Bagby seeks to bring stability to Wolves
THORNBURY >> The new women’s basketball coach at Cheyney, Tammy Bagby, spent most of her 22-year career in the south. But she did have a brief coaching stint at Morgan State in Baltimore, which prepared her for the upcoming winter weather.
“This job must be a blessing because the weather has been awesome so far,” Bagby said. “I was ready to put my parka, boots and a ski hat on right away.
“At Morgan State in 2002, I experienced a blizzard, and at that time I had a little Mazda. At first I couldn’t even see my car underneath the snow. So as soon as it cleared, I got me an SUV, and I’ve been driving one ever since.”
Truth be told, Bagby is going to have to do a lot of adjusting this winter, and the weather is just the beginning. She is taking over a program that has a glorious past, but has struggled mightily for the last quarter century. In fact, the Wolves have logged 26 straight losing seasons.
“It’s obviously going to take some time,” said Bagby, who was previously an assistant at Jackson State (Miss.). “But we will be competitive and every team we play will know that it’s not the Cheyney of the recent past. We want to bring back the his-
of Cheyney when it was winning and going to final fours.”
It may be difficult to believe, but Cheney was a national power 35 years ago, with NCAA Final Four appearances in 1982 and 1984. Things have bottomed out, however, in the last six seasons as the Wolves have a 20-134 record (.129 winning percentage) and finished dead last four times in the PSAC East standings. Bagby is the third head coach of the program since 2013.
“Anytime you come into something new, it’s going to be a challenge,” Bagby acknowledged. “But the desire is there. Now it’s about getting players in here, having a positive energy around the program, and we’ll work together with the administration because we will win together.”
Even though this is Bagby’s first head coaching position, her resume extends from high school to professional basketball, and includes stops at four college programs and a threeyear stint in Europe. One of her mentors is Naismith Hall of Famer Nolan Richardson.
“She was my assistant coach for the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock,” Richardson said. “Her work ethic was impeccable and she did whatever it took to get the job done. Many coaches only understand X’s and O’s, but her in-depth knowledge of all things basketball never ceases to amaze me.”
Richardson is renowned for his intense pressure defense nicknamed ‘40 minutes of hell,’ and his defensefirst philosophy is something that Bagby will employ.
“We are going to do whatever it takes defensively to beat our opponent,” she said. “But I am not a stickler for one defensive style.
“My mindset is all about defense. We can have an off-night shooting, but if we have some defensive stoppers, we will be in every single game.”
A self-described ‘basketball junkie,’ Bagby declined to talk about individual players expected to contribute this season “because everybody has a chance to rise to the occasion.
“We have a group of competitive young ladies and right now they are trying to understand my system and they are doing what I have asked of them,” she added.
Gone from last season’s 5-20 squad is Kyra Hines-Allen, a two-time All-PSAC selection, who led the team in points and rebounds, and was a 1,000-point scorer for her career. Three-year starter Aerie DeJesus is also on that list.
The top returner is 5-foot-4 senior guard Amber Genwright, who scored 10.5 points per game and led the team in assists (57). Parttime starters TaKayla Ellis (5-6 junior guard), Adriene Small (6-2 senior forward) and Marlon Herring (5-9 sophomore forward) are also back in the fold.
Another intriguing prospect is Taschell Phillips. The 5-8 senior guard misses all of last season with the knee injury.
“She is still working with the athletic trainer,” Bagby said. “Her focus is to get 100 percent healthy. When the trainer says she can give 110 percent, and she knows that she can give her all, we will play her.”
According to Bagby, she’s been promised upgrades in the crumbling facilities at Cheyney. But an overall lack of resources has been a major deterrence for all athletic programs at CU for many years.
“We don’t look at what we don’t have, but rather what we do,” Bagby said. “And whatever else we need we will get creative and get it done. Resources are going to be a problem at any school, but we are going to come together as an entire athletic department and make sure we will have what we need to get it done.
“I can only start by building relationships on campus first, and then when I recruit to bring in quality young ladies because of the relationships I’ve build with high schools and junior colleges. I also want to bond and build a consistent connection with the alumni. If I do those things, it will start to change.”
The Wolves open the season on Nov. 11th at Division I Maryland-Eastern Shore.
“I believe I am ready to take on this challenge, and I am truly blessed to be in this position,” Bagby said.
“Cheyney has a great tradition and history. I wanted to be a part of that. My excitement comes from loving basketball, and having an opportunity to be a head coach after 22 years, it was a no-brainer.”
Senior Amber Genwright is the top returning guard for the Cheyney women’s basketball team. She averaged over 10 points a game last season, and led the team in assists.
TaKayla Ellis is one of the returning players this season for Cheyney.
Tammy Bagby takes over as head coach at Cheyney, its third since 2013.