Memphis Women’s Basketball Team gets a proven winner in Katrina Merriweather

Katrina Merriweather coaching her WSU Raiders (courtesy Wright State Athletics)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Katrina Merriweather, who led Wright State to the program’s first NCAA Tournament win this season and the only three Horizon League Championships in school history, has been named Memphis’ 12th women’s basketball head coach, director of athletics Laird Veatch announced Monday. She also led the Raiders to the school’s only back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2019 and 2021.

Merriweather was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2021 for the third time in her five seasons at Wright State while being a part of all three of the Raiders’ NCAA Tournament appearances and Horizon League Tournament titles in school history, twice as head coach in 2019 and 2021 and one as an assistant in 2014. She had a 113-47 (.706) record in five seasons at Wright State.

In Wright State’s 66-62 upset of Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament First Round last Monday, the Raiders became the first No. 13 seed to defeat a No. 4 seed since 2012. Prior to this season, No. 13 seeds were just 9-104 (.080) all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

Wright State fell to No. 5 seed Missouri State in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Wednesday.

In 2020-21, Merriweather led the Raiders to a Horizon League co-regular-season title with a 19-8 record overall and a 15-5 league mark. The Raiders breezed through the Horizon League Tournament with three-straight double-digit wins by an average of 13.7 points over Northern Kentucky (74-56), Cleveland State (73-62) and IUPUI (53-41).

“Coach Merriweather is a proven winner and led Wright State to its first NCAA Tournament win in history this year,” said Veatch. “She won two Horizon League titles, led the Raiders to three NCAA Tournaments and was named Horizon League Coach of the Year three times. She is an outstanding coach, is a great recruiter and runs a first-class overall program. We are so excited to welcome Katrina to the Memphis Family.”

Wright State reached the postseason in four of Merriweather’s five seasons, missing out only in 2020 when postseason tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wright State was one of only six programs in the 2021 NCAA Tournament with an all-female coaching staff along with Stanford, UCF, Georgia Tech, High Point and Central Michigan.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to lead the women’s basketball program at the University of Memphis,” said Merriweather. “It is clear that Laird’s vision for the athletic department is fueled by passion for the University and the City of Memphis. This program has experienced high levels of success in the classroom and on the court, and the young women have become incredible members of society. I am looking forward to building on the tradition of excellence.”

Wright State is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in rebound margin (+11.3) and No. 7 in offensive rebounds per game (16.3), No. 9 in total rebounds (1163), No. 15 in rebounds per game (43.7), No. 18 in field goal pct. defense (.356) and No. 38 in 3-point field goal pct. defense (.274).

Angel Baker was named All-Horizon League first-team for the second consecutive year this season while Tyler Frierson earned third-team defensive team honors. Emani Jefferson was selected to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.

In her first season at Wright State in 2016-17, Merriweather won Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in leading the Raiders to a then-school-record 25 wins en route to being Horizon League regular-season co-champions for the first time in school history. 

In 2017-18, Wright State went 23-11 overall and 12-6 in the Horizon League while making a second consecutive WNIT appearance. 

In 2018-19, Merriweather was named Horizon League Coach of the Year in leading Wright State to a new school record for wins and its first-ever outright Horizon League regular-season championship as the Raiders went 27-7 overall and 16-2 in conference play. Wright State won the Horizon League Tournament and advanced to its second NCAA Tournament in history. 

Wright State went 19-12 overall and finished tied for second in the Horizon League at 13-5 in 2019-20. The Raiders finished ranked in the top 10 in three stat categories: No. 2 in offensive rebounds per game (17.0), No. 5 in total rebounds per game (43.87) and No. 7 with total rebounds (1,370). 

Shamarre Hale was named 2019-20 Horizon League Freshman of the Year while Baker was a Horizon League first-team selection and Michal Miller was a second-team pick. Jada Roberson joined Hale on the All-Freshman Team and Frierson was selected to the All-Defensive Team.

“We are thrilled to welcome Katrina into the Tiger Family,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “She has proven her ability to build a successful program with the energy and passion that make her a perfect fit for our University and the City of Memphis. With Katrina leading the way, the future is very bright for our women’s basketball program.”

Prior to being named head coach in 2016-17, Merriweather was an assistant under then-head coach Mike Bradbury for six seasons at Wright State from 2010-16 as the duo turned around a moribund Raider program that had non-winning seasons in 21 of the previous 22 seasons.  

The Raiders played in their first Div. I postseason tournament with two games in the WNIT in 2010-11 and notched the program’s first 20-win season in Div. I play.

Merriweather was the recruiting coordinator her last four years as a Raiders assistant from 2012-16, coached the wing players and was the liaison with compliance.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Coach Merriweather to the Tigers Family,” said Lauren Ashman, executive associate athletics director/senior woman administrator. “She is an exceptional leader and coach as evidenced by her sustained success at Wright State University. Katrina thrives as a role model for her student-athletes and places high value on their academic, athletic and personal growth. She will be a great representative for the University of Memphis and will certainly make our City proud.”

Merriweather was an assistant at Purdue from 2003-06 where she was the recruiting coordinator and assisted with scouting while coaching the guards as the Boilermakers made three trips to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Sweet 16 twice. The Boilermakers went 29-4 in her first year at Purdue in 2003-04, won the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Her three recruiting classes at Purdue ranked in the top 10, including a No. 3 ranking by Blue Star Basketball. In 2005-06, Purdue finished 26-7, was the Big Ten runner-up and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 before losing to No. 1 North Carolina. 

