Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Mike Leflar introduced as 12th head coach of UMass women’s basketball

“The amount of gratitude I feel is overwhelming”
Chris Tucci / UMass Athletics

With the hoop band playing the University of Massachusetts fight song, flanked by UMass athletics’ Jay Burnham and UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford, Mike Leflar was welcomed to the Massachusetts room with a standing ovation at his introductory press conference to become the 12th head coach of the Massachusetts women’s basketball team. Bamford remarked on Leflar’s journey to the head coaching position of UMass.

“Over the last five years, you could say that this has been a job interview,” Bamford said on Leflar’s tenure as an assistant coach and later associate head coach. “One of the things that really struck me about [Leflar] was the three positions he had prior to coming to UMass, he was either hired in or promoted to associate head coaching roles.”

Leflar has been tied to women’s basketball since the beginning of his career when he was hired as a volunteer assistant for the University of Pennsylvania. He spent the next 10 years as an assistant coach for Boston University’s women’s basketball team, before bouncing around for the next four years before being hired as an assistant coach for UMass in 2018.

This is Leflar’s first head coaching job at the collegiate level and he looks to bring a sense of family and community to the Minutewomen. He stressed the importance of relationships, not just between players and coaches but extending it to the entire campus.

“To Kate, we’ve had highs, we’ve had lows, but the strength of our relationship has made everything so much fun, I’m so glad that we’re going to live this dream together” Leflar said to his wife while holding back tears. 

Bamford spoke on how quickly Leflar was hired after the departure of former head coach Tory Verdi, noting that it happened less than 48 hours after Verdi officially became the head coach of Pittsburgh women’s basketball. The decision was almost instantaneous, with overwhelming support from administration, fellow coaches, former players and the departed Verdi.

“It’s certainly a testament to the start that [Leflar] had five years ago, the relationships he built, to have so many people from our department and our community here is a real testament to those relationships,” Bamford said acknowledging the crowd.

Leflar inherits a UMass squad that made history this past season, winning a record 27 games. Franchise cornerstones that have propelled the Minutewomen to success will no longer be with the program, namely Sam Breen and Destiney Philoxy who both completed their final year of eligibility. Sydney Taylor, Makennah White, Angelique Ngalakulondi and Ber’Nyah Mayo have all entered the transfer portal. 

With Breen and Philoxy leaving, and others entering their names into the transfer portal, Leflar turns to the future of the program. He plans to commit fully to the players that do choose to stay, but also looks ahead to the transfer portal to fill the needs of the current squad.

“I’ve came to the conclusion that they know me,” Leflar said. “I’ve been with them for a year to three years, I’ve been genuine, I’ve been authentic, who I’ve been is who I’m going to be.”

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101. Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RachelToth46. 

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