Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Former WNBA Star DeLisha Milton-Jones Named at Old Dominion

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru


Old Dominion announced the hiring of former longtime WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist DeLisha Milton-Jones as its new women’s basketball head coach Friday afternoon.

The former Florida All-American is currently an assistant at Syracuse following a two-year stint as head coach at Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference.


Her hire completes a three-school domino of moves that began exactly two weeks ago when Texas announced that it would not renew the contract of Karen Aston.


Two days later athletic director Chris Del Conte tweeted out a photo showing the Longhorns had quickly  bagged their only target with the hire of Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer, a Lone Star State native who built the Bulldogs into a national power culminating in consecutive NCAA title game appearances in 2017-18 and an elite eight appearance a year ago before finishing in the Top 10 this season prior to the cancellation of the national tournament due to the coronavirus.


Mississippi State moved quickly in less than a week to name his successor, going into the new generation of upcoming coaches with the hire announcement last Saturday of ODU’s Nikki McCray-Penson, who brought the Lady Monarchs back to relevance in less than three seasons.


McCray-Penson was an all-American at Tennessee besides staring in the defunct American Basketball League, the WNBA and on two USA Olympic gold medal squads.


Then less than a week after Milton-Jones was tabbed by an organization as one of the top 50 Division I impactful women’s assistants, Old Dominion reached out to her among its desires and she instantly rocketed to the top of the candidates list having made a great impression, according to several persons familiar with the search.


Milton-Jones takes over a Lady Monarchs squad that will likely be the favorite next season in Conference-USA, which named McCray-Penson its coach of the year.


The 45-year-old native of Riceboro, Ga., comes as decorated in her own right as her ODU predecessor, playing on the USA gold squads of 2000 and 2008 and two WNBA champions with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-2002.


In all, Milton-Jones, a 1997 SEC player of the year at Florida, who also played in the ABL, had a 17-year WNBA career that included two stints with Los Angeles, besides also appearing with Washington, San Antonio (now Las Vegas), New York, and Atlanta prior to her retirement after 2015.


She spent one season as an assistant with Pepperdine before the Waves promoted her in 2017.


While the ODU fan base is mourning the departure of McCray-Penson, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, Milton-Jones, universally popular in the sport, should quickly win the hearts of the Tidewater locals in Norfolk (Va.), whose team won two AIAW titles, one in the NCAA, and longtime dominated the Colonial Athletic Association before its move to Conference-USA.


Here’s what James Parker, a contributor to Silver Waves Media, which published the assistants list,  said of Milton-Jones in his compilation.


“I first met Coach Milton-Jones in 2017 at a coaching clinic in southern California shortly after she took the head coaching job at Pepperdine.


“ She was so gracious and passionate about the game. She and I could talk basketball for hours. She still has a deep love for the game like a player.


  “She cares about young people, preparing them and setting them up for success on and off the court.


“ She is a back to back WNBA champion in 2001/2002, a WNBA legend, but yet so truthful, caring and humble.


“She did a remarkable job as a head coach at Pepperdine, leading the Waves to a 22-12 record and Sweet Sixteen WNIT appearance her first year. She is a remarkable coach and stupendous person.”






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