4-time WNBA Champion.
2-time Olympic gold medalist.
Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer.
You can now add a title to Tina Thompson’s already glowing resume — head coach. After being on the University of Texas’ coaching staff, the former Houston Comet was named the new coach of the Virginia Cavaliers after Joanne Boyle stepped away from the position. She becomes the fifth head coach in the program’s history.
Tina Thompson, along with her storied professional career, also had a famed college career while playing at the University of Southern California. Thompson was a 3-time all-Pac-10 selection before she was drafted No. 1 overall in the WNBA’s inaugural draft in 1997.
If you think she’s nervous or not happy about becoming the head coach, you have another thing coming.
In a statement back in April, the former Texas associate head coach stated “I am extremely excited about the opportunity to become the next women’s basketball coach at the University of Virginia. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a program with such a rich history. This program is in an exciting place with a hard-working group of young ladies. It is my intention to continue the winning ways coach Joanne Boyle has built with this impressive group.”
This is Thompson’s first head coaching position and she’s coming to a program that is trying to build on the 19-14 record from a year ago. Tina, since being hired, has been on the ground recruiting to bring in more players.
She’s already added Dani Lawson, who is a transfer from Purdue.
Athletic Director Carla Williams has been excited with the hire of Thompson. Speaking to USA Today after the introductory conference, Williams also realized that Thompson is not afraid of the opportunity.
“She has no fear. I guess when you compete on the world stage and you win Olympic gold medals, and you win European championships and you’re competing at the highest levels of the game, you have to have that mentality,” Williams said.
Skeptics will point to Tina coming into this position as a first time head coach. However, she is coming into this juncture with a keen eye for talent. While the associate head coach at Texas, she worked primarily with the post players. One of those players included Imani McGee-Stafford, who was an all-Big-12 performer and was drafted to the WNBA by the Chicago Sky. She was also vital in the development of Kelsey Lang, who also became an all-Big-12 performer and was a finalist for the Senior CLASS award.
So yeah, Thompson has the skills to develop talented basketball players.
Thompson will be starting in the competitive ACC. A league that houses Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, and the national champions in Notre Dame. She’ll be in a tough uphill battle to keep Virginia a successful program, which she should be able to. We’ll get to see it all unfold this year and Tina Thompson will be well prepared to get the job done.
Virginia’s program is in Thompson’s hands now and she’ll be up for the task. Not to mention, she’ll have the talent on the roster to help reach that success.
Coming into the 2018-2019 season, the Wahoos will be lead by Dominique Toussaint and ACC all-Defensive performer Felicia Aiyeotan. That’s not a bad duo to help lead a team, especially going into your first year as a head coach.
As a sophomore, the 5-foot-9 guard out of Staten Island, NY averaged 11.4, 3.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds. That’s some very good veteran presence at one of the guard spots. Where Thompson will be very beneficial is in the development of Aiyeotan. The 6-foot-9 center from Lagos, Nigeria is a force on the defensive end. Last season, as a sophomore, Aiyeotan led the ACC in blocks with 2.1 blocks per game and 11th in rebounds with 6.9 rebounds per game.
Remember, Thompson helped in the development of Imani McGee-Stafford and Kelsey Lang at Texas. Imagine what her expertise can do for the skills of Felicia Aiyeotan. That can be a scary thought for other post players in the ACC.
Tina Thompson is entering a new endeavor in her basketball life, and as she did as a player, she will attack it head on to reach for the success. Beginning at USC as a player, through her professional career, then down to Texas as an assistant, Thompson has been successful. You can now see why she’ll be successful as the head coach at the University of Virginia.
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