Thrown into a role he never asked for, Vonn Read did his best while serving as acting head coach this past year for the Syracuse Orange. Following the abrupt departure of longtime head coach Quentin Hillsman, as well as 11 other players who left via the transfer portal, Read needed to sew things up in a flash.
Although the Orange stumbled at times, finishing with an 11-18 overall record, they went toe-to-toe with a variety of top teams this year, even pulling one out against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were ranked No. 18 at the time.
Regardless, the Orange plan to seek out a new head coach with the offseason now underway. In doing so, these three candidates resemble a few early targets to pursue.
Although currently serving as head coach for SUNY at Buffalo, the Orange might be able to draw Felisha Legette-Jack back home with this role. She went to high school nearby and eventually played here at Syracuse from 1984-1989.
When Hillsman retired and the job first became available prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, Legette-Jack referred to it as her “dream job,” so the interest is certainly there.
But even if you disregard her ties to Syracuse, Legette-Jack remains an attractive coaching option. With exception to her first season coaching the Bulls in 2012-13, Legette-Jack has never coached a team with a losing record. Her Bulls finished off this past season with a 22-8 record as well. Without question, she checks all the boxes needed for this job.
Being a former player at Clemson and having served as an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at NC State during the past four years, Erin Batth knows the Orange well. She helped take them down just a few weeks ago, as the Wolfpack steamrolled Syracuse 95-53 on Feb. 20th.
But as the second coach on the bench for the nation’s third best team and being partially responsible for NC State’s 106-16 record over the past four years, Batth resembles an exciting up-and-coming figure in women’s basketball who looks ready to take on a larger role.
The Orange can offer Batth that, while simultaneously benefiting from her strengths. Having helped assemble one of the game’s most fortified defenses this year, she promises to help patch up what was Syracuse’s biggest hole this year, as they averaged an ACC-worst 74.8 opponent points per game.
Although the move from sunny Florida to snowy Syracuse might be a tough sell, the Orange should pursue Brooke Wyckoff as a possible head coach this offseason as well. Like Batth, she comes from the ACC, having played at Florida State before moving into a variety of secondary coaching positions.
Wyckoff even has some experience at the front of the bench, having stepped up to serve as interim head coach for the Seminoles last year when Sue Semrau took a leave of absence. Those efforts helped Florida State earn its eight straight tournament bid.
She also played multiple years in the WNBA for the Orlando Miracle, Connecticut Sun, and Chicago Sky. Again, bringing her away from her alma mater might be tough, but if the Orange manage to do so, they’ll land themselves a coach with an ideal amount of experience and promise at the same time.
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