Friday, June 29, 2012

Ex-VCU star Hollingsworth punches Olympics ticket

Ex-VCU star Quanitra Hollingsworth had 12 points and 8 rebounds to help Turkey qualify for the London Olympics by bouncing Argentina 72-58 in the qualifying tournament quarterfinals Friday in Ankara, Turkey.

The four quarterfinal winners each receive Olympics bids. A fifth bid will go to the winner of a four-team bracket of the quarterfinal losers. Croatia, Czech Republic and France joined Turkey in qualifying for the Olympics Friday. Quarterfinals losers Canada, Argentina, Japan and South Korea will compete for the final Olympics slot.

Hollingsworth, who recently acquired Turkish citizenship with these Summer Olympics in mind, averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in the tournament for Turkey, which went 3-0 with victories over Puerto Rico and Japan in addition to the triumph over Argentina.

Teams that have qualified for the 12-team London Olympics tournament
United States
Great Britain
Czech Republic
The final slot will go to either Canada, Argentina, Japan or South Korea

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Whatever happened to .....ODU's Bettina Love?

She only played at Old Dominion two years but left the impression she was filled with potential.

There's not a doubt that Bettina Love has fulfilled it.

Says Love's former teammate Natalie Diaz, "Love is going to change the world."

Love came off the bench for ODU at a time when the Lady Monarchs were the fifth-ranked team in the nation. The 6-2 forward/guard from Rochester, N.Y.,  transferred to Pitt in 1999 and became a vital part of the Panthers her final two years, leading the team in blocks and starting 18 games as a senior.

"I fell in love with academics," Love says. "I decided that was going to be my primary focus at Pitt. I still loved playing basketball. I just found a new passion and went with it."

Despite transferring, Love was able to graduate from Pitt in four years, but sitting out due to NCAA rules left her with a year to continue studies beyond her bachelor's. Despite the demands of basketball, she loaded up on 20 hours of prerequisites toward her master's degree in elementary education.

"It was an awesome experience leaving college with two degrees," she says.

From there, she taught school before completing her doctorate in educational policy studies from Georgia State.  Currently she is an assistant professor at the University of Georgia, where she remains passionate about social justice.

Her first book, Hip hop’s li’l sistas speak: Negotiating identities and politics in the new south, is due out later this year. The book examines how African-American girls understand body, class, sexuality and politics in the south.

"We're at the end stages," she says. "I'm very excited."

In addition to her work, Love is a mom. She and partner Chelsea Culley-Love are parents to 2-year-old twins, Chanson and Lauryn.

They will no doubt grow up appreciating of women's basketball. Love follows the game as much as her time allows, occasionally attending Atlanta Dream games and went with former teammate Lady Monarch Nyree Roberts to Tennessee's game at Georgia last winter.

She has fond memories of her time at ODU. While "It wasn't the place for me," she admits, she has never forgotten the support of the Lady Monarch fans.

"It was an unbelievable place to play basketball," she says. "We had more fans than the boys team. It was a crazy place where women's sports were appreciated. We were on a pedestal. Not that many places are like that. It was an unbelievable experience to be the top dog at your university as a female playing sports."

Wondering what happened to a former player for one of Virginia's teams? Email us at and we'll try to catch up with her.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ex-VCU star now one step from Olympics

Former VCU star Quanitra Hollingsworth scored 10 points despite being in foul trouble to help Turkey upend Japan 65-49 in qualifying tournament action and move to within one victory of securing a bid to the London Olympics.

With the victory, Turkey clinched first place with a 2-0 record in the three-team Group A of the 12-team tournament and will face either the Czech Republic or Argentina on Friday in the quarterfinals. A victory there will seal the country's first-ever Olympics bid for women's basketball.

Should Turkey lose in the quarterfinal, the nation would move to a four-team elimination bracket and would need two victories to secure the fifth and final Olympics bid out of the qualifying tournament.

Hollingsworth, who recently obtained Turkish citizenship to bolster the nation's hopes of qualifying, had 13 points and 9 rebounds in Monday's 65-53 opening-round victory over Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, she scored all 10 of her points in the first half but played just nine minutes after picking up her third foul before the break. She then picked up a fourth foul less than a minute into the second half and played just five of the final 20 minutes.

Argentina and the Czech Republic, which both have 1-0 records so far in Group B, will face each other on Wednesday. The loser will play Turkey in the quarterfinals.


