blankLee Ann Riley
SFA head coach Lee Ann Riley returns for her eighth season on the Ladyjack sidelines. During Riley's time in Nacogdoches, Ladyjack fans have been privy to more than 100 victories, three 20-win seasons, two NCAA Championship appearances, a WNIT appearance, two Southland Conference regular-season and tournament titles and the program's 800th win.
A former SLC Coach of the Year, Riley guided a youthful Ladyjack squad through remarkable moments in 2007-08. SFA became only the sixth program in women's basketball history to record 800 wins. It was a memorable night; the Ladyjacks joined the likes of Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion, Texas and James Madison by recording win No. 800 against rival Sam Houston State. In addition to the overall accomplishment, the day also served as Sue Gunter Day on the SFA campus. The Ladyjacks paid tribute to the legendary coach by naming the Ladyjack basketball offices in her honor.
Coach Riley's 2007-08 team suited up with only one senior, but what a senior to have on the roster. Hawkins native Nikki Carr led the Ladyjacks in points, rebounds, assists and steals and was named first-team All-Southland Conference and the SLC Defensive Player of the Year. Carr closed the book on her SFA career as one of the school's all-time leaders in points, steals, assists, three-point field goals and free throws.
The 2006-07 season was another successful campaign for SFA, recording 21 victories and making their first trip to the WNIT since the 1986-87 season. After graduating a talented senior class stocked full of All-SLC honors the year before, Coach Riley was put in the position of revamping her squad with young talent. The Ladyjacks entered the regular season with a ton of question marks, but as the season wore on those questions turned to positive answers.
In the fourth game of the season, SFA's youthful squad rattled off a 10-point upset of Louisiana Tech. Senior Charity Egenti transitioned from a top reserve into the league's most dominant player averaging 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. She was also among the league leaders with 12 double-doubles. Egenti was rewarded by the league for her work on the court by being named SLC Player of the Year. Egenti's honor marked the second consecutive year that SFA had a first-team all-conference player, and it marked the school's first player of the year since Stephanie Whitmore received the honor in 2000.
After advancing to the SLC Championship game for a second consecutive season, the Ladyjacks received an automatic berth in the WNIT. The Ladyjacks faced 2006-07 Missouri Valley Conference Champions Southern Illinois in the opening round of the tournament. The Ladyjacks battled hard but dropped an eight-point decision on the road in Carbondale, Ill.
SFA has been a major player in the Southland Conference since joining the league. The Ladyjacks have won 14 of 21 regular season titles and 15 league tournament titles. Riley's 2005-06 squad only added to that tradition.
SFA rolled through the regular-season with a 23-7 (.767) overall record and won the Southland Conference with a 14-2 (.875) tally. It marked the 25th time in program history that SFA had won at least 20 games in a season. The Ladyjacks also finished the regular season ranked among the nation's elite in blocked shots (eighth), scoring offense (29th) and field-goal percent defense (29th). Senior Kendria Smith was ranked among the nation's top 20 in blocks (2.3 bpg - 18th).
The Ladyjacks also made a return appearance in the NCAA Championships, as a No. 13 seed. It marked the 18th time in program history that SFA advanced to the postseason tournament. The Ladyjacks faced fourth-seeded Arizona State in the first round of the tournament.
Following the regular season, the honors started pouring in for Riley and her team. She was recognized by the conference as the 2006 SLC Coach of the Year, and four of her players garnered all-conference honors. Senior LaToya Mills was named first-team all-conference, becoming the first Ladyjack to receive All-SLC recognition in all four seasons. Classmates Kendria Smith and Britany Vinson earned third-team All-SLC recognition, and sophomore Nikki Carr was an honorable mention all-conference selection at point guard.
Almost lost in the shuffle of the Ladyjacks' run to the 2006 conference title was a career achievement for Riley. The Ladyjacks defeated Lamar Jan. 12, 80-58, which marked Riley's 200th career win.
