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Women's Notebook

Dunkenberger Is Va. Tech's New Basketball Coach

News Services and Staff Reports
Wednesday, April 7, 2004; Page D07

Beth Dunkenberger, the coach for the past four seasons at Western Carolina, was hired yesterday to replace Bonnie Henrickson at Virginia Tech.

Henrickson, who led the Hokies to five NCAA tournaments in her seven seasons as coach, resigned and became the coach at Kansas on March 29, six days after Virginia Tech lost to top-seeded Penn State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Beth Dunkenberger, 37, was the head coach at Western Carolina the past four seasons. (Gene Dalton -- Roanoke Times Via AP)

Dunkenberger, 37, was an assistant coach at Virginia Tech from 1988 to '97 under Carol Alfano and earned her master's of science degree in sports management in 1990.

"It's home in so many ways," she said at an afternoon news conference. "I have a pride of this place that runs so deep and it's an honor for you to bring me back."

Dunkenberger compiled a 65-50 record at Western Carolina, including 14-17 this season. The Catamounts finished with a flourish, winning a school-record three games in the Southern Conference tournament, but lost in the championship to Chattanooga, 86-68.

"She is a personable and energetic young woman who is committed to building upon the momentum Virginia Tech has in place," athletic director Jim Weaver said.

The Hokies were 23-8 this season, their last in the Big East, and were 158-62 under Henrickson overall. They will move to the ACC next season.

Dunkenberger already is a big fan of the change.

"It just makes sense. That's the region where we play. We're driving distance from most schools. When you think of great basketball, the best in the nation, you think of the ACC -- the Dukes, the North Carolinas, Virginia -- all those schools coming to play us on a regular basis," she said. "It's just too good to be true.

"But I like to think the best is yet to come."

During Dunkenberger's first stint in Blacksburg, the Hokies made their first two NCAA tournament appearances in 1994 and 1995. As recruiting coordinator, Dunkenberger also signed Tere Williams, the first Parade all-American in program history.

The Hokies have continued improving since then, she said.

"What Bonnie has done here, it's nothing short of incredible," she said. "She's done it by doing things the right way. She's recruited good players and good people, and I'm so thankful about the team she's left in place. My mom always said that you're supposed to leave things better than what you found it and that is so true of what Bonnie did. She has left an incredible legacy in place. There are people who work hard and those are the things that make great teams and make great champions."

Record Ratings

Sunday's semifinals set two television ratings records, ESPN announced. The Connecticut-Minnesota game was viewed by nearly 3.1 million households and earned a 3.5 rating, the best numbers the network has earned for a women's semifinal game in its nine years broadcasting the tournament. Only three college basketball games in ESPN history were viewed by more people.

Combined with the Tennessee-LSU game, the semifinal round drew more than 2.5 million households and a 2.9 rating, also a record in ESPN's years with the tournament.

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