Head Coach Marnie Dacko enters her eighth season at the helm of the Massachusetts women's basketball program.
"When building this program, I stressed to my staff that we wanted to remain patient, focused, and committed to building a strong foundation. Our emphasis has been on improving each individual student-athlete, on the basketball court and in the classroom. I also spend time developing leadership skills in my players and look to foster a strong sense of team. When the players are truly invested in the program, great things can happen. The players and staff have worked to increase the visibility of the program and hopefully enhanced the reputation of the University. I am proud of where we are, optimistic about where we are headed, and confident that the women who have graduated in the last five years have been given the best that UMass has to offer."
In her seven seasons in Amherst, Dacko has coached an honorable mention All-American, the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year and saw the school's first WNBA draft pick when Jen Butler was selected by the Cleveland Rockers with the 15th overall pick. In 2004-05, UMass had two All-Rookie team picks as well as a third-team All-Conference and All-Defensive team player. 2005-06 saw the Minutewomen have two second-team All-Conference selections, while in 2007-08, Kate Mills and Pam Rosanio earned All-Conference recognition. Last season, Kristina Danella was named to the A-10 All-Rookie Team.
Dacko arrived at UMass on April 11, 2002, after a successful seven-year stint at Cornell (N.Y.) University. During her tenure with the Big Red, Dacko became the winningest women's basketball coach in Cornell history with 80 victories, including a school-record 15 wins in the 2000-01 season. Dacko directed the school to the only two winning seasons it had ever enjoyed in the Ivy League during her last two years with back-to-back 8-6 marks. At the Ithaca, N.Y., school, Dacko developed 10 All-League players, two academic All-Ivy picks, one Ivy League Rookie of the Year and four Ivy All-Rookie team selections. As a rookie head coach in 1995-96 Coach Dacko earned Ivy League Coach of the Year honors.
Coach Dacko went to Cornell after serving as an assistant coach at Northwestern University for 11 years. At the Big Ten Conference, Evanston, Ill., school, she coached 25 All-Big 10 players and 20 academic All-Conference selections, one Big 10 Player of the Year, a Kodak All-American, a Champion All-American and a pair of Street and Smith's All-Americans. The Wildcats won the Big 10 title in 1989-90 with a 24-5 record and made four NCAA Tournament appearances (1987, 1990, 1991 and 1993) during her tenure. In Dacko's 11 seasons as an assistant to the highly regarded head coach Don Perrelli, Northwestern built a national powerhouse. Prior to moving to Northwestern, Dacko was an assistant basketball coach under Perrelli at Big East conference St. John's University from 1979-84. During her five seasons working at the Jamaica, N.Y., school, the Express recorded a 118-43 (.733) mark, including 102 victories during the last four years when the program made four straight postseason trips, three of which were to the AIAW or NCAA national tournaments. St. John's won the Big East Conference Tournament twice, and set a school record with 27victories in 1982-83 when it captured the league's first regular-season title.
Dacko began to set her mark as a patient builder and rebuilder of programs when she started the softball program from scratch at St. John's in 1981. As head coach, she guided it to a 39-45 mark in four seasons at the helm, including the 1982 NYSAIAW softball title.
The 1978 Southern Connecticut State graduate began her successful basketball career while in high school, leading her Trumbull, CT team to the state championship in 1974. In four seasons at Southern Connecticut, Dacko scored 1,306 points (14.7ppg) and grabbed 689 rebounds (7.7 rpg). Inducted into the Southern Connecticut State Hall of Fame in 1996, she led the Owls to a 72-27 record, four top 10 finishes and four trips to the AIAW Division I national tournament as a player. Dacko averaged team-highs of 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior, as SCSU finished 20-6 overall and sixth at the national tournament. In her senior season, the Owls went 19-11 and finished fifth at the AIAW national tournament behind her 17 points and seven rebounds per game. In her final season of college ball Dacko was a finalist for the prestigious Margaret Wade Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top women's basketball player. Upon graduation, she ranked as the top scorer and rebounder in school history.
Dacko was also inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2006, the fourth class of inductees.
While basketball was her main focus at Southern Connecticut, she also earned three letters in softball and two in volleyball. After graduating from Southern Connecticut State, Dacko began her collegiate coaching career at the University of Wisconsin as an assistant coach in 1978-79.
A graduate of Trumbull (Conn.) High School, Dacko was a 1990 inductee into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and is a member of the Trumbull High School Hall of Fame. When not coaching or recruiting Dacko plays golf, and enjoys other out of doors activities. She currently resides in Amherst, Mass.