Hollingsworth, Machanguana come up big in Olympic qualifying tournament

Machanguana, Mozambique foiled in Olympics bid

Machanguana, Mozambique foiled in Olympics bid

Clarisse Machanguana turned in another strong performance (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) and got solid support from her teammates, but it wasn't quite enough in a 71-65 loss to South Korea Tuesday that ended Mozambique's stay in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women. The loss dropped Mozambique to 0-2 and third place in its three-team tournament pool; the top two teams advance to the quarterfinals. Mozambique lost its opening game to Croatia 84-62 despite 23 points and 13 rebounds from Machanguana.

Still, the event was far from a total loss for Machanguana, the 38-year-old former Old Dominion star who in this post-game interview expressed hope that the experience would yield long-term dividends for the otherwise youthful Mozambique squad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hollingsworth, Machanguana come up big in Olympic qualifier

Quanitra Hollingsworth paid instant dividends for Turkey in Monday's FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament opener. Meanwhile, Clarisse Machanguana turned in a LeBron James-quality performance for Mozambique. Problem is, her team apparently doesn't have a Dwyane Wade or a Chris Bosh to help her out.

Hollingsworth, the former VCU star who recently obtained Turkish citizenship to bolster the nation's bid for a spot in the London Olympics, tied for team-high honors with 13 points and pulled down a game-high 9 rebounds as Turkey knocked off Puerto Rico 65-53 in the first round of pool play. Turkey will face Japan on Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Machanguana, the 38-year-old former Old Dominion star, dropped 23 points and 13 rebounds on Croatia. It wasn't nearly enough, though, as Croatia rolled to an 84-62 victory in Ankarra, Turkey. Machanguana's point total was more than double that of her next two highest-scoring teammates combined.

Mozambique will face Korea on Tuesday in the second round of pool play. The top five finishers in the 12-team tournament earn Olympic bids.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hoops notes and a Heat check

How ya like me now?
We'll start out on the NBA tip: Congratulations to Tia Lewis, Kamile Nacickaite, Tiffany Suarez, Aprill McRae and all the other Miami Heat/Lebron James fans reveling in Thursday night's championship victory (by the way, we had the Heat winning in six). As Boston Celtics fans, this wasn't exactly how we wanted to see things go down. But all credit to the Heat and particularly James, who was simply spectacular throughout the entire playoff run. It's funny. A couple of months ago, despite undeniable talent Lebron was easily the most criticized player in the NBA. Now he's an NBA champion and Finals MVP. In a few weeks, there's a good chance he'll be standing on a podium with a gold medal around his neck at the London Olympics. And if that happens, even his toughest critics - we're talking about you, Skip Bayless - will have trouble dogging this man going forward.

Then again, Bayless will probably find a way.

Now, back to the women's game:

* - The Hampton Roads 7 Cities Basketball women's basketball summer league kicks off its second season Saturday at Maury High School in Norfolk. The five-team circuit features a generous assortment of players from Old Dominion, Norfolk State and Virginia Wesleyan. Click here for the rosters; here for the schedule

* - We'll freely admit that much of the data the NCAA reports when it comes to Academic Progress Rates (APR) goes over our head. We do know that a score of 1,000 is perfect, and that anything below 930 is asking for trouble. With that in mind, here are the multi-year APR scores for each of the state's women's basketball teams:

William and Mary - 991; Richmond - 991; Virginia Tech - 986; Liberty - 978; VCU - 976; James Madison - 967; Virginia - 966; Hampton - 964; Radford - 964; Longwood - 964; George Mason - 948; Norfolk State - 930; Old Dominion - 910

Since it's impossible for us to tell who's doing what in the classroom, we hesitate to draw too many conclusions from these numbers. But two general observations:

- It's never surprising to see William and Mary at the top of any list of academic achievement, and kudos to Richmond as well;

- Norfolk State and especially Old Dominion need to get busy raising those scores. Not only is ODU's the lowest (by far) of any CAA team, according to the Daily Press it's also the third-lowest of 342 Division I teams. To be fair, ODU's number - which are based on numbers through the 2010-11 season - is one of the main reasons why there was a coaching change last season. It will be interesting to see the Lady Monarchs' 2011-12 score and see what kind of progress was made in the first year of the Karen Barefoot regime.

