Jeff Ruland

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Jeff Ruland
Personal information
Born (1958-12-16) December 16, 1958 (age 58)
Bayshore, New York
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school Sachem
(Lake Ronkonkoma, New York)
College Iona (1977–1980)
NBA draft 1980 / Round: 2 / Pick: 25th overall
Selected by the Golden State Warriors
Playing career 1980–1993
Position Center
Number 43, 50
Career history
As player:
1980–1981 FC Barcelona
19811986 Washington Bullets
1986–1987, 1992 Philadelphia 76ers
1992–1993 Detroit Pistons
As coach:
1993–1994 Philadelphia 76ers (assistant)
1995–1998 Iona (assistant)
1998–2007 Iona
2007–2008 Albuquerque Thunderbirds
2008–2009 Philadelphia 76ers (assistant)
2009–2013 University of the District of Columbia
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 5,763 (17.4 ppg)
Rebounds 3,378 (10.2 rpg)
Assists 1,002 (3.0 apg)
Stats at

Jeffrey Alan Ruland (born December 16, 1958) is a retired American basketball player and current coach. He is the former head coach of the Iona Gaels men's basketball team and the UDC Firebirds men's college basketball team.

Early life and collegiate career[edit]

A 6'11", 280 lb center, Ruland went from Sachem High School in Suffolk County, New York, to Iona College on a basketball scholarship and played for coach Jim Valvano before Valvano left for North Carolina State University. Ruland was the big gun on the Gaels' 1979–1980 team that beat eventual national champion Louisville 77-60 at Madison Square Garden during the regular season and compiled a 29-5 record en route to a number 19 national ranking, the best in the school's history. However, Jeff was found in violation of NCAA rules by hiring an agent, Paul Corvino,[1] at International Management Inc. and was ruled ineligible to play his senior year at Iona.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Ruland was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 1980 NBA draft with the 25th overall pick. During the 1980–81 NBA season he instead opted to play professionally in Barcelona, Spain for a year before returning to the U.S. Prior to his rookie campaign, his draft rights were traded by the Warriors to the Washington Bullets, with whom he played for five seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. He retired after five games with them in 1986 after a nagging knee injury.

Washington Bullets playing career 1981–1986[edit]

Joining the Bullets for the 1981–82 NBA season, Ruland played behind 32-year-old Spencer Haywood but clearly outplayed the longtime star in the same number of minutes. Seeing time at both forward and center, Ruland showed muscle at both ends of the floor and an accurate jumpshot good from as far as 20 feet. A 56% shooter from the floor, Ruland rated among the NBA shooting leaders. His 14 points and nine rebounds a game off the bench signaled he was ready for more minutes. The Bullets made the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Boston Celtics. Ruland averaged 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Ruland took over the starting power forward spot for the 1982–83 NBA season, and continued to back up at center for Washington. His 55% shooting and 11 rebounds per game put him among the NBA leaders in those stat categories. Leading coach Gene Shue's balanced team in scoring as well, Ruland earned a spot in the NBA All-Star Game that year. With the same record as the year before, the Bullets did not make the playoffs this time.

In the 1983–84 season, Ruland surged to 22 points and four assists per game. He was third in the NBA in rebounds and fifth in shooting from the floor. The team returned to playoffs and again lost to Boston. Ruland averaged 24 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 52% from the floor and 81% from the foul line against the eventual NBA champions.

For the 1984–85 NBA season, Ruland was moved to center for the Bullets. His stats dipped just slightly. He remained among the rebounding and shooting leaders, but suffered a broken bone in his foot and played just 37 games. Ruland played through the pain in the playoffs, but the Bullets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers to end a disappointing season.

The brittle feet, though, like Bill Walton before him, were now a condition. His stats were still good for the 1985–86 NBA season, but he played just 30 games, usually in considerable pain. In the playoffs, the Bullets opted to start towering Manute Bol at center. Ruland added 14 points and five assists per game off the bench. But the Bullets fell to Philadelphia again.

Later career[edit]

Traded to Philadelphia the following season, Ruland could hardly play at all.

The foot injuries ended a promising NBA career that could have included All-Pro selections or a championship. Robbed by injuries of a chance to be a superstar, Ruland was still a legitimate star of the 1980s NBA.

Five years later Ruland made a comeback with the Sixers, playing in 13 games during the 1991–92 NBA season before sustaining an apparently bizarre achilles injury involving a luggage cart which was allegedly slammed into his leg by a Boston Celtics employee outside Boston Garden.[3] He managed to play an additional 11 games with the Detroit Pistons the following season before retiring for good in January 1993.

Coaching career[edit]

After his playing days, Ruland became an assistant coach under the Sixers' Fred Carter during the 1993–94 NBA season. He then returned to coach at his alma mater. He was fired from Iona on March 21, 2007 after a 2-28 record for the 2006–2007 season. Yet during his tenure as head coach, he guided the Gaels to three 20-win seasons, three MAAC Championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Recruiting and injuries were blamed for the team's abysmal record during his final season. A factor for the 2-28 season was that the administration fired Ruland's assistant coaches. Ruland could not recruit for that season. Ruland's termination as head coach came from Iona College president James Liguori while he was on a cruise.

On July 16, 2007, Ruland was hired to replace Michael Cooper as the head coach of the NBA D-League's Albuquerque Thunderbirds.[4] After coaching the Thunderbirds for the 2007–08 season, Ruland was hired as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers on August 23, 2008. New 76ers head Coach Eddie Jordan decided not to retain Ruland for the 2009–10 season.

On August 18, 2009, Ruland announced that he would be the new men's basketball head coach at the University of the District of Columbia. After a late September hiring and a first season with only one win, his third year saw a 22 win season.[5] He was fired in 2013.

In 2014, Iona College with a new athletic department and a new administration, reached to Ruland to bring him back to the Iona community.

Ruland today serves as an advance scout for the Washington Wizards. Despite his record, he has never coached another NCAA team.


Head Coaching Record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Iona College (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) (1998–2007)
1998–99 Iona 16-14 12-6
1999–00 Iona 20-11 13-5
2000–01 Iona 22-11 12-6
2001–02 Iona 13-17 8-8
2002–03 Iona 17-12 11-7
2003–04 Iona 11-18 8-10
2004–05 Iona 15-16 9-9
2005–06 Iona 23-8 13-5
2006–07 Iona 2-28 1-17
Iona College: 144-135(.516)
University of the District of Columbia (East Coast Conference) (2009–2013)
2009–10 University of the District of Columbia 1-20
2010–11 University of the District of Columbia 11-15
2011–12 University of the District of Columbia 22-6
2012–13 University of the District of Columbia 6-20
University of the District of Columbia: 40-61 (.396)
Total: 184-196 (.484)

      National champion         Postseason invitational 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


External links[edit]