Jim Saia, previously a top assistant coach at UCLA and a veteran of West Coast basketball, is the interim head coach for USC basketball for 2004-2005.
Saia replaced Henry Bibby on Dec. 6, 2004, four games into the season. He had been hired as an assistant for Bibby on Sept. 20.
During his short stint as an assistant, Saia's responsibilities included serving as defensive coordinator, assisting in recruiting and handling individual workouts.
Saia, 40, came to USC after seven years (1997-2003) as an assistant coach at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins advance to an Elite Eight (1997) and make five Sweet 16 appearances (1998-2002). UCLA won more than 20 games in each of his first six years there.
He was the offensive coordinator from 2000-2002, helping direct one of most potent offenses in the Pac-10. UCLA led the conference in field goal percentage (48.0%) in 2000 and was second in there-point percentage (37.1%). In 2001, the Bruins were second in three-point percentage (35.5%) and third in scoring (79.5). In 2002, UCLA was second in both field goal (47.2%) and three-point (39.0%) percentage.
In his three years as coordinator, UCLA posted its most prolific three-point totals ever, making a school record 223 in 2002, 205 in 2000 and 190 in 2001. The 2002 Bruin team also posted the second-highest single game field goal percentage mark in school history when it shot 72.9% against South Carolina.
Saia's Bruin coaching successes carried over into recruiting, where his talents assisted UCLA in landing the nation's No. 1 (2001, 1998) and No. 2 (1997) ranked recruiting classes. Saia coached 10 Bruins who went on to the NBA, including Baron Davis, Dan Gadzuric, Earl Watson, Jason Kapono and Jerome Moiso.
Before arriving at Westwood, Saia was the head coach at Columbia College, a junior college in Sonora, CA, from 1994-96. During his two-year head-coaching career at Columbia, he led the Claim Jumpers to a 61-10 overall record, two Central Valley Conference (CVC) championships and he earned two CVC Coach of the Year honors. In 1996, Columbia advanced to the Final Eight in state junior college play and ended the season ranked No. 3 with a 30-5 overall record. Saia's 1995 club was rated No. 7 in the state and finished with an overall record of 31-5.
His two-year conference mark was 25-3. Every sophomore on Saia's Columbia teams graduated or pursued their education at a four-year college. When Saia took over the Columbia program in 1994, the Claim Jumpers had no returning starters and he only had six weeks to recruit a team. His 1994-95 squad, picked for last place in the coaches' preseason poll, finished with a 31-5 overall record.
Prior to his head coaching stint at Columbia, Saia was an assistant coach at the Division I level at Fresno State (1990-94, earning a Master's degree), Indiana State (1989-90) and at California (1988-89). During his years at Fresno State, the Bulldogs in 1994 were 21-11 overall and advanced to the NIT and in 1991, FSU was runner-up in the Big West Tournament. While at Cal in 1989, the Golden Bears were 20-13 overall and also played in the NIT.
In 1994, Saia was head coach of the Athletes In Action USA team and in 1993 he coached AIA's Division I summer tour squad. A respected clinician, Saia was director of the Fresno State Camp from 1990-94 and has toured the country lecturing at clinics about individual offensive and defensive skills.
As a player, Saia's basketball career began at Sir Francis Drake High in San Anselmo, Calif. In 1981 and '82, Saia's junior and senior prep years, Sir Francis Drake was 65-1 overall and won two California state championships. From 1982-84, he played at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and helped lead the Mustangs to a 20-win season. Saia spent the 1984-85 college season at College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif, leading the Mariners to the state tournament and earning all-conference honors. He concluded his college career at Chapman University. From 1985-87 at Chapman, Saia earned Best Defensive Player and Coaches Awards.
Born June 15, 1964 in San Francisco, Saia is single and resides in Marina Del Rey.