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Jason Belzer

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Top 25 Mid- 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 “Mid-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. Lori Bodnar - Kent State
As one of the most successful mid-major women’s college basketball assistants in the nation, Bodnar has played an integral role in leading the Golden Flashes to 3 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championships, 12 20-win seasons and 4 NCAA Tournament appearances over her 23 years with the program. She has also been vital in recruiting and coaching 14 All-MAC selections and 2 MAC tournament MVPs.

2. Jennifer Roos - Bowling Green
Roos enters her 11th season with the Falcons, where she has helped lead the program to tremendous success including 5 MAC Tournament crowns and 7 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. During the last 8 years, the Falcons have compiled an amazing 213-50 overall record, including 110-18 in MAC regular-season play and 131-21 in all games vs. league foes during that time.

3. Misti Cussen – Oral Roberts
Since joining the Oral Roberts coaching staff in 1996, Cussin has assisted the Golden Eagles in winning 230 games and five NCAA tournament appearances. As the team’s top assistant, she has also helped the program secure five Summit League tournament titles, three All-American selections, five conference players of the year, five conference newcomers of the year, and 25 all-conference selections.

4. Jodie Kaczor Berry - Gonzaga
Kazcor Berry has helped guide Gonzaga to new heights, as the Bulldogs have made three-straight NCAA tournament appearances since she was promoted as top assistant in 2008. The Bulldogs’ amazing run of success includes winning 36-straight West Coast Conference games, making their first-ever trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010 and their inaugural appearance in the Elite Eight in 2011.

5. Megan Gebbia - Marist
Gebbia’s resume includes over 18 years of coaching experience as she begins her 8th season on the Marist staff, where she has helped lead the Red Foxes to 8 consecutive MAAC regular season titles and six straight NCAA tournament appearances. She also spent time at Wright State, UMBC and her Alma mater Towson.

6. Jeanine Radice - Delaware
As the longest tenured current assistant coach among Delaware women’s athletics teams, Radice has been a key component behind the Blue Hens run of success, which includes 258 wins, 2 NCAA tournament berths, 5 WNIT appearances and 3 conference titles.

7. Heather Stephens - Liberty
Entering her 9th season on the Lady Flames’ sideline, Stephens has helped build the program into a dominant force in the Big South by assisting them to 192 wins, 6 conference titles, and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2005.

8. Brad Nelson - Northern Iowa
Nelson begins his 12th season at Northern Iowa, where he has played a crucial role in the Panthers’ 2 NCAA Tournament and 3 WNIT postseason runs. Since being named recruiting coordinator in the 2001-02 season, he has helped sign 4 MVC All-Conference players including the 2011 MVC Player of the Year.

9. Charlie Buscaglia – Robert Morris
Enters his 8th season on the Colonials staff and 3rd as associate head coach. Helped RMU to back to back NEC Regular Season and Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2007 and 2008 In 2009-10 team set records for regular season wins (22) and captured its first outright NEC Regular Season. He spent 5 seasons as an assistant at his Alma mater, Manhattan, before joining the RMU staff.

10. Lisa Hayden - Miami (Ohio)
Over her 11 tenure at Miami, Lisa has helped developed 6 Redhawks players presently listed among Miami's career top 10 in three-point field goals. She has also been instrumental to Miami’s 2 MAC Championships and first NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 7 years.

11. Sean O’Regan – James Madison
Entering his 5th season at James Madison, O’Regan has been integral to the Dukes’ consistent success including 4 straight 20-win seasons, 4 CAA Championship appearances, and 3 NCAA Tournament Appearances. He was formerly the assistant men’s basketball at the University of Evansville where he coached 3 players who went on to play professionally in Europe.

12. Melanie Moore - Princeton
After previous stints as an assistant at Dayton, Indiana State and Sienna College, Moore joined Princeton in 2007 and has since brought prolific success to the program. In addition to helping guide the Tigers to a 64-22 record over the last three seasons, she has helped the program capture 2 Ivy League Championships and 2 NCAA Tournament appearances over the past two seasons.

13. Mahogany Green - Central Michigan
During her first 3 seasons at Western Michigan, Green has helped lead the Chippewas to 50 wins while developing the 2009 and 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year honorees. She formerly spent 3 seasons at Eastern Michigan from 2003-06, assisting the Eagles to three postseason berths including the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

14. Jimmy Garrity - UNC Wilmington
Garrity enters his 8th season on the staff at Wilmington, and has played a vital role in the program’s rise to success by helping guide the Seahawks to NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2006 as well as helping develop the CAA Rookie-of-the-Year in 2007-2008.

