Saturday, June 8, 2013

Coyle Returns To MAAC as St. Peter's Women's Coach

The Marist men's team isn't the MAAC's only program that, this off season, has hired a head coach that previously worked at the sport's highest level.

The Red Foxes, earlier this spring, brought in Jeff Bower, who had been in the NBA for 15 years in a variety of positions ranging from general manager, interim head coach and scout.

And, now, the Saint Peter's women's program, this week, hired Patty Coyle, who had been in the WNBA for a decade, first as an assistant coach with the New York Liberty from 1999-2004 and, then, as that franchise's head coach from 2004-09.

Coyle replaces nine-year Peacocks' coach Stephanie DeWolfe, who left the position shortly after this past season.

Coyle is an enlightened hire by a once-strong program that has struggled in recent years. The 51-year old Coyle brings not only the credibility of having spent a decade in the professional ranks, but also past MAAC experience and previous success at rejuvenating a conference program.

Coyle had been in the league at Loyola from the start of the 1992-93 season through five games of the 1998-99 season when she was hired away to be an assistant with the WNBA's Liberty franchise.

During that time, she turned around a Greyhounds' program that had been nothing short of abysmal with 13 consecutive losing records, including a 12-71 overall record in the last three seasons before Coyle took over.

Coyle's first Loyola team finished 8-6 in the MAAC and 14-15 overall. In her six-plus seasons with Loyola her teams had a 100-77 record and advanced to back-to-back NCAA tournaments (1995 and 1996), the program's only two appearances in the NCAA's in its history.

Coyle, a no-nonsense program director, then spent the next decade in the WNBA before she eventually returned to the college ranks in 2010 as an assistant coach with Pittsburgh. That program, though, fired head coach Agnus Berenato and her entire staff after the Panthers finished 0-16 in Big East play and 9-21 overall this past season.

Coyle, though, wasn't out of work long, connecting with Saint Peter's two months (a move that had been rumored for several weeks) after losing her position at Pitt.

The Peacocks, for sure, need similar work that Coyle did at Loyola. Saint Peter's has had five straight sub-.500 overall records, including a 2-16/2-28 finish this past season and a 13-79 overall record over the past three seasons.

Coyle certainly has a rebuilding job ahead. Saint Peter's graduates three of its top four scorers and its three leading rebounders from this past season's team.

Your Hoopscribe was able to spend a few minutes with Coyle prior to an early season game at Pittsburgh this past season, and she fondly reminisced about her previous experience in the MAAC,

"What I miss most (about the MAAC) is the people from around the league that I had good relationships with," she said, back then. "The MAAC is a very good league, and that all starts with the leadership. We had some battles with some good programs when I was at Loyola, and I always enjoyed them and enjoyed my entire MAAC experience."

And, now, she's back for another run, taking on another program in need of some rebuilding. If her track record at Loyola is any indication, then Saint Peter's will be back among the conference's stronger teams in the very near future.

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