Prior to Purdue, Merriweather was an assistant at UIC for a year as the Flames went 17-11 in 2002-03.

Merriweather began her coaching career at her alma mater, Cincinnati, as a graduate assistant in 2001-02 as the Bearcats went 26-5 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. 

As a player, she became the first Bearcat to advance to postseason play all four years, competing in the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and the WNIT in 1998, 2000 and 2001. She led the Bearcats to an 83-41 record in her four-year playing career.

From Indianapolis, Merriweather graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2001 with a degree in English literature and earned a second degree in secondary education in 2002. A 1997 graduate from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, she was on the 1997 Indiana All-Star Team. Earning 11 varsity letters, she was named Marion County Athlete of the Year and was the winner of the prestigious John Wooden Citizenship Award.

Katrina Merriweather Year-by-Year Head Coaching Record
Wright State
2016-17             25-9, 15-3 Horizon League – co-Champions; (WNIT 2nd round)
2017-18             23-11, 12-6 Horizon League – 3rd; (WNIT 1st round)
2018-19             27-7, 16-2 Horizon League – Champions; (NCAA 1st round)
2019-20             19-12, 13-5 Horizon League – t-2nd; (no postseason COVID-19 pandemic)
2020-21             19-8, 15-5 Horizon League – co-Champions; (NCAA 2nd round)
Total (5 yrs.)     113-47 (.706), 71-21 (.772) Horizon League

Katrina Merriweather Year-by-Year Coaching Record
Cincinnati (graduate asst.)
2001-02             26-5, 11-3 Conference USA; C-USA Tournament Champions; (NCAA 2nd round)
UIC (assistant coach)
2002-03             17-11, 11-5 Horizon League – 2nd
Purdue (assistant coach)
2003-04             29-4, 14-2 Big Ten – 2nd, Big Ten Tournament Champions; (NCAA Sweet 16)
2004-05             17-13, 9-7 Big Ten – 5th; (NCAA 2nd round)
2005-06             26-7, 13-3 Big Ten – 2nd; (NCAA Sweet 16)
Wright State (assistant coach)
2010-11             20-13, 11-7 Horizon League – 4th; (Women’s Basketball Invitational 2nd round)
2011-12             21-13, 12-6 Horizon League – 3rd; (Women’s Basketball Invitational 1st round)
2012-13             12-18, 6-10 Horizon League – 5th
2013-14             26-9, 12-4 Horizon League – 2nd; Horizon League Tour. Champions; (NCAA 1st round)
2014-15             25-9, 12-4 Horizon League – 2nd; (WNIT 1st round)
2015-16             24-11, 12-6 Horizon League – 3rd; (WNIT 1st round)
Wright State (head coach)
2016-17             25-9, 15-3 Horizon League – co-Champions; (WNIT 2nd round)
2017-18             23-11, 12-6 Horizon League – 3rd; (WNIT 1st round)
2018-19             27-7, 16-2 Horizon League – Champions & Horizon Tour. Champs (NCAA 1st round)
2019-20             19-12, 13-5 Horizon League – t-2nd; (no postseason COVID-19 pandemic)
2020-21             19-8, 15-5 Horizon League – co-Champions & Horizon Tour. Champs (NCAA 2nd round)

ADDITIONAL QUOTES
Mike Bradbury, New Mexico Head Coach
“Trina is one of the smartest people I’ve ever been around. Her ability to relate, inspire and coach today’s college players is what sets her apart and why she is so successful. It’s scary because she is only getting better. Memphis got a star in Trina.”

Dr. Niki Bray
Director of Academic Innovation and Student Success, College of Health Sciences 
University of Memphis
Former Memphis Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete (1994-97)
“Coach Merriweather has the entire package! She is a players’ coach, is admired and respected by her loyal staff and is loved and cherished by the community. She has a great basketball mind, is a great teacher of the game and is committed to improving. I am certain she will do great things with our program, University, and City.”

Tricia Cullop, Toledo Head Coach
“Memphis struck gold with Katrina Merriweather. She is a knowledgeable, hard-working coach who is also a very caring, genuine and down-to-earth person. Recruits and players will love her. I have no doubt she will have Memphis competing for championships in the near future!”

Kristy Curry, Alabama Head Coach
“I am so excited for Katrina and Memphis Women’s Basketball! She is a proven winner as a player, assistant coach, head coach and more importantly as a person. She has a relentless work ethic and passion for impacting young women on and off the court to compete at the highest level in the classroom, on the court and in the community!”

Penny Hardaway, Memphis Men’s Basketball Head Coach
“I am excited to have Katrina in our Tiger Family. When I met with her during the interview process, I was impressed with her ability to communicate and her ideas and passion. I can’t wait to see our women’s basketball program continue to grow under Katrina’s leadership.”

Kevin McGuff, Ohio State Head Coach
“Katrina Merriweather is an absolute rising star in our profession. She did an amazing job at Wright State and no doubt will do the same at Memphis. She has the ability to teach, inspire and connect and will certainly provide an exceptional experience for the young women in her program. I have no doubt she will have Memphis competing for an American Athletic Conference title in the very near future.”

Keila Whittington, Saint Francis (Pa.) Head Coach
“Katrina is the perfect fit for Memphis Women’s Basketball! From day one, she will energize the current team and become a recruiting presence in the local community, as well as regionally and nationally. She will also embrace the University, Fastbreak Club, and the Memphis area with open arms, and everyone will love her vision, dedication, and commitment to making sure that Memphis gets back on track to its history of competing for and winning championships!”

COURTESY MEMPHIS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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