Jeff Bzdelik became the sixth head coach in Air Force history and the third in three seasons on May 18, 2005. Bzdelik brought 28 years of coaching experience to Air Force, including three as an NBA head coach and 12 as an NBA assistant.
"I'm honored and very excited to be the head coach at the Air Force Academy," Bzdelik said when he was introduced as head coach on May 24, 2005.
In his first season at Air Force, Bzdelik led the Falcons to their best season in the 50-year history of the program and second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons. Air Force finished the 2005-06 season with a 24-7 overall record and placed second in the Mountain West Conference with a 12-4 mark.
The Falcons defeated two teams from the vaunted ACC, Miami and Georgia Tech, and won for the first time ever at UNLV. The season came to an end at the NCAA Tournament with a 78-69 loss to 2004 national runner-up Illinois.
Three Falcons earned all-conference honors, including seniors Jacob Burtschi, a second-team selection, and Dan Nwaelele, an honorable mention. Antoine Hood, who graduated in June, was a first-team pick.
Prior to joining the Falcons, Bzdelik, who led Air Force to its fourth consecutive national scoring defense title, served as head coach of the Denver Nuggets for two and a half seasons. He was named head coach in August of 2002 after spending one year as a scout for the Nuggets.
Bzdelik engineered one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history during his second season in 2003-04, leading the Nuggets to the playoffs for the first time since 1994-95 while posting a 43-39 record. The 26-game improvement over the previous year is the sixth-best improvement in NBA history. Bzdelik also became the first coach in league history (since the adoption of an 82-game schedule) to guide a team to the playoffs the year after winning less than 20 games.
In his first season, Bzdelik earned NBA-wide praise for Denver's competitiveness, work ethic and never-give-up attitude. Despite having the youngest team in franchise history, Bzdelik's team shattered the franchise record for scoring defense by more than 5.0 points per game, giving up only 92.4 per outing. In addition, the Nuggets led the league in turnovers forced (17.1 per game) and had six of the top 12 marks for single-season scoring defense.
From 1995-01, Bzdelik was an assistant coach under Pat Riley in Miami, holding the title of Assistant Coach / Director of Scouting during the final two years. With the Heat, he was responsible for the preparation of all game plans, video coordination and statistical data as well as player development. In 2000, he was recognized by USA Today as one of the NBA's top five assistant coaches. In the 1998 Pro Basketball issue of Sports Illustrated, he was voted as the NBA's best advance scout by league general managers.
Prior to his tenure with the Heat, Bzdelik spent the 1994-95 season as the lead scout for Riley and the New York Knicks. He also served as an assistant coach with the Washington Bullets from 1988-94 and was Wes Unseld's first assistant in '93-94. In addition, he coached the Bullets summer league team in 1988 and 1994.
The Illinois native began his coaching career in 1978 at Davidson (N.C.) College. In 1980, he was named an assistant coach at Northwestern University where he spent six seasons and was instrumental in the Wildcats' first NIT appearance in school history. He then took the head coaching position at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for two years. During the 1986-87 season at UMBC, his squad was cited by The Sporting News as "One of College's Biggest Turnarounds," in the school's inaugural season in Division I. After going just 11-44 the previous two seasons as a Division II program before Bzdelik's arrival, UMBC went 12-16 in his first year and 13-15 in '87-88 in Division I. His teams excelled in the classroom as well, posting a 2.86 grade point average during his tenure. The team had a 2.02 GPA the previous two years.
Bzdelik is a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education. Bzdelik earned four varsity letters in basketball at UIC and was named team MVP as a senior in '75-76. He still holds the school record for the best free-throw percentage in one season, shooting 88 percent (59-67) from the line in '75-76. Bzdelik also spent six years in the Army National Guard during the early to mid 1970s.
Bzdelik, 53, and his wife, Nina, have two children, Brett (17) and Courtney (15).