* - Two reasons to keep an eye of the 2012 World Olympic Qualifying Tournament beginning Monday in Ankarra, Turkey:

Quanitra Hollingsworth: Not sure if the ink is dry yet on the former VCU star's Turkish citizenship papers, but Q looms as a key figure in Turkey's bid for an Olympic spot;

Clarisse Machanguana: The 38-year-old ex-member of ODU's famed "Portuguese Connection" is still holding it down for Mozambique. 

The qualifying tournament also includes Mali, which for years has been led by another former ODU star, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba. But the 34-year-old Maiga-Ba is not listed on Mali's roster for this event. The top five finishers in the 12-team qualifying tournament will earn bids to the London Olympics. 

* In case you haven't seen it, here's a link to the recent ESPN report on the increasing number of men coaching women's basketball teams that casts a wary eye on Virginia Tech's hiring of Dennis Wolff. We're still waiting for a balanced look at this subject. This report - and many others we've seen on this topic - cherry-picks its facts to present only one side of the issue. 

* - Finally, congratulations to former Richmond star Danielle Bell, a Virginia Beach native who has been hired by new Auburn coach and Hampton Roads homegirl Terri Williams-Flournoy (Newport News) as the Lady Tigers' director of basketball operations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Former ODU assistant gets new job at VCU

Wendy Larry's former assistant coach is Marlene Stollings' newest assistant.

Nikita Lowry Dawkins has taken a job at VCU under Stollings, hired to replace Beth Cunningham. Cunningham left to take an associate coaching position at her alma mater, Notre Dame.

It will be the second time Stollings and Lowry Dawkins have worked together, although this time the roles will be reversed. Ten years ago, Lowry Dawkins was the head coach and Stolllings the assistant at New Mexico State.

On Dec. 20, 2002, New Mexico State placed Lowry Dawkins on administrative leave for "philosophical differences in coaching management" after complaints by several players. Stollings was named the interim head coach, but she and two other assistants ultimately walked out in protest.

Lowry Dawkins was the Lady Monarchs recruiting coordinator for seven years under Larry and held a similar position at Texas Tech. She was also head coach at New Mexico State and Detroit Mercy and has been kept busy the last year with her twins.

LadySwish congratulates Coach Nik, who will begin tackling recruiting for the Rams in their new conference, the Atlantic 10.

Lowry Dawkins joins Nathan Bellman and Franqua Bedell as new Rams assistants under Stollings. Bellman is coming off six seasons as the head coach at Ohio Dominican. Bedell spent the past four seasons as an assistant/recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Former Lady Monarch finds a new home at Chicago State

Former Old Dominion center Brittany Campbell has found a new school.

The 6-4 junior from Indianapolis has transferred to Chicago State after being released from her scholarship at ODU.

Campbell saw almost no playing time in two years with the Lady Monarchs and did not score a point last season. Chicago State finished 6-24 last season and 2-18 in the Great West Conference a year ago.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No CAA title hopes for Lady Monarchs

We've got to admit, competing in the 2014 Conference USA Tournament in El Paso, Texas seems like a long time coming and a long way away.

But Old Dominion cannot compete for a CAA Tournament title, a decision made by the CAA Council of Presidents on Tuesday. ODU is leaving the CAA after the upcoming season to join Conference USA for the 2013-14 season. Georgia State will also be ineligible to compete, as the Panthers are Sun Belt bound. And of course, VCU has left for the Atlantic 10.

The presidents ruled the same way when Richmond, East Carolina and American departed the conference in 2000-01.

None of these decisions was made with women's basketball in mind, but we can't help but feel for ODU seniors Mairi Buchan and Jackie Cook, who surely had visions of at least one CAA championship ring on their fingers. An at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament is in the cards for ODU, but a lame duck season isn't likely to do much for the ODU seniors or frankly, ODU attendance. Still no word on where the conference tournament will even be in what has been several months of turmoil for the CAA.

Have some thoughts on the topic? Should ODU have been allowed to compete? Tell us and we'll share them.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

JMU guard transfers to NC A&T

James Madison guard Debbie Smith has transferred to North Carolina A&T.

Smith, the Peninsula District Player of the Year in 2010, scored a total of 70 points in two years at JMU. The 5-10 guard must sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA rules. She will have two years of eligibility remaining.

The Aggies recently hired coach Tarrell Robinson, a former assistant to Pat Bibbs at the school. Bibbs is now the head coach at Grambling.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Pat!

