Debbie Black Named EIU Women's Head Basketball Coach

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Published on May 16 2013 7:51 pm
Last Updated on May 21 2013 10:29 am
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Referencing a children’s book about herself, - Tiny, Terrific Debbie Black – Debbie Black talked about the story of a young, undersized girl achieving her dream of first playing basketball and then coaching basketball.  The next chapter in that continuing life story began on Thursday afternoon as Black was hired as the sixth head women’s basketball coach in the NCAA Division I history of Eastern Illinois University and eighth since the inception of the program.

Black was welcomed to Eastern Illinois as an afternoon press conference in the Baker/Warmoth Hall of Champions in Lantz Arena where she was joined by EIU President Dr. William Perry, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Dan Nadler and EIU Director of Athletics Barbara Burke.

“Debbie Black has won at all levels of basketball,” said Burke.  “During her interview she displayed an energy, passion and drive for coaching the game that will keep Eastern Illinois as one of the top programs not only in the Ohio Valley Conference but in the region.”

A former assistant coach at Ohio State University, Black has worked and played for some of the most successful coaches in women’s basketball.

Most recently Black was part of a successful run for the Buckeyes women’s program under head coach Jim Foster that saw Ohio State win six Big Ten Conference Championships in eight seasons.  The program made seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with her as a member of the staff including advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009 and 2011.

In addition to helping coach successful teams, Black has been instrumental in the development of player success.  Coaching guards at Ohio State her players won four Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors and one Big Ten Player of the Year honor.  Multiple players have gone on to professional careers both in the WNBA and overseas.

“I opened the press conference telling you about the book that is used in third grade classes as a source for motivation.  That story ends with me being an assistant coach but my story continues today with this head coaching opportunity at Eastern Illinois,” said Black.  “I always knew my story would continue because I know my character and my work ethic.  I never quit, never stop.  I believe you have to work hard and give it your all everyday.  That is they way I played and that is the way I coach.”

Black’s ties to Jim Foster go back to her playing days at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.  As a player she helped lead the Hawks to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  Black earned her degree from St. Joseph’s in 1988.

Black’s first coaching position was as an assistant for Foster at Vanderbilt during the 1999-2000 season when the team made the NCAA Tournament advancing to the second round.

As a player Black played more than ten seasons at the professional level.  She began her career in the WNBL playing in Tasmania.  She was the 15th overall selection in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Utah Starzz.  She was named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year while a member of the Miami Sol and ended her professional career in 2005 as a member of the Connecticut Sun.

All told she has been part of 34 consecutive winning seasons of basketball both as a player and a coach.   Nicknamed “The Pest” during her playing days, Black is the only women’s professional player to ever record a quadruple double with 10 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals.

“President Perry mentioned two things earlier in this press conference.  1.) That we want to compete for championships.  2.) We want to do it with people of integrity,” added Black.  “Eastern Illinois is located in a great community and great people give you the opportunity to do both of those things.  Compete for championships and do it with integrity.”

Eastern Illinois won its second Ohio Valley Conference regular season championship last year advancing to the program’s fourth straight post-season appearance.  EIU beat Missouri in the first round of the WNIT to record the program’s first post-season victory.

What They Are Saying About Coach Black...

“I don’t know of anybody better prepared for the opportunity to be a head coach. She has played and coached at every level and had nothing but success. I’m sure that Eastern Illinois is about to find that out.”

... Jim Foster - Head Coach, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

“Debbie Black is an extraordinary leader, a better recruiter, a better coach and an even better person.  Her energy will inspire, her competitiveness will motivate and her sincere and genuine care for her students will create a model program for all of us to emulate.  I congratulate Eastern Illinois University for an exceptional hire and look forward to much success in their future.”