After guiding Wooster to five more victories, and nearly several others, as interim coach during 2015-16 than the previous season, Lisa Panepento has been named the full-time head coach of the women's basketball team, director of athletics Keith Beckett announced on Monday.
Wooster entered the season with a 22-game losing streak and snapped it with a vengeance, starting the season 4-0 before finishing it 6-19.
While the improvement in the win column was a plus, it was the attitude, competitiveness, and fun displayed by the student-athletes on the court that truly stood out this past winter. Those traits were a direct reflection of the affable Panepento, who has been part of the program as a player, assistant coach, interim coach, and now head coach.
"I am very excited that Lisa has accepted the offer to serve as our head women's basketball coach. Throughout the past season, she confirmed her extraordinary passion and work ethic," stated Beckett.
"It's certainly an honor to be named head coach here," said Panepento. "I feel very humbled to be given this opportunity, and like most things I do, I'm going to give it 110 percent."
Beckett added, "Lisa's enthusiasm for the college and women's basketball is quite special. Fueled by her own experiences as a standout student-athlete for the Fighting Scots, I am confident that she will provide quality experiences for our student-athletes and guide the program in a continued upward trajectory toward a conference championship. Lisa is truly home and motivated to return the program to the exceptional status it carried when she played."
Panepento, Wooster's all-time leading scorer (1,201 points) at the close of her career, combined for six all-North Coast Athletic Conference certificates (two basketball, four track) and helped lead teams to four conference championships (one basketball, three outdoor track). Shortly after graduation, she became the head coach at NCAA Div. III Kalamazoo for two seasons.
Since 2004, Panepento has been back at her alma mater, first gaining valuable administrative experience in the admissions office before returning to her true passion – the hardwood – when the assistant coach position opened up in 2010. She was named interim coach last June, and immediately brought a new spirit to the program, as the Fighting Scots were in almost every game with seven losses by five points or less and/or that went to overtime, in addition to six wins.
"It was a good year," reflected Panepento. "Honestly, my approach when I was interim was to not worry about becoming the head coach. My focus was just on getting better (last) season, and build momentum heading forward. I think we were able to do that."
Panepento is already excited for the prospects of the 2016-17 season, as she expects eight first-years to join the 14 returning players.
"One of our goals is to create competition for positions on the team. We think we've done that with the energy and enthusiasm of the recruits coming in. We're also looking to create more of a balanced scoring approach. Lauren Hancher (18.0 scoring average as a senior; 1,415 career points) was a once-in-a-generation player, but we need to get more balanced and talented across the board, which will lead to more wins."