It was no surprise to find out that Clayton State women’s basketball head coach Dennis Cox has taken a job on to bigger things. No one in Clayton State athletics history has taken a program so far, so it was only natural that someone with his talent would end up at a larger university (it was announced yesterday that he has accepted the head coaching position for the women’s basketball program at San Francisco State University).
As CSU’s athletics photographer, I’ve only been covering Cox for a couple of years now, but there was no greater joy there than watching him and his Lakers dominate basically everyone who stepped on the court. Sometimes you just felt bad for the other team. These well-coached women swarmed the opponent with so much offense, defense, in-your-face basketball that frustration, confusion, and despair were all but eminent.
And like most coaches who achieve baffling statistics (like Cox’s 96-6 record from 2010-13 seasons), he did not accept mistakes well. It didn’t matter that the women were ahead 30 points with five minutes remaining. A missed pass or sloppy defense got some pretty dirty looks and a possible chastising from the ever-pacing coach. It’s obvious he expected a lot out of them (and himself), but he cared for them deeply, and it showed in their rapport and mutual respect.
In addition to winning the National Championship (yes, national championship) in 2011, here are a few of the team’s other achievements during his 10-year tenure:
- 10 NCAA Tournament appearances
- 4 NCAA Division II regional championships
- 7 Peach Belt Conference championships
- 4 Peach Belt Conference tournament championships
To honor Coach Cox, I’m sharing a few of my favorite photos of him in action.
But I know the Lakers will be in good hands — long time assistant coach Kaleena Coleman (above) has been named the interim head coach. But whoever is called upon to take Cox’s place has some very large shoes to fill, that’s for sure.