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2009-10 Men's Basketball Coaches
|YEAR AT FGCU||8th season|
|ALMA MATER||Michigan '91|
The first and only coach in FGCU men’s basketball history, Dave Balza is in his ninth season at the helm of the program.
In May 2001, Balza was selected from over 200 candidates to be the program's first men's basketball head coach. Balza's teams are renowned for playing an exciting, up-tempo, hard-nosed basketball. His FGCU teams have posted a combined 143-101 record (.586 winning percentage) over the first eight years of competition.
In 2007-08, Balza led the Eagles into their first season at the Division I level as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Since then, Balza and his staff have landed back-to-back recruiting classes ranked in the top three in the A-Sun by Hoop Scoop Online. This year’s incoming class of eight players ranked second in the league.
Balza’s eye for talent at the Division I level has started to come to fruition, as the Eagles have landed a player on the A-Sun All-Freshmen team the last two years. In 2008-09, Reggie Chambers became the first FGCU player to ever make the rookie squad, while Anthony Banks was unanimous choice last year. Banks’ abilities also earned praise from the league coaches this past October when he became the first player in program history named to the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference team.
FGCU has been competitive over its first three years in Division I, producing a 29-62 record heading into its fourth and final transition year in 2010-11. Arguably, the biggest win in the brief three-year Division I history of the program came in 2009-10 when FGCU defeated BIG EAST foe DePaul, 64-61, at Alico Arena for its first-ever win over a BCS school. Balza and the Eagles will be eligible for postseason play in 2010-11.
Hired a year before the program started, Balza led FGCU to a 114-39 record over its five seasons in Division II (2002-07). Over those five campaigns, the Eagles produced four 20-win seasons, highlighted by a 27-6 mark in their final year (2006-07) before entering Division I. Three of the team’s six losses that year came to Division I competition (Drexel, Penn, Butler).
In 2004-05, Balza guided the Eagles to a berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament - their first year eligible for post-season selection. The Eagles 24-7 mark was the most wins in program history at that point, while the Blue and Green posted the best rebounding margin in NCAA Division II (+10.2).
Balza's Eagles went 22-5 in 2003-04, opening the season by winning their first 14 games, The Eagles were ranked in the top-20 in the nation for the entire year, reaching as high as No. 5. They ran their home winning streak to 29 games and were the only Division II team in the country with victories over Division I teams (Eastern Illinois, IPFW) on consecutive nights.
In FGCU's inaugural season in 2002-03, Balza led the Eagles to a 23-9 record. They opened Alico Arena with a 14-0 home mark on the season and averaged 82 points per game.
Balza prepared for his task of building the FGCU program from scratch by helping to rebuild three struggling programs. He made his mark as a head coach at St. Joseph's (Indiana) in the vaunted Great Lakes Valley Conference, considered the premier Division II basketball conference in the nation.
One week before classes began, Balza took over a St. Joseph's program that had been placed on two-year probation by the NCAA and proceeded to win more conference games than in the previous two seasons combined. More important, he restored a clean image to a program steeped in tradition.
After wading through the penalties of the two-year probation, he won 18 games in his third year in a league that included three top-10 teams in the country. As a result, Balza was selected as the 2001 GLVC Coach of the Year and the Region Coach of the Year.
Balza was also an assistant at Division II Ashland (Ohio) from 1996-98 and spent five years as an assistant at Division I Cleveland State from 1991 to 1996. Both of those coaching staffs took over programs that had been placed on probation and had great success turning around the fortunes of their teams, winning 18 games at Ashland and 22 games at Cleveland State in just his second year at each institution. At Cleveland State, Balza made his name as a recruiter, helping to assemble one of the top 35 recruiting classes in the country.
Balza has preached of "building a first class tradition" since taking the reins at Florida Gulf Coast University. He has molded the Eagles into a model program for integrity on the basketball floor, in the classroom, and in the community. Academic success and community involvement are just as important to Balza as on-court preparation. His Eagles have never had a semester team GPA below a 2.70 and have hovered at or above a 3.0 cumulative GPA for most of his tenure. In addition, Balza's teams have been very active in the community, helping the athletics program reach more than 10,000 youngsters in Southwest Florida through events such as: Eagle Reading, Eagle Math, Community Reach Out Program, Habitat for Humanity, Hoops for the Heart, visits to hospitals, and volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House.
A native of South Haven, Mich., Balza is a 1991 graduate of the University of Michigan, where he served first as a student manager with the 1989 National Championship team and later as a student assistant and video coordinator. Balza earned a master's degree in education from Cleveland State University in 1993. He is a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and has been published in the NABC Courtside magazine on the topic of post play.
Balza now resides in Fort Myers with his wife, Karrie, and daughter, Faith.
* Led FGCU to NCAA tournament berth in their first year of eligibility in 2004-05
* Won 100th career game in February, 2005
* Named FGCU's first men's basketball coach in May, 2001
* Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 2001
* Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year 2000-01
* Member of the NABC
* PDS Certified 2004
* Featured in biography sections of College Insider and DII Bulletin
* Published on "Art of Post Play" in NABC Courtside
* Member of staff of 1989 National Champions - University of Michigan 2001