Marlene Stollings arrival on June 5, 2012 marked a newchapter for the VCU Women’s Basketball program, including theinstallation of a fun, offensive style of play. Fans sawflashes of her signature “Fury” brand during her firstseason with the Rams in 2012-13 despite inheriting a squad thatreturned just 20 percent of its offense (fewest in the Atlantic 10)and 31 percent of its minutes played (second fewest in A-10).
Perhaps her most impressive work with the Rams camein the form of junior Robyn Parks, who was VCU’s leadingreturning scorer at just 6.6 points per game. Parksflourished under Stollings’ new brand in 2012-13 as she wenton to lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring (18.7 ppg), finished secondin steals (2.7 spg) and ranked among the league’s top 10 inboth rebounding (7.9 rpg) and field goal percentage (.470) en routeto a second team all-conference citation. Meanwhile, freshmanJessica Pellechio earned a spot on the A-10’s all-rookiesquad after leading all freshmen in scoring (11.3). The sharpshooter also led the league and ranked 15th nationally with 3.0three-pointers per game, while her 77 treys were the third most inVCU single-season history.
As a team, the Rams were dangerous beyond the arcduring Stollings’ first year at the helm, knocking down aschool record 13 triples against UMKC, while hitting double-digit3-pointers on three different occasions. In addition,Pellechio tied the A-10’s single-game record with nineagainst the Kangaroos.
Although Stollings shares an offensive-mindedapproach to the game, her squad proved it could be stingy ondefense as well, as the Rams led the league and ranked 23rdnationally with more than 11 steals per game last season –better than three more per game than the previous year. VCUalso forced 18.1 turnovers per outing, while causing 20 or moremiscues 11 different times. The Rams allowed fewer than 60points on 13 occasions and held an opponent to under 30-percentshooting six times.
During her introductory press conference, Stollingsadmitted that recruiting will become the “lifeblood” ofher program. Her June arrival put her staff slightly behindon the recruiting trail, but that didn’t seem to matter asjust five months later she and her new staff had rapidly assembleda six-player recruiting class, which was tabbed the 38th-best inthe nation, tops among all A-10 squads, and third-highest amongnon-BCS programs by national recruiting service Blue StarBasketball. One of those players – Camille Calhoun– was listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN. The Ramsjoined nationally-ranked Dayton as one of just two A-10 schools toboast an ESPN Top 100 recruit.
Stollings, the 2012 Big South Conference Coach of theYear, made a splash in her first year as a collegiate head coach in2011-12, guiding Winthrop University to more than 40 team andindividual school records, including just the program’ssecond winning season (18-13) in 26 years. Prior to joiningthe Eagles, Stollings served as an assistant at SoutheasternConference power Ole Miss from 2007-11 with the final season as theRebels’ associate head coach. Her more than decade-longcoaching and recruiting career also includes stops in the Atlantic10, Sun Belt and Horizon League.
Stollings has consistently been recognized as one ofthe nation’s top coaches, earning invitations to theprestigious Villa 7 Consortium, and most recently the esteemedCenter for Coaching Excellence at Columbia University.
In her first year as a head coach, Stollings wastedlittle time reviving a Winthrop program that had posted a 42-52record in three seasons prior to her arrival. Her 18 wins inher only season with the Eagles were the most by any first-yearhead coach in program history and tied for the second most inWinthrop’s 26-year NCAA Division I era. Stollings alsoguided Winthrop to just its third winning conference record inschool history, including a program-best 12 Big Southvictories. Her squad tied school records for home wins (10),road wins (8) and conference road wins (5), and became the firstEagles team ever to record four-game win streaks twice in a seasonen route to sweeping a school record four Big South opponents.
Guard development has perhaps been one of Stollings’ bestcoaching attributes, and it wasn’t long before her up-tempostyle of offense took shape at Winthrop. The Eagles setsingle-season school records for points per game (69.6), 3-pointfield goals made (236) and 80-point contests (9), while knockingdown a single-game record 17 triples, one shy of the Big SouthConference mark. Winthrop also drained 7.6 threes per game,which ranked 10th in the NCAA, while Stollings’ firstrecruit, junior transfer Diana Choibekova, led the nation with 3.9treys per outing. Choibekova’s 121 threes, the most inBig South single-season history, were five away from theNCAA’s single-season mark. Meanwhile, sophomoreDequesha McClanahan became the first player in program history tobe named Big South Player of the Year after finishing second in thecountry in assists (7.2 apg) and 11th in scoring (21.1 ppg).
Prior to her arrival in Rock Hill, S.C., Stollingsspent four seasons at Ole Miss, where she was responsible foroverall offense as well as oversight of recruiting, scouting andcoordination of individual guard development. Recognized asan outstanding national recruiter, she signed arguably the best OleMiss recruiting class in nearly 30 years in 2010. Mississippinative Valencia McFarland, who ranked as the No. 14 point guard inthe nation by ESPN HoopGurlz, highlighted a class that alsoincluded highly touted players from Ohio, Tennessee andArkansas. Stollings’ final two classes at Ole Missranked 39th (2011) and 42nd (2010) in the nation by ESPNHoopGurlz.
Stollings consistently molded Ole Miss’ guardsinto one of the top corps in the country during each of her fourseasons. The Rebels’ offense ranked among the top-fivein the SEC in seven offensive categories in 2011 and eight in2010. Under Stollings’ watchful eye, Bianca Thomas, a2010 first-round draft pick of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks,ranked 10th in the NCAA and first in the SEC in scoring (20.9 ppg)as a senior en route to an All-SEC first-team selection for thesecond consecutive season. Thomas also became the first Ole Missplayer since 1986 to lead the SEC in scoring, while setting a newschool single-season record with 100 three-pointers.
Stollings boasts extensive experience as both aplayer and a coach at the Division I level, having also spent timeas an assistant at Saint Louis, Wright State, New Mexico State andJacksonville.
A native of Beaver, Ohio, Stollings enjoyed adecorated collegiate and prep career in her home state. Sheearned First Team All-Mid-American Conference honors at OhioUniversity after finishing eighth in the nation and first in theleague in scoring at 22.9 points per game her senior year. She served as team captain for the Bobcats and earned KodakAll-America honorable mention honors in 1998. Stollingsremains in the Ohio record books with 10 three-point baskets and 41points scored in a single game.
In the classroom, she earned the Ohio UniversityAlumni Scholar Athlete citation and Dean’s List honors, andgraduated with both a B.B.A. in marketing and a B.S. in sportindustry from Ohio University in 1998. Stollings began hercollegiate playing career at Ohio State University, where she was atwo-time scholar athlete for the Buckeyes.
Following her collegiate career, Stollings played oneseason professionally for Club ABB Baden in Switzerland. She waslater invited to the WNBA’s Utah Starzz training camp in1999, and also played for the NWBL Mobile Majesty. While playingprofessionally in Europe, Stollings coached a men’s club teamto an undefeated season.
Considered one of the finest scorers to ever play inthe basketball rich state of Ohio, Stollings finished her prepcareer at Eastern as the leading scorer in Ohio high school history(both boys and girls) with 3,514 points, a record that still stands(LeBron James scored 2,657). The 1993 Ohio Miss Basketball was alsopresented a resolution by both the Ohio Senate and House ofRepresentatives for her academic and athletic achievement.
Stollings was a two-time Division III High SchoolPlayer of the Year and four-time conference Player of the Year. Sheearned Kodak All-America honors her senior season. Her namecurrently appears more than 30 times in the Ohio High SchoolAthletic Association record books. In her honor, Feb. 19 wasdeclared Marlene Stollings Day in Pike County, Ohio.