Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dribbles and bits on W&M, JMU, GMU, VCU, etc.

Consider this a grab-and-go bag of notes from around the Commonwealth.

*William and Mary has hired former ODU Director of Operations Beth Bradley as an assistant coach to Debbie Taylor. Bradley, who last year was a volunteer coach at the University of Denver, worked under former ODU coach Wendy Larry in 2010-11 and was a former graduate assistant to Cindy Fisher at the University of San Diego. Fisher was an assistant coach on Larry's staff in the '90s. That completes Taylor's staff, which also includes newcomers Kelly Morrone, an assistant who was formerly at Rhode Island, and Chris Koclanes, director of operations. (Koclanes, as you might have guessed, is the bro of former ODU assistant Belle Koclanes, who is now at American.)

Sean O'Regan
*James Madison's Sean O'Regan has been promoted to associate head coach, coach Kenny Brooks announced Wednesday. O'Regan joined the JMU staff in 2007. The JMU graduate coordinates JMU's schedule and is in charge of the Dukes' guard play. He is rated No. 11 among the nation's Top 25 assistant mid-major coaches  on (yes, there is a rating for everything......). FYI: Delaware's Jeanine Radice is No. 6, Liberty's Heather Stephens is No. 7, UNCW's Jimmy Garrity is No. 14 and VCU's Tarrell Robinson, No. 15.

Also for JMU, Dukes graduate Andrea Woodson-Smith leads Team USA into its first game in the 2012 Paralympics in London on Thursday. The U.S. meets France.

*At VCU Aseem Rasogi has been hired as director of player personnel to new coach Marlene Stollings. Rasogi's responsibilities will include oversight of community, alumni and university relations,  assisting with the program's male scout team, database oversight and camp coordination.
McRae now an Aggie

As for who's not at VCU .... sophomore Aprill McRae has transferred to North Carolina A&T after a freshman year where she shot 50 percent from the field in averaging 4.9 ppg and 4.4 rpg for the Rams. McRae also started nine games. While the 6-3 McRae will have to sit out the basketball season due to NCAA transfer rules, she is currently playing volleyball for the Aggies. ... Sophomore guard Christina Carter has also transferred to NC A&T. Carter made 29 starts and averaged 4.6 ppg for VCU last season.

Also gone, Kiana Trice-Hill, a promising 6-2 forward, who redshirted last season due to a knee injury. Trice-Hill's mother, Trena, has landed at Columbia University, as an assistant to coach Paul Nixon.

George Mason announced its non conference slate on Wednesday, which includes road games at Maryland and at George Washington. The Patriots open the season in Rochester, Mich., at Oakland on Nov. 9 and play their home opener on Nov. 13 against Maryland-Eastern Shore. They will also participate in the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 23-24, opening against host New Mexico State.

In Blacksburg, Australian wing Hannah Young has deferred her admission to Virginia Tech until spring 2013.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dispatch from Dawn: Evans on life in LA, her good bud Kristi and bonjour!

While the WNBA hasn't released an official transaction yet, Dawn Evans is no longer an LA Spark. The former James Madison superstar, who had two points, three assists and a steal in her final outing as a Spark on Aug 23, had only been signed to a seven-day contract and was released with the return on Saturday of guard Jenna O'Hea. O'Hea missed the first half of the season playing for Team Australia.

As always, Dawn was thoughtful in sharing her thoughts about her WNBA whirlwind week with LadySwish.

After her season in Austria, Evans stayed for all of the Connecticut Sun's training camp  only to be waived at the end. Playing in the Sun's three exhibition games, she says, gave her a taste of how elevated the professional game is from the collegiate one.

"Then to be signed to the seven-day with LA,  to play in official WNBA games, was even more of an amazing experience. I had been working out with LA for a month prior to them signing me, so the knowledge gained from that was even more."

Evans was thrilled to be playing alongside Harrisonburg native Kristi Toliver, this week's Western Conference Player of the Week, by the way.;

"Playing and being with Kristi was good for me," Evans says. "For one, she's a special friend of mine so I enjoyed her company as much as just being able to spend time with her and pick her brain about ball. She's basically who I hung out with all the time. She made the transition of being on that team as easy as it possibly could be. Not to mention Kristi is not a bad player to watch to help your game at her position with the way she's been playing!"

