OU hires Drake’s Baranczyk to succeed Coale

    Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Oklahoma has hired Jennie Baranczyk from Drake as its new women’s basketball coach, the school announced Saturday. She replaces Sherri Coale, who retired on March 17 after 25 seasons with the Sooners.

Baranczyk, 39, has spent the past nine seasons at Drake, going 192-96 overall and 123-39 in the Missouri Valley Conference, leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament three times.

Oklahoma also recently hired its men’s basketball coach from the Missouri Valley, as Porter Moser of Loyola Chicago replaced Lon Kruger, who retired eight days after Coale.

“This is a truly exciting day for our university and athletics department, as we welcome Jennie Baranczyk as our new head women’s basketball coach,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Her track record of overseeing creative and effective offenses, and producing high win totals, conference championships and postseason appearances during her time at Drake certainly appealed to our search committee as it evaluated the very competitive candidate pool. But her mastery of the head coaching role extends far beyond the court, and it’s clear that her personal and professional values align with ours.

“Jennie prioritizes the overall well-being of everyone in her program, is passionate about empowering her student-athletes and recognizes that a program is only as good as its people. She is family-oriented and community-minded, both of which will help her generate enthusiasm among our fans and as she works to return our program to Big 12 and national prominence.”

Drake’s women went undefeated in the MVC in 2016-17 and 2017-18, winning the league tournament both seasons. The Bulldogs had a 49-game winning streak in conference play that ended in 2019.

Drake lost in the championship game of the MVC tournament in 2019 and this year, when Baranczyk was unable to coach in the game because of COVID-19 protocol. (The 2020 MVC tournament was cancelled by the pandemic.) Drake was 18-12 overall and 13-5 in the MVC this season, and went 2-1 in the WNIT.

Drake was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll in 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons. Three of Baranczyk’s players combined to win five Missouri Valley Conference player of the year awards, and she had 24 all-conference selections during her Drake career.

Baranczyk, then Jennie Lillis, played at Iowa from 2000-2004, where she was a three-time all-Big Ten selection. She began her coaching career at Kansas State from 2004-06, then was an assistant at Marquette from 2006-10, and at Colorado from 2010-12. In 2012, Baranczyk returned to her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, to take over at Drake, which was her first head coaching job. She was two-time MVC coach of the year.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be named the next head coach for the University of Oklahoma’s women’s basketball program and following the highly successful and much-admired Sherri Coale,” Baranczyk said. “My coaching philosophy is based upon the most powerful human emotion to me and that is love. The players who put on this jersey must love the game, love to compete and love OU.

“We are going to compete at the highest level on the court and in the classroom. We will play hard, play together and be fun to watch. I’m looking forward to being at Oklahoma where there are amazing people and we can — and will — compete for championships.”

Coale went 513-294 overall and 253-167 in the Big 12 while at Oklahoma from 1996-2021. The Sooners made 19 NCAA tournament appearances under Coale, and went to the Women’s Final Four three times, losing in the 2002 national championship game to UConn and in the national semifinals to Louisville (2009) and Stanford (2010).

Coale, 56, led the Sooners to six Big 12 regular-season titles and four league tournament championships. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

The Sooners have fallen on harder times in the past four seasons, however, going a combined 48-67 overall and 29-43 in the Big 12. They last made it as far as the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2013.

Oklahoma, limited mostly to a seven-player rotation this season, went 12-12 and lost in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.

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