Bobby Braswell completed his 16th season (2011-12) as the men's head basketball coach at Cal State Northridge.
Enthusiasm for the Matador basketball program reached record highs three years ago when the Matadors captured the Big West Conference regular season title, captured the Big West Tournament crown, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't even know if I have the words to really say how proud I was of the Matador team of 2008-09," said Braswell. "This group showed a lot of heart, a lot of tenacity. This team will go down as one of the greatest in school history."
Four years ago (2007-08), the Matadors chalked up a 20-win season (20-10), the third time during Braswell's tenure that the Matadors finished the year with 20 wins or more. Cal State Northridge also captured its first Big West regular reason title - shared or outright - with a 12-4 mark. The 12 wins tied the school record (12-6 in 2004-05).
During the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, Braswell earned Big West Coach of the Year honors.
Braswell has coached 478 games in his 16 seasons at Cal State Northridge, and has produced a record of 237-241 (.496). Braswell has guided Cal State Northridge to postseason play in 15 of his 16 seasons, reaching the conference tournament championship game on five occasions.
Braswell's teams have always played a tough non-conference schedule, allowing Northridge to have one of the toughest strength of schedules in its respective conferences (Big West and Big Sky) during the past 15 seasons. The list of top foes have included UCLA, USC, Memphis, Illinois, Notre Dame, Iowa, UNLV, Ohio State, Purdue, Tennessee, New Mexico, BYU, Washington. California, Utah and Virginia Tech. This year, the schedule is again tough with games including UCLA and Brigham Young.
Under Braswell's direction, the Matadors have prided themselves on tough defense and a productive offense. Four years ago, under Braswell's direction, the Matadors were #1 in scoring (73.6 ppg), rebounding (37.1 rpg), field goal percentage defense (.419), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.327), rebound margin (+3.4) and steals (8.94 spg).
Five years ago, the Matadors were #1 in field goal percentage defense (.419), rebounding (37.1 rpg), defensive rebounds (25.5), blocked shots (3.2 bpg), steals (9.2 spg, #15 in the nation) and 3-point field goal percentage (.307), and #2 in scoring (78.0 ppg), offensive rebounds (11.6 opg), assists (15.2 apg), and scoring margin (+6.9).
Braswell's teams have been ranked in the Top 25 in steals nationally in 12 of the last 16 seasons. During the 2004-05 season, Braswell's teams ranked second nationally at eleven steals per game, and have averaged 8.3 spg in his 15 years (3,754 steals in 450 games).
The fortunes of the men's basketball team at Cal State Northridge improved greatly on April 30, 1996, the day it hired Bobby Braswell, a 1985 graduate of CSUN, to pilot its men's basketball program. Braswell is just the fourth head coach of the Matador men's basketball program in its 54-year history.
Braswell's team in 2000-01 is regarded as the best team in school history. The Matadors captured a school record 22 wins, captured the Big Sky Conference regular season and tournament titles, became the first team in school history to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament history (Division I) and captured the hearts of the Northridge community and the surrounding areas. On Mar. 10, 2001, Cal State Northridge gained an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with a 73-58 victory over Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Tournament title game.
"That was our goal at the start of the year, to win the Big Sky Championship and to make it to the NCAA Tournament," said Braswell. "On Selection Sunday, when we heard our name being called (Cal State Northridge), what a special moment it was for our program. That was big news not only in the Northridge community, but across all of Southern California and the nation. The media coverage was beyond belief. The Matadors enjoyed front page coverage."
During the 2000-01 season, history was made as the Matadors walked into storied Pauley Pavilion and upset the 15th-ranked UCLA Bruins 78-74. The win marked Northridge's first-ever victory over UCLA and its first-ever upset of a nationally ranked team.
For his efforts in leading Cal State Northridge to a championship season in 2000-01, Braswell was named Big Sky Coach of the Year.
A year (1999-00) earlier, CSUN finished with a 20-10 record and Braswell became one of the hottest young coaches in America with back-to-back 20-win seasons. Wins at Fresno State and Oregon turned some heads, but they were only the beginning of what this young Division I program would accomplish.
Braswell recorded a milestone victory during the 2002-03 season when he became the fastest coach in Northridge history to win 100 games with a 64-61 win at San Diego on Dec. 4, 2002. He won his 100th victory in his 181st contest.
There was a new standard for which Matador basketball teams were measured after Braswell guided CSUN to its first back-to-back 20-win seasons in 21 years (1977-78 and 1978-79) and posted three-straight winning seasons (1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01) for the first time since the 1984-85 squad accomplished that feat.