The living in LA part wasn't bad, either. If you recall, Evans is a former child star who admits to still having acting ambitions.

 "I must admit I fell in love with LA all over again," she says. "It's where I want to be as I've said before. But being able to be there on a WNBA roster with really great girls was awesome! Not just KT but all the girls on the team were so welcoming and talented.

"I'll be back though! The jury is still out on whether it will be for ball or acting,"

So what now for Dawn? Let's just say she doesn't waste time.

Arras, in northern France, by night.
"I'm headed to start my overseas season in France," said Evans, prior to boarding a 3:30 p.m. CST plane on Monday."I'm excited about season No. 2 in Europe!"

Evans, who averaged 10.2 ppg with the Flying Foxes in Austria, will play for Arras, the French Cup champion. LadySwish promises to keep you posted on her season.

LadySwish mailbag: Potential for big things at George Mason?

We love questions from our readers, and we got one asking about the potential for George Mason to pull off an upset or two given the addition of impact transfer Taylor Brown, a former All-Met Player of the Year who spent her freshman year at Georgetown.

First things first. The 5-7 sophomore is a great get for George Mason, and we wish we didn't have to wait a season to see her on the floor, as she'll sit out 2012-13 due to NCAA transfer rules. But that still means she has three years of eligibility remaining.

We wish Taleia Moton wasn't out of eligibility. We don't know of a player who improved more from her junior to senior season than Moton, who led the Patriots in scoring, minutes, field-goal percentage and steals. The Patriots' crop of nice wins last season behind the CAA first-teamer included a sweep of VCU (first time since 2003-04) and victories over Drexel and ODU.

Minus Moton, they'll need more offense from forwards Amber Easter and Janaa Pickard. But we're expecting big things from a nice recruiting class highlighted by freshman Reana Mohamed, a dynamic shooting guard in high school, and Kyana Jacobs, part of a Pensacola Junior College team that finished third in the NJCAA national championship. Add on 6-4 shot blocker Ondrea Shaw of Coffeyville Community College, whose length and athleticism should give the Patriots a defensive force in the paint.

We love where coach Jeri Porter is going with these team. It's not unthinkable to predict a nonconference upset or two, but we really like their chances when Brown is eligible in 2013-14.

Monday, August 20, 2012

JMU grad gets her own shot at Olympic Gold

Andrea Woodson-Smith has visions of bringing home Gold.

The James Madison graduate, a member of Team USA Women's Paralympic Basketball team, is Olympic-bound on Thursday. The 2012 Paralympics  start Aug. 27 and conclude Sept. 8 in London. Queen Elizabeth will open the Games for only the second time in history.

Woodson-Smith wasn't a household name at JMU, where injuries derailed her basketball career. In addition to being hampered by arthritis, she was undercut while going for a rebound, leading to three hip fractures. Today with a bachelor's from JMU (1994), a master's from NC Central (1999) and a doctorate from Texas Women's College (2006) -- she is an assistant professor at NC Central, teaching adaptive physical education and individualizing exercise programs for the disabled.

Woodson-Smith can walk but is confined to a wheelchair for basketball. Wheelchair basketball follows most of the same rules as the able-bodied game, with players having to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the chair.

"It's harder in that you might know the game, but you have to be able to maneuver the chair," Woodson-Smith said. "Being able to do that is really hard, especially for somebody who has their full body like myself and who is 6-3 -- mostly legs. Most of my teammates are paraplegic and acquired their injury at a very young age, so their bottom half didn't grow as strong as their top half. Their chairs are really short versus my chair, which is pretty long."

It took Woodson-Smith a year to learn how to work the chair effectively. She's made regular drives from her Durham, N.C., home to Charlotte and Texas to find competition and to Wisconsin and Alabama to train for these Games. Her first chance at Olympic Gold came eight years ago when she was on the verge of going to Beijing as a member of Team USA.

But two weeks prior to leaving, her physical was rejected. Doctors feared she had Marfan syndrome. She didn't. "But they wouldn't sign off," she said.

