D3hoops.com: Coaches who can be counted on to turn things around
While Swarthmore’s unanimous No. 1 men’s basketball team has been getting lots of press, the relatively unheralded hiring of Candice Signor-Brown as the Swarthmore women’s coach this summer was perhaps the most notable offseason move.
Her hiring was a statement both ways: that Swarthmore went out and got a successful, hard-driving coach for their women’s program, which has struggled of late; and that Signor-Brown saw enough in Swarthmore’s program to leave a great situation and start rebuilding again.
“Some of it was personal,” says Signor-Brown. “This is three hours closer to my hometown, but you see what the men’s program is doing and you know what the possibilities are here.”
Already this season, Swarthmore women’s basketball has more than doubled the win total from 2018–19. The Garnet are 7-5 (4-3 in conference) with 13 games left to play. “We’re ahead of schedule,” says Signor-Brown, “We had a three-year plan: this year being more competitive, next year being [.500 or so], and then, in the third year, hopefully going to the conference playoffs.”
What Signor-Brown has brought to campus is an expectation that her program will be run like a national contender. Marian Ware Director of Athletics Adam Hertz saw the difference immediately: “Candice brings a level of credibility that, for one reason or another, had been lost. There is some enthusiasm among the roster. Candice is very organized, very focused, and holds the players very accountable—and that’s something they were craving.”
It’s very easy for an elite academic institution, like Swarthmore, to excuse non-competitive athletics. It’s hard to get into Swarthmore, limiting the player pool, and the demands of the classroom could potentially be (and are) too much for some. Hertz has been AD for nearly 20 years and talks about the struggle to build a community of coaches committed to each other and to bringing in the kind of student who can excel in the classroom and on the court.
“Our players are front-row students, they ask questions,” he says. “Swarthmore is unique. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a great place if you’re the right fit for it.”