Chris Carlson embarks on his sixth season as the head coach at UC San Diego in 2012-13. The 11th coach in program history, he enters the year with an overall record of 64-74 (.464) in five seasons at the helm.
Carlson made an immediate impact upon arriving at UCSD for the 2007-08 season, leading the Tritons to an overall record of 18-12, the program's best mark since the 1998-99 campaign. After finishing sixth in the ultra-competitive California Collegiate Athletic Association standings at 11-9, Carlson's Tritons caught fire in March, defeating Cal State San Bernardino, San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona on the way to UCSD's first CCAA Tournament title. UCSD earned a No. 8 seed in its first NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division II level, falling to the University of Alaska-Anchorage 80-60 in the opening round of the West Regional.
The Tritons were one of the top teams in the CCAA again in 2008-09, recording an overall record of 17-11 and a 13-7 mark in league play. After earning a No. 4 seed in the CCAA Tournament, UCSD defeated No. 5 Humboldt State 79-67 in the first round before falling 76-72 to host Cal State San Bernardino in the semifinals.
UCSD finished with an overall record of 8-17 in 2009-10, missing the postseason for the first time since 2007. The Tritons went 4-2 during a six-game stretch in February to stay in contention for a conference tournament berth, but a pair of losses to Sonoma State and Humboldt State the final week of the regular season dashed the Tritons' postseason hopes.
Under Carlson's guidance, senior guard Jordan Lawley became the first Triton to win the CCAA scoring title since UCSD joined the conference in 2000-01 during the 2009-10 campaign. Lawley was named to the All-CCAA First Team and went on to earn All-West Region accolades after averaging career-highs of 20.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his final season as a Triton.
UCSD won five of its first six games to kick off the 2010-11 campaign, marking the program's best start in 10 seasons at the D-II level. The Tritons claimed the 2010 Disney West Coast Tipoff Classic title after defeating Lewis and Dixie State to open the season and also posted early season victories over Notre Dame de Namur and Simon Fraser. Despite the torrid start, UCSD would ultimately finish with an 11-17 record and miss the postseason for the second consecutive season.
The Tritons opened the 2011-12 season with a solid 102-74 blowout of Chestnut Hill College at the Disney West Coast Tipoff Classic in Anaheim. They went on to finish the tourney with a 2-1 record. UCSD twice posted back-to-back CCAA victories, the first time against Cal State Monterey Bay and Sonoma State and again vs. Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Senior center Christian Hatch was named Second Team All-CCAA after finishing second among all league players in rebounding (7.3/game), including a conference-best 2.9 offensive boards per game. Junior guard Tyler McGrath led the CCAA in free throw percentage (.833) while senior forward Mike Meza was tops in 3-point field goal percentage (.506). Sophomore guard James McCann averaged 3.9 assists per game, third-best in the conference, and junior forward Justin Brue was fourth in blocked shots (1.2/game).
Carlson joined the Triton family after spending four seasons as the Director of Basketball Operations at UCLA under head coach Ben Howland. As the DOB, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program and served as a liaison to the athletic administration and other school officials. Carlson also assisted in scheduling and recruiting and helped guide the Bruin program to back-to-back NCAA Final Four appearances in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Before assuming his duties at UCLA, Carlson served in the same capacity for two years at the University of Pittsburgh, joining the Panther staff in the summer of 2001. Prior to that, he was a member of Howland's staff at Northern Arizona in 1998-99, where he coached a Lumberjack squad that led the country in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage for the first time in NCAA history. He remained on at NAU for two years after Howland's departure (1999-2001), where he worked with NAU's post players and oversaw recruiting and scheduling.
Prior to his stint at Northern Arizona, Carlson served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, from 1994-98, where he oversaw development of the team's perimeter players. He also served as an assistant coach at nearby Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta from 1991-93.
Carlson worked as a game management assistant at the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Star game for 12 straight years from 1993-2004 and has worked four NCAA Tournament West Regionals. In addition, he was an intern in the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams media relations department, a sports information assistant at UCSB in 1993-94 and a member of the 1994 FIFA World Cup media relations staff.
A San Diego native, Carlson is a 1993 graduate from UC Santa Barbara, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in history. Prior to his days as a Gaucho, Carlson attended Helix High School in La Mesa, where he earned all-league honors in basketball.
He and his wife Karen have two sons, Nicklas and Charlie.