The last few years have been far from kind to Boston College women’s basketball. The Eagles haven’t finished higher than 10th in the ACC since 2010-11, and head coach Erik Johnson’s six-year tenure was largely forgettable—they never recorded a winning season and managed just seven wins this past winter, ending the year on a five-game skid.
With first-year Ohio State transplant Martin Jarmond at the helm of the athletic department, it was fitting that Johnson would step down and BC would head in a different direction. And so it has, as the Eagles announced the hire of Albany head women’s basketball coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, per a BCEagles.com press release.
Bernabei-McNamee is coming off back-to-back 20-plus win seasons with the America East’s Great Danes, earning a NCAA Tournament appearance in her first year and an NIT berth in the second. Before that, she spent three years at the University of Pikeville, a NAIA school that would reach the Final Four before she leapt to the next level.
As a head coach, she has an impressive 126-65 mark, including a .703 winning percentage with Albany at the Division I level.
Prior to that, Bernabei-McNamee had stints as an assistant coach with Maryland and West Virginia. Both programs found plenty of success, including a national championship with the Terrapins and tournament berths during her four-year stay at Maryland.
Maryland head coach Brenda Frese had plenty of kind words for her former assistant, who was a recruiting coordinator and brought four-straight top-10 classes to College Park, Md.
“Ever since Joanna help lead our program to a National Championship, I knew she was a star in the making,” Frese told BCEagles.com. “Everywhere she’s been, she’s won. BC is getting an energetic, tireless worker who will pour her heart and soul into the team and program.”
A former Division II basketball star at West Liberty, Bernabei-McNamee has had widespread success at every level. It’s a tremendously important hire for the Eagles—with their men’s basketball counterparts fresh off an excellent season, Jarmond needed to try and get the women’s team back on track. Expecting a winning season immediately is unrealistic, but the program has nowhere to go up after a shaky 2017-18 campaign.
A proven recruiter and a talented coach—she was named the 2017 Women’s Division I Coach of the Year by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York—Bernabei-McNamee brings hope to a program that is in desperate search of optimism.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff