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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

More Catchup: Phil Johnson Returns
To San Jose State--(May 14, 2002)

As long as we're still playing catchup, here's some interesting news from about two weeks ago:  Former San Jose State coach Phil Johnson is returning once again to the Spartans.  Johnson was originally replaced by Steve Barnes who coached at San Jose for the past three years and who recently resigned to take the job at Iowa State as an associate head coach.  Johnson originally resigned the job at San Jose to take a job as an assistant for the Chicago Bulls....guess he got tired of losing so much....Here's the official press release from San Jose State: 

Phil Johnson returns as men's basketball head coach

sanjose.jpg (2555 bytes)San Jose, Calif.-----Phil Johnson, who was the head coach of the San Jose State University men’s basketball team during the 1999 season, is returning to the school in the same capacity. The announcement was made by Chuck Bell,
director of athletics at San Jose State.

Johnson replaces Steve Barnes, who resigned after three seasons and a 39-51 win-loss record to accept a position at Iowa State University as the associate head coach for men’s basketball.

Entering his second stint as the men’s basketball coach at San Jose State, Johnson spent the last 2.5 seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association. His new contract with the school is a four-year agreement with a base salary of $105,000.

"It’s not very often one gets a second opportunity in this business. I’m thankful for a second opportunity to be the head basketball coach at San Jose State. When I left, there were things left undone. Now, I can get the job done," said Johnson, who directed the Spartans to a 12-16 record in his first season as a major college head coach. Seven of the 16 losses were by five points or less.

San Jose State was one of the top-20 turn-around programs in Division I basketball for the 1999 season. The Spartans won nine more games than they did in the 1998 season when that team finished with a 3-23 win-loss record. San Jose State won on the road, something it did not do at all in 1998.  Victories, typically, were by wide margins. Eight of the12 wins were by 15 points or more.

None of the eight lopsided wins was more stunning than a 91-64 victory over Fresno State and legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian. That San Jose State triumph was just the second and last time a Spartan team defeated a Jerry Tarkanian-coached squad either at Long Beach State, UNLV or Fresno State. Days prior to the San Jose State upset, Tarkanian notched his 700th major college coaching victory. Nine days later, Johnson’s Spartan team defeated UTEP, coached by Don Haskins, another member of the 700-win club. The 11 homecourt victories at The Event Center during the 1999 season is the most by a Spartan team since the building opened in November 1989. Home attendance swelled to an average of 2,003 per home game that season – the highest figure in the last five seasons.

"I think it is nothing short of a miracle. It’s very rare in Division I basketball where a successful coach is in a position to come back. I think San Jose State University is very, very fortunate," said Bell. "Phil was a good coach here and he was very popular. His three years in the NBA will make him an even better coach."

Johnson came to San Jose State after five seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Arizona. The Wildcats appeared each season in the NCAA Tournament and won the NCAA championship in 1997. He also served as an assistant coach at the major college level working at the University of Tulsa in 1991 and the University of New Orleans in 1992 and 1993. It was at New Orleans where he first worked for Tim Floyd, who later lured Johnson to the Chicago Bulls from San Jose State.

Johnson’s coaching career began in 1983 at his alma mater, East Central Oklahoma University. In three seasons, the Tigers were conference champions each season and reached the NAIA District IX finals in 1984. His first head coaching job was at Northern Oklahoma Junior College in Ada, Okla. After spending the 1986 and 1987 compiling a 26-29 record, he moved on to Seminole College for three seasons. The 1988 Seminole Junior College team won a state championship and the 1989 squad was a conference champion. Johnson’s win-loss record at Seminole was 60-39. His overall junior college coaching record is 86-68.

Born on June 4, 1958, the 43-year-old Johnson graduated from East Central Oklahoma University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He went on to earn his master’s degree in education from Henderson State University in 1982. As a player, he was co-captain of his team during the 1979 season.

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