After both parents were diagnosed with cancer, Woodson-Smith retired from the sport, missing her chance at the Paralympics four years ago in Mexico. She came out of retirement in 2009 with her eyes on the 2012 Games.

"I'm nervous and making sure I don't do anything stupid to hurt myself, so I don't spoil my chance to go," she said.

Her forte now is the same as it was in her high school and college days: rebounding. Still, her most famous moment is a blocked shot in the waning seconds of the World Championships that secured a two-point win for the U.S. team over Germany two years ago. Yet as much as she's grown to enjoy the wheelchair game, she misses the simplicity of the basketball she grew up playing.

"There's a lot of political issues involved in wheelchair basketball, and it's very expensive," Woodson-Smith said. "What we do comes right out of our own pocket. We can't go to a gym and pay membership fees and play. You've got to find a gym where nobody is playing where you can get on the court. You've got to pay for your equipment. That part is very frustrating."

For a long while, she couldn't watch the WNBA. Now she's moved on in life, embracing the chance to make her own history. The United States meets France in its first game on Aug. 27. Ten teams are in the event, including The Netherlands, Great Britain, China, Australia and Mexico. The opening games will be in Basketball Arena in Olympic Park with the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship in North Greenwich Arena. The U.S. team has won back-to-back golds.

Says Woodson-Smith, "Root for Team USA."

LadySwish is rooting for Woodson-Smith, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whoa! Look who's signed with the LA Sparks! Dawn Evans

Looks like Dawn Evans is heading to Hollywood after all.

Evans, the former JMU star who a year ago flirted with giving up basketball to become an actress, has signed with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. The team announced the news via press release; Evans used a more get-with-the-times approach to spread the news late Friday night.

The Sparks will return to post-Olympics action at 10 p.m. Saturday night in Seattle. The game is scheduled to be broadcast on NBATV. JMU fans may be able to catch Evans in person on Sept. 7 when the Sparks visit Washington.

The move allows Evans to join forces with Harrionburg native Kristi Toliver, the former Maryland sharpshooter who is enjoying a breakout season while shuttling between point and 2-guard since a season-ending injury to ex-Virginia standout Sharnee Zoll cost Los Angeles the services of its only true point guard. Toliver currently leads the WNBA in minutes played. If Evans can provide some serviceable minutes at the point, Toliver can not only get a blow every now and then but can also spend more time letting it fly as a two.

In short, Evans will attempt to fill a need in Washington, which wasn't the case in the spring when she tried out for the Connecticut Sun. The Sun signed Evans, but during the preseason all but admitted they had no roster spot for her. Evans had no chance of making that team.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Old Dominion vs. Tennessee: It was never just another basketball game

Old Dominion vs. Tennessee. It wasn't just another game on the schedule. It was a basketball tradition.

The series that dates back to 1979 ended on Wednesday with the announcement of ODU's non conference schedule, which does not include a contest against the Lady Vols for the first time since 1984. The teams have played 43 times, including the 1997 national title game.
First and foremost, we're not taking shots at second-year Lady Monarchs coach Karen Barefoot, who has put together the type of schedule befitting a rebuilding program. But the news of ODU's nonconference schedule wasn't in the teams ODU will play. Rather it is in the familiar foe that is missing.

It was in 2009 that I asked Pat Summitt whether there was a chance the series between the schools might end soon. Summitt scoffed at the idea. In the pioneer days of women's basketball, she appreciated that a powerhouse like ODU would make room for Tennessee on its schedule. But Summitt, like her good friend Wendy Larry, is no longer at the head of her program.

Things change.

Many will say it was time. The series, dubbed a rivalry once, hasn't been. ODU's last win came in its glory season. Trailing by 10 at the half, the Lady Monarchs rallied for an 83-72 victory during the regular season in 1997 -- a loss the Lady Vols would avenge dearly in the title game. Later Summitt would say, however, that that loss for her Lady Vols before a frenzied Field House was her most memorable game in the building.

In 2008, ODU came achingly close to pulling off the upset with a 71-70 lead, time winding down. The eventual Sweet 16-bound Lady Monarchs couldn't finish, falling 81-76.

