AP Photos: No. 13 Purdue vs. No. 25 South Carolina
Just as she did as a player, head coach Sharon Versyp has put her stamp on the Purdue women's basketball program. The former Boilermaker point guard has led Purdue to four Big Ten Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances in her eight seasons as the head coach at her alma mater. She is the second-winningest coach in Purdue history, earning her 180th victory on the Boilermaker sidelines on Feb. 20, 2014, and earned career victory No. 300 with an NCAA First Round victory on March 22, 2014. She has compiled a 183-88 record with the Boilermakers, an average of 23 wins per season, a 300-153 in 14 seasons as a Division I head coach, and her current contract has secured her presence on the Boilermaker sidelines through at least the 2017-18 season.
Versyp's impact on basketball in the Hoosier state was recognized on April 24, 2010, when she was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility, an honor that includes Larry Bird and John Wooden. On June 22, 2013, Versyp was inducted into New England Basketball Hall of Fame for her stint as the head coach at Maine as well as her ensuing success. In addition to being named the America East Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2005, Versyp was named the 2007 WBCA Region VI Coach of the Year and most recently was honored as the 2014 ESPNW Big Ten Coach of the Year.
The Mishawaka, Ind., native is known for her prowess in game preparation, individual player development and team building. Recruiting is a key to success and Versyp and her staff have proven that they can attract the elite players to Purdue. Each of Versyp's eight signing classes has been ranked in the top 25, including the most recent 2014 group that was ranked 14th nationally by Blue Star Basketball. Seven of her eight recruiting classes at Purdue have earned recognition inside the top-15, while three have been ranked in the top-10, including the Class of 2010 which was tabbed sixth nationally. Versyp and her staff have brought in and developed some of the top players in Purdue history, including Fahkara Malone, Brittany Rayburn, KK Houser, Sam Ostarello and most recently Courtney Moses.
Equally impressive to the on-court accolades are the team's academic achievements under Versyp's guidance. For three-straight years, the Boilermakers earned a team GPA of 3.10 or better, an improvement of nearly half a grade point from the year before she became Purdue's head coach. Plus, Brittany Rayburn became the first Boilermaker Academic All-American since 2001, when she earned second team status as a senior. Under Versyp, Purdue has had 36 Academic All-Big Ten members, including Lauren Mioton who was a Rhodes Scholar finalist.
Versyp has guided 25 players to All-Big Ten accolades at Purdue, including four first-team selections, and three Boilermakers have been recognized with All-America honors. Katie Gearlds was a Third Team All-America pick in 2007, while Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton received honorable mention recognition the same year and Drey Mingo was also honorable mention All-America in 2013. Purdue has also seen four members of the conference All-Freshman Team, six Big Ten All-Defensive Team members and a pair of Big Ten Sixth Players of the Year under Versyp, in addition to four Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Players and 14 all-tournament team members. Three Boilermakers have been selected in the WNBA draft during Versyp's tenure as Gearlds was picked seventh by the Seattle Storm in 2007, while Wisdom-Hylton was selected 13th by the Los Angeles Sparks and Danielle Campbell was picked 32nd by the Indiana Fever in 2009.
The Boilermakers have secured an NCAA Tournament bid in seven of eight seasons under Versyp, advancing to the Elite Eight twice and to the second round on the five other occasions. In 2007, the Boilermakers earned the No. 2 seed in the Dallas Region, dispatching No. 15 seed Oral Roberts, seventh-seeded Georgia Tech and No. 3 seed Georgia before falling in the national quarterfinals. The 2009 NCAA Tournament run came as a No. 6 seed in the Oklahoma City Region, as Purdue topped 11th-seeded Charlotte, upset No. 3 seed North Carolina and moved past seventh-seeded Rutgers before suffering a six-point loss in the regional final. In addition to their Elite Eight seedings, the Boilermakers have been a No. 9 seed twice and a No. 4 seed three times in their five other appearances.
Purdue's four Big Ten Tournament titles under Versyp have come in impressive and dramatic fashion, garnering a 15-4 record at the event in eight appearances. Never once entering the tournament as the top seed, the Boilermakers earned the 2007 and 2008 tournament titles, followed up with the 2012 and 2013 titles, and are one of just three teams in the conference to ever win consecutive tournament championships. Gearlds led a second-seeded Boilermaker squad to the 2007 title, while the Boilermaker secured a necessary automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Tournament title with an outstanding postseason run, which was capped by a buzzer-beating, game-winner from Lakisha Freeman to edge Illinois in the championship. The Boilermakers took the 2012 conference tournament as a No. 4 seed, knocking off top-seeded Penn State in the semifinals before winning a 74-70, double-overtime thriller over Big Ten newcomer Nebraska in the finals. The 2013 championship run was a dominant one, as Versyp's third-seeded squad won by an average of 13.3 points per game, including a 62-47 victory over Michigan State in the finals, and Drey Mingo was named the tournament's most outstanding player. The Boilermakers' nine Big Ten Tournament titles are a conference-best and the four championships under Versyp equal the total of the next-best team in the tournament's 20-year history.
