W Basketball Coach Extension

Women’s Basketball Head Coach Gets Contract Extension

The Monmouth University Athletic Department announced that Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jody Craig has agreed to a new three-year contract on Tuesday, Sept 11.

“It’s an honor to feel that the work that we’ve put in so far has been noticed and has been recognized that there is progress being made,” Craig said.“To just represent Dr. McNeil and this university, I’m absolutely thrilled at the opportunity. I’m looking forward to building what I believe they want, which is a championship-level program.”

“I am thrilled to extend this contract to Coach Craig,” said University Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil. “I have always believed in her exceptional coaching skills, and she is proving daily that she has the right enthusiasm and strategy to move our program to the elite level in the [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference] MAAC.”

Craig assumed all Head Coach responsibilities on Dec. 8, 2017, inheriting a team with a 2-7 record. She guided them to eight wins the rest of the way, including seven in conference play. In the MAAC Tournament, she coached her team through a double-digit comeback victory versus No. 8 seed Canisius. Down by as many as 13 points towards the end of the third quarter, her team outscored the Golden Griffins 20-6 to advance to the program’s fifth straight quarterfinal appearance in the conference tournament.

“Coach Jody has done a great job making our team her own,” said senior guard McKinzee Barker. “She’s asked us to put our heads down and grind, and I think when we look up on the day of our first practice we will be extremely satisfied with where we are. The team is eager for that day to come, so we can see how our trust in coach’s system and the hard work has paid off.”

“Coach Jody has brought the essential fire and drive that athletes need to possess at this level in order to push each and every one of us to become the best basketball players we can be,” said senior center Erica Balman, “She understands how each individual clicks as a person, which is important when it comes to understanding what type of communication style works for each person. Her approachability and ability to just be genuine solidifies her fit in the role of head coach.”

The team returns seven players from last season, and has only two seniors on the roster, Barker and Balman. It lost its top two scorers, but returns the next four highest as well as its top two rebounders from the 2017 campaign. The team will welcome in seven newcomers for this season, with four freshmen, a sophomore transfer, and two junior transfers all making their debuts this fall.

The program that Craig inherited has not made the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament since 1983, which stands as its lone appearance in program history. It also has appeared only once in any postseason tournament since that point, that being a 2011 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) appearance.

Craig was hired as an assistant coach on July 18, 2017, coming off of a 20-year stint at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. At Foothill, she compiled a record of 448-164, including 148 wins over her final five seasons with the program. She also guided the program to two state championship appearances.

“I’m as impatient as they are,” Craig said. “In wanting that sooner rather than later. There’s a lot of work to be done for that to take place, but I really accept the challenge in that it’s something that in other levels I have been able to do. I believe I understand the process of building a championship-level team and I look forward to doing it here. I think Monmouth has the pieces, the program has some development still needed, but I believe the pieces are in place that it can be done.”

Monmouth will open their 2018-19 season on Nov. 6 at the OceanFirst Bank Center against Bucknell. The start time and broadcast information will be announced at a later date.

PHOTO COURTESY of Stockton Photos