UMass head coach Sharon Dawley gives her take on the changes to the game for 2015-16
Minutewomen boasted +8.5 win improvement in 2014-15 over previous campaign
Nicosia, Cyprus, native brings history of athletic, academic success to Minutewomen program
Emily Mital finishes strong Minutewomen career
Pierre-Louis earned 15th career 20-point performance in the win
MBB VS. URI Photos by Thom Kendall '93
WBB VS. GMU Photos by Thom Kendall '93
WBB VS. SAINT BONAVENTURE Photos by Thom Kendall '93
WBB VS. HOLY CROSS Photos by Thom Kendall '93
WBB VS. UCF Photos by Thom Kendall '93
Sharon Dawley begins her sixth season at the helm for the Minutewomen in 2015-16 after the Revere, Mass., native returned to her home state as the 10th head coach in University of Massachusetts women's basketball program history on April 6, 2010.
The Minutewomen showed great improvement under Dawley's tutelage in 2014-15, highlighted by Atlantic 10 All-Conference Second Team selection and A-10 Most Improved Player Kim Pierre-Louis' standout senior season. The squad earned a +8.5 win improvement from 2013-14 and advanced to the second round of the Atlantic 10 Championship for the first time since 2004-05 as Pierre-Louis became the 19th member of the UMass Women's Basketball 1,000-Point Club.
Dawley and assistant coaches Yolanda Griffith, Jen MacAulay and Chris Wielgus guided the Minutewomen to the 2015 A-10 postseason as individual players recorded year-long performances ranking among the most successful in program history. Pierre-Louis provided only the fifth season of 500-or-more points in the UMass women's basketball record book as she finished with 533 points. Rashida Timbilla led the rebounding effort with 283 boards, the fifth-highest one-year total among all Minutewomen historically while freshman Cierra Dillard had the sixth-most points (319) in a season by a Maroon and White rookie and the most since Melissa Gurile and Octavia Thomas scored 365 and 354, respectively, during the 1992-93 campaign.
In her first season in Amherst, Dawley coached her squad to one of the best three point shooting percentages in the country, highlighted by Cerie Mosgrove, who led the nation with 49.7 percent clip from beyond the arc. Mosgrove, one of several Minutewomen who enjoyed career years under Dawley's guidance in 2010-11, went on to win the National Women's Three-Point Shooting Championship at the men's Final Four in Houston, Texas.
Simultaneously, Dawley and her staff helped 2013 graduate Jasmine Watson develop into one of the most successful players in program history. Watson eclipsed 1,000 career points during the first game of her senior season to become the 18th member of the UMass women's basketball 1,000-point club while she capped her career among the top-20 all-time in more than a dozen program statistical categories.
Dawley came to UMass after a highly successful tenure with the Catamounts that included two consecutive America East Championships (2008-09 and 2009-10) and three straight postseason berths. In seven seasons at Vermont, Dawley posted a mark of 128-86 (.598) and holds a career record of 287-245 (.539) through 20 seasons as a head coach. She became the winningest coach in Vermont women's basketball history when the Catamounts upset No. 7-seed Wisconsin in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21, 2010, the program's first NCAA tournament victory.
Under Dawley's guidance, Vermont earned an automatic NCAA Tournament berth as a No. 10 seed after successfully defending its America East Tournament title in 2009-10. The Catamounts defeated top-seeded and No. 21-ranked Hartford in the conference championship game, 55-50. UVM posted a record of 27-7 that season, the third-highest wins total for the program all-time, and led the nation with 18 road victories.
Dawley earned her 100th career win at Vermont with a 66-56 victory over Hartford in the semifinals of the 2009 America East Championship as UVM went on to capture its first conference title since 2000. The Catamounts made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years where the squad fell to eventual national champion Connecticut.
During Dawley's stint on the Vermont sidelines, 23 of the 28 players that took the floor for Dawley earned either academic and/or athletic accolades from America East. She coached an America East Player of the Year, a Defensive Player of the Year, a Rookie of the Year, a two-time Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Most Outstanding Player at the America East Tournament. Under Dawley's direction, the Catamounts earned six all-conference selections, four all-rookie nods and two all-academic team honors.
In 2007-08, Dawley guided Vermont to one of its best seasons in the program's existence. The Catamounts went 24-9 overall, recording the fourth most wins all-time, and were the America East runners-up during the regular season with a 13-3 league mark.
UVM also earned its second trip to the Postseason WNIT Tournament in school history and the first postseason appearance in Dawley's tenure. The Catamounts drew regional rival Dartmouth in the first round of the 2008 WNIT and Dawley faced her former mentor Chris Wielgus on the opposing sideline. Vermont defeated the Big Green to earn the team's third postseason victory all-time and advanced to the second round of the WNIT for the second time in the program's annals.
In 2006-07 Dawley led UVM to a 19-12 record and a third place finish in America East. She guided the Catamounts to a 13-3 start and the year was highlighted with Vermont's first-ever win over a ranked opponent when the Catamounts upset No. 22 Boston College in the championship game of the URI Invitational.
After being picked to finish eighth in the league's preseason poll, Dawley coached Vermont to a No. 3 seed in the America East Championship and the Catamounts advanced to the semifinals. The Catamounts were also named one of the most improved teams in the country at the Division I level following the 2006-07 campaign.
In Dawley's first season on the Vermont sidelines (2003-04), she posted the best start by a first-year head coach at Vermont, guiding the Catamounts to a 6-2 mark to begin the season. Vermont finished the year with a record of 14-13 and wrapped up the regular season with victories over No. 1 Maine, No. 2 Binghamton and No. 4 Albany on the road. Vermont's victory at Maine snapped the Black Bear's 31-game conference win streak.
Under Dawley's guidance, the Vermont women's basketball team also enjoyed success in the classroom. During her seven years at the helm of the Catamounts, her student-athletes earned 55 America East Academic Honor Roll citations, including 23 nominations to the America East Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll for achieving a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.
On Dawley's watch, May Kotsopoulos earned the America East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete honor twice heading into the 2009-10 season. Three of Dawley's players at Vermont were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I Women's Basketball First Team and Kotsopoulos became the third player in school history to be tabbed an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in 2010. Amy Rosenkrantz `09 and Kotsopoulos were candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Women's Basketball Award in back-to-back years, as well.
In 2003-04, Dawley's first year at Vermont, the Catamounts ranked 10th out of the top 25 Division I teams selected to the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for Division I. The award recognizes the nation's highest team grade point averages for that season.
Prior to arriving at Vermont, Dawley spent 10 years as a member of the women's basketball staff at Dartmouth College. She served as an assistant coach from 1993-97 and was promoted to associate head coach under Chris Wielgus in July of 1997.
Before joining the Dartmouth staff, Dawley served as head women's basketball coach at Tufts University for nine seasons. She compiled a record of 137-62 (.688).
Dawley led the Jumbos to a Northeast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in just her third season (1986-87). Tufts reached the NIAC title game in her first five seasons. The Jumbos advanced to the ECAC Championship semifinals in three of Dawley's final four seasons, the first postseason appearances in the program's history.
In October of 2009, Dawley was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. She was one of two inductees in the Division I College Women's Coaches category.
A native of Revere, Mass., Dawley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from St. Anselm College (Manchester, N.H.) in 1983.
Last Update: June 2, 2015
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