Most of the games in Knoxville were one-sided affairs. In 2000, the Lady Vols prevailed 113-55 to hand the program its worst loss at the time. Two years later, however, ODU had a lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play only to fall 74-62. The Lady Monarchs, who never won at Thompson-Boling Arena, have not won in Knoxville since 1982.

But now they don't get to play in that orange metropolis of a building rich with tradition. Nor will the orange make a regular stop in Norfolk, a biennial visit that has attracted even non-basketball folks to The Ted. Admittedly, one of my favorites moments of those games was the introduction of Pat Summitt, cheered by the Norfolk fans, who appreciated what she had done for the game even if they dearly wanted her team to fall flat on their floor.

To understand just how special it is to be a regular on the Tennessee schedule, all you had to do was talk to another CAA coach about the prospect. While ODU has a history of the best coming to Norfolk to play, many of the other CAA coaches would find their calls unreturned by the game's stalwarts. Other times the offer was, "You can play at our place. We're not coming to yours."

So ODU was lucky through the years -- fortunate to be on the floor against Michelle Marciniak, Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker. As lopsided as the results could be in Rocky Top, the trip there was still a worthwhile one -- a measuring stick at times, a history lesson at the very least. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is only a few minutes from Thompson-Boling.

Tennessee was lucky, too, as we have no doubt that Summitt delivered a history lesson of her own to her players about Old Dominion's place in the sport.

The teams might very well play again, but the series is over. Some might be happy about that, others wistful, but there's no denying that ODU-Tennessee was always more than just another game on the schedule.

ODU sked: No Tennessee

No orange on ODU's schedule
Old Dominion released its non conference schedule on Wednesday, and just as many fans have speculated, one opponent is missing: Tennessee. The Lady Monarchs have played the Lady Vols 43 times over the years and every year since 1985. The home-and-home series, though not overly competitive of late, had been one of the staples of the program under former coach Wendy Larry.

Coach Karen Barefoot is looking to rebuild a program that will have a whole new look in 2011-12 thanks to the addition of key recruits Stephanie Gardner, Shae Kelly, Chelisa Painter -- all transfers -- and an impressive freshman class that includes highly touted Galaisha Goodhope from Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach and LaQuandra Younger of Warwick High in Newport News. (Gardner is eligible the second semester; Painter is not eligible until next season, all due to NCAA transfer rules.) Barefoot has put together a schedule that reflects that with seven home games and first-ever meetings with foes including USC Upstate.

ODU's largest test will come in the Dec. 19-21 Las Vegas tournament "Duel of the Desert," which includes Notre Dame, Texas A&M,  Kansas State, UNLV and Alabama State.  ODU opens with UNLV with the winner meeting the winner of Kansas State/Texas A&M. ODU will play three games in the event.

ODU also plays Cal at home (will the Lady Bears travel to Charlottesville, we wonder?)

Home games include Dartmouth, NC Central, Maryland-Eastern Shore and now A-10 foe VCU should give this young team a chance to go into conference play in January with a winning record. The caveat: ODU cannot win the CAA this year, as the Lady Monarchs are making the move to Conference USA next season. That means an at-large bid is the only chance ODU has at the postseason.

The Lady Monarchs open the season on Nov. 9 at Virginia Tech and host USC Upstate in their home opener on Nov. 13.

The Constant Center is also host to an NCAA regional March 31 and April 2.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

George Mason lands impact transfer

The 2011 All-Met Player of the Year may be leaving Georgetown, but she's not leaving town.

Hoyas transfer guard Taylor Brown will stay in the Washington area and join the Patriots, George Mason announced Wednesday. As a senior at Bishop McNamara, the 5-7 Brown averaging 20.4 points, 4.8 steals and 3.9 assists and was named the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the Gatorade State Player of the Year (Maryland) in addition to heading up the Washington Post's All-Met squad. Talk about a recruiting coup. We can't remember being this excited about an incoming Patriot since, ah, us out, George Mason fans. When's the last time the Patriots bagged a player with this kind of resume?

