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Tsipis to assume head coaching job for women’s basketball team

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis answers questions from the media Saturday following his introduction to the GW community in the Smith Center. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated 2:07 p.m.

Nine-year Notre Dame assistant coach Jonathan Tsipis will take the helm of the Colonials, the University announced Friday.

Tsipis, who served as the associate head coach of the Fighting Irish for the past four seasons, boasts significant collegiate coaching experience – a qualification athletic director Patrick Nero said was a key aspect of the search. University President Steven Knapp and Nero also highlighted Tsipis’ commitment to student-athlete academic success as a crucial factor in his hire.

“Through the process of getting ready to become a head coach, I think one thing that was clear was that I wanted to be in a situation where it was a program and a university that really valued student-athletes,” Tsipis said. “And I think there are very few places in the country that put those things together well, and a program where women’s basketball is supported at a high level and there’s been a tradition of championships without sacrificing anything at the academic side.”

During his tenure with Notre Dame, Tsipis helped the program to four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances and back-t0-back championship games in 2011 and this season, before the Irish fell to Baylor April 3. He plans to bring the style of play he helped to implement at Notre Dame to the Colonials, Tsipis said, including an up-tempo style of play that has its roots in “turning defense into offense.”

Tsipis also spoke to the importance of building a strong program with solid recruiting, and underlined his desire to recruit locally.

“I plan on spending a lot of time in individual meetings with [the current players] and I talked a little bit to them at the meeting about my goals for not only the team, but for them individually,” Tsipis said. “That this isn’t a question of being good in a couple of years, I’m not ready to wait. I’m ready to get this thing going.”

While Kristin Cole, a GW assistant coach under former head coach Mike Bozeman and former Notre Dame player, was in attendance at the reception, Tsipis said the decision to hire a coaching staff is still pending for Tsipis. He added while he has yet to officially decide on a staff, he intends for it to have Notre Dame ties.

Senior Courtnay Oddman, co-president of the Colonial Army, presents Tsipis's two children Joshua, 4, and Emily, 7, with new GW gear to welcome them to the University as his wife Leigh looks on. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

Tsipis’ Notre Dame information page lists him as a coach that works primarily with the team’s wing players, while coordinating practices, scheduling, recruiting and scouting. Nero said Tsipis’ vast experience, including his track record of postseason success at Notre Dame, will be instrumental in returning GW to its former heights.

“My feeling really was we needed to get somebody in here that had been at a premier program and knew how those type of programs do things every single day,” Nero said. “Those programs aren’t made overnight, they are daily habits, and I just wanted to make sure we had somebody that had lived that for many years.”

Senior center Sara Mostafa and senior forward Tara Booker, both of whom will return to the Colonials for their fifth year with the team, said Tsipis’ evident passion will motivate GW as it makes the transition into a new coaching staff. In his initial meeting with the team this morning, Booker said, Tsipis handed out a sheet that broke down the team’s day into 22 and two hours: the “two” representing basketball, and the 22 “emphasizes being a student, and enjoying D.C. It’s about the academics and the social, not just about basketball,” Booker said.

“We could see that he’s passionate about everything that he’s saying and it really, for me, it made me excited to get on the court and get ready and have the whole staff and start practice,” Mostafa said. “It just made me really excited to start next season and be successful, finally.”

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