Men's Basketball | Thursday, October 22, 2009
Hall of Fame Focus: Gordie James
SALEM, ORE. -- The Hall of Fame Focus continues today by highlighting Gordie James, head coach of the men's basketball team at Willamette for 22 seasons. James, along with former women's soccer head coach Jim Tursi, as well as six former Willamette student-athletes and two teams, will be inducted into the WU Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 24. One of the inductees will be featured in the Hall of Fame Focus each day until the event.
The induction ceremony will be held at the Salem Conference Center/Phoenix Grand Hotel. A reception is set for 5:30 p.m. (PDT) with the induction dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m.
1987-88 through 2008-09 (22 seasons)
James achieved a record of 357-230 (.608) during his 22 years with the Bearcats. He led Willamette to 16 winning seasons, including six Northwest Conference titles. The 1992-93 Willamette team won the NAIA Division II National Championship with a 29-4 overall record, matching WU’s 1938-39 team (29-6) for the most wins in school history. The 1992-93 title remains Willamette’s only varsity team national championship.
James was named NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1992-93. He was selected Northwest Conference Coach of the Year four times. He handled the transition of the Willamette men's basketball team from NAIA status into NCAA Division III, where the Bearcats have competed since the 1998-99 season.
His first team at Willamette in 1987-88 went undefeated in the NWC at 10-0. It was the first team to go undefeated in the conference since the College of Idaho (no longer a member) went 15-0 in 1954-55.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Willamette, James had a successful career as a high school head coach in California and Oregon. His high school coaching record was 340-129 (.725). His overall coaching record, including 44 years at the high school and collegiate levels, was 697-359 (.660).
In 1994, he was named head coach of the Japanese National Team. He led Japan to a bronze medal in the Asian Olympics. His summer Pro Classic Hoop Camp has helped well over 15,000 young boys and girls develop fundamental basketball skills as well as a game plan for successful lives.
James was highly respected, both on campus and among other basketball coaches. He also was popular with Willamette students and fans. It was not unusual for him to walk across the basketball court and spend a few moments in the student section following a key victory. One of James' former players and assistant coaches, Kip Ioane, is now the head coach of the Bearcats.