Head coach Jerry Finkbeiner’s era as Utah State women's basketball head coach begins as the Aggies begin practice for the 2012-13 season on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU will practice from 7:30-9 a.m.
Finkbeiner is entering his first season as head coach at Utah State, after spending 16 years as head coach at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla. During his tenure at ORU, the Golden Eagles averaged 17 wins per season and advanced to postseason play eight times during the past 13 years with five trips to the NCAA Tournament and three appearances in the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Prior to Finkbeiner's arrival, ORU had never played in an NCAA Tournament game.
Overall, Finkbeiner has a 454-232 (.662) record in 22 years as a collegiate head coach at Oral Roberts (1996-2012) and Southern Nazarene (1991-96). He also ranks 32nd in the nation among active coaches with his 454 career wins, while his 66.2 percent winning percentage ranks 38th nationally all-time.
Utah State is coming off one of its most successful seasons, ending the year 21-10, which was the first time that the Aggies reached the coveted 20-win mark. USU also set the school record Western Athletic Conference wins with an 11-3 record. For the second-straight season, USU advanced to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), losing in the first round to in-state rival Utah.
Utah State returns 11 players from the 2011-12 roster, including three starters in guard Devyn Christensen (15.1 ppg), guard Elise Nelson (3.0 ppg) and guard Jenna Johnson (5.8 ppg). Despite losing three players who averaged in double digits in Ashlee Brown, Maddy Plunkett and Brooke Jackson, the Aggies will return Christensen who earned first-team all-WAC honors as a junior. USU also sees the return of sophomore center Franny Vaaulu, who brought down 22 blocks last season which was second on the team.
On the bench this season alongside coach Finkbeiner will be assistant coach Stu Sells who enters his second season at Utah State. New to Utah State is Micha Thompson (formerly Vandervort) who came to Utah State from Oral Roberts with Finkbeiner. Robert Donaldson will round out the coaching staff this season.
Utah State welcomes nine newcomers this season, including four who will have to sit out this season due to the NCAA’s transfer rules. The Aggies add three freshmen this season, including forward Stephanie Bairstow, forward Haylee Thompson and guard Makenlee Williams.
The Aggies begin the 2012-13 season on Friday, Nov. 2 with an exhibition against New Mexico Highlands at 7 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. USU opens the regular season on Monday, Nov. 12 on the road at Utah Valley at 7 p.m.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.