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Paul Thomas
Paul  Thomas

Position:
Head Coach

Alma Mater:
Wayne State College

Experience:
11 Years

Graduated:
1986

10/09/2017

WBK | Gaels Begin Full Practice For 2017-18

The Saint Mary's women's basketball team opened full practice on Oct. 2 and features 10 returners with four freshmen for the 2017-18 season

10/09/2017

WBK | 2017-18 Full Practice Begins

The Saint Mary's women's basketball team opened full practice for the 2017-18 season on Oct. 2, 2017.

Head coach Paul Thomas enters his 12th season at Saint Mary’s in 2017-18. Thomas is the eighth head coach in the program’s 39-year history.

In his 11 seasons, Thomas has accumulated a 215-137 record at SMC and a career record of 451-295 in 25 years of coaching. The Gaels have been one of the winningest programs in the state of California under Thomas’ tutelage. Since the 2009-10 season through 2016-17, the Gaels have an eight-year winning percentage of .668 (175-87), ranking third in the state ahead of notable programs such as San Diego (.659), California (.657), UCLA (.657), USC (.555) and San Diego State (.538). Their 175 wins rank fifth out of 23 California Division I teams during that time, also ahead of San Diego (168), USC (142) and San Diego State (135).

Success has become a regular occurrence for the program under Thomas, and the 2016-17 season was yet another example in a long line of successful campaigns. The Gaels won 20 games (20-13) for the sixth straight year and seventh in the last eight while reaching the postseason for the eighth consecutive year. The Gaels finished second in the West Coast Conference for the second straight year and their fourth top-three finish in the last five years. The Gaels also reached the WCC Tournament championship game for the first time in six years, facing Gonzaga on national television for a chance at the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

The 2016-17 Gaels were one of the country’s best rebounding teams, finishing with the fourth-best rebounding margin (+10.9) in the country and a top-25 mark in rebounds per game (42.00, 24th). The Gaels grabbed 1,386 rebounds on the year, 31st-most in the NCAA.

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. The Gaels advanced to the WNIT and hosted Eastern Michigan in the first round. Saint Mary’s also scored the most points in school history with 2,388 and led the nation in free-throws made with 559. SMC finished the 2015-16 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.

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 seventh 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 34 WCC All-Conference award winners, including the two-time WCC Defensive Player of the Year in Louella Tomlinson (’08-’09, ’09-’10). The Saint Mary’s women’s basketball record book has a number 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 two others in the top-10 in career scoring. Thomas has also coached the top-two 3-point shooters in school history (Jontelle Smith, Kate Gaze) and the top-two career rebounders in Danielle Mauldin and Tomlinson, as well as two others in the top-10. He also coached five of the Gaels’ top-10 career free-throw shooters, including record-holder Devyn Galland (86.3 percent).

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 12 seasons with a 14-6 postseason record. He 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, Neb., where he was a girls basketball assistant coach.

Thomas played two years of college basketball at Midland Lutheran College (Fremont, Neb.) before transferring to Wayne State to concentrate on coaching. He played his high school ball at Creighton High School in Creighton, Neb., where he was an all-state forward and the team's Most Valuable Player.

Paul resides in Concord with his wife Alexis and has three children Jacob, Michaela and Annika.

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