Jonathan Mills scored 18 points to lead the Golden Eagles.
Eighth Season at Southern Miss (117-104)
19th Season Overall (377-249)
Throughout the years, there have been several dates that have become important to the history of the men's basketball program at Southern Miss. While many of those dates may deal with mile-stone victories, national championships and other record-breaking moments, other dates in Southern Miss basketball history are just as important.
One of the most important dates was a recent one - March 25, 2004. For on that date, Southern Miss basketball turned the corner in its quest to become one of the top programs in Conference USA, if not one of the top programs in the nation.
It was on that date that one of the top coaches in the collegiate game began his relationship with the Golden Eagles. On that date, the Larry Eustachy era officially began.
In an introductory news conference that captured national attention, Southern Miss Director of Athletics Richard Giannini announced that Eustachy had become the school's 18th head men's basketball coach, and with that, the new era had begun. Nationally renowned and recognized for his coaching success, Eustachy took the reins of a struggling basketball program at Southern Miss and gave hope to a contingency of Golden Eagle faithful of returning the team to the prominence it once had enjoyed.
For Eustachy, coaching at Southern Miss is an opportunity to give back to the sport he so loves. For Southern Miss, having a coach like Eustachy is just the step that the administration, fans and players know that it needs to be able to compete in the ever-competitive world of college basketball.
A veteran of the coaching profession for 27 years, Southern Miss is the fourth program that Eustachy has headed. And if the success at the three other stints -Idaho, Utah State and Iowa State - is any indication, the Golden Eagle program is in good hands.
The Eustachy Philosophy
Eustachy's philosophy is a unique mixture of several coaches who had great influence on him during his years as a player and as an assistant coach. Eustachy's teams put a premium on defending and rebounding, combining that with peak physical conditioning and strength, all the while incorporating an offense that best utilizes the talents of the respective members of the team.
It's a philosophy that contains the contribution of a number of coaches, including his influential junior college coach Neil Edwards, former USC and Mississippi State Coach Bob Boyd - Eustachy's mentor - former NBA and current UTEP Head Coach Tim Floyd, whose own philosophy had bits of Don Haskins and his father, Lee Floyd, a former coach during the 1950s and '60s at Southern Miss.
Eustachy not only instills physical toughness in his players, but he also strives to make his players value the mental part of the game, an aspect that is created through stressful practice. It's during those practices that Eustachy knows he and his staff need to be at their best, for that is where the battles on the court are often times won and lost.
Eustachy The Coach
A life in basketball always seemed to be in the stars for Eustachy, who had a standout prep career at Arcadia High School and played two seasons at Citrus (Calif.) College under Edwards.
Following graduation from Long Beach State in 1979, Eustachy began his coaching career at the ripe age of 21, serving as the assistant for Edwards at Citrus from 1979-81.
Through Edwards' direction, Eustachy then landed his first NCAA coaching position on Boyd's Mississippi State squad, staying there from1981-86. From there, Eustachy joined Tim Floyd's staff at Idaho from 1986-87, before moving on to assistant coaching stints at Utah(1987-89) and Ball State (1989-90).
But it wasn't until he landed his first head coaching job at Idaho that Eustachy began making a name as one of the nation's brightest head coaches. While at Idaho, he led the Vandals to three-consecutive winning sea-sons, a 61-33 overall record and the 1993 Big Sky Conference regular-season championship.
Eustachy then took his success to Utah State, where he compiled a 98-53 overall record. While at Utah State, he led the Aggies to three Big West regular-season titles (1995, 1997, and 1998) and the 1998 conference tournament title. The Aggies advanced to the postseason twice, the 1998 NCAA Tournament and the 1995 NIT, and nearly made a third postseason appearance in 1996, when the Aggies narrowly lost a championship game that would have punched a ticket for the NCAA Tournament.
The successes at Idaho and Utah State laid the groundwork for his eventual run as the head coach at Iowa State. At Iowa State, Eustachy became more than a household name for his on-court accomplishments and received the nation's highest honor for a basketball coach when he was named the 2000 National Coach of the Year by both the Associated Press and the United States Basketball Writers Association.
In his five-year career at Iowa State, the two-time Big 12 Coach of the Year led the Cyclones to a 101-59 record, back-to-back Big 12 Conference Championships (2000 and 2001) and an AP Top 10 ranking both years (No. 6 in 2000 and No. 10 in 2001). His squads made consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament in 2000 (32-5) and 2001 (25-6), advancing as far as the Elite 8 in 2000, and made a third trip to postseason, with a visit to the NIT Tournament in 2003. He also coached two All-Americans and Big 12 Conference Players of theYear (Marcus Fizer, 2000; Jamaal Tinsley, 2001).
At Southern Miss
While his first two seasons at Southern Miss might not be considered a success in terms of wins and losses, there were still positives that did not show up in the stats columns.
After finishing 11-17 during his first season that included a big victory over Southeastern Conference foe LSU, the Golden Eagles tallied a 10-21 record, including a 3-11 in C-USA play in 2005-06. Still, Southern Miss finished on a strong note as they won two of their final three contests including their first C-USA tournament victory in three seasons. The Golden Eagles also won the longest game in their school history, a four-overtime December thriller, 83-78, over New Orleans that showed the squad's resolve and "never say quit" attitude.
Off the court, interest in the basketball program seemed to resurrect with Eustachy at the helm.
Season ticket sales have increased during Eustachy's tenure. Premium floor-seating packages also were introduced, giving fans another level of game-time experience. Media attention to the program also increased, giving Southern Miss exposure it hadn't seen in quite awhile. Eustachy and the Golden Eagles continue to lay the ground work for future Southern Miss teams as they begin their ascent in the league.
A True Success
Eustachy has not only consistently coached strong basketball programs, but he also has been honored numerous times by his peers and various basketball organizations. In addition to his national coaching awards in 2000, Eustachy has been named a conference coach of the year four times - twice each in the Big West and the Big 12, a district coach of the year twice and an AP National Coach of the Year runner-up. In his career, he finished with one 30-win season, five 20-win seasons and has averaged 20 wins per season during his career.
Throughout his career, Eustachy has coached three NCAA Tournament teams and two NIT squads. He also has led teams to six regular-season conference titles, two conference tournament titles and consecutive home winning streaks that set records at both Utah State and Iowa State. He also has coached three conference players of the year, two first-team All-Americans and is one of only eight coaches in NCAA history to win at least three conference regular-season championships at three different schools.
Eustachy was born on Dec. 1, 1955, in Alameda, Calif., and is the father of two sons, Hayden and Evan.