The Holly Warlick era has come to an end. On Wednesday, the University of Tennessee let go of Warlick as head coach. The former Tennessee guard went 172-67 with seven trips to the NCAA Tournament.
As head coach, Warlick experienced numerous highs with the Lady Vols. Tennessee captured two SEC regular season titles and one SEC conference tournament title. Along with those championships, the Lady Vols took three trips to the Elite Eight and one Sweet 16 trip.
Unfortunately, it began to spiral downward for Warlick and the Lady Vols. For instance, this season saw numerous low points for Tennessee. The program suffered a six-game losing streak back in January and was a first round exit in the NCAA Tournament.
Now the question is who will replace Warlick as head coach of this blue blood program? Let’s see who could possibly take the reins as head coach of Tennessee.
Niele Ivey, Notre Dame assistant coach
Could this be the opportunity for Niele Ivey to begin her head coaching career? Ivey, who is in her 12th season as an assistant with her alma mater, already knows what it takes to win championships. She has won a national championship as a player in 2001 and as an assistant. All this was done with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Not only is she a great recruiter, Ivey is also a great mentor for young guards. Tennessee already has dynamic guards in Evina Westbrook, Rennia Davis and Zay Green. Plus, the Lady Vols have the No. 2 guard in the 2019 class coming next season in Jordan Horston.
Niele Ivey could help make these guards better players while helping to build Tennessee back to prominence. Ivey has been influential in the molding of guards such as Skylar Diggins-Smith and Jewell Loyd. It is unsure if Tennessee will hand the keys to a first-time head coach. If it does, Ivey should be at the top of the list.
Felisha Legette-Jack, Buffalo head coach
Before guiding Buffalo on the run it’s having now, Felisha Legette-Jack has even more head coaching experience. She was head coach of Hofstra for four seasons and at Indiana for six years. The former Syracuse player is 143-86 at Buffalo.
This season, Legette-Jack led the Buffalo Bulls to the NCAA Tournament again after going 24-10 and winning the MAC conference tournament championship. That was the third appearance in the Big Dance of Legette-Jack’s tenure with Buffalo. Last season, she was able to lead the Bulls to the Sweet 16. If Felisha Legette-Jack were to leave for Tennessee, a buyout of her contract will have to take place. In May 2018, she signed a five-year contract.
Kellie Harper, Missouri State head coach
If Holly Warlick could guide Tennessee to the Elite Eight, maybe Kellie Harper can take it a step further. Harper has some strong ties to the University of Tennessee. She was a former point guard under Pat Summitt when the Lady Vols won three straight national championship trophies in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Like Felisha Legette-Jack, Harper already has head coaching experience to go along with her time with Missouri State. She was the head coach at Western Carolina from 2004 – 2009. Like Warlick, Harper also had to follow a legend when she was the head coach at NC State after Kay Yow left the program.
Since being at Missouri State, Kellie Harper has taken the Lady Bears to two NCAA Tournament appearances has two Missouri Valley conference tournament championships. She is 118-78 at Missouri State currently. Harper could possibly take her formula and inject into Tennessee to help bring the program back to the standard when she was a player for the Lady Vols.
Nikki Fargas, LSU head coach
Here is another former player under Pat Summitt who could possibly help raise Tennessee back up. Nikki Fargas is 215-127 as a head coach. Along with her current stint at LSU, Fargas was the head coach at UCLA for three seasons. With both programs, Fargas has a combined eight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Two of those trips saw her teams make it to the Sweet 16.
Although her record at LSU is not stellar, Fargas is still leading a winning program. She is 148-106 at LSU. Possibly, a change to Tennessee could improve her record and help revive the program after a down season this year.
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