Lots of coaches at BC put in really great efforts this year and led their teams to success. Kelly Doton led field hockey to a Final Four appearance, Jerry York brought men’s hockey back to the top of the NCAA, and Jason Kennedy continued to turn around the volleyball program. But it is tough to argue that anybody deserves the Coach of the Year honor than women’s basketball’s Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, who beat out nominees Jerry York and perennial favorite Katie Crowley for the honor.
Two seasons ago, the women’s basketball program at BC was at the bottom of the barrel. The Eagles hadn’t had a winning season since 2010-11 and had never won more than 7 ACC games. When Coach McNamee took over last season, everyone expected it would take a few seasons for her to get her on recruits on the squad and turn things around. But she and her team proved all the doubters wrong this year.
The Eagles started the season out struggling, with a number of players dealing with injuries and illness and some embarrassing losses to teams like Holy Cross. But as they would show time and time again, this team played every period like a fresh start, never getting dragged down by bad losses or tough periods. Even players that have seen their roles change due to Coach McNamee’s style of play stay positive and engaged on the bench, with no sign of bitterness or jealously that their playing time has decreased.
Beyond just the never-give-up attitude and team bonding that Coach McNamee has fostered on this team, even a casual observer can see how much she has improved the players conditioning and their basic basketball skills. Speed has improved, shooting accuracy has improved, and rebounding has stayed strong.
To take a team from the depth of the ACC to a 20 win season and program record smashing 11 ACC wins in just 2 years is a massive feat in any sport, let alone in a sport with such strong entrenched power programs like women’s basketball. We’ll never know how far this team would have gone this year, but Coach McNamee had them in place to be a lock for the NIT and a possibility for the NCAA Tournament.