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Newcomers have big shoes to fill

By John Wilmhoff
On October 27, 2011

New Xavier women's basketball coach Amy Waugh faces a challenge in 2012. The Muskies lost four out of five starters from last year's 29-win team.

To help aid the transition, Waugh has brought in two new assistant coaches, a transfer from Marquette, and a freshman who she expects to contribute immediately.

Brian Neal, one of the new additions on Waugh's coaching staff, has spent the past seven seasons as head coach at nearby Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky. where he captured six straight 20-win seasons, five straight conference championships and five straight NCAA Division III Tournament appearances.

Last season, Neal guided TMC to its first No. 1 national ranking in Division III in school history as the Saints completed their second undefeated regular season in four years.

Prior to taking over at Thomas More, Neal was an assistant coach at Northern Kentucky University where he helped direct the Norse to an NCAA Division II National Championship in 2000.

"He's had tremendous success throughout his coaching career and has a proven track record of maintaining a tradition of success within a program. He's spent his entire coaching career in the Cincinnati area and his knowledge, experience and work ethic will be a great asset to the Xavier women's basketball program," Waugh said.

The second addition to Waugh's staff, Bryce McKey, also brings a winning resume to the Musketeer program. McKey comes to Xavier after serving as the associate head coach at Hathaway Brown High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, for three seasons.

He helped lead the team to three consecutive Division II Ohio State Championships from 2009-11.

"He has a great deal of experience developing talent, and has produced great results throughout his career. He's very well respected and I look forward to adding his work ethic, passion and energy to our program," Waugh said.

On the court, the biggest addition to Waugh's team will be redshirt junior forward Jessica Pachko.

"She is a Cincinnati kid, who had a great deal of success at Marquette in her first two years. We are lucky to have her and I expect her to have a great career," Waugh said.

Pachko graduated from Cincinnati's Oak Hills High School as the all-time leading scorer, male or female. She was nominated as a McDonald's High School All-American at Oak Hills.

At Marquette, Pachko was named to the 2009 Big East All-Freshmen team.

In her sophomore year, she was second on her team in scoring, while leading the Golden Eagles in rebounding.

Last season, Pachko became acclimated to the Xavier program while sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules, but practicing with the team and attending classes at XU.

The biggest impact freshman on this year's team will be forward Liz Stratman.

Stratman hails from Heritage Christian High School in Indianapolis where she was a four-year starter and led her team to back-to-back Indiana State Championship Titles.

Stratman's personal high school honors include being selected to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association's All-State Team in 2011 and being named the Indianapolis Star's 2011 Female City Athlete of the Year after her senior season.

"Liz has had a great fall and start of practice. She is an extremely hard worker who has shown great progress in the first few weeks of practice. She will be thrown into the fire immediately and I know she will handle it with confidence," Waugh said.

The women's first game of the season will be an exhibition game played on Nov. 5 against Indianapolis.

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