Gannon University Names Jim Brunelli Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Posted: June 17, 2013
Gannon University has named Jim Brunelli as the next head
women's basketball coach. The announcement was made this morning
during a press conference held in the Boardroom of Gannon's Old
Brunelli becomes the program's ninth head coach as the Lady
Knights embark on their 40th year. A 15-year coaching veteran at
both the NCAA Division I and II levels, Brunelli most recently
served as the head coach at Anderson (S.C.) University for the last
five seasons. The Trojans have won three conference tournament
titles (two in Conference Carolinas and one in the South Atlantic
Conference) and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament three
times during his five seasons at the helm.
"Gannon University is established as a premier name in the PSAC
and NCAA Division II women's athletics," said Gannon President
Keith Taylor, Ph.D. "Our choice of Coach Brunelli reflects our
commitment to excellence on the court, in the classroom and in the
community. This is a great day to be a Knight and to be associated
with an elite women's basketball program.
"We're very proud of our record of success in women's athletics
at Gannon University, and we are confident that Coach Brunelli will
extend and contribute to that tradition. With an NCAA Division II
Women's Basketball Elite Eight appearance behind us and the role of
serving as the host university for the 2014 Elite Eight ahead, this
is clearly a great day to be a Knight. We welcome Coach Brunelli to
the Gannon family and look forward to what promises to be a
Brunelli was named SAC Coach of the Year this past season after
guiding Anderson to the conference regular-season and tournament
championships. The Trojans began the season with a 72-65 victory at
NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member Clemson,
before finishing 23-9 overall.
"Coach Brunelli brings great enthusiasm and energy to the game
of basketball," said Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard. "A
proven winner with three conference titles at Anderson, he is
extremely excited to take on the challenge of coaching the
student-athletes in our nationally-ranked program. In addition to a
winning attitude, Coach Brunelli cares about the overall
development of the student-athlete and excellence in the classroom.
Those traits along with his complete approach to the position will
enable him to recruit the type of student-athlete that excels at
Gannon and in the community."
Brunelli hit the pavement running at Anderson, immediately
leading the program to back-to-back NCAA Division II Tournament
appearances during his first two seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
His Anderson resume includes 82 victories, six all-conference
selections, three conference tournament Most Valuable Players, six
all-tournament team selections, three conference tournament titles,
three NCAA Tournament appearances and one conference Player of the
"I am very excited about the opportunity to be the next women's
basketball coach at Gannon University," said Brunelli. "It's a
wonderful opportunity for my family and me to be part of a great
institution and athletics program in a great community. I want to
thank Dr. Taylor, Mark Richard, the search committee and everyone
here who has the faith in me to keep the balling rolling in the
"Gannon is a respected university in the classroom, in the
community and on the court. I am thrilled and honored to have the
opportunity to keep those traditions going, as well as be part of a
program with such great fan support. I'm very excited about getting
to know the student-athletes after talking with several of them
during my visit and can't wait to get to work."
Brunelli's Anderson teams have shown a knack for peaking at the
right time. The Trojans closed out his first campaign in 2008-09 by
winning five of their last six regular-season games, before winning
four straight to claim the conference tournament title by an
average margin of 24.5 points. Three of those tournament victories
came on the road. The 2009-10 season saw Anderson win seven of its
final eight regular-season contests and claim hosting rights for
the conference tournament where the program capture its second
consecutive title and eighth straight trip to the NCAA Regional.
The Trojans rattled off 13 victories in their final 16
regular-season contests last season.
Anderson ranked among the NCAA Division II top 50 last season in
fewest turnovers per game (15.3), free throw percentage (74.0),
scoring defense (57.8), won-loss percentage (71.9) and three-point
field goals per game (6.6). Ironically, Gannon was also among the
top 40 in the last three categories.
Prior to arriving at Anderson, Brunelli spent the previous two
seasons as an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator under
former Gannon head coach Jodi Kest at the University of Akron.
Kest, who ranks second in overall victories (105) at Gannon, led
Akron to a 23-10 record, the Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Tournament championship game and a Women's National Invitational
Tournament (WNIT) bid last season.
The 40-year old Brunelli was an assistant coach for six seasons
(2000-06) at the University at Albany, including the last two as
the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. During his
tenure with the NCAA Division I Great Danes, he was responsible for
the signing of All-America East selection Danielle Hutcheson. He
also served as interim head coach at Albany for five months at the
completion of the 2001-02 season.
"I like to be up-tempo on the offensive end and aggressive on
the defensive end," Brunelli notes of his style. "I'm not afraid to
mix it up and play zone, but we're not going to sit back in a zone
with our hands up. We will do some trapping and some other
concepts. I like to run and push the ball. I want a lot of players
to shoot the three, but I also want to have inside presence."
The Force, Pa., native began his coaching career at Pennsylvania
State Athletic Conference (PSAC) member Clarion University where he
was a graduate assistant from 1998 to 2000. Brunelli played for the
Clarion men's basketball team in 1993-94 and earned a bachelor's
degree in Education from Clarion in 1996. He later received a
master's degree in Communication Education and Mass Media in 2000.
Brunelli and his wife, Stacey, and two daughters, Baylee Ann (age
11) and Jaylynn (age 8).
Brunelli's Coaching Career
- Head Coach - Anderson (S.C.) University (2008-09 through
- Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator - University of Akron
(2006-07 through 2007-08)
- Interim Head Coach - University at Albany (2001-02)
- Top Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator - University at
Albany (2004-05 through 2005-06)
- Assistant Coach - University at Albany (2000-01 through
- Graduate Assistant Coach - Clarion University (1998-99 through