LadySwish sends birthday wishes to legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt on June 14.

Dribbles and bits: Virginia Tech transfer lands in CAA; Richmond nabs a recruit; New coach at ODU; Paradise at Hampton

From the ACC to the CAA: Same letters, different school.  LaTorri Hines-Allen has signed with Towson. Hines-Allen, who spent two years at Virginia Tech, will have to sit out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules, leaving her with two years of eligibility remaining. The No. 88 recruit out of Monclair (NJ) High School, started 26 of 30 games last year for the Hokies, averaging 5.5 ppg and a team-leading 6.9 rpg.

Healy after scoring her 1,000th point.
Spiders grab a scorer: Olivia Healy, a 5-10 guard/forward from Reading (Mass) High has committed to Richmond for the 2013-14 season. The rising senior led her high school team to a 25-0 record and its first Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 state title. UMass, Providence and Holy Cross reportedly showed interest in Healy, who will likely become her school's all-time leading scorer her senior year. Healy's coach Kim Penney was named coach of the year by the Boston Globe.

Paradise for Hampton: Think the Lady Pirates didn't have a tough enough non conference schedule last year when they were snubbed by the NCAA committee by receiving a No. 16 seed in the national tournament? Consider who's on tap this season, starting with the Paradise Jam at the University of the Virgin Islands. The Lady Pirates, 26-5 last season, take on South Carolina on Nov. 22, Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 23 and DePaul on Nov. 24. All three opponents advanced to the NCAA Tournament last  year with South Carolina reaching the Sweet 16.

Richard Fortune
What's new at ODU? An assistant coach. Richard Fortune replaces Adrienne Goodson on coach Karen Barefoot's staff. Goodson slides into the Director of Operations slot. Fortune spent the last two seasons at Central Florida and was an assistant for Boo Williams' AAU Nike Travel team from  2008-10. Fortune was also a previous men's basketball assistant at Virginia State (2004-05).

Changes in Big South: Big South teams will play an unbalanced 18-game schedule with each school playing eight teams twice and two teams once. Most teams will play their first conference game prior to Jan. 1. Beginning in 2012-13, teams move to a 20-game, double round-robin format. Unlike men's basketball, women's basketball will not play in divisions. All 11 teams will participate in the conference championships. Seedings will be based on overall conference record with the top five teams receiving a bye into the quarterfinals. ... Radford assistant coach Katrina Williams has left for the heading coaching job at Tusculum College.

Q: VCU's Quanitra Hollingsworth continues her quest to be an Olympian as part of the Turkish National Team. Turkey will compete in a warmup tournament this weekend in the Czech Republic.

The big three: Tops in attendance in the state during the 2012-13 season? Virginia averaged a state-best 3,152 fans followed by Old Dominion (2,789) and Virginia Tech (2,584). Delaware was the CAA leader (3,907).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Miami combo guard verbals to Virginia

Haven't talked to her yet, but we have a pretty good idea who the latest player to verbally commit to Virginia is rooting for in the NBA Finals.

Tiffany Suarez is from Miami, and her favorite NBA player is Heat star Dwyane Wade. She's attended Wade's basketball camps for several years, and even received a text from the Heat superstar extolling the virtues of Marquette, Wade's former college and one of the schools hot on Suarez's tail.

But evidently, D-Wade's words weren't quite enough to prevent Suarez, a 5-10 guard - or 5-9, or 5-11, depending on your source - and a rising senior at  Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, from becoming the second player to verbally commit to the Cavaliers for the Class of 2013. She will join Forest Park star Breyana Mason, who pledged to Virginia last December.

Suarez is described as a high-IQ combo guard who can excel in the halfcourt and in an uptempo style. She averaged 14.2 points and 4.2 assists and earned first-team All-Dade honors for Lourdes. Suarez also plays AAU for the loaded AOT Lady Rebels, where her teammates include 6-2 forward (or is it 6-3?) Peyton Whitted, who is believed to be another UVa. recruiting target, and mega-prospect Diamond DeShields, who has committed to North Carolina..

By the way, no one asked us, but we think Suarez will be pleased with the results of the NBA Finals, as we like the Heat in six games over Oklahoma City.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Virginians in the WNBA

The Phoenix Mercury hired Avery Warley to rebound, and six games into her WNBA career, the former Liberty star is doing it as well as anyone in the league.

