MSR: Whalen Steps Down: Comments from Coyle, Gray-Miller and Coquese Washington

Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
10,096
Reaction score
3,058
Points
113

Some additional reporting from Charles Hallman including some black women's coaches to consider:

Something certainly changed after my conversation with Lindsay Whalen following her team’s loss Wednesday afternoon in the first game of the Big Ten WBB tournament.

When asked about the criticism she and her players have received in recent weeks, especially on social media, the fifth-year Minnesota head coach said, “Obviously we all want to win. I want to win. Fans are passionate. They want to see winning teams.

“So do I,” Whalen continued, looking forward to an off-season where her young squad can work on improving to better compete next season. “You’ve got to stay focused…and just take it one day at a time.”

Unbeknownst to both of us, or at least to this longtime Gopher beat writer, Wednesday would be our last reporter-coach chat. Less than 24 hours later came an awkwardly worded press release announcing her departure as head coach.

Whalen and Minnesota AD Mark Coyle “mutually agreed” that she should step down, he told reporters at a late afternoon press conference, a few hours after the press release came out. The news caused an unexpected buzz at the tournament.

The press conference, however, left more questions unanswered: Was Whalen fired? Technically, no, as Whalen is now a special assistant to the athletic director through April 2025.

Coyle, in an MSR interview on Friday, offered a recap of what happened between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. “We had a chance to meet around maybe 9, 9:15 in the morning [Thursday],” Coyle explained. “We both felt that for the best interest of Lindsay, the person, and the program, that she step down.

“We had a positive conversation. It was a mutual decision that we came to together,” Coyle added.

He also confirmed sources that told me that he and Whalen had been meeting regularly, as late as four weeks ago. “We just talked about some of the changing landscape in college athletics, the pressure,” he noted.

“I saw it took a toll on her,” Minnesota Associate Head Coach Shimmy Gray-Miller exclusively told the MSR on Friday. She and the rest of the staff and players learned of Whalen’s decision around 12:30 pm on Thursday.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

20221222_170936_2.jpg
Photo by Charles HallmanMinnesota Associate Head Coach Shimmy Gray-Miller
Gray-Miller was hired by Whalen two years ago as an assistant and promoted the two-decades-plus veteran coach to her current role last spring. She warned both the head coach and the players to ignore the ramped-up criticism. “I kept telling her and the players not to read the comments…keep it moving,” Gray-Miller recalled. “Whether it’s good or bad, don’t read the comments. But she [Whalen] would read the comments and they ate her up,” noted the coach.

“I know what it’s like to be a head coach,” Gray-Miller continued. “Twitter wasn’t a big deal when I was a head coach. So, I know what it’s like to get roasted on message boards—questioning and challenging everything from recruiting to your coaching to your character. “I know what it’s like, but I do not know what it’s like to be Lindsay Whalen.”

Whalen was hired in 2018 during her last season as a WNBA player with zero coaching experience. Her record is 71-76 overall and 32-58 in the Big Ten. She also had to deal with player defections, injuries, and this season a very young squad.

“Coaching in the Big Ten is hard,” Rutgers HC Coquese Washington told me after she learned of Whalen stepping down. She was fired by Penn State in 2019 after 12 seasons, and three conference regular season titles. She is a two-time coach of the year winner. But lean times ultimately led to her ouster.

Stringer.Washington.19.jpg
Photo by Charles HallmanRutgers Head Coach Coquese Washington
Washington spent the last three seasons as an associate head coach (Oklahoma, 2019-20; Notre Dame, 2020-22) before landing her second HC opportunity when Rutgers hired her last summer.

“It is hard to build the continuity and the success that you want to have,” Washington said. On Whalen, she said, “I know she worked really hard to build the program up. I’m sorry to see her step down—I heard the news. It’s like a gut punch.”

“It’s hard to win in this league,” Gray-Miller said about this year’s Gophers, one of two youngest squads in the conference, with four freshmen playing key roles. “What [Whalen] did with those young kids—we have 19-year-olds going up against 23-year-olds.”

Coyle stated that he never lost confidence in how Whalen ran the program. “Lindsay wants what’s best for Minnesota basketball,” he said. But he also acknowledged the swirling criticism around Gopher women’s hoops, stating, “Sometimes this negativity creeps in and muddles what you are trying to do. There is no doubt winning has a significant importance at our level.”

He added, “I think our program is in a good spot and we will go out and find a good coach.”

