Coach Bob Thomason talks with player Miah Davis
Last Stand for Legendary CoachFor 25 years, coach Bob Thomason has brought a home court advantage to Tiger basketball
Bob Thomason '75, '85 closed out his career by coaching the Pacific men's basketball team to the NCAA for the fifth time as a coach of the Tigers.
In th end, No. 5 seed Miami was too much for the Tigers, beating them 78-49.
For Thomason, who has coached the team for the past 25 years and also played as a student-athlete, this brings to an end a career of records as he is retiring at the end of the season.
It will also mark the end of an era and the beginning of a another. Longtime Associate Head Coach Ron Verlin on March 26 was named to replace Thomason.
During his career, Thomason became the winningest coach in the Big West Conference's history, was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year five times, and led the team to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
Thomason has the distinction of leaving winning records at every school where he has coached, including three high schools, a community college and at two four-year colleges.
"Coach Thomason transformed Pacific basketball into a powerhouse program that consistently surprises competitors and often wins championships. But Bob has done more than just lead championship teams. He has served as a mentor to hundreds of student-athletes, served as a great boss to his staff and acted as an ambassador to the community at large."
-Ted Leland, vice president for External Affairs and Athletics
Before They Called Him Coach
Originally from Concord, Thomason graduated from Clayton Valley High School in 1967 and entered Pacific. He played as a shooting guard on the team, and earned all-conference honors as a senior while averaging 17.2 points per game. Thomason completed 82.9 percent of his free throws, a mark that was the second-best percentage in Tiger basketball history when he completed his playing career in 1971, and one that now ranks seventh all-time. He also holds the distinction of averaging the 11th most points per game in school history.
High marks in his career include his team-high 19 points in the 1971 NCAA Western Regional against a Jerry Tarkanian-coached Long Beach State squad, 36 points against Loyola Marymount, and 31 points against UC Santa Barbara during his senior year. Besides basketball, he also earned a letter in golf while attending Pacific.
Thomason earned both his bachelor's degree and his master's degree in physical education.
The Man Who Knows How to Win
After graduation, Thomason worked as an assistant coach at Stockton's Stagg High School for two years and helped the team earn 53 straight wins. Then he was hired by Escalon High School as coach in 1975, where during the next three years he led the team to two league championships and a state championship, including one year when the team went undefeated for 27 games.
Thomason coached at Turlock High School 1976 to 1981, amassing an overall 84-54 record. From there, he was then hired by Columbia Community College where he led the team to its first Central Valley Conference championship in 1985. Because of his victorious record there, he was inducted into the California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Thomason then worked for Cal State Stanislaus where he amassed a 52-27 record from 1985-88 and reached the Southeast Regionals in just his second year as coach. In 1987, he led the Warriors to a Northern California Athletic Conference Championship - a first for the school - in a season where they earned a school-record 20 wins.
Thomason Comes Home to Pacific
Before Thomason took control of the Tiger basketball program, Pacific suffered through a season of 24 losses and only five wins, and there had been just one season in the previous five years when the Tigers had more wins than losses. When he was hired in 1988, it was clear that he had a mandate - to turn Pacific basketball around.
And he did.
During his reign, Thomason guided the Tigers to 18 winning seasons, including nine where the team made it to the semifinals of the Big West Tournament. The Tigers also made three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2004, 2005, and 2006, twice advancing to the second round in the competition. Before Thomason was coach, the last time the Tigers made it to the NCAA Tournament was in 1979.
Because he turned the Tigers into a nationally competitive program, Thomason earned Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors five times. Then last year, he was recognized for having more wins than any other coach in the Big West, with 414 successful games under his belt at Pacific, a record that has since increased as this season continues on.
As Thomason completes his 25th season at his alma mater, his goal of building a championship program has been attained. Under his guidance, Pacific Men's Basketball will have made five NCAA Tournament appearances and is the only Big West Conference team since 1993 to advance to the second round in consecutive seasons. Under Thomason, the Tigers have had nine 20-win seasons and won 75 percent of their home games, collecting more than 240 Spanos Center victories.
Thomason will leave a team that is consistently seen as a contender against many of the top basketball programs on the West Coast. His departure will also close out Pacific's time in the Big West Conference, as the University joins the West Coast Conference in fall 2013.
It will be the end of a legendary coaching tenure at Pacific, one which has left Pacific Men's Basketball poised for a wealth of future victories.