Former North Carolina State and Alabama coach Mark Gottfried will make his debut as CSUN’s coach Tuesday evening as the Matadors open their 61st season by playing host to New Mexico, their highest-profile opponent at The Matadome since California in 1995.
Gottfried succeeds Reggie Theus who was fired in March after five seasons, all with losing records.
CSUN returns one starter, Big West Conference 2017-18 Freshman of the Year Terrell Gomez, and three other letterwinners from last year’s team, which was 6-24, with two victories over NAIA teams. The Matadors were 3-13 in Big West Conference play, finishing last in the nine-team conference, and were the only team not to qualify for the conference tournament.
CSUN has not had a winning season in men’s basketball since the 2008-09 season, the most recent time it qualified for the NCAA tournament. The Matadors have had six winning records since moving to Division 1 in the 1990-91 season.
CSUN is seeking to sell out the 2,200-seat Matadome. Faculty and staff members can receive up to four tickets. The Matadors averaged 769 fans for their 13 home games last season, topped by 1,232 for the season opener against Life Pacific when CSUN offered two free tickets to all veterans and active service members with military identification.
CSUN’s assistant coaches include former UCLA coach Jim Harrick, who turned 80 July 25. Gottfried was an assistant coach under Harrick for eight seasons at UCLA, including with the Bruins 1995 NCAA championship team.
Brendan Harrick, a great nephew of Jim Harrick, is a freshman guard with the Matadors.
Gottfried’s son Cameron, a graduate transfer from North Carolina State, is expected to start at guard for CSUN.
New Mexico returns one starter and three other letterwinners from last year’s team that was 19-15, ending its season with an 82-75 loss to San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game.
The Lobos roster includes two players from the Los Angeles area. Redshirt sophomore guard-forward Vance Jackson began his college career at Connecticut after playing at three high schools, including St. John Bosco in Bellflower and La Salle in Pasadena.
Freshman guard Tavian Percy averaged 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game in his senior season at Pasadena High.
The game is scheduled to be the start of a home-and-home series between the two schools. The Matadors are expected to play at New Mexico next season.
CSUN is 0-5 against the Lobos. This is the first time the teams have played at the Matadome.
Gottfried coached North Carolina State from 2011-17, guiding the Wolfpack to NCAA tournament berths in each of his first four seasons, twice advancing to the Sweet 16.
Gottfried was Alabama’s coach from 1998-2009. The Crimson Tide reached the NCAA tournament for five consecutive seasons, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2004, was the Southeastern Conference regular-season champion in the 2001-02 season and was a regular-season co-champion with Kentucky and LSU in the 2004-05 season.
Gottfried began his head coaching career at Murray State in 1995. The Racers won two Ohio Valley Conference regular-season titles and tied for the conference regular-season title once in his three seasons as coach. Murray State won the 1997 and 1998 OVC tournaments to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Gottfried was a scout for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks in the 2017-18 season.
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