Tony Bland Joins San Diego State Coaching Staff
June 28, 2011
SAN DIEGO - Tony Bland, a two-time all-Mountain West Conference selection who guided the Aztecs to a NCAA and postseason NIT appearance in his two seasons on The Mesa, has been named an assistant men's basketball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher announced Tuesday.
Bland, 31, becomes the first San Diego State graduate to serve as a full-time assistant coach since Ken Baker was a member of the coaching staff for the 1977-78 campaign. He also becomes the third former Steve Fisher-coached player to serve as a full-time member of the coaching staff at San Diego State, following Gary Grant and Mark Hughes.
"We are thrilled to have Tony back at San Diego State", two-time national coach of the year Steve Fisher said. "As a former Aztec player and student, he can talk first-hand about the San Diego State experience. He had a wonderful career and will be a tremendous asset to our program. He will be very well received both in the University community and on the recruiting trails with parents as well as prospects."
Bland transferred to San Diego State after playing two seasons at Syracuse. A native of Los Angeles, Bland played college basketball for two national championship coaches in Jim Boeheim and Fisher and was part of teams that won 84 games and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments and a postseason NIT in his four seasons at the collegiate level.
As a college player at San Diego State and Syracuse, Bland recorded 1,368 points, 331 rebounds, 319 assists while playing in 127 games and making 95 starts.
Bland, a captain on the 2001-02 Aztec squad, led the team to its first Division I postseason victory in school history, a 67-62 overtime win over UC Santa Barbara in the NIT. That year, as a senior, Bland averaged a career-high 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He earned second-team all-conference honors and was named a member of the NABC District 13 and USBWA District IX teams.
As a junior, Bland led San Diego State's magical run to a Mountain West Conference tournament championship and the school's first NCAA Tournament berth since 1985. He averaged 15.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists, in becoming the first player in the history of the Mountain West Conference to rank among the league's top-10 players in scoring and assists and top-20 players in rebounding.
After college, Bland earned an invitation to take part in the Indiana Pacers training camp before playing in the United States Basketball League (USBL) where he played for former NBA player John Starks. During his stint in the USBL, Bland averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists en route to earning the league's Rookie of the Year award. From there, Bland participated in the Sacramento Kings' training camp in the fall of 2004 before signing a contract with the team. Following his stay with Sacramento, Bland played in Russia before moving on to the NBDL's Albuquerque Thunderbirds, where he played for two seasons for former NBA player Michael Cooper and won a championship in 2005-06. Shortly thereafter, Bland went overseas to play in Europe before returning to San Diego State prior to the 2008-09 campaign to serve as the team's head manager and ultimately finishing his degree. The last two seasons, Bland has been the personal trainer for Trevor Ariza, a forward for the New Orleans Hornets.
Bland replaces Justin Hutson, who accepted the associate head coach position at UNLV in April.
The Aztecs are coming off a banner season in which they won a school-record 34 games, won their first-ever Division I NCAA postseason game and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. SDSU was ranked in the top 25 all season and earned a program-best ranking of No. 4 during its MWC championship campaign. San Diego State finished the year ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press poll and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today rankings.
Season tickets are currently on sale and start at just $99. San Diego State, which set a school record for attendance last season and owned the largest average attendance in the state of California by selling out 13 of 15 regular-season games, has already sold 1,000 new season tickets for the 2011-12 campaign.