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Thread: OT - Interesting Hire at Mississippi State

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2014

    Default OT - Interesting Hire at Mississippi State

    From ESPN via The Dispatch:

    Mississippi State to hire ODU coach Nikki McCray-Penson
    Mechelle Voepel
    8:38 PM PT

    Nikki McCray-Penson will replace Vic Schaefer as women's basketball coach at Mississippi State, according to a report by The Dispatch. McCray-Penson, 48, spent the past three seasons at Old Dominion, where she was Conference USA coach of the year in 2019-20 after leading the team to a 24-6 record. She's 53-40 overall with ODU since 2017. She also has SEC experience, having played at Tennessee and coached at South Carolina as an assistant to Dawn Staley for nine years.

    McCray-Penson helped Staley lead South Carolina to its first Women's Final Four in 2015, and to the NCAA title in 2017. The Collierville, Tennessee, native played for Pat Summitt from 1991-95, and will join two other former Lady Vols as a head coach in the SEC. Nikki Fargas is at LSU, and Kellie Harper is at Tennessee.

    McCray-Penson also was a 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist and played professionally in the ABL and then the WNBA. She finished her WNBA career in 2006, and entered the coaching ranks as an assistant at Western Kentucky, then joined her former USA Basketball teammate Staley at South Carolina.

    Schaefer was announced Sunday as Texas' new coach after spending eight years building the Mississippi State program, which he led to the NCAA final in 2017 and 2018.

    The Bulldogs were 27-6 this season and projected as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament by ESPN's Charlie Creme. They rank No. 3 in's Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2020-21, and return Rickea Jackson, who was one of the nation's top freshmen.
    Article Link:

    An interesting hire for a Top-5 Wbb program. Lots of quality (read P5) experience as player and as an assistant coach but only 3 years as a head coach and a head coach at a mid-major school. It appears that she has no head coaching experience as a head coach at a P5 conference school. Her record at Old Dominion this year was fantastic at 24-6, but in three (3) years her record is only 53-40 (57%).

    Nikki may turn out to be a great coach, but given Mississippi State is a Top-5 program and ranked at #3 in ESPNs Way to Early Top-25, I don't think Mississippi had to reach. This is one of the top programs in the country, I am sure that they could have had their choice of any number of quality, experienced P5 coaches to take over their top program.

    Time will show if they chose wisely or if they chose poorly.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2014


    I'm not sure if I'd call Mississippi St. a top 5 program. Not historically. Most of their success has been in the last few years. Let's see what happens now that Schaefer has left. One persistent rumor was that they were going after Jeff Walz. Is it really a better job than Louisville? I didn't think so.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014


    Anyway, getting coaching hires right is complicated. Unless you can get a successful, established coach, plenty of risk involved. Promoting an assistant from within works great sometimes, and horribly others. Going after a mid major coach or coach from D2 or D3 works sometimes, and sometimes doesn't. Getting a top assistant from another program who has a great guessed it, sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Sometimes even getting a top rated established coach fails (see Coach Goestenkors leaving Duke and flopping at Texas).

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