There are whole ton of new faces Grizzlies fans will see on the sidelines this year. And one of them will belong to a woman.
Having introduced first-time coach Taylor Jenkins earlier this summer, the Grizzlies have announced the rest of Jenkins’ coaching staff — and among the bright basketball minds they’ve assembled is none other than Niele Ivey, the team’s first African American woman coach. From a team release:
Ivey (first name pronounced knee-L) comes to Memphis following 12 seasons (2007-19) on the sidelines at her alma mater of Notre Dame, where she served the last four years as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program under head coach Muffet McGraw. During her time on the sidelines, Ivey helped guide Notre Dame to a 385-55 (.875) record, including seven NCAA Women’s Final Four berths, six NCAA title game appearances, a 2018 national championship and 13 conference championships.
One of the most successful figures in program history, Ivey is the common link between all nine of the school’s Final Four appearances (seven as a coach, two as a player). She earned AP All-America Third Team honors, the first Fighting Irish point guard to be so recognized, and was the recipient of the 2001 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as a senior while leading Notre Dame to its first national title. Following her collegiate playing career, the St. Louis native played five seasons in the WNBA before joining Xavier University for two seasons (2005-07) as an administrative assistant on the women’s basketball staff.
Rounding out the coaching staff are Brad Jones, David McClure, James “Scoonie” Penn, Vitaly Potapenko and Neven Spahija as assistant coaches. Jason March has also been named head coach of the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ NBA G League affiliate.
Meanwhile, if you have ANY questions about the woman’s coaching acumen, watch this 2014 clip from her days at Notre Dame, and consider that she’s likely gotten even more polished in the five years since it was made. There’s also a moment where she shows she’s not your average sideline mom during one of her son’s middle school games.
Make no mistake, Taylor Jenkins will be calling the shots this season. But in Ivey, he’ll also have a winner at every level in his ear.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.