Hoping to keep almost a decade of success going, the University at Albany has introduced its 12th women’s basketball coach.
UAlbany rolled out the purple carpet in SEFCU Arena to welcome Colleen Mullen to the Great Danes family Tuesday. The 37-year-old Mullen has been an associate head coach at Army since 2011. She replaces Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, who left for Boston College in April. During Mullen’s tenure at West Point, she helped guide the Black Knights to two trips to the NCAA Tournament out of the Patriot League and a 138-51 overall record. UAlbany is her first head coaching job.
College President Havidán Rodriguez welcomed Mullen to UAlbany.
“Our coaches play a critical role in the success of our teams and of our student-athletes and I know that the coach is deeply committed to student success. She is engaged, she is full of energy, she is committed, she is an outstanding talent for the University at Albany,” says Rodriguez.
UAlbany Athletic Director Mark Benson says the department strives to develop leaders on the team, in the classroom and in the community.
“And in Coach Mullen, I think we have found somebody – the last seven years at Army, which is arguably the one of the premier leadership institutions in the country and in the nation. So, she is everyday immersed in that culture of excellence and that culture of leadership,” says Benson.
Mullen, who signed the maximum five-year contract, described her hopes for the first few months at UAlbany.
“My first order of business is just these players. Knowing that these student-athletes are my priority, making sure they’re set in the finals that they’ve been in, I appreciate them all coming out in between. To build relationships with them, to know that I care about them, for them to get to know me and my family and to start building that trust. Then my second order of business is just completing my staff,” says Mullen.
Under Bernabei-McNamee and her predecessor Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, now at Central Florida, the Great Danes have been the class of the conference in recent years, winning six conference tournaments in seven years and beating Florida in the NCAA tourney in 2016.
Benson said UAlbany asked team members what they wanted in a new coach.
“Said they wanted someone who shares our values as a department. They said they wanted somebody – they liked the style of play that we employ. Doesn’t have to be exactly the same, just so you know, no pressure. So we heard them loud and clear. Lastly they said we trust you guys, so go find us the leader that’s the best fit for our program and that’s what we felt that we’ve done,” says Benson.
Mullen says that fast-paced style of play is here to stay.
“We’re going to really look to push the ball into transition, run some quick hits, really share the ball. Lot of inside-out action so getting a lot of paint touches, a lot of post touches to shrink the defense. We are going to play high-pressure defense,” says Mullen.
Forward Heather Forster, who has one year left, said the team has already met Mullen.
“We really like what she had to say about our program and her style of play. We thought it fit with ours,” says Forster.
Forster played for both Bernabei-McNamee and Abrahamson-Henderson.
“Having gone through this before I was able to tell anyone ‘Whatever you need I’ve been through this, I am here to talk.’ Our team is like a family like I said, so just everyone, we are all just open and honest with each other and we’re all just making sure that everyone is feeling OK with the changes that are taking place,” says Forster.
Mullen played college ball at Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The married mother of three was previously an assistant at LIU Brooklyn, Southern New Hampshire, and Lehigh.
Mullen says she is excited to work for a university with high academic standards in the America East Conference.