Since Whalen’s announcement, several names already have been floated out by some local media as possible successors—all thus far have been White.
Here are some Black women coaches, all with head coaching experience:

  • Kamala Gissendamer, 10 years at La Roche University, has a .778 overall winning percentage.
  • Zenarae Antoine, Texas State since 2011, was recently named coach of the year in her conference.
  • Carol Owens, 14 seasons as Notre Dame associate HC; Northern Illinois head coach (2005-10).
  • Katrina Merriweather, Memphis, has a .571 winning percentage and a .686 overall percentage at Wright State (2016-21).
  • Colette Law, South Carolina assistant coach since 2017, Illinois HC (2007-12).

“I have not seen what the [media] is saying but I give you my word that we will have a very diverse pool,” promised Coyle on his coaching search.

Finally, Gray-Miller said Whalen eventually will be fine. “She’s one of the real genuine people I’ve ever met. She is almost too good for this profession. I think that’s what was hard for her.

“This profession is not what it appears to be,” she concluded. “It’s ruthless. It’s cutthroat—on the recruiting side, the administration side. Lindsay’s heart is too good for a lot of negativity that’s involved in college athletics.”
 

Gopheritnow

Active member
Joined
Feb 25, 2023
Messages
151
Reaction score
217
Points
43
"Coyle stated that he never lost confidence in how Whalen ran the program. “Lindsay wants what’s best for Minnesota basketball,” he said. But he also acknowledged the swirling criticism around Gopher women’s hoops, stating, “Sometimes this negativity creeps in and muddles what you are trying to do. There is no doubt winning has a significant importance at our level.”


"Swirling criticism"? Thank goodness none of that would ever be found on the Gopher Hole!
 

Ragnor

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
748
Reaction score
651
Points
93

Some additional reporting from Charles Hallman including some black women's coaches to consider:
According to Katerina Merriweather's Wikipedia profile:

After spending one season with the Bearcats, she spent a season at UIC as an assistant before joining Purdue as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Merriweather was suspended indefinitely during the 2005–06 season after she admitted to typing, correcting, and revising a paper for a point guard on the basketball team during the season, as well as making 105 impermissible phone calls to recruits. As a result, Purdue was placed on probation for the next two seasons and Merriweather did not return to Purdue after the 2005–06 season.

Hard to imagine she would get a snif of this job with that background.


Zenarae Antoine seems like a long shot. Seems too inconsistent with a long tenure so far.
 

Ragnor

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
748
Reaction score
651
Points
93

Some additional reporting from Charles Hallman including some black women's coaches to consider:
Jolette Law
https://gamecocksonline.com/sports/wbball/roster/coach/jolette-law/

and

Carol Owens seem like solid candidates
https://und.com/coach/carol-owens-2/
 

gregbrady

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
357
Reaction score
96
Points
28


Ragnor

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
748
Reaction score
651
Points
93
Did you see the part of Owens bio where she left ND to be the Head Coach at her alma mater and posted a .449 winning percentage and left after 5 years? No thanks, sounds a bit familiar.
Yes, that is an excellent point but they still get somewhat of a reset when you go to a new "big time" D1 school and get experience with the success there. I'm not saying either of these would be my choice I could understand them being chosen but could not understand the other to choices represented by MSR.
 


Ignatius L Hoops

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2015
Messages
10,096
Reaction score
3,058
Points
113
According to Katerina Merriweather's Wikipedia profile:

After spending one season with the Bearcats, she spent a season at UIC as an assistant before joining Purdue as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Merriweather was suspended indefinitely during the 2005–06 season after she admitted to typing, correcting, and revising a paper for a point guard on the basketball team during the season, as well as making 105 impermissible phone calls to recruits. As a result, Purdue was placed on probation for the next two seasons and Merriweather did not return to Purdue after the 2005–06 season.

Hard to imagine she would get a snif of this job with that background.


Zenarae Antoine seems like a long shot. Seems too inconsistent with a long tenure so far.
Over the years, I'm convinced Hallman puts together lists of problematic coaches in order to highlight some systemic differences between how black female coaches and white female coaches are treated. For instance Merriweather took a deserved fall at Purdue; while the head coach at the time, Kristy Curry, escaped sanctions and moved on to be head coach at Texas Tech and then Alabama. Merriweather has had a tougher road.
 




gopherdudepart2

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2008
Messages
5,055
Reaction score
1,821
Points
113
I would rather they interview Shimmy Gray Miller than anyone on Hallman's list. Gray Miller is a really good coach and was a positive force for the two seasons she was here. The post have improved a lot that is because of coaching from Gray Miller. Plus besides being Associate head coach she has head coaching experience.
 