Prior to Braswell's arrival, the Matadors had never had a winning season in NCAA Division I competition (six seasons). Braswell's teams qualified for the Big Sky Conference Tournament all five years under his guidance, reaching the finals three times.
The 1998-99 Matadors posted the first winning season in over a decade as CSUN finished the year with a 17-12 record. Cal State Northridge finished the season ranked ninth in the country in scoring at 82.0 points per game.
Braswell earned his first collegiate win on Nov. 27, 1996, with a 77-57 victory at home over Cal State Dominguez Hills. His first win came just one day after the death of his father, James Braswell, Jr. Braswell later earned his first victory over an NCAA Division I opponent at Pepperdine on Dec. 19, 1996, by beating the Waves 68-57. He later won his sixth game of the season (beat Eastern Washington 77-66 on Jan. 4, 1997) on the same day that his brother, Victor Braswell, passed away. Throughout his many years at Cal State Northridge, many outstanding players have worn the uniform of Cal State Northridge. Braswell says he is proud he has been able to coach them as players, and then see them mature as productive citizens in the community after they have graduated from Cal State Northridge.
"The former players, I'm proud to say, still come around, and I am happy with their experience here at Northridge," said Braswell. "They speak fondly of the good times and the opportunities that Northridge has provided. Several players are currently playing professionally and some have moved onto great professional careers away from playing basketball. I am extremely proud of them all. No championship will mean more to me than to know my guys are happy and doing well in life."
Braswell has an extensive background in coaching and recruiting. He served as the top assistant at the University of Oregon for four seasons (1992-93 to 1995-96). An accomplished recruiter, Braswell honed his coaching skills and was highly involved in all aspects of the Oregon program while serving as the recruiting coordinator.
On the strength of the talent that Braswell recruited for the Ducks, Oregon compiled a 19-9 overall record (1994-95) and made the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in 34 years. Oregon compiled its second-consecutive winning season in 1995-96 with a 17-13 overall record, the first back-to-back winning seasons at Oregon since 1986-87 and 1987-88 when the Ducks posted identical records of 16-14.
Prior to his arrival at Oregon, Braswell spent three seasons as an assistant at Long Beach State (1989-90 to 1991-92). He helped the 49ers advance to two postseason appearances in the National Invitational Tournament. Due in part to his recruiting efforts, the 49ers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 years, posting a 22-10 record in 1992-93. Long Beach State compiled a 52-38 mark during Braswell's three seasons with the 49ers, including a 23-9 record in 1989-90.
Braswell got his start in the high school ranks before earning his first coaching stint at the collegiate level as an assistant at Long Beach State.
As the head coach of Cleveland High School in Los Angeles (1985-86 to 1988-89), Braswell won two Valley League titles and was twice named Coach of the Year. In his first two seasons, he guided unheralded teams to the City Section championship game. His teams were traditionally ranked among the top teams in the nation.
Several of his players at Cleveland High earned NCAA Division I scholarships with six of them going on to Pacific-10 schools. A few of his more notable protégés are former collegians Eddie Hill of Washington State; Adonis Jordan of Kansas; Lucious Harris of Long Beach State and formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers; Trevor Wilson of UCLA and formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Matadors' former all-time leading scorer and former Northridge assistant coach, Andre Chevalier.
Braswell was instrumental in building Northridge's first-ever team room and locker room. The locker room is equipped with individual wood lockers with engraved name plates, wall-to-wall carpeting, a player's lounge, and a big-screen television and VCR equipped with a hi-fi stereo system and a PlayStation 2.
The team room was made possible by private donations, with the majority being funded by two of Braswell's former players, Harris and Bryon Russell (formerly of the Seattle Sonics). Harris played for Braswell at Cleveland High School when he was the head coach and then later at Long Beach State where Braswell served as an assistant coach. While assisting the 49ers, he recruited Russell. They have kept in contact ever since.
"All of my former players are like family to me," Braswell says. "I love them all dearly. I really appreciate the fact that these two young men stepped up and helped us build a team room. It's just the kind of people they are and we're honored to have them in our family."
Braswell is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the Black Coaches Association (BCA). He is also an active member of the community, especially within his church, Shepherd of the Hills, and as a member of the Board of Directors at the local YMCA.
Braswell earned his bachelor's degree in English with a minor in African-American Studies from Cal State Northridge in 1985. He and his wife, Penny, reside in Chatsworth with their three children, Jeffrey, Christopher and Kyndal.