Maura McHugh Steps Down as Head Women's Basketball Coach; Assistant Coach Michele Cherry Named Successor

Michele Cherry
 
Michele Cherry
 
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June 6, 2007

Stony Brook, N.Y. - Stony Brook University Head Women's Basketball Coach Maura McHugh has stepped down from her coaching duties to return to her home in Arizona, Director of Athletics Jim Fiore announced today. Current Stony Brook assistant coach Michele Cherry has been named the new head women's basketball coach.

"Today is a bittersweet day for Stony Brook University Athletics," said Fiore. "We are losing an exceptional coach and person in Coach McHugh who did a phenomenal job as the head coach of the Stony Brook women's basketball program. In a very short period of time, Maura was able to influence a positive change on the culture of our women's basketball program both on and off the court. We are a significantly better program today than when she arrived three years ago. Maura turned our program around, developed our players' potential, recruited quality student-athletes and consistently demonstrated excellence in all aspects of coaching in the collegiate ranks. While we will certainly miss Coach McHugh, we are also thrilled to announce Michele Cherry as Stony Brook's next head coach," Fiore added. "Michele has earned the respect of our student-athletes, staff, colleagues and Seawolves supporters. With the coaching experience she has obtained at both the collegiate and professional levels, the mentoring she has received as a long time assistant to Coach McHugh and the passion and dedication she brings to work each day, we are confident the Stony Brook University Women's Basketball program will continue its standing as one of the top teams in the America East Conference."

At the helm of the Seawolves for the past three seasons, McHugh elevated the program's play considerably and helped to put Stony Brook on the national map. During her three-year tenure, Coach McHugh compiled a 46-41 overall record, including a 38-22 mark during the past two seasons. She guided several Seawolves to personal accolades, including the America East Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, three first-team selections, three second-team selections, and three third-team selections, along with an All-Met First Team pick. In the 2005-06 season, her second year at the helm, McHugh led the program to its first Division I post-season bid as they finished second in the America East and earned an at-large bid to the Women's N.I.T. During that same year, the squad orchestrated the third-best turnaround in all of Division I after posting a 20-10 overall record. Stony Brook also defeated a ranked opponent for the first time when they topped No. 19 Temple and had an RPI ranking that reached as high as 28th in the country. In 2006, McHugh guided Stony Brook to a 14-2 record in conference play and an 18-11 overall record finishing second in the America East Conference. Under her guidance, Senior Mykeema Ford was named the America East Player of the Year and went on to participate in the WNBA training camp for the Washington Mystics.

"After three enjoyable and competitive years at Stony Brook, this was an incredibly difficult decision for me and my husband to make," McHugh stated. "Stony Brook is a premier academic institution with an athletics department to match. I am honored to have had the privilege to coach the players on my team and to work with my Stony Brook colleagues. I look forward to following the even greater successes I know lie ahead for Stony Brook under the leadership of Michele Cherry. She is a phenomenal coach, strong recruiter and excellent motivator and she is ready to be Stony Brook's next head coach."

Cherry spent the last three seasons as the top assistant under McHugh and has been responsible for recruiting, player development, and game preparation for the Seawolves. "I would like to thank Maura McHugh for everything she has done for me during the past 18 years. She has been an incredible mentor and friend and without her guidance, I would not be in the position I am today," Cherry stated. "I would also like to thank the Stony Brook administration, specifically Jim Fiore, for showing confidence in me and I am honored to have the privilege of leading the women's basketball program at Stony Brook. Although I am disappointed to see Maura leave, I appreciate this incredible opportunity. I am truly excited about working with our returning players as well as our incoming class. I believe the transition will be a smooth one and that we will continue to build on the success that we experienced over the past three years at Stony Brook."

Before her arrival at Stony Brook, Cherry was an assistant with the WNBA Sacramento Monarchs where she helped guide the squad to an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. Before her time in Sacramento, Cherry spent two seasons as an assistant coach at California State University-Northridge. She also spent one season as an assistant with the first-year franchise Long Beach StingRays of the American Basketball League (ABL) in the 1997-98 campaign. That season, she helped lead the team to a 32-22 record and to within one game of the ABL title. During her coaching career, Cherry has worked with five Olympians, 14 first team all-Americans, two Wade trophy winners, one Naismith winner, three WBCA Players of the Year and one WNBA MVP. Cherry began her playing career at Oregon State University in 1987-88 before transferring to Arizona State University, where she played for three seasons under McHugh from 1989-92, graduating in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in finance. She began her coaching career at her alma mater the following year, serving as a graduate assistant coach for the 1992-93 campaign. Cherry then served as an assistant coach at Northeast Louisiana University from 1994-95.