Women's basketball plays at Maryland in NCAA Tournament game (3/17/12).
Photos by Phil Hoffmann.
Stefanie Pemper, the 2010-11 Patriot League Coach of the Year, enters her fifth season as the head coach of the Midshipmen in the fall of 2012.
Pemper has overseen a renaissance in the program since her arrival on The Yard in the spring of 2008. She inherited a program after an eight-year span where the Mids had produced one winning record, no winning seasons in Patriot League play, placed no higher than fourth in the league standings and posted just one victory in the Patriot League Tournament. She has guided the Mids to winning seasons -- both overall and within the Patriot League -- in each of her four seasons, placements in the league's regular season standings of no lower than a tie for third place, victories in the quarterfinal round of the 2009 and 2010 Patriot League Tournaments, to the program's first Patriot League Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011 and another league tournament championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
Navy has compiled an overall record of 71-55, a record of 34-22 in Patriot League regular season games and an 8-2 mark in league tournament contests during her four seasons at the Academy.
The 2011-12 campaign saw the Mids garner the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. After posting a win over No. 6 Colgate in the quarterfinal round, Navy went on the road to knock off No. 2 seed Lehigh in the semifinal round of the tournament. The Mids then topped Holy Cross in the championship game to once again cut down the nets in Alumni Hall.
Navy received the No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament and was sent to nearby College Park for a first round game at Maryland. The Mids gave the No. 2 seeded Terrapins all they wanted as Navy was within seven points of the eventual Elite Eight-bound Maryland squad before falling, 59-44. The 59 points was a new season low for the Terrapins and was 19 points below their season average -- to date -- of 78.8 points per game.
Last year's efforts came on the heels of Navy posting a 20-12 record during the 2010-11 season, which marked the first 20-win campaign by a Navy team in 13 seasons and just the third time the program has posted 20 or more wins in a single year. Navy also finished the Patriot League's regular season with a share of the league crown -- for the first time in 13 years and the second time in school history -- with a record of 10-4. The Mids entered the 2011 league tournament as the top-seeded team for the first time in Navy's two-decade membership in the league. Navy would make its No. 1 seed hold up as the Mids advanced to the program's first NCAA Tournament in their 20th season of competition on the Division I level.
The No. 14 Mids gave DePaul, the region's No. 3 seed and the ninth-ranked team in the country, a battle in the NCAA Tournament. Navy held the lead over the Blue Demons in the second half and was within single digits of the eventual Sweet 16-advancing DePaul squad with five minutes remaining in the game.
The 2009-10 season saw Navy compile a 17-14 record overall, an 8-6 mark in the league, a No. 3 seed in the league tournament and a victory over Colgate in the quarterfinal round of the postseason. Additionally during her second year, Navy recorded its first season sweep of Holy Cross in school history, its first regular season sweep of Bucknell in over a decade, a sweep of Army for the first time in seven years and the return of the Army-Navy Trophy after a seven-year hiatus.
Her sophomore season at Navy came on the heels of her first season in which Pemper guided the Mids to a 16-15 overall record and an 8-6 mark in Patriot League play. The 16 wins attained by the team was an improvement of nine wins over the 2007-08 season. The 2008-09 Mids not only ranked as the most improved team in Navy history, the squad also tied for 13th place nationally in terms of the biggest turnarounds from the prior season. Navy's league mark also was the best for the Mids since the 1997-98 season, while its tie for third place was the best for the program in a decade.
The 2008-09 season was highlighted by Navy defeating Bucknell in the quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Tournament. The win was the first for the Mids in the tournament in five years and just the second by Navy in the postseason in a decade. It also was Navy's first win over Bucknell in the Patriot League Tournament and snapped an overall nine-game losing skid to the Bison.
Coaching at Bowdoin
Pemper arrived in Annapolis after compiling a sparkling 235-48 record over her decade as the head coach of Bowdoin. Her career winning percentage of 83% ranked fourth in NCAA Division III history upon her departure. The Polar Bears also compiled a New England Small College Athletic Conference regular season record of 65-7 (.903) during her tenure and claimed at least a share of six conference regular season titles to go along with seven conference tournament championships.
Pemper's teams were especially dominant at home, winning 76 consecutive games from 2001-07, the fourth-longest home winning streak in NCAA Division III history.
Bowdoin's success was not limited to the conference level under Pemper, who also served as the school's Senior Woman Administrator, as the program qualified for the NCAA Tournament in all but one of her 10 years at the school. The Polar Bears made seven consecutive Sweet 16 appearances from 2001-07 and advanced to the Elite Eight in six straight years (2002-07).
School history was made by the team during its magical 2003-04 season. Bowdoin compiled a 30-1 record on the year, with its lone loss coming in the NCAA National Championship Game. It was the first national title game appearance for any team in Bowdoin history.
At the conclusion of the 2003-04 season, Pemper was selected as the WBCA NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year. She also was tabbed as the District I Coach of the Year in both 2003 and `04, and was named as the NESCAC Coach of the Year in 2002, `04, and `06.
In addition to her accolades, Pemper's players also regularly were honored on the national level. The laurels included Lora Trenkle (2004) and Eileen Flaherty (2007) garnering First-Team All-America accolades and Flaherty being selected as the WBCA National Player of the Year.
Pemper was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in October of 2009.
Playing at Idaho State
A native of Huntington Beach, Calif., Pemper is a 1992 graduate of Idaho State. She would earn All-Big Sky Conference laurels during her final two seasons at the school and be inducted into the Idaho State Hall of Fame in 2003.
Pemper earned a pair of degrees at the school, first a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication (1992) then a Master's of Physical Education/Athletic Administration (1997).
Early Coaching Career
Following graduation and the conclusion of her playing career, Pemper quickly ascended through the collegiate coaching ranks. After one season as a graduate assistant at Alaska-Anchorage, she returned to her alma mater to begin a two-year stint as a member of the school's coaching staff. From there, Pemper traveled to the East Coast to join the staff at Harvard.
The Crimson won at least 20 games during each of her three seasons in Cambridge and posted a 39-3 Ivy League record over that time. Harvard won the conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of her three years. After losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in both 1996 and `97, Harvard became the first -- and only -- No. 16 seed in either the women's or men's national tournament to win a first round game when the Crimson topped the No. 1 seed Stanford Cardinal.
Following that season, Pemper accepted her most recent position at Bowdoin.