Now entering his 10th season at the helm of the Bryant University men’s basketball team in 2017-18, head coach Tim O'Shea brings an enormous amount of experience and success to the Bulldog sideline as the program continues to excel at the Division I level.
Through his first nine seasons in Smithfield, O'Shea has turned the Bulldogs into a premier program in the Northeast, taking Bryant to three-straight NEC Tournaments from 2012-15, as well as a national postseason appearance in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). Since his arrival on campus, O'Shea has turned the program around, leading the Bulldogs to key victories over such programs as Boston College, Lehigh, Denver, Robert Morris and LIU Brooklyn.
A former assistant at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College, O'Shea spent seven years as the head coach at Ohio University before arriving at Bryant. And after guiding the Bulldogs to a 19-11 record and berth in the CBI in the program's first year eligible for postseason play in 2012-13, O'Shea signed a contract extension through June 2020 based on performance and milestone triggers.
“Coach O’Shea has done a remarkable job in guiding our men’s basketball program through the difficult transition to Division I,” said university president Ronald K. Machtley. “To have a winning season and qualify for the postseason in our first year of eligibility, speaks volumes for the type of experienced leader coach O’Shea brings to our program. As a recruiter, Tim brings high quality student-athletes to our campus who represent our institution in a first-class manner both in the classroom and on the court.”
Bryant went 9-5 at the Chace Athletic Center in 2016-17 and 7-2 in NEC games. The Bulldogs picked up home wins over both NEC members to make national postseason appearances (Mount St. Mary's and Saint Francis U) and swept the season series against perennial conference power Robert Morris. Bryant grabbed a first-team NEC all-conference selection and an all-rookie team honoree in Adam Grant. Bryant finished fifth in the NEC.
The 2015-16 Bulldogs placed two freshmen on the NEC all-rookie team and the NEC Rookie of the Year. The Bulldogs hosted a SWAC member for the first time with a November victory over Prairie View A&M and closed the season with a win on the road at LIU Brooklyn.
In 2014-15, O'Shea led the Bulldogs not just to their third-straight NEC Tournament berth, but to the program's first postseason win at the Division I level with a double-overtime 91-85 victory over Sacred Heart in the NEC Quarterfinals. Bryant, who finished tied for second in the regular-season standings, saw three players named all-conference selections, with senior Dyami Starks going on to take home USBWA and NABC All-District honors for his 2014-15 performance.
In 2013-14, O’Shea led the Bulldogs to their second-consecutive trip to the postseason, finishing the regular season with an 18-14 overall mark and a third-place finish in the Northeast Conference standings. Under O’Shea’s leadership, Bryant won double-digit games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in Division I history, with a 37-26 (.587) overall mark since the 2012-13 season.
Following a 2-28 season in 2011-12, Bryant was picked 10th in the NEC Preseason Coaches’ poll in 2012-13, but served notice to its conference foes with breakthrough non-league wins over Boston College and Lehigh on the road. The Black and Gold would finish with a 19-11 overall record and in a tie for second place in the NEC standings with a 12-6 league mark. After jumping out to a 6-0 start in NEC play, fans at the Chace Athletic Center began to take notice, and by season's end, the Bulldogs had been ranked in the Mid-Major Top 25 for seven weeks. The campaign would lead to a berth in the CBI tournament in the program's first year of postseason eligibility.
The team's 19-11 record in 2012-13 marked one of the best single-season turnarounds in NCAA history and led the nation in pure win improvement, earning 17 more victories than it had a season ago. The 17-win jump was also the biggest in NEC history, eclipsing CCSU's 15-win jump from 1997-98 to 1998-99, and the 11-win bump in NEC play was the most in league annals, one better than LIU Brooklyn's 10-win improvement from 1995-96 to 1996-97.
The Bulldogs earned the first victory of the program’s new Division I history just three games into the 2008-09 season, defeating Northeast Conference foe Quinnipiac University, 59-50, in New York City. From there, wins over Yale and league foes Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island, Saint Francis (PA), Wagner, Central Connecticut and St. Francis (NY) soon followed, along with another win over the Bobcats and a 70-46 topping of NJIT.
With just a single class of Division I recruits in its ranks and injuries to key players plaguing the lineup, Bryant struggled to see the same success in 2009-10, a year that would mark the beginning of a rebuilding process in the program's third year of Division I transition. The Bulldogs took a 52-51 road win over Wagner on Feb. 18 and saw rookie Vlad Kondratyev earn the program's first-ever all-conference postseason honor, named to the NEC All-Rookie Team.
O'Shea's patience paid off during the 2010-11 campaign, as he saw his first Division I recruiting class, as well as the addition of key players who were forced to sit out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, prove that it could compete against quality programs in the region and country. Led by redshirt-sophomore Frankie Dobbs, as well as the emergence of a new Bryant star in freshman Alex Francis, the Bulldogs picked up victories against seven NEC foes in 2010-11.
In his seven seasons at the helm in Athens, Ohio, O'Shea was the architect of a Bobcat program that rose to greatness not just within the MAC but also having an impact on the national stage.
In his last four seasons alone, O'Shea's Bobcats compiled 79 wins, captured a MAC title while being named college basketball's "It" team by ESPN.com. O’Shea was 120-95 during his tenure at Ohio, including taking wins over a number of notable college basketball powerhouses, including North Carolina, Virginia, Butler and the University of Maryland, as well as prominant programs such as DePaul and Cincinnati. In 2007-08, O’Shea’s last year with the Bobcats, Ohio posted a 20-13 record and reached the second round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). He left Athens as the fifth all-time winningest coach in program history.
O’Shea’s commitment to excellence on and off the floor is a product of the lessons he learned on the bench at several other Division I institutions, his head coaching career beginning after extensive experience as an assistant in the Ivy League, the Atlantic 10 and the Big East.
His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College, using that experience in his first full-time appointment, coming at Yale in 1986.
O’Shea spent the next two seasons with the Bulldogs before making his next stop up the coaching ladder — returning to URI for a spot on Al Skinner's staff.
O’Shea spent nine seasons at URI, playing a key role in the Rams’ bids into two NCAA tourmanents and a pair of NIT berths. During his time at URI, O'Shea’s most notable recruit came in the form of former NBA star Cuttino Mobley.
In the spring of 1997, O'Shea returned to his alma mater alongside Skinner. In four seasons at Boston College, he helped build the Eagles into the Big East regular-season and tournament champions in 2000-01.
BC posted a 27-5 record that season, earning a No. 3 seed for the NCAA East Regional and finishing the year with a No. 9 ranking in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) just two years after being ranked 246.
But O'Shea was no stranger to success in the Eagles locker room. After earning All-America accolades at Wayland (Mass.) High School, O'Shea played for some of the most successful squads in Boston College history. The Eagles won two Big East regular-season titles and earned four postseason tournament berths during his career, advancing twice to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 and once to the Elite Eight.
O'Shea graduated from Boston College in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in English. He went on to add a master's degree in counseling/psychology from BC two years later.
Named head coach at a campus press conference on June 23, 2008, O'Shea becomes the seventh Bryant men’s basketball coach in school history and only the third since 1989-90. He and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Newport, R.I. with their daughter, Madeleine.