Rusty Smith returns for his 13th season as head coach of the men's basketball program. Hired just days before the school year started in 2001, Rusty guided the team to an overall record of 24-11 with a co-championship in the rugged Central Valley Conference with a record of 12-2. His second year saw similar success as the team went 19-12 overall and 11-3 in conference, good enough for second behind eventual state runner-up Fresno City. In the state playoffs that year, the Giants defeated Shasta College, 84- 64, at home before losing on the road round to Santa Rosa.
During the 2003 season it all came together in what would be a record-breaking year in COS' illustrious basketball history. The team finished with an overall record of 28-3, advancing to the state's Final Four in San Diego where the team lost a heartbreaker to eventual state champion Compton College. Along the way the Giants won all four preseason tournaments in which they were entered, entered conference play at a perfect 13-0, and finished conference play at 12-2.
Coach Smith directed his 2007-08 team to an impressive 22- 10 overall record while finishing 8-4 in the Central Valley Conference. The team peaked at the right time, resulting in an appearance in the California College's Elite Eight before being eliminated to eventual ultimate state champ Citrus College.
In 2010 the Giants had another stellar season, finishing 10-2 in the CVC and taking another conference co-championship.
Coach Smith has had a great deal of success during his tenure at COS. He says his greatest satisfaction however, is helping more than 40 of his student-athletes receive scholarships at the four-year level. "It is exciting to watch your former players develop and compete at the next level," Smith said.
The 6-foot-7 Smith is no stranger to big-time college athletics. As a student at El Camino College, he was a two-time all-conference player, averaging 24 points a game as a sophomore. From there, he accepted a scholarship to attend Montana State, where he led the conference in rebounding, was named team MVP and was selected to the all-conference team.
After college, Smith embarked on a seven-year professional basketball career in West Germany — five years in Aschaffenburg and two more seasons in Hamburg.
Upon his return to the states in 1983, Smith began the first of seven years as an assistant at California State university at Northridge, helping guide the Matadors to a CCAA championship in 1985. It was at Northridge that he met and married his wife, Susan. He also finished his bachelor's degree in physical education and earned his master's degree in sports psychology while at Northridge.
In 1990, Smith moved on to Eastern Washington, a Division I school, where he spent five seasons. While there, he had two articles published in The Basketball Bulletin, a publication of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
In 1995, he moved on to the University of California at Riverside as the top assistant to long-time coach John Masi.
In addition to his coaching duties, Smith is a full-time instructor in the Physical Education and Health Division at COS. Smith and his wife live in Visalia and have four children, Jade, Perry, Allison and Kimberle Rose.
Contact: Head Coach Rusty Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 559.737.6291