April 13, 2021
Shea Ralph hired as Vanderbilt’s new head coach
The former UConn assistant enters the SEC
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Shea Ralph, a 14-year assistant coach for the UConn Huskies and seven-time national champion as a player and coach, has been hired to fill the head coaching vacancy at Vanderbilt University, the Commodores announced on Tuesday. The two sides coming together was first reported by our Howard Megdal.
Ralph is the sixth head coach in Vanderbilt women’s basketball history and replaces Stephanie White, who was fired a week ago. At UConn, Ralph was part of the recruitment and development of two of the best basketball players in the world: Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore, as well as 19 other WNBA Draft picks. She was an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh prior to UConn.
Ralph had the following to say on her hire:
“It is with great honor and a full heart that I join Vanderbilt University as the next women’s basketball head coach. I have always been motivated and inspired by people who have a passionate pursuit of excellence. Vanderbilt’s rich, storied tradition of excellence speaks for itself, but I believe what sets us apart is the people. I am so excited to work alongside our amazing community in elevating our women’s basketball program back to an elite level. Together we will invest in each other and build a greatness that transcends the game of basketball.”
Vanderbilt athletic director Candice Lee said of Ralph, “she knows what winning looks like, and she has the background and experience—as both a player and a coach—to develop our student-athletes into champions.”
Ralph takes over for a Vanderbilt program that played just eight games in 2020-21 due to a COVID-19-shortened season. The Commodores went 4-4 after suffering four-straight losing seasons and registered their eighth-straight losing season in SEC play with an 0-3 record.
Vanderbilt boasts a proud women’s basketball history with a Final Four appearance in 1993, five Elite Eights and 13 Sweet Sixteens. The Commodores may not have made the NCAA Tournament since 2014, but they made 15-consecutive Big Dances before their current stretch and 27 of 29 from 1986 to 2014.
Ralph played at UConn and has gone to a combined 13 Final Fours as a player and coach. She won the Honda Award, given to the best player in the nation, in 2000. She scored 1,678 points in a UConn uniform.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma offered the following on the news:
“I would like to congratulate Shea on being named the head coach at Vanderbilt University. I know everyone here at UConn is incredibly excited for Shea. It’s an amazing opportunity to be at such a great university in a great city. Shea has had a huge impact on the UConn women’s basketball program, as both a player and a coach. We’re going to miss her tremendously – she brought passion and energy to everything she did in Storrs. But we know she’s going to do amazing things at Vanderbilt and we wish her the best.”
The Commodores have lost their leading scorer, Koi Love, via transfer to the Arizona Wildcats and second-leading scorer, Chelsie Hall, via transfer to Louisville, moves that likely caused Vanderbilt to change its mind about keeping White. However, they do bring in No. 69 Hoop Gurlz recruit De’Mauri Flournoy, a point guard from Villa Rica, Ga.