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Jason Belzer

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Top 25 High Major Women’s College Basketball Assistants

Over the past few seasons, I compiled lists of the top assistant coaches in men’s college basketball, most of which have now gone on to lead their own programs as head coaches. On the heels of the success of these lists, I have decided to provide a similar ranking for women’s college basketball “High-Major” assistant coaches.

Ranking the quality of a team is never easy. Ranking the quality of a coach is even harder. Ranking an assistant coach is well… almost down right impossible. There are so many factors that go into determining what exactly makes a good assistant coach; work ethic, servants mentality, reliability, attention to detail, recruiting skills, overall basketball knowledge, the list goes on and on. What is most imperative to remember is that even though assistant coaches are integral parts of each program, they are not irreplaceable. A good assistant supports his head coach, and not the other way around.

In compiling this list, several factors were weighed, one of the more significant of which was an assistant’s longevity with the program. Those that have served their time and paid their dues with unquestionable loyalty to their head coaches have proven their worth as an assistant and will themselves be rewarded one day with the opportunity to lead a program. Other factors that went into the rankings include; overall program success while on staff, total years as an assistant, head coaching experience, recruiting, reputation amongst peers, and future potential. Many staffs, as you will see, have two long tenured assistants that have worked in tandem and are thus grouped together.

Almost all of those listed will one day be head of their own programs and those that are not will only be so by choice. Most importantly is the realization that this list was created not to classify the haves from the have-nots, but to honor those assistants who have done great work throughout their careers and bring something truly special to a staff.

1. Chris Dailey - Connecticut
In her 26 seasons at UConn, Dailey has helped Geno Auriemma build the Lady Huskie basketball program into a national powerhouse. She has established recruiting nationally and globally while playing an integral role in assisting the school to 7 NCAA Championship victories and 12 Final Fours.

2a. Holly Warlick - Tennessee
Regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the country, Holly Warlick enters her 26th season under legendary head coach Pat Summitt. The highly successful recruiter for the backcourt won the 2007 WBCA Top Assistant Coach Award and has helped the Lady Volunteers capture 8 NCAA Championship victories and 16 Final Four appearances.

2b. Mickie DeMoss - Tennessee
Long-time Lady Vol assistant DeMoss returned to the Tennessee sideline in 2010 for her second run with the team, where she has helped lead the program to 6 NCAA Championships wins and 12 NCAA Final Fours. She previously served as assistant coach at Texas (2007-2010) and head coach at Kentucky (2003-2007) where she won the 2005-2006 SEC Coach of the Year award after guiding the Lady Wildcats to 22 wins.

3. Al Brown - Duke
With over 32 years of assistant coaching experience on both the men’s and women’s sides, Brown has brought with him success to every program he has coached at, most notably the women’s teams at Tennessee, Michigan State, and now currently Duke. He has been a vital part of 3 NCAA Championships, 4 NCAA runner-up teams, 8 NCAA Final Four squads and 19 NCAA Tournaments over the course of his career.

4. Amy Tucker - Stanford
For nearly three decades, Tucker has established herself as one of the nation’s most prolific recruiters and talent evaluators as her recruiting trail has resulted in Stanford’s players winning 2 Wade Trophies, 2 Naismith National Player of the Year Awards, and 18 State Farm/Kodak/WBCA first-team All-America selections. The Cardinals have also won 2 NCAA Championships and reached 9 Final Fours during her tenure.

5. Gale Valley - Texas
Since joining the Long Horns in 2007, Valley has helped guide the program to 4 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Prior to serving in her current role at Texas, the guard-coaching specialist spent 18 highly successful seasons at Duke, which included 2 NCAA Championship appearances and 4 Final Fours.

6. Andrew Calder - North Carolina
As one of the longest tenured assistant coaches in the NCAA, Calder enters his 25th season at UNC where he has been involved in every aspect of the program, specifically overseeing scouting and player development. He has played a pivotal role in guiding the Tar Heels to a NCAA Championship victory and 8 ACC titles in one of the most competitive conferences in the nation.

7. Jan Ross - Oklahoma
Ross begins her 15th season at Oklahoma, where she has been instrumental in the team’s strong success. She has helped the Sooners produce 9 20-plus-win seasons and advance to 11 consecutive NCAA Tournaments including the 2002 NCAA Championship game and back-to-back Final Fours in 2009 and 2010.

8. Bill Brock - Baylor
Brock has earned a solid assistant coaching reputation by developing Baylor’s post game into one of the best in the country and helping the program land some of the nation’s top recruiting classes. He was instrumental in guiding the Lady Bears to the 2005 NCAA Championship title and appearances in 6 NCAA Tournaments.

9a. Tina Langley - Maryland
Over her first three seasons at Maryland, Tina Langley has played a crucial role in the program’s success including helping to lead the team to its first ACC Championship in 20 years. Prior to coaching the Terrapins, she pent 5 years at Toledo where she assisted the program to 3 Mid-American Conference regular season titles and 2 NCAA Tournament appearances.

9b. Marlin Chinn -Maryland
Considered as one of the elite recruiters in the game, Chinn joined Maryland’s coaching staff in 2009 after spending four years as Seton Hall’s top assistant. He recruited two All-Big East Rookie Team selections and two All-Big East performers for the Pirates. Chinn also spent seven seasons at Mount St. Mary's (1998-2005), recruiting five Northeast Conference All-Rookie Team choices and helping to guide the program to a pair of NEC regular-season titles in 1999 and 2001.

