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Idaho State hires Central Valley graduate Ryan Looney as men’s basketball coach

UPDATED: Wed., April 17, 2019, 10:04 p.m.

Point Loma head coach Ryan Looney reacts to a call during an NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship game against Northwest Missouri State in Evansville, Ind., on March 30. (MaCabe Brown / AP)
Point Loma head coach Ryan Looney reacts to a call during an NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship game against Northwest Missouri State in Evansville, Ind., on March 30. (MaCabe Brown / AP)

Success has followed Central Valley High graduate Ryan Looney at his three previous head coaching stops: Eastern Oregon, Seattle Pacific and Point Loma (California) Nazarene.

He led each program to deep national tournament runs, including Point Loma’s appearance in last month’s NCAA Division II title game.

Now he’s a Division I head coach.

Idaho State announced Wednesday that Looney, 43, is taking over its struggling program, replacing the recently fired Bill Evans.

Looney and ISU are holding an introductory press conference on Friday in Pocatello.

Looney, who started his career as an assistant at Wisconsin-La Crosse for two seasons before landing the same position at North Idaho College for the 2001-02 season, is excited to return to the Northwest and compete in the Big Sky Conference.

“My roots are in the Northwest,” said Looney, who played guard for Eastern Oregon in La Grande and whose parents live in Spokane Valley.

“And there aren’t a lot of Division I jobs in the Northwest,” he said.

Eleven of Looney’s 15 seasons as a head coach resulted in a national tournament appearance.

ISU hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1987 and hasn’t reached the a Big Sky Tournament title game since 1994.

Looney heavily recruited Inland Northwest talent at his three previous stops, and looks to continue that trend in Pocatello.

“I want to keep the best Idaho kids in state,” Looney said. “But we’re going to hit the entire Northwest for recruiting.”

Looney, who also played at Western Montana College, said he’ll miss the San Diego beaches near Point Loma’s beautiful campus, but he’s ready to get to work.

“I’m excited for the challenge,” Looney said. “I believe in Idaho State, and it believes in me.”

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