DeUnna Hendrix has been named the ninth women’s basketball head coach in Miami University history, the school’s athletic department announced Tuesday.
“I would say her passion for winning, the way she treats people and her demeanor was really consistent,” Athletic Director David Sayler said. “She’s really focused on what’s important and about student-athletes. That’s what is most important, and she hit all the right notes in terms of winning championships, graduating students and making them prepared for life.”
Hendrix joins the RedHawks after seven seasons in charge of the High Point University women’s hoops program. The Kokomo, IN, native has a lifetime head coaching record of 103-84 (74-40 Big South). Prior to accepting the head job at High Point, Hendrix was an assistant with the team for one year.
Last season, she led the Panthers to a record of 22-9, with a 15-3 record in the Big South. High Point received a Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) bid before losing to Ohio University, 74-81, in the first round.
“I would like to publicly thank Megan Duffy for laying the foundation and instilling the belief, because that’s not an easy thing to do,” Hendrix said at her introductory press conference on Wednesday.“Instilling the belief that, yes, we can compete for championships and, yes, we will and use that momentum to propel us forward.”
Duffy vacated the head Miami position and accepted the equivalent job at Marquette University on April 10. Under Duffy, Miami had its first back-to-back 20-win seasons since the 1980s.
Last season, the RedHawks ended the regular season with a 23-9 record and also received a WNIT bid before falling in the first round to Western Kentucky, 63-67.
Duffy defeated Hendrix when Miami hosted High Point in November, 68-55.
“You just never know who is watching,” Hendrix said of the game. “My feet were planted. I was with High Point University, so it was really about beating [Miami] as much as we could, but that didn’t happen.”
Prior to the press conference, she held a team meeting with the returning RedHawks. She stressed building relationships with the players before stepping onto the court.
“This transition is hard, and I don’t think people understand just how hard it is,” Hendrix said. “I’m a stranger right now. They’re looking at me, [saying], ‘I don’t know who you are.’ Well, I don’t know ya’ll either. We have to do that first so, the next three weeks, that’s what we are going to be focused on.”
Four of the players on Hendrix’s HPU roster came from Ohio, with two of those being from the Dayton area.
“We’ve done really well in the midwest, and the contacts are there,” Hendrix said. “Now, I’m able to sell what Miami has done in the past couple years, sell the MAC (Mid-American Conference), which, in my opinion, is the best mid-major conference in the nation.”
With a strong midwest recruiting pipeline, in addition to many returners to the RedHawks roster, Hendrix holds high hopes for next season.
Guard Lauren Dickerson (16.4 PPG), forward Savannah Kluesner (13.4 PPG) — both All-MAC honorees last season — and forward Abbey Hoff all return next season. The group of seniors will play for their third different coaching staff in their four years in Oxford.
“She seemed down to earth and wanted to get to us better, which is the most important thing, before seeing us on the court,” Hoff said. “It’s almost unheard of, three coaches in four years, but each time it’s an opportunity to get better and a fresh new start.”
The RedHawks will also have Nia Clark, who averaged 10.4 points per game before suffering a knee injury in non-conference play, and another experienced guard in Kenzie Schmitz.
“I think a MAC Championship is a byproduct of all that will come,” Hendrix said. “I think anytime you work hard to serve others, all of a sudden you’re looking at yourself like, ‘Maybe I did accomplish something.’ We can talk about MAC Championships, all-conference and everything, but at the end of the day, we have to love really, really hard and care really, really hard, first. Those are intangibles but are really important.”