Last season, Brown joined a veteran Georgetown team featuring seven seniors and had to battle for minutes. Yet she still made 12 starts, appeared in all 32 games and averaged 4.1 points per contest during the 2011-12 campaign. Brown appeared poised for a much greater role with the Hoyas as a sophomore, but Georgetown underwent a dramatic change in April when head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy resigned to accept the same position at Auburn. Keith Brown, an assistant and Williams-Flournoy's lead recruiter the past five seasons, moved up to fill the vacancy, but in early July, the school announced that Brown had decided to move on.

Brown will have to sit out the 2012-13 season but will then have three seasons to display her major Division I talent for the Patriots. .

Dribbles and bits: Richmond's Wann Japan bound; Virginia nabs a recruit; Liberty releases schedule, etc.

One of our faves, Becca Wann, who does double time at Richmond as a basketball and soccer player, will miss a month of the Spiders season as she will play in the 2012 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Japan (Aug. 19 until Sept. 8). Last year's A-10 Player of the Year and an All-American, Wann will return in time for conference play; the Spiders are picked to finish second in the league behind Dayton. Wann has scored 25 goals in her first two seasons with Richmond.

Hand it to Liberty coach Carey Green for getting his kids back home to play, but gee, coach, could we fit in a game with maybe Texas State? Nope, Green has the Lady Flames slated to play the last two national champions -- Texas A&M on Nov. 20 followed by Baylor three days later. With four Texas natives on the roster -- Reagan Miller, Tolu Omotola, Emily Frazier and Sadalia Ellis -- we applaud Green for allowing his kids to play in their home state. But what daunting opponents as Liberty found out in 2010 when the Lady Flames played the same two teams, falling to A&M 81-49 and then Baylor 81-42.

Other highlights from the recently released Liberty sked: the season opener in the preseason WNIT against Duquesne; a Dec. 4 date at WNIT finalist James Madison; a Dec. 20 matchup against VCU; and a Jan. 26 meeting with Longwood -- the first time the teams will meet as Big South foes. Speaking of conference play, it begins as early as it ever has for Liberty when the Lady Flames travel to Radford on Dec. 1.

No longer on the JMU roster: Briana Jones has transferred to Georgia Southern. The 6-2 forward from Powder Springs, Ga., did not log any minutes last year for the Dukes. Also gone, guards Tanica Anderson and Debbie Smith. Smith is at North Carolina A&T.

Virginia has received a verbal commitment from 6-1 Amanda Fioravanti, a rising senior forward from Maryland's Good Counsel High School. Fiorvanti's high school teammate Faith Randolph will be a freshman for the Cavaliers this year.

Janine Aldridge
Love the creativity of the W&M sports info department, which has started a series of videos catching up with student-athletes. The first subject is a dandy one: Janine Aldridge. What living person would she like to spend 15 minutes with? Tune in and find out.

Former Virginia Tech standout Amy Wetzel Doolan will be inducted into the school's Hall of Fame on Sept. 7. The A-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, Doolan remains the Hokies all-time leader in games played (129) and free throws made (489), while being the fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,444 points. She is currently the team's head physician.

Hungry for VCU news? Check back later this week as we're chatting with new coach Marlene Stollings!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hey, is that Abby Wambach and a gold medal? A real thrill for Duke's Elizabeth Williams

Abby Wambach and Williams
Let's say you're walking in the Newark Airport, minding your own business, awaiting your flight to Paris and who should you run into? How about a couple members of the United States women's national soccer team that won Gold last week in the Olympics!

That's exactly what happened to the Duke women's basketball team, which includes our very own Elizabeth Williams of Virginia Beach. Duke is en route to Europe for the DWB European Tour from Aug. 13-22.

We're betting Williams will be bringing own her own gold in the not-so-distant future.

By the way, in case you missed it, check out our  exclusive with Williams that we ran earlier this summer.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ODU's Tia Lewis signs pro contract in Israel

Old Dominion's Tia Lewis will begin her professional career in Israel alongside VCU's Courtney Hurt and Richmond's Abby Oliver.

Lewis has joined both on the roster of Israel's Elitzur Netanya, according to Eurobasket. She is the fourth Lady Monarch to join the team (Monique Coker, Tay Ransburg, Okeisha Howard).

Lewis promises to talk with LadySwish on Friday about her new life.

