Locally grown coach Katz plans to build Sac State basketball program from bottom

Joe Davis

Sacramento State men’s basketball head coach Brian Katz is a homegrown talent who bleeds green and gold.

Katz was born and raised in Sacramento, attended Casa Robles High School and always had his eyes set on becoming a Hornet.  

“There was never any doubt in my mind I would end up at Sac State,” Katz said. “I spent time at American River College before I came here, but I always knew I would end up going to school at Sac State. I didn’t even apply to other schools.”

Katz graduated from Sac State in 1980 with a degree in English.

Katz said he was a middle of the road athlete, he was average at best. He knew he wanted to stay involved with athletics so he decided on coaching. Katz started his 36-year career coaching 7th graders at his former school, Sylvan Middle School.

Katz definitely paid his dues. He was an assistant at three high schools including the school he graduated from, Casa Robles.

As head coach at Center High School in Antelope, Katz helped his team to a championship and No. 1 ranking overall.

Eventually Katz broke into the college ranks as an assistant at University of Santa Clara for two years.

“Santa Clara was a great opportunity for me,” Katz said. “I learned a lot and it helped me get to where I am today.”

After an illustrious 19-year junior college career at Lassen College and San Joaquin Delta College, Katz was able to come full circle.

“I had opportunities to go elsewhere to coach but I wanted to work at Sac State,” Katz said. “Some people question me and asked why I would want to coach at Sac. I ask ‘why not?’ I was born here, I went to school here, and I got my degree here. It is my dream job.”

Even though Sac State men’s basketball has not put up a strong number of wins in Katz’s tenure, he hopes this season things will turn around and help restore pride to his alma mater.

“I’m tired of people having to apologize for going to Sac State,” Katz said. “There are some outstanding academic programs here. I think sports are one way we can gain some respect for the school.”

Coach Katz has worked tirelessly on and off the court to improve the Hornets men’s basketball program. He is easy to talk to, but his drive does not go unnoticed.

Senior forward John Dickson pointed out Katz’s multiple personalities.

“One side is fun and goofy but when you get on the court he is the strictest coach I’ve ever had,” Dickson said. “He is a really good coach, but he is strong and stern about everything.”

To bring a program to prominence is a hard task. It requires a clear vision of the team identity and the players and coaches to share that vision. Katz does all he can to milk production out of his squad.

“(Katz) is an animal,” Dickson said. “He is relentless. No matter what it is that he wants out of you, he is going to find a way to get it out of you. It doesn’t matter how much to resist.”

Nothing would be more fitting than for Sacramento’s son to usher in a winning tradition for Sac State basketball while placing the school firmly on the national map.

This season Katz has his guys off to a good start. In two games, one preseason against Simpson University and one regular season UC Merced, Sac State men’s basketball has won by more than 30 points in each contest.

Katz’s aggressive style has bled over into how his players are performing on the court.

Look for Katz to coach his team to many more wins this season. As his men generate buzz and the Nest becomes packed with screaming fans, Katz will have to joy of seeing a dream come true.

Joe Davis can be reached at [email protected].