The revamping of the Cardinal Newman athletic staff that began in the fall with the hiring of new football coach Brandon Tidwell is even more evident with two new basketball coaches in place. David Ross is now the head boys basketball coach, while Wanda Briley is back as the girls varsity coach.
“Actually though it seems there are big changes (in the winter season), the people that are in place are quite familiar with Cardinal Newman,” said CN athletic director Jeff DiBattisto.
Indeed, long-time fans of basketball at the University of South Carolina also are quite familiar with Ross and Briley.
Ross played for four seasons under Eddie Fogler (1997-2001) and served as team captain in his junior and senior seasons. He began his coaching career at Keenan before moving to Cardinal Newman under Wayne Earhardt in 2004. He has been on the Cardinal staff since then and was tabbed to take over for Kevin Rose.
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Briley is a pioneer in women’s basketball. She played at South Carolina for four season (1970-74), but really made her mark as a college coach. She led High Point to a national championship and was named national coach of the year in 1978 – her first season as the Panthers head coach. HP beat South Carolina State 92-88 in overtime in the AIAW small college national championship game. The next season, Briley’s team won a school-record 33 games and advanced to the national title game again, this time losing to Tougaloo (MS) College. Briley then spent six seasons as the head coach at Wake Forest and one more at Winthrop before turning her attention to volleyball. She was a NCAA referee for 25 years.
Briley was hired to coach at Cardinal Newman for the 2007-08 season, but gave up the post because of her consuming duty as the school’s academic dean. But she agreed to return to the bench when Christeen Hagood left to become the first girls coach at Westwood.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer when we went looking for new coaches,” said DiBattisto. “David's and Wanda’s resumes speak for themselves. They were the first choices and they accepted. Honestly, having two coaches who are very familiar makes it a lot easier on the kids. We wanted as little change as possible, and I think we achieved that.”