Joanna Bernabei-McNamee – a 1992 Weirton Madonna grad – has been named head women’s basketball coach at the University of Albany. She landed the Division I post after a very successful stint at the University of Pikeville in Kentucky.
Bernabei-McNamee led Pikeville to a 63-26 record during her three-year tenure at the NAIA school. She guided her charges to a 26-9 record and a Final Four berth this season. As a result, the former Blue Don was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA Regional Coach of the Year and the Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year.
She takes over a program coming off a monster campaign.
The Great Danes went 28-5 in winning the American East title and gaining an NCAA berth for the fifth straight season. Albany also defeated Florida this March for the program’s first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament victory.
Bernabei-McNamee replaces Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Central Florida.
“I am excited to be taking over a very competitive program. I was really attracted to Albany by all its success – winning five straight conference championships and winning an NCAA tourney game,” Bernabei-McNamee continued. “Albany fits my coaching style very well. The culture is already there – playing hard with a lot of intensity.
“That is what I am all about. I will look to put my spin on what they do,” she added. “I think they will respond to my coaching style and continue to build on their winning tradition.”
Bernabei-McNamee has been a busy camper since being named to the Albany post. She was formally introduced at a press conference Friday while transitioning from Kentucky to New York.
“I have been working tirelessly on putting a staff together,” Bernabei-McNamee noted. “We will have a big senior class, so we need a great staff in place soon so we can begin recruiting.”
She will be dealing with a mixed bag in her first season at helm of the Great Danes.
“We lose two quality seniors, one being an All-American and three-time conference player of the year,” Bernabei-McNamee offered. “But we do have an exciting core group returning. It is a group willing to put the work in.
“Being a part of the Albany program is a great opportunity for me and my family,” she added. “This program and the success it has already accomplished is a great fit for me. Every job prepares you for your next job, and I’ve been fortunate to have really positive experiences throughout my coaching career.”
Bernabei-McNamee enjoyed a brilliant Weirton Madonna career. She led the Lady Blue Dons to three straight state tournament appearances. The highlight being a state title her senior season.
She was named captain of the West Virginia Class A all-state team and captain of the OVAC Class A-AA West Virginia team in her senior season at Madonna. The multi-talented guard finished her prep career with 1,002 points and more than 500 career assists.
Bernabei-McNamee selected West Liberty to continue her academic and basketball careers. She again authored a brilliant basketball resume, earning All-American honors while being named WVC Player of-the-Year.
Bernabei-McNamee launched her coaching career at West Virginia Wesleyan. That was followed by stops at Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and the University of Maryland, helping guide the Lady Terps to a national title.
Joanna and her husband Joe McNamee have two sons, Luke (9) and Caden (8).