Column: Women’s hoops hire must be quick and precise

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

It’s been an eventful few weeks for the St. Bonaventure women’s basketball program.

Two weeks ago today, 16-year head coach Jim Crowley accepted the same position at Providence College. His entire staff resigned and is expected to join him. The winningest coach in SBU history will be introduced to the Friar faithful today at a 1:30 press conference.

Last night, the first notable fallout of the staff’s departure occurred when 6-foot-1 forward Miranda Drummond was officially released from her scholarship. It is unknown where the Binghamton, N.Y. native will transfer to, but if her destination is another Division I school, she will have to sit out a year before playing her two final seasons of eligibility.

The transfer is actually the second for the women’s team this spring. Freshman forward Erin Wood announced in April her intention to play at Division II University of Indianapolis next season. Wood is a Noblesville, Ind. native.

Drummond’s decision isn’t a unique one; other would-be returnees have been rumored to be contemplating a transfer as well. After the meeting where players were informed of Crowley’s departure, one of the mothers took to the Bona Bandwagon message board to inquire about the transfer sit-out rules.

None of the incoming players have reportedly asked for a release yet, but they are in limbo as well. Adre’onia Coleman, a forward transferring in from Monroe Community College, officially became a Bonnie just five days before Crowley left. Jalisha Terry, a guard from Flint, Mich., was named the Associated Press Class C girls basketball Player of the Year and made the AP All-State First Team, so she would certainly have other D-I options.

The Bonnies could still contend for postseason play this winter, even with the loss of Drummond, who was the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 12.3 points per game last season, and the graduation of one of the most illustrious senior classes in program history.

To be a competitive Atlantic 10 team again, however, athletic director Tim Kenney needs to a hire a new coach as quickly as possible.

Sources said the search for Crowley’s replacement is making good progress. One of the top candidates for the job is rumored to be Jesse Fleming. Fleming, the associate head coach at Bowling Green, is a Bonaventure alum who graduated in 2005. He was the team’s manager for his four years as a student and was hired by Crowley after graduation as an assistant coach, a position he held for six years before heading to Bowling Green.

Olean Times Herald beat writer Jeff Madigan wrote yesterday that “some say Fleming’s tactics and strategy were the true mastermind behind the Bonnies’ rise to success.”

If Fleming was as instrumental in making the team a perennial postseason player as Madigan writes, he’s the most qualified man to steer the program clear of further turmoil after the last two weeks. To keep the rest of the 2016-17 team intact and ensure a successful future, Kenney should do all he can to make the homecoming a reality.

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