Through six games, the 6-3 Warley's is averaging 6.3 boards per game, 12th in the WNBA. But that number is coming in just over 16 minutes per game. Her average per 40 minutes is 15.4, second only to Chicago Sky star Sylvia Fowles (16.0) in the entire league. It all continues to make Warley, an undrafted free agent, one of the pleasant surprise stories of the young season.

Of course, this is merely a continuation of what Warley, the Big South's all-time leading rebounder, did so well for the Lady Flames. Last season, Warley's rebounding rate - the percentage of an opponent's missed shots she corralled - was the second highest in all of Division I.

The only question was whether she would get a real opportunity in the WNBA. One of the frustrating things about this league is that, with small rosters and little turnover, there are relatively few openings for the incoming talent we enjoyed watching so much in college. Of the 36 players chosen in the April WNBA draft, only 14 made opening-day rosters. In fact, more undrafted free agents made teams (4) than third-round picks (3). Makes us wonder why the WNBA has a three-round draft. One of these days, we'll get around to explaining why the WNBA shouldn't have a draft at all.

But back to Warley. There's a big difference in guarding Big South post players and guarding Candace Parker, and the increased degree of difficulty is reflected in some of Warley's other numbers. Despite ranking seventh on the Mercury in average minutes played, Warley leads the team in personal fouls and fouled out of one game in just 19 minutes. The better Warley can get at limiting her fouls, the more time she's likely to earn on the floor.

And the more rebounds she's likely to haul in.

Other WNBA players with Virginia ties:

Monica Wright, Minnesota: Third-year pro and former All-American out of Virginia is averaging 8.9 ppg coming off the bench for the loaded defending champion Lynx. Last week's game at Washington gave her a chance to play in front of her father, Gary, who suffered a heart attack last year and was unconscious for five days.

Kristi Toliver, Los Angeles: The former Maryland star and Harrisonburg native is enjoying a breakout season, averaging 20.5 points (5th in the league) on 50 percent shooting while dishing out 5.0 assists per game as the Sparks' lone point guard. Also turned in the most roller-coaster performance of the season last week against Tulsa when she set a league record with 14 turnovers, then wiped out a four-point deficit with five points in the final 16.7 seconds, including the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Jasmine Thomas, Washington: Ex-Duke standout guard and Fairfax native went off for a season-high 17 points and added 3 steals in just 16 minutes in Sunday's 94-86 loss to Connecticut.
Tamera Young, Chicago: The former James Madison star is contributing  7.2 ppg and some tenacious defense. Top reserve (28 minutes per game) and a consistent contributor for the much-improved Sky (4-1).

Kara Lawson, Connecticut: Veteran former star at Tennessee and West Springfield High has been as solid as ever for the Sun (11.4 ppg, 47-percent shooting) and is coming off an 18-point performance in Sunday's 94-86 victory over Washington.

Ticha Penicheiro, Chicago: Ex-Old Dominion point guard and 15-year WNBA veteran logged just 3 minutes in the Sky's season opener and has been sidelined ever since with a left calf injury.

Sharnee Zoll, Los Angeles: Former Virginia star and the ACC's all-time leader in assists appeared to have finally found a WNBA home with the point guard-starved Sparks. But after dishing out 14 assists with just two turnovers in two preseason games, Zoll tore an ACL. She had surgery on Monday, and two days later, she was cut. Still, there are indications that the Sparks haven't severed ties with Zoll completely, and Zoll took news of her release with class on Twitter:

Love being affiliated with the @LA Sparks organization! Got some amazing flowers today and an amazing amount of loyalty and support!
DeMya Walker, New York: Ex-Virginia star and 12-year WNBA vet logged a season-high 24 minutes in Sunday's 87-72 victory over Indiana. Averaging 3.0 ppg and 3.7 rpg heading into Tuesday's game against Atlanta.

Lynetta Kizer, Maryland. One of only three third-round draft picks to make an opening-day roster, the ex-Maryland star and Woodbridge native is averaging 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in limited minutes (8.4) for Tulsa.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

As expected, more travel for VCU in A-10

Everyone knew that VCU's move to the Atlantic 10 would require the Rams to do more traveling. Now we can quantify it

When the league announced each team's conference opponents and game sites earlier this week, we learned that VCU will travel to Butler, Richmond, Fordham, Charlotte, St. Bonaventure, Temple and Saint Louis. Those seven schools are a combined 2,725 miles (approximately) from Richmond. Last year, the Rams' nine CAA road foes were a combined 1,769 miles from campus.

