(inspired by this past season, and a brief twitter exchange with @ladyswish) Some names to jot down when you’re pondering your next women’s basketball coach – be it for next year, or in three years. And, as I read some of these bios, it simply reinforces the connection between point guards and coaching.
Jody Adams – Wichita State. Coach Adams, now in her 7th year, has transformed the program. When when she took over in 2008, the Shockers had recorded 11 wins in the previous seaon. WSU just won their third MVC conference title in a row and, with a team so young, it’s hard not to imagine there’s not more success in their future.
Jennifer Azzi – San Francisco. The revival of the Dons has been well chronicled at the WHB. Don’t know if Azzi would be interested in attempting to “rebuild” another program. I’m sure her current gig has been exhausting. But, a program that’s settle and needs a spark? Maybe.
Cedric Baker – Savannah State. It’s been a long 12 seasons, but they won their first MEAC title this year.
Courtney Banghart – Princeton. She’s young. She’s smart. She just went undefeated and has earned her program a ton of attention. Who knows if she wants to leave the Ivy, but wow, what potential.
Laura Beeman – Hawai’i – The Wahine was a hot mess. Now, after three year’s of Beeman, not so much.
Anthony Bozzella – Seton Hall. Wherever he goes – LIU, Iona, Seton Hall – he turns programs around.
Michelle Clark-Heard – Western Kentucky. The ‘toppers just won the C-USA conference title and this year marked the first time WKU has been ranked in 17 years. Shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that, in her first year Clark-Heard helped WKU to a 13-win improvement over the 2011-12 season output. It was the largest in Sun Belt Conference history, as WKU turned a 9-21 mark into a 22-11 record.
Brittney Ezell – East Tennessee State University. In only her second year at the program, ETSU was picked for a bottom finish in a conference preseason poll. Instead, the Lady Bucs finished second to UT-Chattanooga and scared the you-know-what out of Mocs in the So-Con tourney.
Tricia Fabrini – Quinnipiac. Since the Bobcats moved up into the Division I ranks, they’ve shown they belonged – be it in the NEC or the MAAC. It’s been a 20 year journey, but maybe she could be tempted by another position?
Donna Finnie – Houston Baptist – It’s way early in her career with HBU, but consider what the Scotland native has already accomplished:
As Donna Finnie begins her second year as head coach in 2014-15, the HBU women’s basketball program looks to soar to new heights after a record-breaking inaugural season in the Southland Conference. In Finnie’s first year at the helm of the program, the team made huge strides both on and off the court. The Huskies won 12 games, the most since HBU began the transition to NCAA Division I in 2007. The Huskies also boasted the highest RPI in program history (251); a significant improvement from the 2012-13 campaign. Offensively the team exploded to produce one of the most efficient scoring attacks in the nation.
On this year, from WHB: The Huskies (15-17) were the 8th seed in the Southland and yet made it to the finals.
Cindy Fisher – San Diego. In her 10 year tenure, Fisher has moved the Toreros into the “often win” column.
Megan Gebbia – American. In only her second year, Gebbia took her team to their first Patriot League Championship.
Kellie Jolly Harper – Missouri State. Seems to me Harper was the sacrificial “next coach” at North Carolina State. She handled a no-win situation with grace, but couldn’t move the program forward. She’s having better fortunes at Missouri State, where she’s revivng the profile of a program that sailed to the stratosphere behind Jackie Stiles.
Yvonne Sanchez – New Mexico. She’s rebuilt a program that fell rather precipitously after coach Flanagan retired. Her first few years were not particularly encouraging, but this year has been different – even after she had to dismiss the team’s captain and center. The Mountain West predicted UNM to finish ninth in the conference, after finishing in ninth place a year ago, but they made it to the conference finals. She has not gotten a contract extension (yet). Folks I spoke to while I was in Albuquerque said the admin wanted more butts in the seats.
Karl Smesko – Florida Gulf Coast. Since joining Division I, all the Eagles have done is terrorize the A-Sun.
Brooke and Scott Stoehr – Northwestern State. Hired in 2012 to revive the Demons’ program that had won just six games the year before, the Stoehrs have done just that. The Demons just won the conference tournament title and earned their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the school’s history.
Jonathan Tsipis – George Washington. – In 2012, Tsipis took over a program that had won 25 wins over three seasons. WHB’s has been tracking the return of the Colonials to the top-25 all season long.
Kevin McMillan – Tennessee Martin – Six years ago, McMillan inheirited a team that went 2-27. Now, the Skyhawks have repeatedly ruled the roost in the OVC.
Amy Williams – South Dakota. Not easy to win in the Summitt, with in-state rival ‘wabbits lurking, but she has.
Ryun Williams – Colorado State. Left South Dakota and, in three years, has turned around a Colorado State program that had a decade of poor results. The #1 seed in the Mountain West was upset in the conference tourney, but I expect they’ll be back.
I’m sure there are plenty of other folks out there, ready to move up, including assistants that I know nothing about…. So, who else would you put on this list? womenshoopsblog @ gmail.com.