Russ Pennell
Biographical details
Born (1960-11-28) November 28, 1960 (age 61)
Pittsburg, Kansas
Playing career
1981–1984Central Arkansas
1984–1988Spirit Express
Position(s)Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1989–1990Pittsburg State (volunteer asst.)
1990–1992Oklahoma State (assistant)
1992–1998Ole Miss (assistant)
1998–2004Arizona State (assistant)
2008–2009Arizona (interim HC)
2009–2013Grand Canyon
2013Phoenix Mercury (interim HC)
2014–2020Central Arkansas
Head coaching record
Overall143–174 (college)
9–4 (WNBA)

Russell Edwin Pennell (born November 28, 1960) is an American basketball coach, who was last the head coach for the University of Central Arkansas.

Pennell was born in Pittsburg, Kansas and graduated from Pittsburg High School. He played college basketball at the University of Arkansas and at the University of Central Arkansas, where he was two-year starter at point guard. Pennell later received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Pittsburg State University.[1]


Assistant coach

He has been an assistant coach at Pittsburg State, Oklahoma State, University of Mississippi, and Arizona State. Pennell coached at Arizona State from 1998 to 2004.[2] He then ran the Arizona Premier AAU summer league program for two seasons. During the 2007–08 season, he was a color analyst for men's basketball on the Arizona State radio network.

Head coach

On May 5, 2008, Arizona head coach Lute Olson announced the hiring of Pennell as an assistant coach. Pennell became the interim head coach on October 24, when Olson announced his surprise retirement for medical reasons. As interim coach, Pennell has coached the Wildcats to a 19–13 record in the regular season (9–9 conference). Because of Arizona's mid-season success, Pennell had been rumored as a contender for the Pac-10's Coach of the Year.[3] Ultimately, Pennell did not win the award as Arizona slumped at the end of the regular season, but his work as Arizona's coach was enough to get Arizona into the NCAA tournament for the 25th consecutive year. Arizona advanced past the first round, where, as a 12th seed, they upset 5th seed Utah (Arizona's first first round win since 2006) and defeated 13th seed Cleveland State to move on to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. However, Arizona suffered a crushing defeat against overall #1 seed Louisville, losing 103–64. On April 7, Arizona signed Xavier men's basketball coach Sean Miller to a 5-year, $11-million contract, ending Pennell's tenure with the Wildcats.[4]

On April 9, 2009, Pennell was hired as head coach of the men's basketball team at Division II Grand Canyon University, a member of the Pacific West Conference.[5] On March 15, 2013, he resigned, replaced by Dan Majerle.[6]

On August 8, 2013, the Phoenix Mercury announced the hiring of Pennell as interim head coach following the firing of Corey Gaines.[7] Pennell guided the team to the Western Conference finals. He announced after the season that he would not return as coach in 2014, and that he hoped to return to coaching in the college ranks.[8]

On March 5, 2014, news broke that Pennell was expected to be named the next head coach of men's basketball at Central Arkansas. On January 7, 2020 it was announced that Pennell would step down from his position. This move followed a leave of absence for personal reasons he took in December 2019.[9]

Personal life

Pennell is married and has two children.

Head coaching record


Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Arizona Wildcats (Pac-10 Conference) (2008–2009)
2008–09 Arizona 21–14 9–9 T–5th NCAA Division I Sweet 16
Arizona: 21–14 (.600) 9–9 (.500)
Grand Canyon Antelopes (Pacific West Conference) (2009–2013)
2009–10 Grand Canyon 16–16 10–6 4th
2010–11 Grand Canyon 14–12 9–7 4th
2011–12 Grand Canyon 19–8 13–5 3rd NCAA Division II First Round
2012–13 Grand Canyon 23–8 14–4 T–2nd NCAA Division II First Round
Grand Canyon: 72–44 (.621) 46–22 (.676)
Central Arkansas Bears (Southland Conference) (2014–2019)
2014–15 Central Arkansas 2–27 2–16 13th
2015–16 Central Arkansas 7–21 6–12 T–9th
2016–17 Central Arkansas 8–24 7–11 T–8th
2017–18 Central Arkansas 18–17 10–8 7th CBI Quarterfinal
2018–19 Central Arkansas 14–19 8–10 T–7th
2019–20 Central Arkansas 1–8 0–0
Central Arkansas: 50–116 (.301) 32–57 (.360)
Total: 143–174 (.451)


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Phoenix 2013 13 9 4 .692 3rd in Western 5 2 3 .400 Lost Conference Semifinals
Career 13 9 4 .692 5 2 3 .400


  1. ^ "Russ Pennell". Arizona State Sun Devils. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 2, 2004. Retrieved January 12, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Forde Minutes: Stretch-run story lines, monopolies and underachievers". ESPN. 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  4. ^[dead link]
  5. ^ "Pennell's new gig in Phoenix a 'great fit'". Arizona Daily Star. 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Negley, Cassandra (August 8, 2013). "Phoenix Mercury fire Corey Gaines, hire Russ Pennell as interim coach". Arizona Republic.
  8. ^ [Russ Pennell will not return as Phoenix Mercury head coach]
  9. ^ Doeschner, Trenton (January 7, 2020). "Pennell out as UCA men's basketball coach". Retrieved February 3, 2020.