Russ Pennell

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Russ Pennell
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Central Arkansas
Biographical details
Born (1960-11-28) November 28, 1960 (age 53)
Pittsburg, Kansas
Playing career
Central Arkansas
Position(s) Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Spirit Express University (Recruiting Coord.)
Pittsburg State (Volunteer Coach)
Oklahoma State (asst.)
Ole Miss (asst.)
Arizona State (asst.)
Arizona (Interim HC)
Grand Canyon
Phoenix Mercury (Interim HC)
Central Arkansas
Head coaching record
Overall 93–58 (.616)

Russ Pennell (born November 28, 1960) is an American basketball coach, who is currently the head coach of the University of Central Arkansas's men's basketball team.

Pennell was born in Pittsburg, Kansas and graduated from Pittsburg High School. He played college basketball at the University of Arkansas and at Central Arkansas, where he was two-year starter at point guard. Pennell later received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Pittsburg State University.[1]


Assistant coach[edit]

He has been an assistant coach at Pittsburg State, Oklahoma State, University of Mississippi, and Arizona State. Pennell coached at Arizona State from 1998 to 2006. He then ran the Arizona Premier AAU summer league program for two seasons. During the 2007–08 season, he was a color analyst for men's basketball on the Arizona State radio network.

Head coach[edit]

On May 5, 2008, Arizona head coach Lute Olson announced the hiring of Pennell as an assistant coach. Pennell became the interim head coach on October 24, when Olson announced his surprise retirement for medical reasons. As interim coach, Pennell has coached the Wildcats to an 19–13 record in the regular season (9–9 conference). Because of Arizona's mid-season success, Pennell had been rumored as a contender for the Pac-10's Coach of the Year.[2] Ultimately, Pennell did not win the award as Arizona slumped at the end of the regular season, but his work as Arizona's coach was enough to get Arizona into the NCAA tournament for the 25th consecutive year. Arizona advanced past the first round, where, as a 12th seed, they upset 5th seed Utah (Arizona's first first round win since 2006) and defeated 13th seed Cleveland State to move on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. However, Arizona suffered a crushing defeat against overall #1 seed Louisville, losing 103–64. On April 7, Arizona signed Xavier men's basketball coach Sean Miller to a 5-year, $11-million contract, ending Pennell's tenure with the Wildcats.[3]

On April 9, 2009, Pennell was hired as head coach of the men's basketball team at Division II Grand Canyon University, a member of the Pacific West Conference.[4] On March 15, 2013, he resigned, replaced by Dan Majerle.[5]

On August 8, 2013, the Phoenix Mercury announced the hiring of Pennell as interim head coach following the firing of Corey Gaines.[6] Pennell guided the team to the Western Conference finals. He announced after the season that he would not return as coach in 2014, and that he hoped to return to coaching in the college ranks.[7]

On March 5, 2014, news broke that Pennell was expected to be named the next head coach of men's basketball at Central Arkansas.

Personal life[edit]

Pennell is married and has two children.

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Arizona (Pac-10) (2008–2009)
2008–09 Arizona 21–14 9–9 T-5th NCAA Sweet 16
Arizona: 21–14 (.600) 9–9 (.500)
Grand Canyon (Pacific West (Division II)) (2009–2013)
2009–10 Grand Canyon 16–16 10–6 4th
2010–11 Grand Canyon 14–12 9–7 4th
2011–12 Grand Canyon 19–8 13–5 3rd NCAA Division II First Round
2012–13 Grand Canyon 23–8 14–4 T-2nd NCAA Division II First Round
Grand Canyon: 72–44 (.621) 46–22 (.676)
Central Arkansas (Southland Conference) (2014–present)
2014–15 Central Arkansas
Total: 93–58 (.616)

      National champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

[8] [9]