The University of Michigan in the past has lured from Miami coaches such as football’s Bo Schembechler and baseball’s Bud Middaugh.
The RedHawks on Tuesday officially pried one away from the Wolverines with the introduction of former Michigan women’s basketball assistant Megan Duffy as Miami’s new head coach, capping what she described as a “whirlwind couple of days” that included helping Michigan knock off Georgia Tech in three overtimes to win the Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship on Saturday.
“I’ve dreamed of this ever since I was a little kid,” said Duffy, facing an audience that included members of her Kettering-based family and of her Michigan coaching family. “You can ask my family. They’ll tell you that, since I was eight or nine years old, I was saying, ‘I think I want to be a coach.’”
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Duffy, 32, replaces Cleve Wright, who was fired by athletic director David Sayler after going 35-87 in four seasons. Sayler, who hired Jack Owens as the men’s basketball coach last week, narrowed his field of candidates to 10 and settled on three to be interviewed by Miami President Greg Crawford. Sayler said Duffy had been on his mind for quite a while.
“She stood out initially and all through the process, but I met Megan a while ago and she’s been on my radar for a long time,” he said before the press conference. “I’ve watched her from a distance and seen her grow. Her energy is positive. She’s going to be a star in the coaching profession.”
Duffy, who agreed to a five-year contract with an annual salary of $212,136, met with the current RedHawks for 30 minutes on Monday. Miami’s entire roster is expected to return next season, including MAC Freshman of the Year Lauren Dickerson.
“Her resume is great,” said sophomore guard Leah Purvis, her right foot encased in a black plastic walking boot to help her deal with some shin issues. “She’s got a lot of coaching experience. We didn’t talk much x’s and o’s, but we’re all really excited to get into the gym.”
Duffy, who already had reached out to early signee Kenzie Schmitz to ensure the commitment and to local AAU and high school coaches about possible recruits, believes the RedHawks will benefit from fresh coaching voices.
“I think we have terrific student- athletes,” the Chaminade-Julienne graduate said.
The Notre Dame graduate also believes her experience makes her well-suited to turning around Miami’s program. George Washington was 25-51 in the three years before she joined former Fighting Irish assistant John Tsipis’s staff. The Colonials went 23-11 in her second season, right before she was hired by Michigan’s Kim Barnes Arico to be the Wolverines’ associate head coach.
“This is a perfect fit for me,” she said. “It almost feels like I’ve done this before. I can do things similar to what I’ve done at those institutions.”
Arico also hired Duffy at St. John’s in 2009. Sayler likes coaches who have been hired by the same person multiple times. That was part of Owens’s appeal after he was hired twice by current Purdue coach Matt Painter.
Duffy is looking forward to the challenge of reviving interest in Miami women’s basketball. She hopes to install a high-scoring offense that will be “fun to watch” and tapping into a Dayton-area fan base she knows well.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back home,” she said. “Ohio is a hotbed of girls basketball, and nobody has ever said a negative word about this place. I’ve always known Miami, but I was blown away by this place. When I walked on campus, I was thinking, ‘This is one of the most beautiful places in Ohio.’ There’s a lot to sell here.”