Granted, the Rams' 2011-12 conference schedule was particularly travel-friendly as it required only one major junket (Georgia State) and no visits to Hofstra or Northeastern. But even the year before, when they did have to venture to Massachusetts and Georgia, the total was 2,207 miles, still more than 500 less than their new A-10 slate.

The Rams will make just seven road trips because the Atlantic 10 settled on a 14-game schedule for its 16 women's basketball teams. Each team will play one game against 14 of the 15 other league teams. VCU's conference home games will be against George Washington, Dayton, Duquesne, LaSalle, Xavier, Rhode Island and St. Joseph's. The one A-10 team VCU will not face is UMass.

Fellow A-10 member Richmond will have home games against Charlotte, Dayton, VCU, UMass, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis and Xavier; and road games at Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Butler, Rhode Island, St. Joseph's and Temple. The Spiders will not play LaSalle.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Former Hokie now at Central Florida

Virginia Tech transfer Brittni Montgomery will resume her college career at Central Florida, the Knights announced. The 6-3 forward averaged 2.1 points and 2.6 rebounds in 45 games (5 starts) for the Hokies over two seasons. She sat out five games last season while battling knee injuries. Montgomery will have two seasons of eligibility at UCF after sitting out the 2012-13 campaign.

"Brittni will definitely add to our post presence and brings major Division I experience with her," UCF coach Joi Williams said.

Montgomery is a native of Fort Pierce, Fla., which is about a two-hour drive from the UCF campus in Orlando.

A chat with new Atlantic 10 associate commissioner Wendy Larry

Winning games has always been only part of what Wendy Larry has brought to women's basketball. She is a pioneer and an ambassador, a former WBCA president, a community role model, a mentor to her peers and now an associate commissioner in the Atlantic 10 with a emphasis on women's hoops.

While that's a great opportunity for the former Old Dominion coach, consider the boon it is for the coaches in the A-10 to have Larry as a mentor.

"That's my hope," said Larry from her condo in Marco Island, Fla. "I was talking with (ODU field hockey coach) Beth Anders about the benefit of having the opportunity for a commissioner to sit across the table and ask you, 'What are your thoughts? What are your needs? What are the important pieces of the puzzle that you think are missing?' To have conversation about that, to put everyone in the same direction instead of the conference moving one way and the coaches moving somewhere else, that's ideal. You want to make sure everybody is on the same page."

Larry officially starts in her new role on Thursday, but really she is already under way, making calls to A-10 athletic directors and coaches, many of whom she knows well. St. Louis coach Lisa Stone, Rhode Island coach Cathy Inglese and Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley were all on the WBCA board while Larry was president. Larry also knows Marlene Stollings, named VCU coach on Tuesday.

While Larry hasn't coached in more than a year now, it really has never left her blood.

"I feel like I am coaching," she says. "I said that to a number of coaches I spoke to yesterday. In some regard it's mentoring, obviously; it's being there for them, sharing opinions about mistakes I've made or about ideas that worked. From that perspective, I'm really psyched about this chance. It's life lessons, man. It's about relationships. I'm really thrilled that (A-10 commissioner) Bernie McGlade gave me this opportunity."

A chance meeting in the wee hours at the Newport News Airport started it all, with Larry en route to visit her mother and McGlade headed to an A-10 school for a meeting.

"I was in front of her and she was in security," Larry said. "We sat and talked until I had to board my flight. She asked me at that time if I would coach again. I was hopeful. I still had that kind of feeling that I wanted to, but I told her at the time, in my heart, I was looking at some other things -- not because I didn't love coaching, but everything that happened taints you a little bit. I told her I knew I wanted to be involved in the game. I knew I didn't want to leave the game, but I didn't know what that meant."

Larry later toured the Newport News A-10 offices but McGlade was uncertain whether a job would be available. It wasn't until Larry headed to Florida that she got a call from McGlade saying the A-10 wanted to officially interview her.

As luck would have it, the A-10 was having meetings in Naples, Fla., about 30 minutes from Marco Island.

"I can't deny this opportunity was a gift from God," Larry said.

Marketing will be among her responsibilities, and improving attendance is already on her mind.

