Iowa State head coach Larry Eustachy, now in his fifth season at ISU, has already carved his name onto a long list of coaching greats at Iowa State and the Big 12 Conference. The 2000 and 2001 Big 12 Coach of the Year and 2000 Associated Press National Coach of the Year is the director of a rejuvenated ISU basketball program that has won league titles in two of the last three years (2000 and 2001) and has a solid foundation of players for future success.
Milestones, team records and national honors have been plentiful in Eustachy’s reign as the ISU mentor. Eustachy’s back-to-back Big 12 Championship squads of 2000 and 2001 enjoyed unprecedented success that had never been accomplished in the 95-year history of the Cyclone basketball program. ISU compiled a 57-11 overall mark in the league championship seasons, the best two-year win sum that featured the top two single-season win totals in school history (32, 1999-00; 25, 2000-01). The 57 wins ranked No. 3 nationally in NCAA Division I during that time span behind 2001 NCAA champion Duke (64) and 2000 NCAA titlist Michigan State (60). In that same two-year span, ISU produced two first-team All-Americans and Big 12 Conference Players of the Year (Marcus Fizer, 2000; Jamaal Tinsley, 2001) and captured two of its six conference regular-season championships in school history. Both teams are the only squads in ISU history to be ranked in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll (2000, No. 6; 2001, No. 10). The 2000 team was the NCAA’s most improved team during the year, winning 13.5 games more than the previous season. His achievements were not unnoticed by his peers, earning him back-to-back Big 12 Coach of the Year honors (2000 and 2001). He followed his Associated Press National Coach of the Year Award in 2000 by earning runner-up coach of the year accolades in 2001.
Eustachy continues to succeed at ISU despite suffering the first losing season of his career with a young 2001-02 team. Eustachy’s Cyclones took a 36-game homecourt winning streak into the season and increased it to a school-record 39 consecutive wins at home before suffering their first defeat in Hilton Coliseum since 1999. The 39-straight wins at home shattered the old school mark of 22 set on two different occasions. The homecourt dominance also included conference foes, as the Cyclones tied a Big 12 mark and achieved a school record by winning their 19th-straight conference game at home with a 71-67 win over NCAA Elite Eight participant Missouri. ISU’s lone senior Tyray Pearson was a second-team all-Big 12 pick, averaging 18.7 ppg, and sophomore Jake Sullivan made significant progress, earning third-team all-Big 12 honors. Sullivan was fifth in the nation in free-throw shooting (90 percent) and third in 3-point percentage (47.2 percent).
Eustachy’s 2000-01 team was picked to finish fifth in the conference by the league media in its preseason poll. Eustachy responded by doing what he does best: rolling up his sleeves and molding players into a precise, fine-working unit that is based on discipline, rebounding and defense. The Cyclones defied the odds by holding down the top spot of the mighty Big 12 Conference by season’s end, tallying a 13-3 conference mark and the second-most season wins in school history with 25 to earn their second consecutive Big 12 Conference regular-season title. Eustachy got the most out of his senior-laden team that was directed by one of the top point guards in the nation in Jamaal Tinsley. Tinsley, the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press national player of the year runner-up, became ISU’s eighth All-American in school history after leading the Cyclones in scoring, assists, steals and blocks. He tied for third in the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year voting. Eustachy also got a spark from Jake Sullivan, who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year. At one point in the season, ISU reeled off 10-straight Big 12 wins, breaking the school record and tying the Big 12 mark for most consecutive conference victories. The Cyclones were yet again invincible in Ames, ending the season with a perfect 16-0 record, marking the second-straight year ISU went undefeated in Hilton Coliseum.
Eustachy’s coaching brilliance was first brought to the masses after the 1999-2000 season, when Iowa State startled the nation with a quick rise to one of the nation’s elite teams. ISU ended the season with a school-record 32 wins, Big 12 regular-season and conference tournament titles and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. ISU’s incredible season was cut short by eventual national champion Michigan State in a hard-fought Midwest Regional final game at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. This all achieved by a team picked to finish dead last in the Big 12 Conference.
The entire nation took notice of Eustachy and the Cyclones while they made their incredible run in 1999-2000. The Cyclones climbed as high as No. 6 in the final Associated Press poll. Eustachy’s squad, led by ISU’s first consensus All-American in Fizer at center, and national newcomer of the year Tinsley at point guard, showed its grit and toughness by winning its first conference regular-season title since 1944-45. Fizer, who led the league with a 22.8 ppg average, was one of the biggest stories of the 2000 season, capturing Big 12 Player of the Year honors and being named a finalist for the Wooden Award, an honor annually given to the nation’s top collegiate basketball player. ISU suffered just two losses (14-2) in the conference, both in overtime on the road. A Big 12 Conference Tournament title soon followed as the Cyclones gained momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. ISU earned its highest seed ever, holding the No. 2 spot in the Midwest Region. Central Connecticut State and Auburn were ISU’s first two victims as the Cyclones made their second Sweet Sixteen appearance in four years. ISU then ousted UCLA 80-56 to advance to the Elite Eight before falling to Michigan State.
The honors and awards poured in for Eustachy. He earned Big 12 Coach of the Year accolades and the United States Basketball Writers Association and The Associated Press both lauded Eustachy as national coach of the year. It was a fitting end to a tremendous season.
