Cuesta College men's basketball coach Rusty Blair picks up 500th career win

Cuesta College men's basketball coach Rusty Blair
Cuesta College men's basketball coach Rusty Blair

SAN LUIS OBISPO - Cuesta College men's basketball coach Rusty Blair earned his 500th career win at Cuesta College last Saturday with his team's 69-66 win over Allan Hancock on Saturday.

Blair, who is still regarded as the best basketball product ever produced by a San Luis Obipso County high school, is now also the county's winningest coach. All-WSC guard Joshua Wilson-Murry and All-WSC forward Iker Cruz each scored a game-high 16 points for the Cougars, while Wilson-Murry completed his double-double with a game-high 14 rebounds. The Cougars finished their first swing through the Western State Conference with a 3-2 mark against the loop and in a three-way tie for second place. Cuesta, 16-7 overall, will enjoy a bye on Wednesday and return to action next Saturday (5 PM), when they host Moorpark in the first half of another men's and women's doubleheader.

In his tenure as head coach Rusty has turned Cuesta College into a force in the state. He was named to lead the men's basketball program in June, 1992. In 1997, he led Cuesta College to its finest season ever, a 33-5 record and it's only CCCAA State Finals appearance. He has led Cuesta to eleven 20-win seasons, ten Western State Conference titles and sixteen playoff berths in his twenty-four seasons as head coach. He was the WSC Coach of the Year in 1997, 1998, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Rusty has placed 89 of his student/athletes with scholarships at four-year colleges and universities, including 29 at the NCAA D-1 level.

Rusty came to Cuesta and took over the reins of the basketball program following an extensive playing and coaching career. A 1968 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, where he was California State High School Player of the Year and First Team All American. He attended the University of Oregon, where he was a three-year starter for the Ducks. He played 12 years professionally in Europe beginning in 1972 and returned briefly to the United States to serve as an assistant coach at Cal Poly SLO. He returned to Europe to play full-time in Belgium and Holland from 1977 until 1985. He averaged 27.2 points and 10.4 rebounds as a professional and in 1984-85 hit a Dutch record 95 percent of his free throws.

During the 1978-79 season, Rusty led Europe in scoring with 38.5 points  per game. Rusty coached several teams in Europe and while coaching in  Holland's top professional league in 1989 led his team to within one game of the final eight of the European Championships. He received Coach of the Year honors.

Rusty earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon and his master's and teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He and his wife, Kaatje, have two children, Casey and Kelly. They live in San Luis Obispo. His daughter Kelly and son Casey were both all-conference basketball players at Cuesta.

Other coaches to win at least 500 games are:
Percy Carr, San Jose City — 901
John Chambers, Barstow/Mt. San Jacinto — 703
*Steve Coccimiglio, Diablo Valley — 639
Don Johnson, Cypress — 588
Bill Brummel, Saddleback — 569
Brian Beauchemin, Glendale — 592
*John Cosentino, Southwestern — 563
John McMullen, Santa Monica — 529
Pete Pontacq, Skyline — 518
Al Nordquist, Moorpark — 513
Gene Victor, Mt. San Antonio — 503
Bil Treglown, Redwoods — 500
* — still actively coaching at the community college level and wins are reflected as of 2/5/19

(Pete Schuler, Cuesta College SID Office)