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Jeff Ruland
Born December 16, 1958 (1958-12-16) (age 51)
Bay Shore, New York
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight 280 lb (127 kg)
High school Sachem
College Iona
Draft 25th, 1980
Golden State Warriors
Pro career 1980–1993
Former teams Washington Bullets

Jeffrey Alan Ruland (born December 16, 1958 in Bay Shore, New York) is a retired American basketball player and current coach. He is the former head coach of the Iona Gaels men's college basketball team and current head coach of the UDC Firebirds men's college basketball team.


Early life and collegiate career

A 6'11", 280 lb center, Ruland went from Sachem High School in Suffolk County, New York, to Iona College on a basketball scholarship and played for coach Jim Valvano before Valvano left for North Carolina State University. Ruland was the big gun on the Gaels' 1979-1980 team that compiled a 29-5 record en route to a number 19 national ranking, the best in the school's history.

Professional basketball playing career

Ruland was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 1980 NBA Draft with the 25th overall pick. During the 1980-81 NBA season he instead opted to play professionally in Barcelona, Spain for a year before returning to the U.S. Prior to his rookie campaign, his draft rights were traded by the Warriors to the Washington Bullets, with whom he played for five seasons before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. He retired from the game after five games with them in 1986 after a nagging knee injury.


Washington Bullets playing career 1981-1986

Joining the Bullets for the 1981-82 NBA season, Ruland played behind 32-year-old Spencer Haywood but clearly outplayed the longtime star in the same number of minutes. Seeing time at both forward and center, Ruland showed muscle at both ends of the floor and an accurate jumpshot good from as far as 20 feet. A 56% shooter from the floor, Ruland rated among the NBA shooting leaders. His 14 points and nine rebounds a game off the bench signaled he was ready for more minutes. The Bullets made the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Boston Celtics. Ruland averaged 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Ruland took over the starting power forward spot for the 1982-83 NBA season, and continued to back up at center for Washington. His 55% shooting and 11 rebounds per game put him among the NBA leaders in those stat categories. Leading coach Gene Shue's balanced team in scoring as well, Ruland earned a spot in the NBA All-Star Game that year. With the same record as the year before, the Bullets did not make the playoffs this time.

In the 1983-84 season, Ruland surged to 22 points and four assists per game. He was third in the NBA in rebounds and fifth in shooting from the floor. The team returned to playoffs and again lost to Boston. Ruland averaged 24 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 52% from the floor and 81% from the foul line against the eventual NBA champions.

For the 1984–85 NBA season, Ruland was moved to center for the Bullets. His stats dipped just slightly. He remained among the rebounding and shooting leaders, but suffered a broken bone in his foot and played just 37 games. Ruland played through the pain in the playoffs, but the Bullets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers to end a disappointing season.

The brittle feet, though, like Bill Walton before him, were now a condition. His stats were still good for the 1985-86 NBA season, but he played just 30 games, usually in considerable pain. In the playoffs, the Bullets opted to start towering Manute Bol at center. Ruland added 14 points and five assists per game off the bench. But the Bullets fell to Philadelphia again.

Later career

Traded to Philadelphia the following season, Ruland could hardly play at all.

The foot injuries ended a promising NBA career that could have included All-Pro selections or a championship. Robbed by injuries of a chance to be a superstar, Ruland was still a legitimate star of the 1980s NBA.

Five years later Ruland made a comeback with the Sixers, playing in 13 games during the 1991-92 NBA season before sustaining an apparently bizarre achilles injury involving a luggage cart which was allegedly slammed into his leg by a Boston Celtics employee outside Boston Garden.[1] He managed to play an additional 11 games with the Detroit Pistons the following season before retiring for good in January 1993.

Coaching career

After his playing days, Ruland became an assistant coach under the Sixers' Fred Carter during the 1993-94 NBA season. He then returned to coach at his former alma mater. He was fired from Iona on March 21, 2007 after a 2-28 record for the 2006-2007 season. Yet during his tenure as head coach, he guided the Gaels to three 20-win seasons, three MAAC Championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Recruiting and injuries were blamed for the team's abysmal record during his final season.

On July 16, 2007, Ruland was hired to replace Michael Cooper as the head coach of the NBA D-League's Albuquerque Thunderbirds.[2] After coaching the Thunderbirds for the 2007-08 season, Ruland was hired as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers on August 23, 2008. New 76ers head Coach Eddie Jordan decided not to retain Ruland for the 2009-10 season.

On August 18, 2009, Ruland announced that he would be the new men's basketball head coach at the University of the District of Columbia.[3]


  1. ^ Banks, Kerry (2005). The Unofficial Guide to Basketball's Nastiest and Most Unusual Records. Greystone Books. Excerpt quoted at, articled entitled Vinsanity, Helicopter, Tree blaze NBA record book. 
  2. ^ Ruland to coach NBDL's Albuquerque Thunderbirds July 17, 2007
  3. ^ Ruland takes college coaching job at UDCAugust 18, 2009

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