Giacoletti to succeed Majerus as head coach of the Runnin’ Utes

All signs pointed toward U athletics director Chris Hill hiring Nevada head coach Trent Johnson as head basketball coach.

But it didn’t happen.

Johnson decided to extend his contract at Nevada for another five years, and Hill decided to hire Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti as the head coach of the team.

Hill will not issue a statement about the hire until the press conference today, which will make the hire official.

Giacoletti led his Eastern Washington team to the NCAA tournament in the past two years and won the Big Sky regular season and tournament titles this season. He also was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year.

Eastern Washington lost in the first round of the tournament to Oklahoma State, which is now in the Final Four.

The team finished with a 17-13 record, but only had three conference losses. He finished his tenure at Eastern Washington with a 69-50 record.

Before the hiring, Hill was looking for a person who would be more active in the community, along with being a great coach.

According to Eastern Washington Athletic Director Scott Barnes, the Utes found a good fit.

“He brings great integrity to the program and is very focused and will build the program the right way,” Barnes said. “He will endear himself to the community and make sure he is a team member of the program and the entire university.”

For Barnes, his school is at a loss by losing Giacoletti.

“It’s bittersweet for me because I am so happy for Ray and he absolutely deserves the opportunity,” Barnes said. “He did a tremendous job and has been the winningest coach in the Big Sky in his first four years, so it is tough to lose him.”

Critics of Majerus claimed that he did not involve himself with the U, but they could not deny the work he put in to get the team to win.

Yet Barnes thinks that Giacoletti can bring the same atmosphere, along with an awareness for the importance of outreach to the community.

“He will outwork anyone in the country,” Barnes said. “The players will bring their effort every day, and there will never be a day where you shake your head and say the players didn’t work hard enough.”

Like Majerus, he brings discipline, but the offense will be different with Giacoletti at the helm.

“His teams will always be strong defensively because he makes sure the players are disciplined,” Barnes said. “In terms of offense, the team will be a lot more opportunistic and will look to get a lot of transition buckets.”

“He will do a great job in making sure the team works within the role they have been designed,” he added.

The pace of the U basketball team has not only been slow, but the talent on the team doesn’t seem to fit the Majerus style. Scoring has gone down every year since the season the team went to the Final Four in 1998.

“It’s a faster and fun pace, but the team will take good shots,” Barnes said.

Regardless of the style that Giacoletti brings, he has tremendous shoes to fill and is unproven in terms of coaching at a school as large as Utah. But whether Giacoletti will bring a different attitude for U basketball-and whether that is good or bad-remains to be seen.

As for Barnes, he will mainly miss one thing about Giacoletti, which may be the greatest asset he brings to Utah.

“I will miss his coaching and his success, but mostly I will miss the person,” Barnes said. “He has been amazing and become a real part of the campus and I will miss him.”

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