April 10, 2021 

Caroline McCombs introduced as new GW women’s basketball head coach

What the start of the McCombs era means for the Colonials

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Caroline McCombs is introduced as the George Washington women’s basketball head coach at the Smith Center on April 8, 2021. Photo credit: GW Athletics

“Our defense tells us if we win; our offense tells us by how much,” George Washington women’s basketball head coach Caroline McCombs said during her introductory press conference.

“We’re going to be tough, we’re going to be gritty, we’re going to be hardworking on the court. We can control those things,” she added.

McCombs was named the 11th head coach of GW on April 2 and was introduced to the community on April 8. She takes over a program that has been to 18 NCAA Tournaments since 1991, a run that McCombs aims to continue.

“It’s no secret that GW has a storied tradition of basketball, as you can see from the banners hanging in the Smith Center. There are so many women that helped to hang these banners, and we want to make our alumni proud and get back to that level of competition and winning that you deserve and want to see,” McCombs said.

McCombs plans to look at what the team can control and identify the little things that the program wants to improve on before moving to recruiting in the spring, summer and fall.

She believes the team will find success by doing all of the little things the right way from the start and building its culture.

Over the course of her coaching career, McCombs’ teams have developed a strong defensive identity. In each of her seven years at Stony Brook, her team ranked in the top 40 nationally in scoring defense.

At Stony Brook, she accumulated 130 wins and left as the program’s winningest Division I coach and second-winningest overall. She led the Seawolves to the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth in 2021.

Prior to Stony Brook, McCombs spent 15 years as an assistant coach across four different programs.

At Auburn, she served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator and helped lead the team to a pair of WNIT berths.

Prior to her stop at Auburn, McCombs served as an assistant coach at Northwestern under former GW head coach and Hall of Famer Joe McKeown.

In five seasons at Pittsburgh, she helped the program to five consecutive postseason appearances, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and two Sweet 16 berths.

McCombs started her coaching career at Valparaiso, where she spent five seasons as an assistant and one season as associate head coach. She helped the Crusaders to two conference championships and three postseason berths, including two trips to the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to starting her coaching career, McCombs was a standout player at Youngstown State. She started all but three games in her career and finished with 1,577 points, which ranks eighth all-time in program history. She also ranks sixth in steals (236), assists (492) and 3-point field goal percentage (37.2%). After graduating with her dietetics degree in 1998, McCombs played professionally in Europe and competed in the Czech Basketball Federation and European Cup in 1998.

McCombs said, “My experience as a student-athlete is one of the reasons I decided to become a college basketball coach, and I will always strive to help my players have that same experience.”

She is excited about the growth and possibilities that lie ahead for the program, saying, “That impact that we can have with the young women here, under our leadership with Tanya [Vogel] and with John [Square]—I just know that as a department, we’re going to grow, and for me and this team, that’s what we want to do is grow our young women. And so who they become and the impact they have on others, that excites me to help them to be their very best and so I want to pour that into them every single day.”

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been covering women’s basketball since February 2019 and currently covers both the Atlantic 10 and the WNBA.

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