Terry Driscoll is looking for a basketball coach, and candidates might want to familiarize themselves with Job and Saint Jude.
Driscoll searches for someone who can reverse William and Mary’s dismal women’s basketball history. In 29 seasons as a Division I program, the Tribe has logged five winning records and just three winning conference records.
Debbie Taylor was let go after 14 seasons marked by incremental improvement and regular slippage. She was a classy and tireless ambassador for the school and the program, but her teams went 146-265, with only two winning records – most recently in 2006-07.
“In recent years Debbie and her staff did a very good job of closing the talent gap that she faced when she got here,” Driscoll said. “We’ve had some very talented players that got some individual recognition, all-league and things like that, but we weren’t successful in translating that to wins on the floor.”
Driscoll has no hard and fast timetable for choosing a successor. He is inclined to consider those with head coaching experience first, and women over men. Familiarity with William and Mary or programs with high academic standards is beneficial, but not required.
“I think you naturally start (with head coaches),” Driscoll said, “only because with an assistant coach, you always have to allow more time. No matter how experienced they are, they haven’t sat in that seat. There are going to be certain decisions and the management of the program are a big aspect of what they do. Things like delegation. Unless they’ve experienced it before, it’s a learning process.”
That said, Driscoll pointed out that VCU has a pretty good track record with elevating assistant coaches – from Jeff Capel to Anthony Grant and now Shaka Smart.
“You don’t want to exclude any potential candidates,” he said. “But I think you have a greater probability of success with someone who’s been a head coach.”
As for women or men: “I think with a female team, ideally it would be nice to have a female coach,” he said. “Everyone will be considered, but at the end of the day we’re going to hire the best person possible.”
Driscoll said that coaches have succeeded at W&M coming from inside and outside the campus and schools with more rigorous academic standards. Taylor was a W&M alum whose players excelled in the classroom and off the court.
“Whoever we bring in is going to have to be happy in this environment,” Driscoll said. “If the requirements are going to limit your recruiting possibilities, because there are people that are not going to qualify or be able to succeed here, that has to be an asset for you, rather than a liability. You have to feel comfortable about that. If you can come here and navigate the learning curve and how things have to be done here, you can have success here.”
Driscoll would like to find someone who can do for women’s hoops what Tony Shaver has done with the men’s program. Shaver needed time, but his teams have posted two winning records, twice have played for the CAA tournament championship and earned an NIT berth.
Basketball success at W&M is a relative term. Shaver’s teams in 10 years are 116-189 overall, and 60-120 in the CAA.
Driscoll remains convinced that CAA titles and NCAA tournament berths are realistic aims for basketball. Not immediate and not regularly, but he said that if he didn’t believe so, it wouldn’t even be worth advertising for the position.
“In other sports, we’ve had opportunities to get to championships and compete in the NCAAs,” he said. “These two have remained the most difficult for us, but I don’t think anyone believes that it’s beyond achievement.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun