Even when WCC schools Santa Clara and BYU are playing in the finals and semifinals of their respective postseason tournaments, Gonzaga still manages to steal headlines. However, many Gonzaga fans are not extremely excited about the news. Like it or not, the six year Gonzaga assistant is leaving Spokane to become the head coach at Drake.
Giacoletti had a wild ride as a head coach prior to joining the Gonzaga staff as an assistant. He started off at North Dakota State, a division II school, and then went to Eastern Washington. After that, he took the head coaching job at Utah in which he led the Utes to a 29 win season in his first year there. He then resigned after three seasons at Utah after back to back losing seasons, and Mark Few subsequently brought him on the Gonzaga staff. Giacoletti has a 171-123 record as a head coach, and is 2-2 in the NCAA tournament.
The reaction throughout the country was mostly positive and encouraging regarding Drake’s hire of Giacoletti. Many members of the national sports media praised the former Zag assistant as “a great guy” and iterated how “well deserved” it was for him. Giacoletti is infamous for igniting the decline of the Utah basketball program, so the fact that he has been given another chance as a head coach is intriguing, considering he has taken a lot of flak for his previous failure.
Let’s take a quick look at where Giacoletti will be working.
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Conference: Missouri Valley
Although Giacoletti has primarily coached on the West Coast, he is a midwest guy at heart. Giacoletti grew up in Peoria, Illinois, so the transition to Drake seems fitting. However, what is most interesting about his changeover to Drake is that Drake and Gonzaga each have identical nicknames and mascots. What are the odds?
So, you might be asking; “What does this mean for Gonzaga?” Well, Giacoletti is the third assisstant coach to leave Gonzaga for a head coaching job, joining Billy Grier (San Diego) and Leon Rice (Boise State). Although losing assistants can be troublesome to a program, coach Few has done a fantastic job of bringing in high quality assistants to replace those who left. In fact, Ray Giacoletti was a replacement for Billy Grier in 2007 after he left for San Diego. Giacoletti will certainly be missed, but based on Mark Few’s history of replacing assistants, the Gonzaga basketball program will likely see nearly zero negative turnover.
Look for the Zags to bring in a defensive minded coach to replace Giacoletti. He was a big help for Mark Few and company regarding the defense.