UCSB Director of Athletics Mark Massari announced at a press conference Thursday morning that Carlene Mitchell — who has spent the last ten years at Rutgers — will take over as the head coach of the Gaucho women’s basketball team.
[media-credit name=”Kenneth Song” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Mitchell replaces Lindsey Gottlieb, who left for a head coaching job at UC Berkeley after leading her squad to a Big West title last season where they got second place, posting a conference record of 19-12. The postseason did not go as smoothly, as the Gauchos took an early exit after being upset by Pacific.
“Women’s basketball is competitive,” Massari said. “Our conference is in it more than ever, so someone has to take us to new heights and not live on that legacy, but keep it going and create new legacies.”
While this is her first head coaching position, Mitchell has coached under legendary hall-of-famer C. Vivian Stringer.
“I’m honored to be here,” Mitchell said. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Coach Stringer for preparing me for this day. For ten years, she made me wear the head coach’s shoes.”
Rutgers has had an NCAA postseason berth the last nine seasons, including a spot in the final four in 2007. Three of the ten campaigns, Mitchell was the associate head coach, also serving as the Scarlet Knight’s recruiting director since 2004.
“Coach Mitchell turned out to be our unanimous number one choice,” Chancellor Henry T. Yang said. “She has a career that is a steadily rising trajectory of success.”
Among the players Mitchell has mentored are WNBA stars Chelsea Newton, Matee Ajavon, Epiphanny Prince, Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter, who is also an Olympian.
Mitchell began her coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1997 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She then spent two seasons at Western Illinois University, where the women’s basketball program made a huge turnaround before becoming the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State University in 2000-01. Mitchell also has experience as a player, starting as the point guard position at Kansas State University her senior year.
Before next season starts, the team will host its 10th annual golf tournament at Sandpiper Golf Club on May 19.