May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

UCI’s Russell Turner named Big West Coach of the Year for second straight season

UCI Coach Russell Turner, shown addressing his team before last year’s NCAA Tournament, earned Big West Coach of the Year honors. (File photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

UC Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner, who led the Anteaters to the regular season Big West Conference title, was selected Monday as the conference’s coach of the year.

Turner will be leading the Anteaters, seeded No. 1 in the Big West Tournament, into Thursday’s opener against No. 8 Long Beach State at 6 p.m. at the Honda Center.

It’s the fourth Big West coach of the year award for Turner in the last seven years and his third in the past four seasons.

Turner led UCI to its second straight outright Big West regular season title and fifth in the last seven seasons. He has led the Anteaters to at least 20 wins in seven of the last eight seasons and five Big West regular season titles in the last seven years.

During the conference’s media day Monday, Turner said he was appreciative of the vote of the coaches and praised the efforts of his staff.

“It feels good to earn, and I especially feel that for my staff, I’ve got one guy, Ryan Badrtalei, who has been with him the whole way I’ve been here. But I’ve got a couple of other guys who are young in the business who are on our staff and have worked their tails off this year and have been outstanding,” Turner said. “Those guys I’m referring to are Mike Wilder, Alex Young and Matt Richardson, who is in his first year with us.

“We’ve had a lot of change in our staff from last season, but these guys have been outstanding, and I’m really excited for them to be part of this honor, and obviously grateful to the school and to the other coaches in the league.”