A Look at MM's Coaching Tree, With An Eye To the Future
Another bye-week kind of post: Muffet McGraw’s Coaching Tree, With an Eye to the Future. I'm pondering … mind you, just pondering….which of these coaches, if any, might someday pick up the keys to the Great Green Irish Hoops Machine.
I personally hope this won’t happen for quite some time because I think – if this season is any indication – MM is firing on all cylinders, aided greatly the team of her crack assistants, staff and husband, Matt, who offers all kinds of logistical and emotional support/guidance. However, let’s say Muffet and Matt decided to take their “one of a kind love affair” to another place in say, four to five years. Which of these folks might be an able replacement? What might they have to do – if anything – to qualify for the post?
To add some thought to the discussion/fuel to the fire, I’ve immediately added another post on an article on Chad Riley’s coaching journey from and back to Notre Dame in men’s soccer. It addresses the various paths an assistant takes to get to a HC job and how planning and some luck play into it.
So here is list of MM’s coaching tree that I can remember and other possible members of the Irish family that might be interested. Remember, I’m thinking four to five seasons down the road. If we have enough interest in this , maybe Baba can turn this into one of his stellar polls.
HEAD COACHES (in alphabetical order)
- Megan Duffy, Miami University of Ohio. Former Irish Point Guard in her first year as HC, worked her way up at St. John’s, George Washington and Michigan. An MM favorite.
- Bill Fennelly, Iowa State. .600+ winning percentage at ISU. However, at 60, not far behind MM in years.
- Kevin McGuff, Ohio State University. Was an assistant on MM’s national championship team before heading Xavier, Washington and now OSU. Despite winning at Columbus, criticized for range of things, from lack of defense and lousy recruiting to hiring Kelsey Mitchell’s father as an assistant.
- Jonathan Tsipis, Wisconsin. Long-time asst. and recruiting coordinator at ND who won at George Washington (with Duffy assisting in beginning) and now is trying to rebuild Wisconsin. Getting pounded now, but future recruiting classes look stronger.
- Coquese Washington, Penn State. Had some very good teams, but has recently been behind Maryland, OSU and now Michigan. Solid coach who recruits Midwest well.
- Beth Morgan Cunningham. Oversees the off-guards and wings. Was a successful head coach at VCU before filling assistant slot left vacant by Tsipis’ departure to GW. Never quite got the specifics on move back to ND. Did she want to be in Indiana? Or not be a HC? If it was for the former, would she be interested in the top slot?
- Niele Ivey. Currently Recruiting coordinator and point guard coach. Probably viewed as prohibitive favorite to succeed MM, perhaps save for lack of HC experience. Was finalist for Vandy job. Will she wait until son graduates from high school before looking again?
- Carol Owens. Senior in terms of service and was also a HC at Northern Illinois. Oversees posts/big forwards. Thought to be MM’s right hand.
- Erica Williamson, Video Coordinator in 2nd season. Former Irish center was director of operations at Loyola (Baltimore) and George Washington before heading to South Bend.
CURRENT ASSISTANTS (ELSEWHERE)
- Ashley Barlow, Wright State, 2nd year.
- Ariel Barker, Lehigh. First year at MM’s other HC stop. Previously at Wayne State.
- Madison Cable, Wisconsin. 2nd year as Graduate Assistant to Tsipis, who recruited her to ND. Needs to get assistant coaching slot next if she wants to continue this path.
- Kristin (Knapp) Cole, Assc. Head Coach, UT Arlington. 5th year at this program.
- Melissa D’Amico, now in her 3rd year at Yale, as recruiting coordinator. Just across theSound from her Long Island home.
- Michaela Mabrey, Miami University of Ohio. First year in southern Ohio after spending a year as Grad. Assistant at the U (Miami) under Katie Meier. She and Duffy cross paths with Irish staff at all sorts of recruiting-ish events.
IRISH ALUMS (strictly Dillon’s druthers….)
- Natalie Achonwa. Ace has expressed an interest in coaching and filled in as director of operations for a season while rehabbing her knee. If she does follow this, start is dependant on how long her playing career goes. And right now, she’s playing well.
- Skylar Diggins. If she ever gets into coaching, is there any doubt that she’d be associated with ND? Have no idea if she’s even interested, but it would certainly be a hit in South Bend and cause upset stomachs in Storrs, CT.
ANY OTHER CANDIDATES?
I'm thinking this position will stay "in house," that is, among those who have some association with the university and/or program. It is highly successful in all attributes that it cries for someone is who is intimate with the culture and processes. That's all things being equal between now and then:
- will the success level continue?
- will possible in-house candidates excel and move up the gravy train?
Also, keep in mind that there will probably be a changing of the guard at long-time competitors like UConn and Stanford. Will they choose to keep their cultures intact by choosing within the system?
On that closing note, hope you have some of fun pondering this as I did.