McCombs Named Stony Brook Head Women's Basketball Coach
Stony Brook, N.Y. – Incoming Stony Brook University Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron has named former Auburn assistant coach Caroline McCombs as the new #Seawolves women’s basketball head coach. She will be announced at a press conference in the Goldstein Family Student-Athlete Development Center Friday at 10 a.m.
McCombs comes to Stony Brook with more than 15 years of experience as an assistant at the Division I level and is responsible for the development of two Associated Press All-Americans and three WNBA players. The programs she has coached for have qualified for either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT 11 times.
McCombs inherits a Stony Brook team that is coming off a banner 2013-14 season, winning a program-record 24 games, reaching the final of the America East Championship and qualifying for the WNIT, its first national postseason appearance since 2006.
“We are thrilled to welcome Caroline to Stony Brook as the leader of our women’s basketball program,” Heilbron said. “Our goal is to build a championship caliber program that contends for America East titles and NCAA Tournament berths on an annual basis. I believe that Caroline brings the experience and vision that will allow the Seawolves to reach new heights.
“More importantly, Caroline demonstrated an ability and desire to be a mentor to young women, and she embraces our mission to develop leaders on the court and in the classroom. I am excited for each of our student-athletes who will now have the opportunity to excel athletically and academically under her leadership.”
“I want to thank Shawn Heilbron, Donna Woodruff and the search committee for the incredible opportunity to become a member of the Seawolves family,” McCombs said. “I am very excited to serve such a world-class, growing university that is committed to excellence in athletics and academics.“I know that together, we will develop a lasting, winning culture at Stony Brook where our student-athletes compete for America East championships, graduate with degrees from this fantastic institution and are role models within our community.”
McCombs spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn, where she developed a pair of SEC All-Conference and All-Defensive players, one All-Freshman performer and one Scholar-Athlete. The 2012 recruiting class was ranked 16th nationally, and the Tigers earned a six-seed and quarterfinal berth in the SEC Tournament and advanced to the final eight of the WNIT this past season. She helped guide Auburn to wins over two top-20 teams in two seasons, downing No. 16 Vanderbilt in 2014 and No. 23 Arkansas in 2013.
Prior to her time at Auburn, McCombs coached nine Big Ten All-Conference selections in her two seasons as an assistant coach for Northwestern. Under her tutelage, Amy Jaeschke made history in 2011 by becoming the program’s first-ever WNBA Draft pick when she was selected 27th by the Chicago Sky. That year, Jaeschke was also Northwestern’s first AP All-American since 1998, earning honorable mention recognition. The Wildcats played in the 2011 WNIT and defeated three ranked opponents (No. 24 Ohio State, 2011; No. 20 LSU, 2011; No. 16 Nebraska, 2012).
The Panthers were a postseason staple during her five-year stint as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh. They made three NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2008 and ’09. Additionally, they played in the WNIT in 2006 and 2010, going all the way to the Final Four in 2010. Pittsburgh broke or tied the school wins record in four straight seasons, and the squad ended the 2008-09 campaign at No. 14 in the final AP Poll, the highest national ranking in program history. She was instrumental in the development of Shavonte Zellous, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft, first Panther to be drafted and a 2009 third-team AP All-American. Zellous was one of six Pittsburgh student-athletes McCombs coached who went on to play professionally.
McCombs began her collegiate coaching career at Valparaiso University, where she received her master’s degree in 2001, in 1999 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2004. She helped guide the team to its first two NCAA Tournament berths in 2003 and ’04 and the WNIT in 2002. Among the 15 All-Conference honorees she coached was Marlous Nieuwveen, who became the first player in school and Mid-Continent Conference history to reach the WNBA when she made the Los Angeles Sparks in 2005. The team was equally impressive in the classroom, making the WBCA Academic Top 25 in 1999, 2000, ‘01 and ’02.
McCombs was a four-year letterwinner and 1997 NCSA Strength and Conditioning All-American at Youngstown State University. She captained the Penguins to a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998, the first by a team in the Mid-Continent Conference. YSU also went to the Big Dance in 1996 and won the regular season title in each of her four seasons. The program’s all-time freshman leading scorer, McCombs was named to the conference’s All-Academic Team four times, second team twice and All-Newcomer Team as a freshman. She was inducted into the Youngstown State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
She played professionally from 1998-99 for the Czech Basketball Federation’s BK Blex Karlovy Vary and was the head coach for Athletes in Action in Warsaw, Poland in 2004.
What They’re Saying About Caroline McCombs…
“I’m very excited for Caroline. She has worked extremely hard as an assistant coach over the last several years to get this opportunity. Caroline has proven herself to me, as well as the other schools where she has worked, that she deserves this great opportunity. As our recruiting coordinator, Caroline knew exactly what kind of players to recruit for our system. She worked with our guards, helping develop them as players, and the results showed on the court. Stony Brook should be proud of hiring Caroline, and I think she will do an outstanding job there.”
--Terri Williams-Flournoy, Auburn University Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“I feel like Caroline will be a fantastic head coach. She has worked diligently everywhere she has been as an assistant and has a broad range of talent from recruiting, to player development to understanding the game of basketball. I think she will be able to jump right in and give Stony Brook leadership in that position and has the potential to do great things.”
--Joe McKeown, Northwestern Women’s Basketball Head Coach
"I'm thrilled Stony Brook had the vision to hire such a rising star in the collegiate coaching ranks. It's a win for the Seawolves and the student-athletes. Caroline is so dedicated to the student-athletes, and you will not find someone who works harder. She has paid her dues, and she has done so in the right way. She was a great collegiate player; she coached an international team and was a great associate head coach for one of her alma maters. Caroline was a phenomenal resource for me at Pittsburgh when we made five straight postseasons and back-to-back NCAA Tournament Sweet 16s. She is prepared. When preparation meets opportunity, success is the result. Caroline now has an opportunity, and the success will follow."
--Agnus Berenato, Former Pittsburgh Women’s Basketball Head Coach (2003-13)
“Caroline McCombs is one of the best young coaches in our game. When I started my career as a coach at Pittsburgh, I was incredibly lucky to be able to work alongside Caroline and learn from her each day. I have never met a more dedicated, organized and hardworking individual with the sharp basketball mind and recruiting savvy that Caroline possesses. As a young assistant, she took me under her wing and was a wonderful teacher and mentor. I have used something Caroline taught me every day in my coaching career. Stony Brook got a steal with Caroline McCombs. She will be a great head coach, and I believe, one day a legend.”
--Shea Ralph, University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach and former Pittsburgh Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach (2003-2008)
“I’m so excited for Stony Brook to have Caroline McCombs as its new women’s basketball coach. Throughout my playing career at Pittsburgh, she helped develop me into the player and person that I am today. Anytime I needed her—whether it was in the gym or help with schoolwork—she was there for me. I think she will do a great job for the Seawolves.”
--Shavonte Zellous, Pittsburgh ’09 and current WNBA player for Indiana Fever
“Caroline is an energetic, up-and-coming head coach. She is one of the hot names who had to be given the opportunity to be a leader. I think she has a real strength in recruitment and networking herself into relationships, which will be fantastic for Stony Brook. She has recruited both highly academic and athletic players from around the country. Most impressively, she has a real tireless work ethic and a thirst for learning.”
--Dan Olson, Director, ESPNW HoopGurlz and Owner/Director of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report
“I expect Caroline to do very well. She is an up-and-coming head coach who is a very driven, relentless worker and recruiter. I think she will take Stony Brook to new heights and help the Seawolves compete annually for America East championships."--Bret McCormick, Scouting Director, All-Star Girls Report