Versyp returned to her alma mater as Purdue's eighth head coach on April 10, 2006, to build upon the excellence of Purdue women's basketball. Her first year with the Boilermakers was one for the record books as she set a Boilermaker coaching record with a mark of 31-6, shattering the previous win record for a Purdue first-year head coach. The 31 victories matched the second-highest win total in school history, and their .838 win percentage is the fifth-best for a season in the Boilermaker archives. It is one of just three 30+-win seasons in 39 years of Purdue women's basketball, matching their 2001 Final Four appearance and three shy of the 34-win, 1999 NCAA Championship season.
Versyp was the head coach at Indiana prior to Purdue, where she led her team to a 19-14 season, 9-7 in the Big Ten and the quarterfinals of the postseason WNIT. The nine-game improvement was the second largest turn-around in school history for a first-year head coach. While at Indiana, Versyp guided senior Cindi Valentin to first team All-Big Ten honors and newcomer Whitney Thomas to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Prior to her stint with the Hoosiers, Versyp was the head coach at Maine for five seasons where she amassed a 98-51 record, including a 67-19 America East Conference record. Versyp's teams won three-straight America East regular season championships (2003, 2004, 2005) and in 2004 also won the America East Tournament title earning an NCAA Tournament berth. Versyp was twice voted America East Coach of the Year (2003 and 2005). Her teams achieved season records of 25-6 in 2002-03 and 25-7 in 2003-04, which were the first back-to-back 25-win campaigns in school history.
Under Versyp's guidance, Maine student-athletes earned America East, Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year designations and garnered 15 all-conference honors in her five years with the Black Bears. Versyp coached 2003 and 2004 America East Player of the Year, Heather Ernest, who went on to play professionally overseas. While at Maine, Versyp's team ranked 13th in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association National Team Academic Honor Roll.
Versyp's Indiana roots run deep. She was named Indiana Miss Basketball in 1984 becoming the first of eight Miss Basketball's to play for the Boilermakers, a list which most-recently includes Moses, Rayburn and Gearlds.
After graduating from Purdue, Versyp became a head coach in the high school ranks at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis from 1989-1993. There she took a 0-18 team to a sectional runner-up finish in just two seasons. She also served as the head coach at Benton Central High School in Oxford, Ind., from 1993 to 1996.
Versyp entered the collegiate ranks in 1996-97, when she joined Bud Childers' staff at the University of Louisville. After going 20-9, sharing the Conference USA regular-season title and an earning NCAA berth, Childers left for James Madison University. Versyp joined him in Harrisonburg, Va., serving as his top assistant and recruiting coordinator. She was there for three seasons and in 1999 helped ink a recruiting class ranked nationally in the top 25.
As a player Versyp was a fixture in the Purdue starting lineup beginning her freshman year and is one of only 10 four-year starters in Purdue women's basketball history. She led the team in scoring three-straight seasons and still owns spots on the career record lists for scoring, field goals, free throw shooting, assists, steals and minutes played. She sits 13th on the Boilermakers' career scoring list with 1,565 points, and ranks ninth all-time with 418 career assists and 13th with 194 career steals. Her 653 career field goals rank ninth in school history, while 79.6 career free throw shooting percentage holds a spot in the top-10 at ninth. Her 12 assists against San Diego State in 1987 remain tied for fourth-most on Purdue's single-game record list, while her 87 career double-figure scoring games remains ninth all-time for the Boilermakers. Versyp was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Team member and second team Academic All-American as a senior.
Totals at Maine
Totals at Purdue
The 2013-14 campaign marked the fourth straight 20+-win season under Versyp and her sixth in eight seasons at the helm of the program. The Boilermakers finished 22-9 overall and 11-5 in conference play, finishing fourth in the Big Ten regular season standings and earning a No. 4 seed and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Versyp stacked the deck against her squad, putting together the nation's sixth-toughest strength of schedule and seven of their 12 non-conference games away from home. The senior-leadership of Moses, Houser and Dee Dee Williams came through as they went 10-2 in non-conference play and finished the season ranked ninth in the ratings percentage index. Moses was named First Team All-Big Ten, earning unanimous honors from the coaches, while Houser was a second team pick by the coaches and media, Whitney Bays received Second Team All-Big Ten from the media and honorable mention from the coaches and April Wilson was honorable mention on both sides. Bays was also named the Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year, the Boilermakers' first since 2009. In addition to her all-conference honors, Moses earned a spot on the Naismith Trophy Award Preseason Watch List and became the third player under Versyp to participate in the State Farm College Slam Dunk/3-Point Championship at the men's Final Four.