Said team manager Simcha Lev-Tzur: "Tia Lewis continues a lineage of excellent players who studied at Old Dominion and then came to Elizur Netanya. ... Tia Lewis, together with Courtney Hurt, completes a line of two high and excellent players, which should set the tone for the league."

Major congrats, Tia. We look forward to chatting with you!

Who's Recruiting Our Kids?

Lots of new faces out recruiting. LadySwish bids a fond hello to the newcomers and adieu to those who have moved on.

William and Mary
Say hello to....

Kelly Morrone
Kelly Morrone: A former Debbie Taylor recruit during the Tribe head coach's stint as an assistant at South Carolina, Morrone finished her playing career No. 3 on the Gamecocks all-time list in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage. She has since had assistant coaching stints at Buffalo (3 years), Davidson (2 years) and, most recently, Rhode Island (2 years). Remember, the Rams went 1-28 last season and ended the campaign on a 26-game losing streak. Now, we're not pinning this on Morrone, just pointing it out because, as Louis Freeh put it, the facts are the facts. Besides, there's not question Morrone knows what it's like to be part of a much more successful operation. Fun fact: In 1999, Morrone set the Cicero-North Syracuse High School record for career points (1,821). The former record-holder? ESPN's Beth Mowins. Morrone's record stood until last season, which it was broken - OK, obliterated - by Next Big Thing Breanna Stewart, the latest thoroughbred in the UConn stable.

Chris Koclanes: ODU alum joins Tribe as director of operations.

Even with the addition of Morrone, the Tribe is still in the market for coaches because....

Say goodbye to....

Meg Barber: After seven years with the Tribe, Barber is now an assistant at Temple.
Shavon Earp: Now an assistant to Terrell Robinson (the former VCU assistant) at North Carolina A&T.
Janell Crayton: Former Tribe director of basketball ops is now an assistant coach at UNC Asheville.

Tribe staff: Debbie Taylor (head coach), Will Ingersoll, Kelly Morrone, Chris Koclanes (DOBO)

Ashley Earley
Say hello to....

Ashley Earley: Former star player at Vanderbilt, which according to us now makes her one of the 10 best players-turned-coaches in the ACC. Joins the Cavaliers after a two-year stint as an assistant at Marquette. Specializes in working with post players.

Say goodbye to....

Katie O'Connor: Former Virginia Tech player and assistant spent just one season with the Cavaliers. Virginia's release said O'Connor stepped down for "personal reasons related to her health," so we were scratching our heads a bit when she quickly resurfaced as a full-time assistant at Kansas. But if this means O'Connor's health is good enough to keep her in the game, we're certainly cool with that. Besides, we're sure she'll be comfortable reuniting with Jayhawks coach Bonnie Henrickson, a woman for whom she played for and has served as an assistant under for 10 seasons.

Cavaliers staff: Joanne Boyle (head coach), Kim and Cory McNeill, Earley, Sarah Holsinger (DOBO).

Say hello to....

Sarah Williams: Former JMU standout and graduate assistant for the Dukes last season assumes her first full-fledged assistant's role. By the way, we were in the process of setting up an interview with Williams before real-life duties dragged us down another path. So Sarah, if you're reading this, hang in there - we're still coming for you!
Adria Crawford: Becomes an assistant within months of completing her playing career at Big East powerhouse Georgetown.

Say goodbye to....

Jenny Poff: Former player at Ohio University returns to her roots in the Buckeye State as an assistant at Kent State.
Lindsay Schrader: Ex-Notre Dame star now an assistant at Loyola University-Chicago after one season at Longwood.

Lancers staff: Bill Reinson (head coach), Wanisha Smith, Williams, Crawford.

Marlene Stollings
Say hello to....

Marlene Stollings (head coach): Not sure what sold the Rams administration on this coach, but she had us as soon as she began talking about how she wants to score, score, score. Her ability to transform Winthrop in just one season has us giddy about the possibilities for VCU.
Niki Dawkins: Stud high school and college (Ohio State) player and longtime ODU assistant re-teams with Stollings as lead assistant. Stollings was once an assistant to Dawkins at New Mexico State. Mother of 10-month-old twins. Relentlessly upbeat Tweeter.
Franqua Bedell: The new "Q" at VCU, Bell comes to the Rams after a four-year stint as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State. Another relentlessly upbeat Tweeter.
Eric Thibault: Comes to VCU after a five-year stint with the WNBA's Connecticut Sun and is the son of Sun head coach Mike Thibault. Eric Thibault spent five seasons as an assistant for player development and scouting with the Sun and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, St. John's.

