Marshall head coach Ron Jirsa is accustomed to being around some winning programs in his 23 years as a collegiate coach - Jirsa has nine NCAA tournament appearances under his belt and has been in the postseason 14 times, including three trips to the Sweet Sixteen.
Jirsa knows what it takes to be successful at the highest levels of college basketball, and he is encouraged by what he sees heading into the 2006-07 campaign. Jirsa and his staff have worked hard in the last year on the recruiting trail, and all are ready to see the new faces hit the floor for the Green and White this fall.
Marshall has had some big wins in the last three years under Jirsa. The Herd notched victories over NCAA Tournament teams UAB and Western Michigan in 2003-04, and in 2004-05, Marshall knocked off eventual Elite Eight participant West Virginia in the two teams' annual game in Charleston. Last season, the Herd won its first game against a top ten opponent when his team defeated #9 West Virginia again, 59-55, in Charleston
Jirsa is entering his fourth year as the head coach of the Thundering Herd after serving as an assistant coach at Dayton under then-head coach Oliver Purnell for four seasons. Jirsa, 45, brings a wealth of experience to Marshall and the basketball program - he has 23 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 19 years at the NCAA Division I level.
During his stint at UD, the Flyers posted an 88-39 overall record, made two NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances. In 2002-03, Dayton posted a 24-6 record, won the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship, advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a number four seed, and finished ranked among the Top 25 teams in the nation in the final Associated Press and USA Today polls.
Jirsa served as head coach at the University of Georgia from 1997 to 99 before his tenure at Dayton, and his squads posted a combined 35-30 record. During his time in Athens, the Bulldogs put together back-to-back recruiting classes that were rated among the top five in the nation by several recruiting analysts. His teams also made two NIT appearances. In his first season, UGA posted a 20-15 record, only the seventh 20-win season in UGA history, along the way to a third place finish in the NIT. Jirsa's Bulldogs put together a 4-1 record in the postseason, with wins over Iowa, North Carolina State, Vanderbilit, and Fresno State in March, 1998.
Jirsa became the head coach after a six-year apprenticeship under Orlando "Tubby" Smith, with whom Jirsa helped four consecutive teams win at least 21 games and reach the NCAA Tournament. The first three of those - two at the University of Tulsa and one at Georgia - advanced to the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen."
Smith and Jirsa first built their working relationship at Virginia Commonwealth, where both served under coach J.D. Barnett in the 1984-85 season. That year the Rams went 26-6, won the Sun Belt Conference title and played in the NCAA Tournament. They reunited when Smith hired him as an assistant at Tulsa before the 1991-92 season. Three years later Jirsa was named Associate Head Coach for the Golden Hurricane.
As associate head coach at Georgia, Jirsa not only directed the Bulldogs' recruiting operations, but he also worked daily with the frontcourt players and contributed to the development of game strategies.
Jirsa began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Connecticut College following his graduation from Gettysburg College in 1981. Two years later, he moved on to the University of Delaware and spent one season with the Blue Hens before taking a graduate assistant position with a Virginia Commonwealth program that finished ranked 11th in the nation in 1984-85.
He then took an assistant position at Tulsa for three seasons (1985-88) under J.D. Barnett before making one year stops at Belmont Abbey (1988-89), and Gardner-Webb (1990-91). In 1991, he returned to Tulsa as an assistant under Tubby Smith before being promoted to associate head coach at the school in 1994. From there, Jirsa followed Smith to Georgia where he served as associate head coach from 1995 to 97.
Jirsa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Gettysburg College in 1981 and a Master of Arts in Athletic Administration from the University of Tulsa in 1987. He was a three-sport letterwinner at Ledyard High School in Ledyard, Connecticut. He and his wife Laura have one daughter, Hannah (5).