Ragnor

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
748
Reaction score
651
Points
93
I was not advocating, these 2 are qualified the other 2 I don’t think are. That is my only point. If you don’t think they are please add to the discussion.
 

gregbrady

Active member
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
357
Reaction score
96
Points
28
Yes, that is an excellent point but they still get somewhat of a reset when you go to a new "big time" D1 school and get experience with the success there. I'm not saying either of these would be my choice I could understand them being chosen but could not understand the other to choices represented by MSR.
Owens was at ND for a long time as an assistant, went to NIU for 5 years, & then went back to ND. Maybe she’s just a great assistant coach & not HC material. No shame in that at all.
 



Bfan

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
999
Points
113
Jamelle Elliot, Assistant Coach at Connecticut. The counter argument would be that she was 113–162 as a head coach at Cincinnati.

Some proven names being mentioned in other threads -- people winning coach of the year awards for example -- sound compelling to me. I don't know if Minnesota has the influence to pull in coach of the year but those are my wish list people, coach of the year or someone like Brenda Frese's right hand coach (I doubt that would happen though). FYI, Calamity McEntire, Associate Head Coach at Illinois, formerly was connected to the great Pat Summitt and an interesting/cool name too.
 

Bfan

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
999
Points
113
Natalie Nakase is another coach who I think is interesting. She is Assistant Coach for Las Vegas Aces and formerly LA Clippers Assistant Coach.
 

Bfan

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
999
Points
113
Natalie Nakase is another coach who I think is interesting. She is Assistant Coach for Las Vegas Aces and formerly LA Clippers Assistant Coach.


"Nakase is more certain, she said, that a woman will be an NBA head coach – eventually.

'Of course,' she said. 'It’s just a matter of time.'"




 

Gopheritnow

Active member
Joined
Feb 25, 2023
Messages
151
Reaction score
217
Points
43
18 turnovers for Indiana? Blew 24 pt lead in second half? Now we have to compete with them for a coach, since it certainly seemed the current Hoosier coach never coached them on how to handle a full court press!
 

gwbbfan82

Active member
Joined
Nov 23, 2021
Messages
232
Reaction score
150
Points
43
I was not advocating, these 2 are qualified the other 2 I don’t think are. That is my only point. If you don’t think they are please add to the discussion.
Sorry, you listed those two without explanation so I thought you were. Comprehension of what's been going on the past few days has me a little befuddled and somewhat sad.

Joette Law's only head coaching experience at Illinois; Overall win percentage .426; B1G win percentage .314.

Ridiculous that Hallman would suggest her but now I get what Ignatius was saying.
 

Bfan

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2022
Messages
1,463
Reaction score
999
Points
113
18 turnovers for Indiana? Blew 24 pt lead in second half? Now we have to compete with them for a coach, since it certainly seemed the current Hoosier coach never coached them on how to handle a full court press!


It would be nice if the coach change debate went away. If people want to continue bringing up the coach change debate they are free to do so but then brings up that debate yet again. You brought it up.

I will say that Indiana's Teri Moren didn't lose to lowly Jacksonville last year with Scalia, Sissoko, Powell, Hubbard, Winters, and others on the team. Minnesota lost to NDSU this year too.


1678035119709.png


1678035608866.png
 
Last edited:

Gopheritnow

Active member
Joined
Feb 25, 2023
Messages
151
Reaction score
217
Points
43
It would be nice if the coach change debate went away. If people want to continue bringing up the coach change debate they are free to do so but then brings up that debate yet again. You brought it up.

I will say that Indiana's Teri Moren didn't lose to lowly Jacksonville last year with Scalia, Sissoko, Powell, Hubbard, Winters, and others on the team. Minnesota lost to NDSU this year too.


View attachment 24401


View attachment 24402
I agree! No coach should ever lose a clunker of a game to some under deserving team. I know for a fact that our much beloved and beknighted PJ Fleck fully agrees.
 

GringaGopher

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Messages
4,144
Reaction score
2,042
Points
113
I agree! No coach should ever lose a clunker of a game to some under deserving team. I know for a fact that our much beloved and beknighted PJ Fleck fully agrees.
I have season tickets for woman’s BB n FB and understand your overall message here. It is worth noting that in 2022 Gopher FB generated a $27.5M profit. I want all our student athletes to be successful but it is a fact that FB pays the bills and many more Gopher sports would be in jeopardy without that extra revenue. Go Gophers!!
 

Ragnor

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Messages
748
Reaction score
651
Points
93
18 turnovers for Indiana? Blew 24 pt lead in second half? Now we have to compete with them for a coach, since it certainly seemed the current Hoosier coach never coached them on how to handle a full court press!
Good point! I was really upset with the turnovers in the B1G tournament game. Toward the later half of the season they seemed better but I was upset with some of the late season game turnovers too. It is a good reminder that proven head coaches have players that make a mess of it in games too.
 




Top Bottom