EWU’s Legans named Big Sky Conference coach of the year

Eastern Washington will not play Florida Sept. 5 after the SEC goes conference-only
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Eastern Washington Eastern Washington will not play Florida Sept. 5 after the SEC goes conference-only

CHENEY, Wash. — Third-year Eastern Washington University men’s basketball coach Shantay Legans was announced Tuesday (March 10) as the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year from balloting by the league’s 11 head coaches.

He becomes the fourth Eastern coach to earn the honor, and follows in their footsteps as Big Sky Conference champions. Steve Aggers was coach of the year in both 1998 and 2000, the latter honor coming after EWU won the regular season title. Ray Giacoletti (2004) and Jim Hayford (2015) were honored after their teams each followed regular season championships with titles in the Big Sky Conference Tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

That’s the task this week for Legans, whose team is 23-8 overall heading into the league tourney this week after a school-record total of 16 Big Sky wins. Eastern will need to win three games to reach the NCAA Tournament, starting Thursday (March 11) at 11 a.m. Pacific time versus either Weber State or Sacramento State.

“I’m so humbled to receive the Big Sky Coach of the Year Award, especially among the group of outstanding coaches in this conference,” said Legans. “But make no mistake, this is a team award. Coaches are only as good as their players and staff, and I have an amazing group of guys who not only make my job easy, but a blast. Our players have worked their butts off, and I have an amazing staff who also work tirelessly to get better every single day. They’ve all bought into the culture we’ve instilled since day one, and that’s the reason we are where we are today.”

Legans is now 59-41 in his three years as head coach for a .590 winning percentage. In league games, he has directed EWU to 13, 12 and now 16 victories, winning 71 percent for a record of 41-17. Both percentages are currently the best among the eight men who have been head coaches in EWU’s tenure in the league, and his 41 league wins is the best three-year stretch in school history.

“We are very happy and proud of Shantay receiving this well-deserved recognition,” said Eastern Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey. “He and his staff have done a great job in recruiting and coaching an outstanding group of young men who represent Eastern at a very high level academically, athletically, and as citizens in our community.  We appreciate Shantay’s expertise as a coach and his strong personal values as he leads our students.”

An Eastern assistant for eight previous seasons, Legans has been a part of all but one of EWU’s five seasons of at least 20 wins and all four of EWU’s campaigns with at least 13 league victories. He’s coached in a total of 360 games in 10-plus years at EWU, with a 186-174 record in those games (.517), including a 115-89 league mark (.564).

Additionally, Eastern has won numerous academic honors in his tenure, highlighted by first team Academic All-America honors won by Mason Peatling this year and Tyler Harvey in 2015.

“I’m so blessed to be at a place like Eastern Washington where we have such supportive administration and faculty,” added Legans. “One look at the success of our student-athletes in the classroom will show you all you need to know about the kind of support we have behind us. The Cheney community has been cheering us on all year, and I hope our team has made them proud. Again, this is a team award if there ever was one, and we share it with the entire Eags community.”