10. Vic Schaefer - Texas A&M
Nicknamed the “Secretary of Defense”, Schaefer has molded the Aggie defense into one of the top units in the nation. He has also played a large part in landing eight top 20 recruiting classes at Texas A&M and assisting the squad to their first NCAA Championship title in 2011 and sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance overall.

11. Jonathan Tsipis - Notre Dame
A recipient of the 2008-09 Coach of the Year award, Tsipis is nationally recognized for his player development and scouting. In his first seven seasons with the Irish, he has helped lead the program to a 193-72 record, 4 NCAA Sweet 16 berths, and one NCAA Championship appearance.

12. Kelly Bond - Texas A&M
Bond is a veteran coach whose key recruiting contributions have formed one of the top guard cores in women’s college basketball. Over her last 11 seasons of coaching, she has been a part of 9 NCAA Tournament appearances with Arkansas and Texas A&M including the 2008 Elite Eight, 2009 Sweet 16, and a victory in the 2010-11 NCAA Championship game.

13. Jack Easley - Iowa State
In 9 seasons at ISU, Easley has helped guide the Cyclones to a 180-85 record and 8 postseason appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2009 and the Sweet 16 in 2010. He previously spent 19 seasons as an assistant at Oklahoma State where the Cowgirls compiled a 350-244 record and 7 NCAA Tournament berths.

14. Stephanie Norman - Louisville
Norman has brought tremendous success to Louisville since arriving from Vanderbilt, as the Cardinals were the 2009 NCAA Championship runner-ups, in only her second season with the program. During her tenure at Vanderbilt, the Commodores made five straight appearances to the NCAA Tournament, including two Sweet 16 berths.

15. Carol Owens - Notre Dame
Regarded as one of the nation’s premier post coaches, Owens has played a vital role in all three of Notre Dame’s Final Four appearances. In addition, she has attracted 14 consecutive top 20 recruiting classes, between her stints at Notre Dame and her five years as head coach at Northern Illinois.

16. Jodi Steyer - Iowa State
Steyer has been a key component behind the Cyclones' 7 postseason bids in the last eight seasons, and has turned ISU into one of the nation’s most prolific three-point shooting teams. She also previously coached five all-conference players and two Mid-American Conference players of the year during her six-year tenure at Toledo.

17. Lance White - Florida State
White has brought a dominant defensive mindset to FSU, as the Lady Seminoles have experienced two of its greatest defensive seasons under his tutelage. White arrived from Texas Tech where he spent 10 seasons and won 3 Big XII championships, advancing to 7-straight NCAA Tournaments, including 5 Sweet Sixteen and 2 Elite Eight appearances.

18. Dan Durkin - Temple
Durkin is formerly the winningest head women's basketball coach at Duquesne University, where he was awarded the 1998 A-10 Coach of the Year and produced two WNBA draft picks. He also spent eight seasons at Penn State, assisting the Lady Lions to 181 wins, 7 NCAA Tournament berths, and 2 Sweet 16 appearances.

19. Candis Blankson - DePaul
A true product of the DePaul program, Blankson has been an assistant on the Blue Devil staff since completing her collegiate playing career in 2001. She has helped guide the program to 220 wins and 8 straight NCAA tournament berths including the school’s first Sweet 16 in 2007. She has also worked with 26 all-conference performers, including two Freshman of the Year and a pair of Sixth Players of the Year.

20. Stacie Terry - Louisiana State
With over ten years of assistant coaching experience at the Division I level, Terry enters her first season at LSU having formerly served as an assistant at UCLA. In her three seasons with the Bruins, the school won 72 games and clinched 2 NCAA Tournament berths. She has also helped produce 13 players who have moved on to play professionally either in the WNBA or overseas.

21. Shannon Perry - UCLA
The former leading defender at Iowa, Perry has become widely known as an excellent recruiter, having helped recruit two top 5 recruiting classes in her 5 years at Duke (2004-09). Additionally, Perry coached in the NCAA Tournament during each season at Duke, including the 2006 NCAA Championship game. She also assisted the development of five All-Americans during her tenure with the Lady Blue Devils.

21. Ed Baldwin - Ohio State
Baldwin adds two decades of college coaching experience to the Ohio State sideline, including 13 years as the most winning head coach at UNC-Charlotte from 1988-2000. Entering his fourth season as an assistant with the Lady Buckeyes, he has helped guide the school to a program record 31 wins in 2009-10, and 2 Sweet 16 appearances in three seasons.

23. Kamie Ethridge - Kansas State
Regarded as one of the greatest women's basketball guards to ever play the game, Ethridge enters her 16th season at Kansas State, where she has built the program’s perimeter game into one of the best in the nation. In addition to leading the program to 9 postseason appearances in the last 12 years including the 2006 WNIT Championship title, she has helped develop four future WNBA players.

24. Danielle O’Banion - Memphis
In her first two seasons at Memphis, O’Banion helped recruit the core of the team that would put together back-to-back 20-win seasons, including a trip to the 2010 Women's Basketball Invitational finals. Previously, O’Banion served as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, helping the Gophers to 4 NCAA Tournament appearances, including two trips to the Sweet 16 and the 2004 Final 4.

25. Carla D. Morrow - Xavier
In her first four seasons at Xavier, Morrow has helped lead the Musketeers to a 108-23 overall record and a 52-4 mark in Atlantic 10 play. She has also assisted the school to six Atlantic 10 Championships and NCAA Tournament berths in each of the last four seasons, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2010.

Honorable Mention: Martin Clapp – Purdue, Kyra Elzy – Kentucky, Angie Johnson - Florida State, Travis Mays - Georgia, Latoja Schaben - Iowa State

Jason Belzer is a senior writer for EMAIL JASON

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