In Tasha McDowell, the Badgers feel they have found an answer. A young coach who was moved rapidly up the coaching ladder, McDowell, who will begin her Badger tenure May 1, comes to UW and the Big Ten via the University of California-Santa Barbara, where she helped the Gauchos win their 10th consecutive Big West conference championship and reach the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight year this season.
"I'm very excited to have Tasha McDowell join my staff," UW head coach Lisa Stone said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. "Tasha is a proven recruiter who will be able to step right in and help move our program forward. Tasha was an instant hit with our staff and we welcome her into our Badger family."
Ianello, who worked closely with the Badgers' guards and shared recruiting coordinator duties with assistant coach Donna Freitag, announced in January that she would leave the coaching profession at the end of the 2004-05 season to focus on raising her 3-year old son, soon after her husband, former UW football assistant coach Rob Ianello, took a job as Notre Dame's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in early January.
McDowell will step into Ianello's shoes as a co-recruiting coordinator, and will likely share backcourt coaching duties with assistant Stephanie Schmitz.
"I think I can add [to] and strengthen the staff in terms of their recruiting efforts," McDowell said in the statement. "I know that Denise was fantastic in bringing in some great players along with Donna."
In her four seasons as an assistant at UC-Santa Barbara, including the past three seasons as recruiting coordinator, McDowell was integral in developing a team that accumulated a 48-16 record the past two seasons. The Gauchos were 4-4 in the NCAA Tournament the past four seasons, reaching the second round in 2002 and 2003 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2004. A No. 13 seed this year, UCSB lost in the first round to Notre Dame (61-51).
A native of Moline, Ill., who attended college and has coached in the Midwest, McDowell can draw from her past to make inroads on the recruiting trails.
"I think that I can come in and certainly pick up where [Ianello and Freitag] left off and get back to my roots and recruit a lot of those Chicago, Wisconsin, those Midwest kids that will help get the program to where Lisa aspires it to be," McDowell said.
McDowell played for two years at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Ill. After graduating, she attended Southwest Missouri State before transferring to NAIA school St. Ambrose, where she played point guard, leading the Queen Bees to a 27-7 record and a national tournament berth in 1997. A senior that season, she led the team with 13.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 steals per game.
After remaining in Davenport, Iowa, to serve as an assistant at St. Ambrose for the '97-98 campaign, McDowell spent two seasons as an assistant at Dayton and one at Bradley (in Peoria, Ill.) before heading to UCSB.