Men’s and Women’s Basketball: O’Brien announces basketball team’s new head coaches

Men’s and Women’s Basketball: O’Brien announces basketball team’s new head coaches

With Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rival George Mason’s historic NCAA run still in his mind, athletic director Dave O’Brien decided Northeastern’s new basketball coaches needed to be more than court-savvy.

So he chose a mathematician and psychologist.

O’Brien announced the appointment of Bill Coen as head men’s basketball coach and Daynia La-Force Mann to lead the women’s team on Friday. Both have had success in the classroom and in the gym. Coen once worked as a computer software engineer and Mann holds a Master’s degree in Psychology from Long Island University.

“We’ve had the opportunity to watch March Madness and see GMU go on such a great run,” O’Brien said. “And one of the things I noted were the great personal moves the coaches made. And as we find ourselves with two openings, I asked myself what the qualities are we need in our head coaches. We wanted smart coaches who reflected the student athlete ideal, and we also wanted to attract candidates, and ultimately coaches, who fit into the NU culture – people who have worked hard in the past and look at the glass as half-full.”

Both coaches come to Huntington Avenue after years of success. Coen has spent the last nine seasons as an assistant at Boston College under head coach Al Skinner, posting a 175-108 (.618) overall record and enjoying six postseason berths. The Eagles have also won three regular season Big East titles, and the 2000-01 Big East tournament.

Coen is also aware of the challenges a program faces in a new conference, earning that experience when BC went from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. This change makes Coen a perfect candidate to lead the Huskies to success in their second CAA season, O’Brien said.

“I’m here to tell you today that we’re ready for those challenges [of the CAA],” Coen said. “I see some of my players who are here today and I’m telling you they’re extremely dedicated young men, they’re student athletes, and they’re committed to the cause here at NU. And I promise them: when you walk on the floor you will be conditioned, prepared and motivated.”

Mann begins her Husky career after leading the University of New Haven (Connecticut) to a conference championship in her first season. She has been involved in Division I athletics since 1995, serving as assistant coach at St. John’s University and Long Island University (LIU).

“I look forward to years of restoring, building and maintaning success on and off the basketball court,” Mann said. “We’re going to play a very exciting style of basketball, running up and down the court a lot and looking to get a lot of points on fast-break opportunities while running the floor.”

Mann certainly has a winning past, leading New Haven to its first NCAA Division II Tournament berth last season, which earned her New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors. She has also been successful in boosting the academics of her athletes, helping her teams achieve a GPA over 3.0 at New Haven and LIU, where she coached from 1995-2002.

O’Brien said he hopes these qualities will do all the talking to a Husky fan base starving for consistency from the basketball programs.

“I think these two are going to be a real easy sell to the students,” O’Brien said. “I’ll put them out there and I’ll go back to the office because they’ll both convince the student body that they’re really intent on getting the students involved and remain approachable to everyone on campus.”

Players appeared impressed by their new coaches, including junior guard Bobby Kelly of the men’s team.

“I like his work ethic and the fact that he is known for recruiting. Guys like Dick Vitale were saying he was a good recruiter,” Kelly said. “That definitely will help us out in the future. Coen just has his hat on straight and knows what he wants to do at Northeastern.”

Both Coen and Mann already know what’s important to attract students: winning.

“We’re going to try to play winning basketball,” Coen said. “We’re going to try to get the students excited about NU basketball, we’ll play an exciting brand of basketball and reach out to them in many ways. In order for us to have home court advantage we’re going to need their support every night, and I’m hoping they’ll be supportive.”

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