After two seasons under Jim Hayford, former Cal player takes over at Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Wash.
The recent success of the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team has led to players departing early for their next basketball opportunity, and now it's happened on the coaching staff of head coach Jim Hayford.
Alex Pribble, an Eagle assistant coach the past two seasons, was named Monday (April 20) as the head coach of Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Wash. The Saints are a member of NCAA Division II and the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
"I am very happy for Alex and Saint Martin's University," said Hayford, who recently concluded his fourth season as head coach with the best season in EWU's NCAA Division I history. "Alex is a great person and will be a great college coach. The players at Saint Martin's will benefit greatly from him as a mentor."
"I am truly grateful for the support and guidance that coach Hayford and athletic director Bill Chaves have provided throughout the past two years," said Pribble. "I have no doubt that this program will continue to build upon its recent success. I will miss the players, coaches, and the entire Eagle family, as I take this next step in my coaching career."
Hayford said he will move as expediently as needed to fill the void on his coaching staff, which also includes veteran assistant coach Shantay Legans and David Riley. Pribble spent two seasons at EWU after serving the previous two years as the top assistant at San Francisco State. He is a 2007 graduate of Cal and received his master's degree the next season.
"Alex has been a great addition to our staff the past two seasons," added Hayford. "Our program could not be happier for him and this next step of advancement in his career."
Although they came a victory shy of a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in Pribble's first season on the staff in 2013-14, the Eagles finished with three more league wins and five more victories overall than the previous year. Eastern established eight school records in the 2013-14 season, including one league mark. Eastern was 7-4 in its last 11 league games to help EWU finish 15-16 overall and 10-10 in the league. The 15 victories equaled the most for the Eagles in 10 years since EWU finished 17-13 in the 2003-04 season.
But Eastern topped that in the 2014-15 season. The Eagles closed the year 26-9 after finishing 14-4 in the Big Sky Conference to share the regular season title with Montana. Eastern swept through three games in the Big Sky Conference Tournament to garner the school's second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
The Eagles finished with program bests for victories overall (26), in the Big Sky (14), on the road (11) and in non-conference play (9) in 32 seasons as a member of NCAA Division I.
Eastern's heart-stopping 88-86 victory at Big Ten Conference member Indiana Nov. 24 will go down as one of the greatest victories in school history after the Eagles snapped the nation's third-longest non-conference home court winning streak at 43 in front of 11,636 Hoosier fans at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. It was the first-ever win for the Eagles in 14 tries against a Big Ten Conference opponent, was the first Big Sky win on a Big Ten home court and was the first time in 21 games Eastern has won in front of a crowd in excess of 10,000. A crowd of 11,636 attended the game at legendary Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind.
The NCAA Tournament experience was not the first for Pribble, who played in the tournament for Cal in 2006.
He takes over a Saints team which was 6-22 overall and finished tied for last in the GNAC with Montana State-Billings at 3-15. Saint Martin's returns nine players.
"It is a true honor to be named the next head coach at Saint Martin's University," said Pribble. "We are going to play a style of basketball that is fun to play and fun to watch. We will have high character student athletes, and we will establish a culture that our university and our community will be proud of."
"I am truly looking forward to having a terrific atmosphere at Marcus Pavilion, and sharing an exciting brand of basketball with this community," added Pribble.