Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) CEO Beth Bass presented CSU’s Division II National Champion Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Dennis Cox, with the 2011 Russell Athletic/WBCA Coach of the Year Award. The WBCA National Convention held The WBCA Award Show on Monday April 4, during the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis.
Coach Cox attempt to deflect any potential praise about the award, pointing into Assistant Coach Kaleena Coleman’s adjoining office, underscores Cox’s humility.
“You might want to speak with her. She knows more about it than I do,” proclaimed Cox, jokingly.
Cox genuinely appreciates the hardworking staff and players with whom he graciously shares the honor.
“None of this would be possible without them,” said Cox, proudly placing the Russell Athletic Coach of the Year hardware on a cluttered office desk next to the NCAA Division II trophy.
Both milestones place Cox firmly in the record books as the first coach in Georgia history to achieve a national championship and national Coach of the Year in the same season. Furthermore, Cox stands alone as the only women’s basketball coach to receive the Atlanta Tip-Off Club Naismith Whack mith Whack Hyder Georgia Women’s Basketball College Coach of the Year in two consecutive seasons (2010, 2011).
Cox’s overall collegiate coaching record (475-183) speaks volumes about his commitment to winning. During the Cox era, CSU’s overall record totals 184-45, which translates to an 80.3 winning percentage!
Cox’s tenure at Clayton State University boasts four Peach Belt Conference Championships, Three Peach Belt Conference Tournament Championships, and, as if that weren’t enough, add an NCAA Division II National Championship. During the tremendous seven-year stretch, Cox also enjoys two Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year selections (2007, 2011).
Five of the seven years since Cox’s arrival show the Lady Lakers amassing a minimum of 25 wins (no less than twenty wins in any of Cox’s seven seasons). Subsequently, Cox shows the ability to win at any level.
However, the 2010-2011 season proves Cox’s most successful campaign yet. Cox led the Lakers to a Peach Belt Conference Championship , a Peach Belt Tournament Regional Championship (17-1 in Peach Belt Conference play), an NCAA Division II National Championship, and a 35-1 overall record.
According to Mason Barfield, CSU’s Director of Athletics, who started the CSU Athletics program in 1989, Cox hails from a strong family background, composed mostly of women who impressed values on Cox at an early age, which helped Cox raise four daughters. Barfield explains that Cox has been an asset to family, community, and craft throughout his career. Cox’s resume certainly supports Barfield’s claim.
Cox’s involvement with young athletes goes back (1981) to Seminole, Fla., where Cox began coaching Oscola High School JV Boys’ Basketball.
Cox entered the collegiate coaching ranks in 1989 as Head Women’s Basketball Coach of Valencia Community College. He led the program for eight seasons, compiling a 144-97 (.598) overall record, including three NJCAA Division I National Tournament appearances.
As Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Daytona State College in Daytona, Fla., Cox accumulated 147 wins (147-41 overall) in six seasons (.782). In 2003, Russell Athletic awarded Cox WBCA Region 9 Coach of the Year, and Cox earned the Mid-Florida Conference Coach of the Year on three separate occasions (1999, 2000, 2003).
Cox’s outstanding winning percentage ranks second best among active Division II coaches.
According to Barfield, one of Cox’s primary goals includes winning national titles.
Barfield praised Cox’s achievements, saying, “This was a special year for our Women’s Basketball program.”
“The award symbolizes the kind of excellence that the athletics department and the university strives for as a whole,” said Barfield.
Cox, who envisioned a national title the first year that he arrived at CSU, states, “The pieces were in place. The coach before me had the program in good shape.”
Coach Kaleena Coleman, Cox’s assistant remembers playing for Cox as a Senior on the 2004-05 Peach Belt Conference and Tournament Championship team, graduating to become student assistant coach (2005-07). Currently, Coleman serves as in her fourth year as CSU full-time assistant coach. Coleman appreciates Cox’s unique and effective coaching style.
“Cox is a motivator,” says Coleman, “He doesn’t ask his players to do anything that he won’t do. During preseason conditioning, he even runs with the team. I think that’s what begins to gain their trust.”
“I was scared when I first met him. He [Dennis Cox] seemed so serious, and he never smiled,” recalls Freshman guard Dremeka Griggs. “Now, he’s like the exact opposite. He’s a great guy. His love of the game and players rubs off. There’s a reason why Coach wins. He knows how to push players.”
Renee Jackson, a Senior transfer from Columbus State adds, “Coach did good this year. He’s a great coach. If you believe in his system, then you look good.”
The Lakers certainly look good. Winning the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship distinguishes Cox’s Lakers as the only women’s collegiate basketball team in Georgia history to accomplish the feat.
Annually, the WBCA presents eight regional Divisional II Coach of the Year Awards. Coaches in their respective regions vote for their peers. The WBCA selects the national coach of the year from the list of regional coaches of the year. Cox holds the 2011 WBCA Region 3 Coach of the Year award.
“It’s flattering because there are some great coaches at the D-2 level, and in this conference [Peach Belt]. The recipient of this award is chosen by the coaches, and I really appreciate being selected by fellow coaches,” said Cox.
The complete list of regional winners include:
Region Coach Institution
Region 1 Barbara Stevens Bentley University
Region 2 Lynn Ullom West Liberty University
Region 4 Kimberly Cameron Michigan Technological University
Region 5 Sandra Rushing Delta State University
Region 6 Gene Steinmeyer Northwest Missouri State University
Region 7 Mark Kellogg Fort Lewis College
Region 8 Carmen Dolfo Western Washington University
Although Barfield believes that Cox’s latest achievements will certainly improve recruiting in all CSU sports, he avidly points out that challenges still remain. “Life goes on,” said Barfield, “and the focus lies ahead on next year.”