavilion, which includes a 156-20 (.886) mark over the last 10 seasons. He has led SMC to at least the semifinals of the WCC Tournament in 15 of his 16 seasons, which include WCC Tournament final appearances in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017. 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 eight second place finishes in the WCC (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017) and won the 2011 & 2016 regular-season co-championships and the 2012 outright title.
Combined with his 16 years as the head coach at SMC, Bennett has more than 30 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.