When Eustachy was named the new leader of the Cyclone men’s basketball program in 1998, Cyclone fans foresaw a bright future. Eustachy laid the foundation of his success in his initial season at Iowa State by producing his ninth-straight winning regular season, which included a third-place finish at the Carrs Great Alaska Shootout behind Duke and Cincinnati. Fizer, who garnered first-team all-Big 12 accolades as a sophomore with an 18.0 ppg average, was Iowa State’s first overall conference scoring leader since Jeff Grayer topped the Big Eight scoring chart in 1988.
In his 12 seasons as a head coach, Eustachy has had only one losing season. His ability to win conference titles is also a trademark of his success. In six of his 12 seasons as a head coach, Eustachy directed teams to regular-season conference crowns, considered the “crown jewel” of a team’s goal each season. His habit of winning conference titles includes him among an elite group of eight coaches in NCAA Division I history who directed three different schools to regular-season conference championships (Idaho, Utah State and Iowa State). His efforts have helped him earn four conference coach of the year awards; two Big West (Utah State) and two Big 12 (Iowa State). Currently owning a four-year mark of 84-45, he is already fourth on the ISU career coaching win list, surpassing his predecessor Tim Floyd for the most victories for an ISU coach in their first four seasons. He is also the only coach in school history to have a winning career record vs. league opponents, owning a 37-27 mark.
Eustachy’s record speaks volumes to his ability to win. The Arcadia, Calif., native installed a winning tradition in the Idaho and Utah State programs he guided in his first eight seasons as a head coach. In five seasons at Utah State, Eustachy posted three 20-win seasons and finished his tenure with a 98-53 mark, the most wins in a five-year period at USU since 1960-64. Those 98 victories were the most of any Big West Conference school during that span and his .649 winning percentage was the highest in school history.
Eustachy led Utah State to three Big West regular-season titles, as well as the 1998 conference tournament title, and earned conference coach of the year honors in 1995 and again in 1998.
In 1993-94, Eustachy introduced Utah State fans to his style of basketball, which is built on the foundation of discipline, defense and rebounding. In that first year, he took a team of nine players, predicted by many to be a Big West Conference cellar-dweller, and tied for second place in the conference.
Eustachy’s 1994-95 Aggies once again exceeded expectations by notching a 21-8 record and claiming their first Big West title in 14 years. Eustachy led USU to its first postseason berth in seven years, when Utah State faced Illinois State in the National Invitational Tournament.
For his efforts, the Big West Conference honored Eustachy as the 1995 conference coach of the year. Utah State’s Eric Franson earned Big West Player of the Year honors. The Aggies led the Big West in six statistical categories, including rebounding and defense, two trademarks of a Eustachy squad.
In 1996, Utah State came within a basket of an NCAA Tournament berth, losing the conference tournament championship in overtime as San Jose State made a three-point prayer at the buzzer.
The Aggies received their Big Dance card in 1998, winning the Big West Conference regular-season title with a 13-3 mark. USU defeated Pacific, 82-68, to earn the Big West Tournament title and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Utah State finished the season with a then-school-record 25 wins.
Perhaps the simplest method of measuring Eustachy’s impact on Aggie basketball was the increase in the number of people who walked through the turnstiles of the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. During the 1995 season, Utah State averaged 8,283 fans per game, the highest average for a Spectrum crowd since the inaugural 1971 season. The ardent fan support from the Aggie backers helped Eustachy win his last 25 home games, a streak then exceeded only by Kansas’ 58.
Before arriving in Logan, Utah, Eustachy tallied a record of 61-33 as head coach at Idaho from 1990-94. Eustachy led the Vandals to three consecutive winning seasons, including a 1993 Big Sky Conference regular-season championship.
People recognized Eustachy’s basketball intelligence early in his playing career. After captaining his Arcadia High team his senior season, Eustachy played point guard two seasons at Citrus (Calif.) College for coach Neil Edwards. Although Eustachy’s skills were limited, Edwards was impressed with his knowledge of the game and his ability to protect the basketball.
Following his graduation from Long Beach State in 1979, Eustachy coached alongside Edwards at Citrus College until he earned his break into the Division I ranks in 1981.
Edwards helped Eustachy earn a position on Bob Boyd’s Mississippi State coaching staff. After a year as an unpaid assistant, Eustachy was a paid graduate assistant the second season and the first assistant in his third campaign. He recruited and coached several future NBA draft picks, including NBA All-Star Jeff Malone. Eustachy remained at MSU five seasons until he was Tim Floyd’s first hire as an assistant at Idaho. Floyd said it was the greatest move he ever made, even though he only had Eustachy on his staff during the 1986-87 season.
After helping Floyd lay the groundwork for a successful Vandal program, Eustachy moved on to Utah where he was an assistant from 1987-89. He spent the 1989-90 season at Ball State where he assisted on Dick Hunsacker’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen qualifier before returning to Idaho as head coach in 1990.
Eustachy was born on Dec. 1, 1955, in Alameda, Calif. He married Stacy Smith of Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 8, 1987. They are the parents of two sons, Hayden, 10, and Evan, 8.
Eustachy's Coaching Ledger
Cyclone Men's Basketball
Website concerns can be sent to our suggestion box.
The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated.
No logos, photographs or graphics on this site may be reproduced without written permission.