Women’s basketball head coach Caroline McCombs was honored with the Maggie Dixon Coach of the Year award by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Monday.
McCombs comes off a record breaking season as the former head coach at Stony Brook. She took the Seawolves to their first NCAA Tournament in program history in 2021 while also leading the squad to win the America East Playoffs.
“I’d like to say thank you to the Met Writers for choosing Stony Brook University for this honor and award,” McCombs said in her acceptance speech. “It was an outstanding season for our program and I’m so thankful to be chosen with so many outstanding coaches and teams in our region. Truly an honor.”
McCombs holds a 0.631 win percentage at Stony Brook, the highest win percentage in program history. Her strong defensive emphasis led the Seawolves to give up an average of just 52.4 points per game, fifth best in the nation.
After securing the head coaching job at Stony Brook in 2014, McCombs quickly rose to the top. During the 2019 season, the Seawolves won 22 consecutive games, and received votes in the national polls for the first time in program history. Her team has ranked within the top 40 nationally in scoring defense in each of her seven years at Stony Brook.
“First and foremost I’d like to recognize our players,” McCombs said. “This was a year with many challenges, and as we have faced those challenges head-on. I’m just so proud of the perseverance and resilience for our team. These young women poured their hearts into each other, as we were by ourselves a lot this season.”
She was named the 2020 America East Coach of The Year and led the program to capture their first ever regular season championship in the same year.
“I’d like to thank Shawn Heilbron for taking a chance on me seven years ago to lead Stony Brook University and our women’s basketball program,” McCombs said. It’s been an honor and a privilege to represent the Seawolves.”
McCombs was appointed the head coach of women’s basketball shortly after the firing of former coach Jennifer Rizzotti and her staff March 15. Her desire to be a part of a “value-based organization” brought her to the helm, with the goal of becoming contenders in the Atlantic-10 and across the nation once again.
“It’s no secret that GW has a storied tradition of basketball, as you can see from the banners hanging in the Smith Center,” McCombs said in her introductory press conference. “There are so many women that helped to hang these banners, and we want to make our alumnae proud and get back to that level of competition and winning that you deserve and want to see.”
McCombs’ skill set comes with an extensive resume. She was an All-Conference player at Youngstown State, racking up five NCAA Tournament and two Sweet 16 appearances. Following her college career, she played in the Czech Basketball Confederation before gaining assistant coaching experience at Valparaiso, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Auburn.
The Colonials will be shorthanded going into this offseason, with only six players returning to the squad in the fall. McCombs will look to rebuild the roster with a strong defensive presence and forge a “program of player development.”
“Basketball has been a love of mine from an early age,” McCombs said. “I thank you for your love and support of my dreams to be a college basketball coach. The sport that I fell in love with is so much more than a game, but an opportunity to mentor, grow and impact young women’s lives. Those doors have just continued to open in my life.”