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ND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Owens will return to alma mater

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

After 10 years at Notre Dame, Carol Owens, women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw’s top assistant, is returning home.

Owens, the associate head coach, accepted a job at her alma mater, Northern Illi-nois, Tuesday after serving on the Irish staff since 1995. She will assume duties with the Huskies when Notre Dame’s season ends.

This is a dream come true,” said Owens. “I remember when I was a sophomore, and I told [then-head coach] Jane [Albright] that once I graduated, I would come back as her assistant in two or three years. This is even better. I can’t explain how excited I am to be part of the Huskie family again.”

The 37-year-old Owens helped guide Notre Dame to a 251-74 record during her tenure, including 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and the only national championship in 2001. She is also credited with aiding the development of forward Ruth Riley, arguably the greatest player in Irish history.

“Carol Owens is one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, and in my opinion, she is the best skills coach in the country when it comes to the post position,” Riley said on Notre Dame’s athletic Web site. “As a young player, I was very grateful to find a school where I knew I would develop fundamentally at my position. Coach Owens has personal experience of being an All-American post player, and she uses that knowledge teach and mold young student-athletes. I am very grateful for the time she invested in making me the best post player I could be.”

Owens has also been an integral part of Notre Dame’s outstanding recruiting classes. The Irish claimed eight straight top-20 ranked classes from 1996-2003.

“Carol’s one of the reasons we’ve gone to 10 straight NCAA Tournaments,” McGraw said. “She’s turned our program around. I don’t know what we’ll do to replace her. We’re so happy and sad at the same time. We’re losing a friend, a big part of the Notre Dame family.”

Owens played for Northern Illinois from 1986-’90, where she set 13 school records, including being the all-time leader in scoring, shot blocks, free throws made, free throws attempted and field goal percentage. She was also the first player to reach the 2,000 point/1,000 rebound plateau for either the men’s or women’s program at Northern Illinois. Owens was inducted into the Northern Illinois University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 and then into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I’ve told her how fortunate I was as a young coach, not only to be able to coach a player of her caliber, but of her character,” said Jane Albright, Owens’ coach for the Huskies. “This is a person you’d want your daughter to play for.”

Owens graduated from Northern Illinois and played three seasons professionally in Japan, Spain and Italy. She will take over a Huskies team that went 7-20 this season, including a 2-11 home mark. Northern Illinois was 12-16 in both 2003-04 and 2002-03 and 17-13 in 2001-02.