Charlene Curtis, coaching trailblazer in ACC, dies at 67

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Charlene Curtis, the first Black women’s head basketball coach in the ACC, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, the conference said. She was 67.

Curtis was the head coach at Wake Forest from 1997-2004, after head coaching stops at Radford and Temple, where she also was the first African-American head women’s basketball coach.

Curtis played basketball at Radford shortly after the passage of Title IX in 1972 and become the school’s first 1,000-point scorer, male or female, and a member of its Hall of Fame. She majored in music and joined a Radford women’s basketball team that didn’t offer scholarships at the time.

Curtis worked in the ACC league office as the supervisor of officials for women’s basketball for 11 years, retiring in 2019. Along with her ACC job, Curtis spent that time as the coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Southern Conference, the Big South and the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Charlene was a pioneer in the sport of women’s basketball, but more importantly, she was an amazing individual,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “Her kindness and class resonated throughout her life, and she will be missed by all who were fortunate to know her and her inspiring spirit.”

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, her early coaching jobs included an assistant at Radford and graduate assistant coach at Virginia in 1981. She worked with Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan and then-assistant Geno Auriemma. Curtis became Radford’s head coach in 1984 at age 29, finishing with a 121-53 record in six seasons.

She also worked two years as an assistant at UConn before being hired at Wake Forest.

Curtis is survived by her partner of 24 years, Sharolyn Grant, and her sister and brother-in-law Millicent and Byrl Wright.

Wake Forest hires Gebbia as women’s basketball coach

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Wake Forest has hired American’s Megan Gebbia as its new women’s basketball coach.

The Demon Deacons announced Gebbia’s hiring Thursday evening, a little more than two weeks after the firing of former Demon Deacons all-conference performer Jen Hoover.

The 49-year-old Gebbia had spent the past nine seasons at American, leading the Eagles to three NCAA Tournament bids while twice being named the Patriot League coach of the year. Last year’s team won 23 games and reached the NCAAs.

Wake Forest has scheduled an introductory news conference for Gebbia on Friday.

The challenge facing Gebbia is to help the Demon Deacons build to becoming a regular NCAA Tournament team. The program has only reached two tournaments in its history, the first in 1988 and then in 2021.

The Demon Deacons followed that tournament trip with a 16-17 season that included only four Atlantic Coast Conference wins.

Wake Forest fires Jen Hoover as women’s basketball coach

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Wake Forest has fired women’s basketball coach Jen Hoover, parting ways with the former Demon Deacons player after 10 seasons.

The school announced the move Wednesday evening, with athletics director John Currie pointing to the program’s overall trajectory as well as turnover on the coaching staff. Wake Forest has made the NCAA Tournament just twice, though Hoover guided the Demon Deacons there in 2021.

“Wins and losses matter, we do keep score,” Currie said in an online news conference with reporters. “At the same time, I believe that Wake Forest over the last 10 years has steadily increased its investment in women’s basketball, and we have a very, very significant in women’s basketball.

“I would never point to a specific record or a specific loss. It’s more of an aggregate body of work, so to speak.”

Hoover was an all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer as a Wake Forest player from 1987-91.

“I am disappointed and deeply saddened to receive the news that I was terminated today without cause,” Hoover said. “I am so proud of our many accomplishments over the past 10 years including the return for the program to the NCAA in 2021.”

Yet the follow-up to that NCAA bid offered an example of Currie’s concerns on whether the program was making “forward progression.” This year’s team went 16-17 and just 4-14 in league play. After the season, all three assistants departed, with associate head coach Erin Dickerson Davis becoming head coach at William & Mary.

The decision came nearly two months after the Demon Deacons concluded the season with a WNIT second-round loss to Middle Tennessee. Currie said the move followed a comprehensive program review, but timing proved awkward considering Currie and Hoover were both in Florida attending the ACC’s spring meetings this week.

Currie said he met with Hoover after she concluded her portion of the meetings there.

“The reality is there’s never a good time,” Currie said. “And once a decision has been made, the right thing to do for all the people involved is to go ahead and move forward with that decision.”

After Coach K’s exit, No. 9 Duke edges Wake Forest 76-74

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DURHAM, N.C. — Mark Williams dunked in Paolo Banchero’s missed drive with 0.4 seconds left to help ninth-ranked Duke beat Wake Forest 76-74 on Tuesday night, capping a wild game that saw Blue Devils Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski not coach after halftime because the team said he was “not feeling well.”

The drama carried to the final possession as Wake Forest had only a desperate chance. Domari Monsanto took the inbounds pass and heaved a one-handed throw to the far end that appeared to be a bit late with the ball hitting the glass then bouncing off the rim before falling away.