The 2012-13 Boilermakers became the third team in school history to put up back-to-back Big Ten Tournament Championships, rolling through the conference tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships and finish the season at 25-9 for the second straight year. Seniors Drey Mingo and Sam Ostarello led a powerful inside game that earned them a national ranking as high as 12th in the AP poll during the season and led to a No. 4 seed in the national tournament. Mingo was named honorable mention All-America, Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Third Team All-Big Ten and earned a spot on the inaugural WBCA/Allstate Good Works Team. Ostarello was a second team all-conference pick and set the single-season rebounding record at Purdue with 341 boards on the year. She finished second all-time at Purdue with 901 rebounds and became the first player to average double-digit rebounds for the Boilermakers since 1978. Moses was also a third team all-conference player, while Houser earned honorable mention honors and freshman Taylor Manuel was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Purdue returned to its championship ways in 2011-12, with the third Big Ten Tournament championship in Versyp's six years and a conference-best eighth title overall. The Boilermakers' veteran squad tied for second in the Big Ten in the regular season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament to finish with a 25-9 mark. Three Boilermakers earned Big Ten postseason honors with Rayburn a second team selection and KK Houser and Sam Ostarello honorable mention All-Big Ten. Rayburn also picked up Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, was named to the Naismith Player of the Year midseason 32 list and was selected to participate in the State Farm Women's 3-point Championship at the men's Final Four.
In 2010-11, Versyp guided a team without any seniors to a 21-12 record and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. An extremely promising season, was one filled with unprecedented adversity. First, starting point guard, KK Houser suffered an ACL injury four minutes into the first regular-season game. Then, less than 48 hours after Purdue captured its second Preseason WNIT championship under Versyp, starting forward Drey Mingo was hospitalized with a life-threatening case of bacterial meningitis. Mingo would rebound from her illness and was a key along with Brittany Rayburn and Courtney Moses, in Purdue's late season success. Along the way, Versyp claimed her 100th victory at Purdue with a 65-64 win over Michigan on Jan. 6.
The 2009-10 season was a rebuilding one for the Boilermakers. Versyp was without five seniors who had graduated in the spring of 2009. Three were starters and two - Danielle Campbell and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton - were WNBA draft picks. Projected starter Chantel Poston was lost for the year with an Achilles tendon injury and post players Alex Guyton and Ashley Wilson were limited the entire season due to stress fractures. Versyp did earn her 200th career victory with a 53-42 win over Northwestern on Jan. 10 and led Purdue to back-to-back victories over ranked opponents with a 63-61 decision against No. 4 Ohio State and an 80-76 overtime win at No. 23 Penn State. With a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten regular season Purdue earned a first-round bye for the 16th-consecutive year.
In 2008-09, Purdue finished with a 25-11 record after defeating Charlotte, No. 11 North Carolina and Rutgers before falling 74-68 to No. 4 Oklahoma in the Elite Eight. Versyp guided the Boilermakers to a second-place finish in the Big Ten regular season despite losing point guard FahKara Malone to injury for half of conference play. On Jan. 5 in the first game without Malone, Versyp orchestrated a 66-55 upset over No. 4 Texas in Mackey Arena. Purdue returned to the title game of the Big Ten Tournament but failed in its quest of a third-consecutive championship by the slimmest of margins. The Boilermakers missed a shot at the buzzer to give Ohio State a 67-66 victory.
Versyp and the Boilermakers had a difficult challenge before the start of the 2007-08 season. The Boilermakers lost four starters, two to graduation and two to injury and faced a non-conference schedule that was rated the toughest in the country. Versyp worked her magic and pulled off what was perhaps the finest coaching performance of her career. The Boilermakers scratched their way to a third place finish in the Big Ten regular season and capped that off with a second-consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship and a 15th-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Boilermakers were not satisfied with just playing an NCAA Tournament game in Mackey Arena though. Versyp led the women to a 66-59 upset over 17th-ranked Utah and advanced to the second round for the 14th time in 15 years. All this was accomplished after losing 73 percent of the offense, 67 percent of the rebounding and 53 percent of the assists from a team that went 31-6 a season ago. Purdue's 2008 NCAA Tournament win against the Utes was Versyp's 50th Purdue career victory and she earned her 75th school win against Rutgers in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Versyp achieved another milestone in 2007-08 when she picked up her 150th win as a collegiate head coach with a 69-53 victory over Butler on Nov. 17, 2007.
In her first year as head coach at Purdue, Versyp led the Boilermakers to a 31-6 record that included a second-place finish in the 2006-07 Big Ten regular season, a Big Ten Tournament title and an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight. Versyp was named the 2007 WBCA Region VI Coach of the Year for her achievements that season. With her 24th win on Feb. 22 against Iowa, Versyp became Purdue's winningest first year head coach. The 24 wins passed Carolyn Peck (23-10) and Kristy Curry (23-8) for the most victories by a first-year coach. Versyp's win percentage in 2006-07 of 83.8 percent (31-6) is the fifth-best in a season at Purdue and tops for a first-year coach. The 31 wins equals the second-most in school history and marks only the third time the Boilermakers have achieved a 30-plus win season. Gearlds was named a Third Team AP All-American, Purdue's first since 2004, in addition to earning First Team All-Big Ten and Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. She was joined on the all-conference first team by Wisdom-Hylton and senior teammate Erin Lawless was named honorable mention All-Big Ten. Gearlds was invited to the State Farm College Slam Dunk/3-Point Championship at the men's Final Four, where she not only won the women's championship, but defeated the men's champion as well for the collegiate three-point title.