"The attendance piece is huge," she said. "There are so many groups out there seeking acceptance. I think of all the Buddy Walk kids. What a tremendous group of people that is who would love to be loved. That's what women's basketball does so well. I think they relate really well to their fan base, so if you can create relationships with these people, it's a win-win situation. There's a number of groups out there that I think can be courted."

She includes students on that list.

"Students are fickle," Larry said. "They can be influenced and changed. I'm sitting here at night watching the NCAA softball tournament. It's intriguing to me, some of the things that are going on in the dugout and the cameras are on them.They're watching them sing and they have a sign language. Maybe there's a niche out there for women's basketball we haven't found yet."

Larry has traveled extensively the past year, spending much of it with her 89-year-old mother, who she promises remains an independent and spry woman.

"I've been able to have some really quality time with her," Larry said. "It's been invaluable. It's been the greatest thing I could ever imagine. I wouldn't trade it for the world."

Admittedly, she said, the past year has been trying at times, one of the reasons she stayed on the road for much of it.

"It was difficult for a number of reasons," she said. "You had to educate people because people would ask what has happening with the team, and I had to explain it wasn't my team. You think you live in this big world of athletics. In truth, it's a teeny, tiny world. A lot of people don't know. They know, but they don't know. They know because I've been around so long, but they don't know I'm not at Old Dominion anymore. It got tiresome talking about it all the time."

Larry said she never formally interviewed for another coaching position, though ironically has been approached twice since taking the A-10 job.

"I was being really picky; I really was," she said. "I lived in Arizona for two years and I knew I was never going to be land locked again. I only looked at water-based universities."

Instead she landed about 45 minutes from her Virginia Beach home in a city on the James River, water she knows well.

Larry feels lucky to have found the opportunity, but LadySwish has no doubt that the A-10 coaches, athletic directors, administrators and players are the real ones with the good fortune to have hired such a winner.

VCU names Marlene Stollings head coach

VCU named Winthrop's Marlene Stollings as its head coach on Tuesday, and if her impact on the Rams is anything like the one she had during her lone season in charge of the Eagles, we enthusiastically approve of this hire.

Stallings will be formally introduced at a VCU press conference on Wednesday at 3 p.m. She replaces Beth Cunningham, the winningest coach in Rams history, who stepped down to take a position on Muffet McGraw's staff at Notre Dame.

The Winthrop bunch Stollings inherited last season wasn't just mediocre (13-18). It was mediocre and dull. Averaged just 51.5 points a game, 326th out of 333 Division I teams. Then Stollings showed up, and, not unlike Cynthia Cooper-Dyke at UNC Wilmington a few years ago, changed the culture and the team's fortunes in one offseason with essentially the same cast of characters. Thanks to a newly revved-up offense, the Eagles averaged nearly 20 points per game more than the previous year (69.6 ppg, 43rd in D-I). They established 45 team/individual "firsts" in the program's Division I era (since 1986). And they contended all season in the Big South - including scoring a win over conference heavyweight Liberty - en route to a third-place finish and an 18-13 mark. No one should have been surprised when Stollings was named Big South Coach of the Year.

Stollings' credentials runs much deeper than her one season at Winthrop. She still hold the Ohio high school record for career points (3,514). She ranked eighth in the nation in scoring as a senior at Ohio University. She then racked up 10 years of Division I assistant coaching experience, the last four at the SEC's Ole Miss. Her reputation as a top assistant was confirmed in 2010 by her invitation to the prestigious Villa 7 Consortium - held annually at VCU - which no doubt set the stage for her landing the Winthrop gig a year later.

Of course, every new coach's resume sounds good at the opening press conference. The key with Stollings is that when finally given a chance to run her own program, her results matched the resume.

Stollings will be wading into another rebuilding situation at VCU. For the first time in several years, the Rams appear to be approaching a season without at least one WNBA-caliber performer around which to build. Furthermore, VCU's move to the Atlantic 10, which will include 16 teams this season, puts the Rams in a league top-heavy with quality teams. Remember, VCU was the sixth seed in the CAA Tournament despite having Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour. Without those two, we fear the Rams will be hard-pressed to finish in the top half of their new conference.

Then again, this time last year we didn't think much of Winthrop's Big South chances, either.

Stollings already appears to have one assistant coach in place - former Ohio Dominican head coach Nathan Bellman, who announced his resignation on Monday. Bellman and Stollings were assistants on the same staff at Wright State a few years ago.