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Nov. 23, 2004

New Faces on the Bench

by Cathy Bongiovi Stewart

This season, the Cavaliers welcome four new faces. Joining the UVa women’s basketball staff are assistant coaches Curtis Loyd and Jennifer Hoover.

Loyd joined the Cavaliers after six seasons at the University of Arizona. He assists in recruiting, on-court coaching, scouting, and individual workouts.

“For one, I wanted to win a national championship,” Loyd said of why he chose UVa. “Working under Coach Ryan can help your career especially in women’s basketball with so much that she’s done, is doing, and will do. I wanted to be a part of another winning tradition staff at an excellent school.”

Under Loyd’s tutelage, Arizona has established an aggressive inside game and has positioned itself as a basketball powerhouse. His primary responsibility was the development of the Wildcat post players. During his tenure, Loyd coached five All-Pac-10 posts at UA, including two-time first team selection Elizabeth Pickney and the 2003 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a two-time selection Shawntinice Polk. Loyd also served as the program’s film exchange coordinator, academic liaison and director of the Joan Bonvicini Hoop Camp.

Loyd went to Arizona in 1999 after two very successful years as an assistant coach at Colorado State.

Loyd played two years of basketball for Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where he earned National Junior College Association of America (NJCAA) All-America and NJCAA All-Region Nine honors both seasons. In 1991, Loyd transferred to Southern Utah and helped the Thunderbirds to a 34-21 record during his two years there. He earned degrees in physical education and sociology at Southern Utah in 1994.

Hoover enters her second season at the University of Virginia and her first season as a member of the coaching staff. She assists in recruiting, on-court coaching, scouting, and individual workouts.

Last season, Hoover served as the Cavaliers’ Director of Women’s Basketball Operations.

“Last year was a lot different for me. It was old hat, but it was very difficult to not be allowed on the court and not be able to coach the (players),” Hoover shared. “I thought it was a good break, but my passion is on the floor with the players coaching. This year’s been great for me.”

As assistant coach at the University of Memphis in 2002-03, Hoover was primarily responsible for recruiting and the on-court instruction of the Lady Tiger post players. She also oversaw academics and the mentor program. In April 2003, she was promoted to the Tigers’ recruiting coordinator position before leaving to join Debbie Ryan’s staff.

During her nine years of Division I coaching experience, Hoover also served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at James Madison for two seasons. While at JMU, she helped the squad to a second-place showing in the league as well as an appearance in the WNIT Final Four.

“Finishing in the top of the ACC,” Hoover said of her goals for the season. “I think we’ve got a good combination. We’ve got an experienced team in the post, but we’ve got a young team in the guard play. LaTonya Blue has really matured and come a long way. I hate to put a lot on her shoulders, but unfortunately, we have to. She’ll be the one experienced guard. The team has really come together as a team, and the maturity level of our younger players and the seniors has really grown.”

Hoover, who played under her maiden name Jenny Mitchell, is still Wake Forest’s career leader in points with 1,728 and in rebounds with 1,006. A player from 1988-91, Hoover is the only women’s basketball player at Wake Forest to total more than 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points in a career. While at WFU, Hoover was a three-time All-ACC honoree, and was also named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll. She was named a Fast Break All-American during her junior and senior years, and was a member of the South team which won the bronze medal in the 1989 Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City.

A native of Roanoke, Va., Hoover earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. In 2002, she was named as one of the Top 50 ACC women’s basketball players.

Tanzania Williams is the new Director of Women’s Basketball Operations. She organizes travel plans, arranges personal appearances, exchanges video with opponents, and supervises the team managers at UVa.

“I wanted to come to Virginia, because Virginia basketball is a big-time program that I really wanted to get involved with,” Williams said. “Debbie Ryan has a wealth of experience, and I thought I could really learn a lot from her.”

Williams spent the 2004 season serving an internship with the Ohio State women’s basketball team, working under head coach Jim Foster. OSU finished the season at 21-10 and advanced to the NCAA Second Round. For the Buckeyes, Williams coordinated film exchange, broke down game film, and created scouting videos. She also assisted the director of operations.

In 2000, Williams received a M.B.A. from Clark Atlanta University. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1995 in fashion marketing from Bowling Green. She helped the Falcon women’s basketball team to two Mid-American Conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Prior to working in collegiate women’s basketball, Williams worked in the fashion industry. She worked in the corporate world and later owned her own boutique in Atlanta, Ga.

A Dayton, Ohio, native, Williams comes from a family of basketball players. Her brother Mike played at Miami. Her sister Tiffany plays at Fresno State. Her sister Tamika, a former player at Connecticut, currently plays for the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.

Returning to Virginia is athletic trainer Andrew Baker. After serving as the head athletic trainer and lecturer at Wisconsin-Eau Claire the past few years, Baker is now taking care of the Cavaliers’ needs.

A 1995 graduate from Wisconsin-La Crosse, Baker received his master’s degree from UVa in 1996 while working with the Cavalier football and wrestling teams. He spent three seasons at Michigan before heading to UW-Eau Claire.

“Part of my reason was that I wanted to get back into Division I athletics,” Baker said of his decision to return to Virginia. “I was not thoroughly enjoying the teaching aspect of my job, so I was looking to get back to just pure athletic training.”

With an outstanding professional staff on board, Debbie Ryan can rely upon the talented “players” on the bench as well as those in uniform to help the Cavaliers achieve their dreams this season.

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