Minnesota Athletics Director Mark Coyle will need to hire a new women’s basketball coach this off-season after all. After taking the Minnesota Golden Gophers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after coming into the season on the hot seat, Marlene Stollings has resigned as the head coach of the Gophers and will be the next coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Stollings leaves the U after four seasons as the head coach of the Gophers. She amassed a 82-47 overall mark and a 38-30 Big Ten record. Stollings best season as the head of the Gophers came this year when Minnesota went 24-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big Ten which was good enough to tie for third place. The Gophers defeated Green Bay in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to the Oregon Ducks in the second round. Minnesota’s win over the Phoenix was the first NCAA Tournament win for the program since 2009. It was the second time the Gophers qualified for the NCAA Tournament under Stollings with the other coming in 2015 when the Gophers were led by All-American Amanda Zahui B.
Stollings was known for her uptempo style of play. Her 2017-18 team is the highest scoring Gopher team in history averaging 84.9 points per game, and her 2014-15 team ranks #2 in school history as 83.7 points per game. However, the Gophers defense was extremely porous under Stollings. The Gophers 2015-16 team gave up nearly 80 points per game.
Other concerns about Stollings included her lack of interest in recruiting the state of Minnesota. Graduating senior Carlie Wagner was the last MInnesota high school player who immediately played for the Gophers. Junior Kenisha Bell and graduating senior Briana Fernstrom played high school basketball in Minnesota but transferred back to the U of M after initially going to Marquette and Iowa State after high school. Wagner was allready recruited by former Gopher coach Pam Borton, meaning Stollings never actually successfully recruited a single high school player from the State of Minnesota.
Additionally, Stollings did not like recruiting post players. Minnesota’s tallest player is 6’3 Annalese Lamke who only played in 16 games this season for the Gophers. Though the Gophers are graduating two post players in Fernstrom and Jessie Edwards, the Gophers 2018 recruiting class does not include a single post player. Delaynie Byrne is 6’2 but her game is much more of a wing player than a post player.
“I appreciate what Coach Stollings accomplished in her time with us, particularly this past season when her team provided some great memories for Gopher fans. We wish her the best in her new position. We have already begun identifying candidates to be our next head coach. Our program has a history of success, brand-new facilities that are among the best in the country, and a talented core returning. I’m excited to meet with candidates and share everything Gopher Women’s Basketball has to offer.”
Key for the next Gopher coach will be trying to get in as soon as possible with Hopkins sophomore guard Paige Bueckers. Bueckers will be one of the top 10 players in the class of 2020 and has already heard from all of the usual women’s college basketball blue-bloods including UConn, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Tennessee. It will be the future Gophers coach’s #1 priority to try and convince her to stay home. It will be a total long shot, but you have to give it your best shot.
We will have a list of potential candidates for the job tomorrow morning here on TDG.