Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass hires Tory Verdi as next women’s basketball coach

By Mark Chiarelli

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EMU Athletics

(EMU Athletics)

The University of Massachusetts has hired Eastern Michigan’s Tory Verdi as its next women’s basketball coach, tabbing the local product to lead a rebuild of the program.

Verdi coached the Eagles to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament the last two seasons, and was set to enter his fifth season at EMU. He signed a contract extension with the Eastern Michigan last June through the 2021 season after coaching EMU to the WNIT “Sweet 16”, according to MLive.

EMU was Verdi’s first career head coaching job. He took over the program ahead of the 2012-13 season and compiled an 8-22 record in his first year. It was EMU’s only losing season under Verdi, and he posted a 72-61 overall record in four seasons at EMU.

“I am thrilled to be the head coach at UMass,” Verdi said in a press release Saturday. “I knew the day that I stepped on campus that the University of Massachusetts was a special place. UMass women’s basketball has all of the elements to build a championship-caliber program and provide an outstanding student-athlete experience. I am excited to take this program to the next level.”

Verdi will replace Sharon Dawley, who was fired after six seasons at UMass. The Minutewomen went 46-133 over that time, including a 12-18 record last season. They’re top three scorers from last season – Cierra Dillard, Bria Stallworth and Alyssa Lawrence – are expected to return.

“This is a truly exciting time for our women’s basketball program with the addition of Tory Verdi as our head coach,”UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “Tory has a tremendous track record of success that will be a real asset for our program as we compete for Atlantic 10 Championships. His enthusiasm for building a winning culture that promotes success in the classroom, in competition and in the community makes him a great fit for the University of Massachusetts.”

Verdi is a native of New Britain, Connecticut and attended Keene State in New Hampshire. He has experience coaching in the women’s NCAA Tournament as an assistant at Kansas, where he coached for two seasons prior to taking over EMU, and also served as an assistant at Nebraska from 2005 to 2010. He’s Bamford’s second hire of the spring, arriving in Amherst just over a week after the University also announced the hiring of new hockey coach Greg Carvel.

Verdi was also at the helm of EMU during a trying time two seasons ago when Shannise Heady, a 21-year-old forward on the team, died in a late-January car accident. The program determined it would play out the rest of the season, went 12-2 over its final four games and appeared in the Mid-American Conference’s Championship game.

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported Thursday that Verdi was a finalist for the job and firmly “on the radar” of Bamford, and first reported Verdi’s hiring Saturday morning. The University will introduce Verdi at a press conference on campus Wednesday.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli. 

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