Dec. 18, 2008
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University head women's basketball coach Carol Owens, who led the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women, was selected as USA Basketball's 2008 Developmental Coach of the Year by USA Basketball's Board of Directors, the organization announced today.
"I am truly honored to be named USA Basketball's Coach of the Year," Owens said. "To be able to represent our country through coaching basketball is an honor in itself. The reason I coach is to impact young women. USA basketball is a wonderful opportunity to do that."
"This is a tremendous national honor for Carol, and I know the entire Northern Illinois University community joins me in offering her congratulations," NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher said. "Her passion for basketball is matched only by her love for our country. As an NIU alumnus, she has been a great ambassador of our university and the United States of America. Her stock continues to rise in USA Basketball, and I continue to see it grow in years to come."
Owens led Team USA to a 5-0 mark in the tournament, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, capping its run to the gold with an 81-37 triumph over host Argentina. The team's first-place finish qualified the USA for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
This is Owens' third straight gold medal, and her first as head coach of a U.S. National Team. She was an assistant on Team USA's U18 squad that captured gold at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and was also on the bench as an assistant when USA Basketball's U19 team took home the gold at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.
"Carol demonstrated a special ability to lead and inspire young athletes to play together and at the top of their game this past summer with a dominating performance in Argentina," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "Not only did she put together a team in just a few weeks that played with heart and camaraderie, she secured the USA's entrance into the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, which is crucial to the future of our youth programs."
Owens, a 1990 graduate of NIU, is in her fourth season leading the Huskie women's basketball program. During that time, she has led the Huskies to success on the court and in the classroom. In her second season, she led NIU to its first winning season in five years when the Huskies finished 19-12 and advanced to the semifinals of the 2007 MAC Women's Basketball Tournament. Owens made NIU history, becoming the first Huskie head coach to have a player drafted by the WNBA when Stephanie Raymond
was selected by the Chicago Sky with the 20th overall selection in the 2007 WNBA Draft.
The Huskies have also excelled in the classroom the last four years. Under Owens, NIU has had two Academic All-MAC honorees, most recently Shari' Welton, who was named to last year's Academic All-MAC Team. NIU's women's basketball team (85 percent) ranked above the national average for women's basketball teams in the latest Graduation Success Rate reports released by the NCAA.
Owens will be honored during the men's basketball game against Loyola University Saturday, Dec. 20 in the second game of a doubleheader. Owens and the Huskies will play host to UIC in the first game at 2 p.m. For tickets, contact the NIU ticket office at 815-752-6800 or log on to www.niuhuskies.com. A ticket for the women's game allows you admission to the men's game and vice versa.
The Huskies return to the court tonight when they travel to Chicago to take on DePaul University at McGrath Arena. Tip off is 7 p.m. Fans can follow all the action live on 1360 WLBK. Bill Baker will have the call.