South Carolina won’t be losing just players this offseason.
Dawn Staley announced on Friday that Fred Chmiel has been added to her staff as an assistant coach, replacing Darius Taylor. Taylor, who had been on Staley’s staff since 2010 and played a vital role in developing the Gamecocks’ post players, chose to step down in advance of his upcoming wedding.
Taylor will marry Joni Crenshaw on Aug. 1. Crenshaw was recently named Georgia’s coach, replacing Andy Landers, but Taylor will not be joining Crenshaw’s staff with the Lady Bulldogs, according to a USC sports information spokesperson. the state of Georgia has laws against nepotism in the workplace.
“We’re a pretty tight-knit family,” Chmiel told The State. “We have a close bond and we’ve always been in communication. Once (Staley) knew Darius was leaving, she approached me and asked me if I’d think about it.
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“That’s a no-brainer. Doesn’t take long to think about that at all.”
Chmiel and Staley worked together for two seasons at Temple. He went on to assistant coach jobs at San Diego State and Penn State and was an assistant last year at Minnesota.
A native of Alaska, Chmiel has been a part of six conference regular-season titles, one conference tournament title and eight NCAA tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16s. He has mostly worked with guards during his career but guided the Owls’ bigs when he was at Temple.
He also worked with the 6-foot-5 Amanda Zahui B. last year at Minnesota. Zahui B. was a consensus All-American and was picked second in the WNBA Draft.
“I’ve had a little bit of experience with everybody,” Chmiel said. “It’s up to coach. I know she has a plan. I’m ready to follow through with every plan she has because I know it’s a winning plan.”
Chmiel was an assistant coach for the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting in 2005, where he helped coach Staley. He also served as head coach of the National Women’s Basketball League San Jose Spiders, an advance scout for the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and Detroit Shock and was a men’s head and assistant coach in junior college.
Chmiel said he has watched Staley develop the USC program “from ground zero to a national powerhouse. It’s a phenomenal thing that you don’t see everywhere.”
Taylor was known for practicing with the Gamecocks, playing in the paint and competing against the Gamecocks’ forwards. Chmiel, a former standout guard at Feather River (Calif.) College, doesn’t think he’ll be replacing that part of Taylor’s duties.
“I would, but they’d be yelling, ‘There’s a mouse in the house!’” Chmiel laughed. “I’m going to do whatever (Staley) asks me to do. I’m a soldier. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this program win a national championship.”
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