*Nate Bellman, who resigned his head coaching position at Ohio Dominican in June to be an assistant to Stollings, was unable to make the move to Virginia due to family medical issue.

Say goodbye to....

Beth Cunningham: Former Rams head coach now an assistant at Notre Dame
Terrell Robinson: Ex-Rams assistant now the head coach at North Carolina A&T
Darren Guensch: After two years as a VCU assistant, Guensch is now an assistant at UNC Greensboro
Carolyn Riley: Former director of basketball ops now an assistant coach at Georgia Southern.

Rams staff: Marlene Stollings (head coach), Niki Dawkins, Franqua Bedell, Eric Thibault

George Mason
Say hello to....

Tiffany Gwynn
Tiffany Gwynn: Former Liberty standout who also spent four seasons as an assistant at Hampton. Comes to Mason after a three-year stint at UNC Asheville. Joins the Patriots after three seasons at UNC Asheville. By the way, if Hampton thinks it got screwed when the NCAA tournament committee handed the Lady Pirates a No. 16 seed last season, consider what happened to Gwynn's 1998 Liberty team. That squad went 28-0 but was also seeded 16th. Furthermore, the Lady Flames were sent to Knoxville to face Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and an undefeated Tennessee squad that was arguably the finest of Pat Summitt's legendary career. Final score: Tennessee 102, Liberty 58.

Say goodbye to....

Jim Lewis: Veteran coach now an assistant with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.
Antoya Miller: Former director of basketball operations, now an assistant at Eastern Illinois.

Patriots staff: Jeri Porter (head coach), Jana Ashley, Greg Pulliam, Gwynn.

Old Dominion
Say hello to....

Richard Fortune: Well-connected former Boo Williams AUU girls basketball assistant signs on with the Lady Monarchs after two years as an assistant at UCF.

Say goodbye to....

Sara Teachey: Former director of basketball ops. Ex-Lady Monarchs great Adrienne Goodson, an ODU assistant last season, will assume these duties.

Lady Monarchs staff: Karen Barefoot (head coach), Amaka Agugua, Tom McConnell, Fortune, Goodson (DOBO).

Say hello to....

Victoria Best: Owner of the best statistic on this page - a 4.0 grade-point average after four years at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Got into the coaching game in 2000 and had stops at Colgate and Siena on the road to Radford.
Danielle Dawson: We remember covering Dawson during her days as a MEAC star at Hampton, and folks, the young lady could ball. Returns to the Commonwealth after a six-year stint as an assistant at Delaware State.
Lindsay Walter: Miami graduate assistant joins Highlanders as director of ops.

Say goodbye to....

Katrina Williams: Former Roanoke College star assumes the head-coaching slot at Tusculum after two years as a Highlanders assistant.
Fran Recchia: Will join Williams as part of the new staff at Tusculum.

Highlanders staff: Tajama Abraham Ngongba (head coach), Felecia Burroughs, Best, Dawson, Lindsay Walter (DOBO)

Staying put

The following staffs are staying intact for the 2012-13 school year.

Norfolk State staff: Debra Clark (head coach), Lashondra Dixon-Gordon, Kenny Edwards, Corey Eaton.

Virginia Tech staff: Dennis Wolff (head coach), Billi Godsey, Chantelle Anderson, Tom Joyce, Bill Old (DOBO).

Liberty staff: Carey Green (head coach), Alexis Sherard, Heather Stephens, Andrea "Andy" Bloodworth, Sarah Boruta (DOBO).

Hampton staff: David Six (head coach), Barbara Burgess, Brian Davis, Ashlee Finley.

Richmond staff: Michael Shafer (head coach), Ginny Doyle, Ebony Tanner Moore, Mike McGuire, Nicki Williams (DOBO)