Joe Pasternack has learned from some of the best in college basketball. As a student manager at Indiana, he followed Bobby Knight and took notes on the lessons he taught his players. For the last six years, he worked on Sean Miller’s staff at Arizona, learning how Miller runs one of the elite programs in the game.
Pasternack brings all that knowledge to UCSB as the school’s new head men’s basketball coach.
Pasternack was introduced Tuesday at a press conference at the Reitnouer Auditorium in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus.
“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches and teachers in college basketball in the history of the game,” he said. “I chose to go to Indiana University to be a basketball coach. Every day at Indiana was like a three-credit class for me. I took notes on everything coach Knight taught in the film room, on court in practice, during games.”
At Arizona, where he was promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach, Pasternack, 39, said he learned what it takes to build a comprehensive program in every area.
“Sean Miller has not only produced players at a high level but assistant coaches that are now head coaches, His system has been duplicated at Ball State University, Xavier and Dayton with incredible amount of success. We hope to do the same here at UCSB,” he said.
Pasternack replaces Bob Williams, who coached the Gauchos for 19 years. His contract was not renewed.
John McCutcheon, UCSB’s Director of Athletics, called Pasternack a student of the game. He said when Chancellor Henry Yang asked Pasternack when he knew he wanted to be a basketball coach, the new Gaucho coach replied when he was in the 5th grade.
“I didn’t know if I wanted Fruit Loops or Cocoa Puffs in fifth grade,” McCutcheon cracked. “Apparently, Joe knew where he wanted to go and has taken every step along the way to get there. He has a bound book with every practice in his four years at Indiana. That’s the kind of person we have: dedicated to the game, knowledgable, thorough, passionate. That’s what he’s going to bring to this position: a passion and energy to bring Gaucho basketball back to where we all want to see it.”
Pasternack’s hiring at UCSB is a California homecoming for his wife, Lindsay. She hails from the Bay Area. The couple have two children, son Joe IV, 10, and daughter Lilly, 6.
“Everybody know happy wife, happy life,” he said. “My wife Lindsay, I’m very fortunate I married a coach’s wife that understands. She grew up in sports all her life and is an incredible support system for me. She’s an incredible mother to Lilly and Joe IV.”
In the time between his student years at Indiana and working at Arizona, Pasternack worked on then-coach Ben Braun’s staff at Cal from 2000-07. He returned to his hometown of New Orleans and took the head coaching job at the University of New Orleans. He led the Privateers to 19 wins in his first season. In his final season at UNO, he guided the program to 16 wins despite losing the majority of his roster to transfer in the wake of the school’s decision to transition out of Division 1 due to financial hardships in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
He then got a call from Miller at Arizona.
“The past six years have been the best six years of may life, learning the game from someone I consider a very close friend, a mentor, a brother, and someone who has taught me how to run a comprehensive program.”
Miller responded to Pasternack’s hiring on Twitter, tweating: “Joe Pasternack is as talented of an assistant coach that I have worked with during my 13 years as a head coach. He positively impacted our program at Arizona at every level. His recruiting ability, on-the-floor coaching and game planning was matched only by his relentless, competitive spirit every day. As a head coach, he will passionately build UCSB into the champions of the Big West Conference in a matter of time…”
With his experience at two Pac-12 schools, Pasternack knows how to recruit in California. He’s “built relationships from Sacramento to San Diego and the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Those relationships are still strong today and they’re going to benefit us here at UCSB,” he said.
He also has connections overseas.
Pasternack is a firm believer that a team reflects the personality of its head coach. “My energy, competitiveness and passion will bleed through every facet in this program. I can’t be these other coaches, I have to be myself.”
He has a process to build the UCSB basketball program.
“By process, we will focus on what will produce the results not on the results,” he said. “We’re going to focus on being champions every single day not on championships. Our process means three areas: first, the total development of the student athlete. No. 1 is academic success when we talk about total development.
“We’re going to get the best international players that come to UCSB that I believe can be difference makers,” he continued. “The final phase of our process is our system of play has been copied and duplicated with incredible success. It starts with defense. Defense and rebounding win championships. Defense travels. When we go on the road and our shots aren’t falling, we’re going to be the best defensive team in this league. That’s our goal. We want to have a fast-placed style of play.”
He also wants to bring the thunder back to the Thunderdome.
“The best mid-major programs have one thing in common: they have a dominant home court. I still haven’t figured out why they call this the Thunderdome. I truly want to make this the Thunderdome and get the Thunderdome packed for every home game. That will give our student athletes the best chance to have a dominant home court and win home games.”