Ohio State’s prolonged search for a new women’s basketball coach came to an end Tuesday with the hiring of Kevin McGuff.
McGuff leaves Washington after two seasons in favor of a return to his home state.
“This is an amazing opportunity for my family and me to come back to the state of Ohio," he said via a university release. "I would like to thank (athletics directors) Gene (Smith) and Miechelle Willis and President (E. Gordon) Gee for putting their faith in me to be their next head coach. As someone who is from state of Ohio, I know how special of a place this is and my goal is to have Ohio State competing at the highest level of women’s college basketball.”
Prior to leading the Huskies to a 41-26 mark, McGuff enjoyed an ultra successful nine-year run at Xavier. He went 214-73 with the Musketeers, notching eight 20-win seasons and six NCAA tournament appearances.
McGuff, a member of the Hamilton Badin High School Hall of Fame, played his college ball at St. Joseph’s (Ind.) before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at Miami (Ohio). He then enjoyed a six-year stint as an assistant to legendary head coach Muffet McGraw at Notre Dame before taking over the Xavier program for the 2002-03 season.
The Ohio State job was open for nearly a month following the March 19 decision to remove Jim Foster from a post he held for 11 seasons.
Foster is the Buckeyes’ all-time winningest coach (279-82) and won six Big Ten regular season championships and four conference tournament titles, but his teams frustrated fans by failing to gain much traction in the NCAA tournament. Despite making the Big Dance 10 times, the Buckeyes never advanced past the Sweet 16 under Foster. They were knocked out in the first round in 2007, ’08 and ’12.
McGuff also knows something about dominating conference play as his Musketeers went 106-28 in Atlantic-10 play, including unblemished conference marks in his last two seasons at the Cincinnati school.
He took the Musketeers to five consecutive NCAA tournaments and led them to the brink of a Final Four in 2010, when a missed layup followed by a coast-to-coast driving score led to his team falling 55-53 to favored Stanford in a regional final.
Willis told reporters at a press conference the day Foster’s tenure ended that the administration expects more wins in the postseason as well as better success mining the fertile recruiting grounds of Ohio.
In announcing the hiring of McGuff, Willis called him the perfect fit for the OSU program.
“Kevin was strongly recommended by many in and around college basketball and after his interview, we knew he was right choice," she said. "He has strong ties to Ohio and the Midwest and we are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family back to Ohio.”
In his first two seasons at Washington, McGuff signed a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans in Katie Collier of Covington, Wash., and Kelsey Plum of La Jolla (Calif.) Country Day.
After a strong start, recruiting slipped late in Foster’s tenure at Ohio State. He signed seven McDonald’s All-Americans in his first eight years at Ohio State and in none with the past four classes.
Of the 14 Ohio prospects named McDonald’s All-Americans during his Ohio State tenure, Foster signed four – Cleveland Central Catholic center Jantel Lavender, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne guard Brandie Hoskins, Columbus Independence center Jessica Davenport and Pickerington North guard Marscilla Packer – while nine left the state and one (Middletown Madison forward Allyson Mallott) signed with Dayton. Not every player who departed the Buckeye State rather than be a Buckeye turned into a star, but the perception Foster did not have a fence at the borders was still damaging, as were the tournament struggles.
McGuff inherits an Ohio State roster that returns five players who started at least 11 games during an 18-13 season, but leading scorer Tayler Hill is off to the Washington Mystics as the fourth pick overall pick of the WNBA draft. The Buckeyes also lose defensive ace Amber Stokes, a starter along with Hill in the backcourt.
However, the new coach should have a chance to reload quickly with the 2014 class of prospects in Ohio considered exceptionally strong, even for the always highly regarded state.
Top uncommitted prospects include Cincinnati Princeton guard Kelsey Mitchell, Kettering Fairmont forwards Makayla Waterman and Katheryn Westbeld and Reynoldsburg forward Alyssa Rice.
Prior to hiring McGuff, the Ohio State job was reported or rumored to be offered to several candidates from across the country, including Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, Lindsay Gottlieb of California, Jeff Walz of Louisville, Brian Agler of the Seattle Storm and former Texas coach Gail Goestenkors.