15. Tarrell Robinson - Virginia Commonwealth
Robinson enters his third season as an assistant, and first as associate head coach. During his two seasons in Richmond, the Rams have made back-to-back postseason appearances including a run to the third round of the WNIT in 2010. Robinson previously spent five years as an assistant at North Carolina A&T, where he assisted the Aggies to a 51-15 record and back-to-back regular season MEAC championships from 2007-2009.

16. LaTonya Tate - Eastern Michigan
Tate adds a wealth of experience to the Eastern Michigan sideline, having formerly served on the women’s basketball staffs at Detroit Mercy, Illinois-Chicago, Syracuse and Kansas State. Entering her fourth year with the Eagles, the guard-coaching specialist assisted the program in capturing a share of the MAC West Division Championship in 2007-08 and a 22-9 record in 2009-10.

17. Trish Marsh – Missouri State
Since joining the Lady Bears after 7 years as the top assistant at Division II’s Drury, Marsh's recruiting efforts have helped land 8 all-conference honorees for MSU over the past two seasons alone, as well as either an MVC Freshman or Newcomer of the Year award in each of her first four seasons. At Drury, Marsh helped guide a program that won 5 conference titles and made 5 consecutive NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.

18. (Tie) Todd Mitmesser and Nitra Perry – Toledo
Both Todd and Nitra enter their fourth season as a member of the Rockets' coaching staff and first as the program's co-associate head coaches. In 2010-11, they helped the Rockets to a school-record 29 victories and become the first MAC basketball program to capture a national postseason tournament, the WNIT crown.

19. Mike Divilbiss – Green Bay
Divilbiss returns to the Green Bay sideline for his fourth season, bringing along more than two decades of collegiate women’s basketball head coaching experience at the Division I and NAIA levels. He previously served as the head coach at Idaho for 7 seasons where he won 2004 Big West Coach of the Year and also compiled 310 wins during his 14 year tenure as Lewis-Clark State College’s head coach.

20. Robert Dallimore – Arkansas-Little Rock
In two seasons as UALR’s associate head coach, Dallimore has helped guide the Lady Trojans to the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009-19 and first-ever Sun Belt Conference Tournament title in 2010-11. He also served four years as co-associate coach at Louisiana-Monroe, where he was responsible for breaking down game film, scouting opponents, and recruiting.

21. Chelsea Dermyer - Florida Gulf Coast
The former Florida Gulf Coast standout player joined the coaching ranks in 2008 and has since been instrumental in developing four first-team and two second-team All-Conference players. During the 2010-11 season, Dermyer helped lead the Eagles to the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title and an automatic bid to the WNIT, after posting a 28-4 overall record.

22. Ryan Bragdon – Illinois State
Bragdon, who joined the Redbirds staff this past summer, adds over a decade of experience, including his most recent stint at Ohio where he coached for the last four seasons, specializing with the post players. Bragdon previously spent seven years at Western Michigan where he helped develop three Honorable Mention All-Americans and two Mid-American Conference Player of the Year honorees.

23. Adam Deyo – Tennessee Tech
Deyo was named assistant coach at Tennessee Tech after spending 8 successful coaching seasons at Liberty. Deyo helped build the Lady Flames into a perennial winner, as the team captured 6 conference championships and 6 appearances in the NCAA tournament, including a Sweet 16 showing in 2005.

24. Todd Steelman – Ball State
Steelman begins his second season at Ball State, following stints at Clemson and Rice. In his two seasons at Rice from 2003-05, the Owls compiled 46 wins, an invitation to the WNIT, a WAC tournament championship and NCAA tournament bid in 2005. Steelman also spent 5 seasons at Clemson where he oversaw the performance of two-time All ACC performer and 3-time All-MAC player

25. Joey Wells - Lamar
Wells is entering his 5th season with Lamar’s women’s basketball program and third as associate head coach. In the past three seasons, he has helped lead the Lady Cardinals to 65 wins and Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles in 2010. He was previously an assistant at Division II powerhouse Missouri Western, where he recruited and coached two NCAA Division II All-Americas.

Jason Belzer is a senior writer for EMAIL JASON

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