One week after hiring an assistant coach, Penn State women’s basketball coach Coquese Washington has another vacancy on her staff.
Lady Lion assistant Fred Chmiel is leaving the program to accept an assistant position on new head coach Marlene Stollings’ staff at Minnesota.
Chmiel, who was with Penn State four seasons, is the second member of Washington’s staff to leave the three-time reigning Big Ten champions following this season. Maren Walseth, who had been with Washington seven seasons, resigned in order to take the head coaching position at North Dakota State. Washington had hired Itoro Coleman last week to replace Walseth. Coleman also had been a part of Washington’s first staff before leaving to become head coach at her alma mater Clemson in 2010.
Chmiel will serve as the Golden Gophers’ defensive coordinator, scout and work with guards, a position similar to the one he held with the Lady Lions.
At Penn State, he worked with current WNBA players Alex Bentley (Connecticut Sun) and Maggie Lucas (Indiana Fever).
Lucas, a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, has praised Chmiel for her progress during her career at Penn State in which she scored 2,510 points.
“I think he’s the best guard position coach in the country,” Lucas said during this past season in which the Lady Lions finished 24-8 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. “He’s transformed my game.
“I work with Fred every chance I get. The NCAA has limits on how much you can work with your position coach. Whatever they alot, I use because every second I get a chance to be in the gym with him is a benefit to me and a learning opportunity.”
Chmiel will get an opportunity to work with another of the Big Ten’s standout guards in Rachel Banham. The senior led the Big Ten with a 22.1 scoring average as a junior.
Stollings, who had been the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth for three seasons, replaced longtime Minnesota coach Pam Porton, who was fired after a 236-152 career record in 12 seasons with the Golden Gophers. Borton led Minnesota to six NCAA appearances, including a 2004 Final Four appearance.
“It is such a privilege to have arguably the best defensive coordinator and scouting assistant in the game joining our program,” Stollings said in a university release on Wednesday. “Fred’s coaching accomplishments are phenomenal and his presence will be immeasurable. He will help elevate our program into the national spotlight.”
Chmiel arrived at Penn State after serving as an assitant coach for two seasons at San Diego State. He also served two seasons under current South Carolina coach Dawn Staley when she was at Temple.
“This is a talented team and I look forward to working with them,” Chmiel said in the Golden Gopher release. “Minnesota has an incredible administration and staff in place who are passionately engaged in the success of their women’s basketball program. This is a tremendous opportunity for my family and me, and we are ecstatic about joining the Gopher family and bringing women’s basketball back to national prominence.”