Sometimes, with success comes change. This is precisely what happened to the coaching staff of the women’s basketball team.
After a season in which they posted a 21-10 record and won their second Atlantic Ten title in four years, two Owl assistants fled the nest and have taken positions at other schools.
Carla McGhee, an assistant to coach Dawn Staley for one season, is now working alongside first-year coach Nell Fortner at Auburn. Ervin Monier, an Owls assistant for four years, chose a much more familiar destination. He has taken over as assistant coach for A-10 rival Rhode Island, a team the Owls will face at least twice this season.
Brought in to succeed the departed assistants are G.P. Gromacki and Darius Taylor, two coaches with contrasting backgrounds.
Gromacki, a 1993 graduate of Ohio State, brings with him a great deal of experience. Most recently, he held the head coaching job at Division III St. Lawrence, where he led the Saints to 20 wins in each of his six seasons at the helm. He also led them to the five NCAA tournament appearances and a berth in the Division III National Championship game in 2002.
“G.P., I think he’s a winner,” said Staley, who’s in her fifth season at Temple. “His teams always did well at St. Lawrence, and I think tactically he’s going to help us figure out what teams are doing. He’s going to be great in game day situations and prepping our post players.”
In addition to his time at St. Lawrence, Gromacki has also been an assistant for the New England Blizzard of the former American Basketball League, and has attended camps where he worked under former NBA coaches Chris Ford and John Calipari.
Taylor brings virtually no experience as a coach, but does have know-how from his playing days at Michigan. In his four years at UM, Taylor played with current NBA players Maurice Taylor and Robert Traylor and served as co-captain during his senior year.
Taylor has also worked with USA Basketball, where he served as the assistant director of competitive programs.
“He has worked with women before and has the basketball experience,” said Staley of Taylor. “He doesn’t have the coaching experience but it’s something that he has the hunger for. And when you have a great mix like that, he can only add to a staff.”
Taylor, who stands 6-foot-4, will work with the Owls’ low post players during practice. He also feels that his youth is something that will immediately help the players.
“I think I can bring a fresher perspective because I just finished playing college ball four years ago,” he said. “I might be able to understand the players in some ways more than others could. My experience at Michigan and in the Big Ten is definitely a plus for me.”
While the Owls did make it to the NCAA tournament last season, they were ousted in the first round by Texas Christian. This is where Gromacki thinks his postseason resume can be of help.
“When I arrived at St. Lawrence they had never won an NCAA tournament game,” he said. “Hopefully that is something that I can bring to this program. I hope I can help get them further and bring them some of that experience.”
Lost in the departure of McGhee and Monier is the close relationship they held with the players, namely junior preseason all-American candidate Candice Dupree, who had a strong connection with McGhee. With the new coaches on board, Staley feels there shouldn’t be any problem building the same kind of unity.
“It’s a process for everybody,” Staley added. “But just hanging around these kids will speed up the acclimation process for our coaches. I think it’s important to interact with our kids off the floor, and then you’ll gain the respect on the floor.”
Jonathan Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.