Major changes have come upon the women’s basketball team following the worst Big East season in team history.
The most notable change is Anne Donovan being named the new head coach of the program, taking over for Phyllis Mangina after 25 years at the position.
“[Donovan] is going to have a huge impact on this program,” assistant coach Ty Grace said. “She is a proven winner and has always had success in whatever she does.”
Donovan is making her return to women’s college basketball after spending the past 10 years coaching in the WNBA. Her coaching career in the WNBA is not over at the moment as she committed to finishing the 2010 season with the New York Liberty, who are in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Donovan has not been physically on campus,” Grace said. “But she has been in contact with us and we have been keeping her updated with recruiting. She is well aware of what is going on.”
Despite Donovan not being around the Pirates fully in the offseason, the recruiting class coming to the Hall for this upcoming season is regarded as one of the best in the country. According to Hoopgurlz the Pirates have the No. 24 recruiting class in the nation.
The Hall’s top 25 recruiting class includes two members of Hoopgurlz top 100 recruits for 2010. Forward Elaine Swaby and point guard Ka-Deidre Simmons are ranked No. 43 and No. 53 respectively. Both recruits come from the state of New Jersey which she vowed to recruit heavily.
“Of course you never know what you are going to get from freshmen,” Grace said. “But all the players come from winning programs in high school which is always a positive.”
Rounding out the 2010 recruiting class are Nicosia Henry at wing, Jazzmine Johnson and Tiffani Blackman at guard, and junior college transfer Tajay Ashmeade at center.
Over the summer Ashmeade played for the Jamaican senior national women’s basketball team which won the silver medal at the 2010 Centrobasket Championship.
The coaching staff has gone through many changes beside Donovan taking over at the helm. Joining the staff for the upcoming season are Jenny Palmateer and David Kim.
Palmateer comes to the staff as an assistant coach and will hold that position with Grace. Kim will take over as director of basketball operations for the Pirates.
The Hall has made numerous changes to the team and coaching staff all to turn around the program.
“We had a lot of unknowns going into the offseason,” Grace said. “Now there is a lot of excitement around the program.”
Stephen Valenti can be reached at stephen.valenti@student .shu.edu