Riley took over as the Ladyjacks' head coach prior to the 2001-02 season, guiding the team to the 2002 SLC regular-season and tournament championship. The Ladyjacks went 24-6 on their way to the SLC title, advancing to their 15th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and their 17th appearance overall. The Ladyjacks were one of the hottest teams in the nation heading into the tournament, winning a season-high 16 consecutive games and 22 of their final 23.
Riley left her mark on the SFA program in just her first year, leading SFA to its 24th 20-win season in school history. Riley became the fifth SFA head coach to win 20 games during their first season, and she finished tied with Mary Ann Otwell (1980-81) for most wins by a first-year Ladyjack head coach (24). The Ladyjacks also set an SLC record for wins in a season in 2001-02, going 19-1 (.950).
Riley's troops received national recognition for their on-the-court exploits. SFA was ranked among the nation's top 10 for current winning streak (16), top 20 in scoring defense (56.7), win/loss percentage (24-6/.800), current home-winning streak (13), and guard Jessica Guild was among the nation's top 20 with her 3.43 steals per contest.
During the 2002 NCAA Women's Final Four, Riley was selected to coach in the WBCA All-Star Challenge. The all-star team was composed of the nation's top collegiate seniors who squared off against the USA National team.
The Ladyjacks have always been known for their defensive style of play, and the 2002-03 team was no exception. The Ladyjacks finished 29th in the nation, holding opponents to a .369 field-goal percentage. SFA was tied for fourth in the country, averaging 5.9 blocks per game. Senior post Amy Collins finished the season tied for third nationally with 3.3 blocks per game, on her way to setting the SFA single-season record (91).
In Riley's seven seasons, 19 Ladyjacks have been recognized by the conference for their success on the court, including four first-team selections. Riley has also coached a league player, league defensive player and league freshman of the year.
Winning has followed Riley throughout her career. During the 2000-01 season, Riley was the associate head coach at Missouri. The Tigers tallied a 22-10 record and a 10-6 league mark on their way to the NCAA Championships. Missouri knocked off second-seeded Georgia in Athens, Ga., to advance to the Sweet 16.
Prior to her stop in Missouri, Riley was the head coach at Tyler Junior College. During her six seasons at Tyler, Riley's teams amassed a record of 131-58 (.693), culminating in the 2000 NJCAA National Championship. That TJC squad compiled a record of 34-2 on its way to the title. Riley was named the NJCAA, Region XIV and the 2000 WBCA National Coach of the Year after her team's run to the crown.
Winning 15 games in her rookie season as a head coach, Riley only saw the win total increase every season. In her six seasons at TJC, Riley coached four junior college All-Americans, 12 all-region players, 19 all-conference players and three Region XIV Freshmen of the Year. Riley also coached 31 players who continued their playing careers at four-year institutions. Riley's athletes were the true definition of student-athletes as 22 players received academic all-conference honors and three were named Academic All-American. Riley was honored for accomplishmets at TJC in June when she was inducted into the Tyler Junior College Circle of Honor.
The winning tradition of the Ladyjack basketball program is nothing new to Riley. She spent two seasons in the 1990s with SFA, one as an aide under current-Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. During those seasons, Riley helped guide the Ladyjacks to two SLC titles and one trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Prior to Riley's first stop in Nacogdoches, she spent one season as an assistant at New Mexico State, helping guide the program to a 16-15 record.
Riley began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at the school she would eventually lead to the 2000 NJCAA crown. She helped lead TJC to a 28-6 (.823) record during the 1990-91 season.
In her 17 seasons on the bench, either as the head coach or as an assistant, Riley has been witness to more than 300 victories, with her teams compiling a 364-192 (.655) record.
Along with her responsibilities, Riley also serves as a member on several national committees. She is currently a voter for the WBCA/USA Today Top 25 Poll, serves as a member of the NCAA Rules Committee and has been a WBCA Conference Captain for the past four years.
During Riley's college days, she was a guard at TJC before transferring to Baylor where she played on the Bears' softball team for three seasons. Riley graduated from Baylor in May of 1985 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. Riley received her master's degree from Baylor in 1988.