That ended an eventful night in famously rowdy Cameron Indoor Stadium, which started when Krzyzewski – who is retiring after this season – wasn’t with the team as it returned to the court from the locker room after halftime. The team’s official Twitter account later posted that Krzyzewski wouldn’t return, and no other details were immediately available.

Associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who has been designated as the 75-year-old Krzyzewski’s successor for next season, took over as the teams began second-half play. Scheyer had also coached the team in Duke’s win at Wake Forest last month with Krzyzewski out due to an illness.

The game also included Duke (22-4, 12-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) rolling to a 19-point lead after halftime, only to watch Wake Forest (20-7, 10-6) claw back in it and tie the game at 74 on free throws by Alondes Williams with 17.5 seconds left.

Duke’s Paolo Banchero drove the paint on the ensuing possession but missed the drive, only to see the 7-foot-1 Williams crash the glass and dunk the ball through the net to roars from the Cameron crowd.

Officials immediately signaled for a replay review to see if Williams had touched the ball on the rim. That led to a prolonged stoppage with officials at the monitor, with Duke’s players near the sideline motioning to count the basket and Wake Forest’s side waving off the basket.

Officials finally signaled that the basket counted, sending a frenzied crowd erupting in a tension-releasing roar – only to nearly see Monsanto hit a shot that would have surely led to yet another review had it gone in.

Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, while Wendell Moore Jr. had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Jake LaRavia had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Demon Deacons, who lost for the 23rd straight time at Cameron. Williams, the ACC scoring and assists leader, finished with 18 points after being limited to fewer than 8 minutes due to three first-half fouls.

Krzyzewski’s absence overshadowed much of the second half. After turning 75 on Sunday, he was dealing with an apparent issue roughly midway through the first half, holding his forehead while Scheyer and fellow associate head coach Chris Carrawell seemed to be checking on him from either side on the bench.

During a later timeout, trainer Jose Fonseca checked on Krzyzewski both at the beginning and the end of the stoppage. But by the end of the first half, Krzyzewski appeared to be fine, standing up to applaud or shout instructions to his players – only to not return after the halftime horn.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons had already secured the program’s first 20-win season since 2010 and are looking for even more in a remarkably fast turnaround under second-year coach Steve Forbes. They put the pressure on Duke with their second-half run, but ultimately their long streak at Cameron grew a little longer – with the last win coming in January 1997 during program great Tim Duncan’s final season.

Duke: The Blue Devils entered the night tied with Notre Dame for the ACC lead after wins at Clemson and Boston College. They held on in this one with five players in double figures, including Banchero (13 points) and fellow freshman A.J. Griffin (12).

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host Notre Dame on Saturday in a matchup of teams near the top of the league standings.

Duke: The Blue Devils host Florida State on Saturday.

Duke’s Krzyzewski won’t coach 2nd half vs. Wake Forest

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DURHAM, N.C.- Duke Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski is out for the rest of Tuesday’s game between his ninth-ranked Blue Devils and Wake forest due to an illness.

Krzyzewski, who is retiring after this season, wasn’t with the team as it returned to the court from the locker room after halftime. The team’s official Twitter account later posted that Krzyzewski was “not feeling well” and wouldn’t return.

Associate head coach Jon Scheyer, who has been designated as Krzyzewski’s successor for next season, took over as the teams began second-half play.

Krzyzewski turned 75 on Sunday, and was dealing with an apparent issue roughly midway through the first half, holding his forehead while Scheyer and fellow associate head coach Chris Carrawell seemed to be checking on him from either side on the bench. During a later timeout, trainer Jose Fonseca checked on Krzyzewski both at the beginning and the end of the stoppage.

But by the end of the first half, Krzyzewski appeared to be fine, standing up to applaud or shout instructions to his players.

Banghart gets 300th career win, North Carolina women cruise

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Alyssa Ustby had 18 points and 10 rebounds and No. 24 North Carolina outscored Wake Forest 40-15 in the first half en route to a 78-59 victory on Thursday night.

North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart reached 300 career wins.

North Carolina opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run and led by at least 14 points the rest of the way. Wake Forest was just 6-of-29 shooting (20.7%) in the first half with 12 turnovers. The Demon Deacons finished with 20 turnovers and shot 32.1%.

Kennedy Todd-Williams added 14 points and Deja Kelly had 12 points for North Carolina (17-4, 7-4 ACC).

Jewel Spear scored 13 points and Niyah Becker added 11 points for Wake Forest (12-10, 2-9).