The milestone was gratifying enough for Drexel women’s basketball coach Denise Dillon, but even more satisfying is that it came in the midst of a double-digit winning streak as the Dragons compete for an NCAA Tournament berth.
On Sunday, Drexel beat visiting Northeastern, 76-45, for Dillon’s 300th career victory, all accomplished at the school.
A former standout at Cardinal O’Hara and a three-time all-Big East performer at Villanova from 1994-96 who was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 2004, Dillon (300-200) is the winningest women’s basketball coach in Drexel history.
As with most coaches, Dillon is concerned only about winning the next game, but when she hit 300, she reflected ever so briefly on her 16-year run as head coach.
“It gives you an opportunity to reflect and look back at all the players involved, our tremendous coaches, just the opportunity Drexel has provided, our administration. Their support is tremendous,” Dillon said in her office before practice Tuesday.
Typical coach, she didn’t even know the milestone was approaching until assistant Stacey Weiss mentioned it to Dillon the day before the Northeastern game.
“You are just so focused on the next game, trying to keep the players focused,” Dillon said.
Dillon was grateful to have accomplished the milestone at a home game, and the players were just as ecstatic to be part of it.
“It is so cool,” said junior forward Bailey Greenberg, an Archbishop Wood grad who leads the Dragons in scoring, averaging 18.2 points. “Our coaching staff is amazing, and I don’t think there is a better one out there.”
Dillon began her coaching career as an assistant at Villanova from 1997-2001. She was a Drexel assistant for two seasons and then in 2003 was named interim head coach. The interim tag was taken off after that season.
“When the head-coaching position opened up, I thought it was a sign that I should give it a shot and do this,” she said. “I was hooked after that first year.”
Dillon has guided the Dragons to one NCAA appearance, in 2009, and the 2013 postseason WNIT championship.
In addition, the Dragons have appeared seven other times in the postseason WNIT. Dillon has been named Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year three times.
Besides winning the CAA Tournament in 2009 to qualify for the NCAAs, she has guided the Dragons to the championship game in four other years, including last season. The CAA is considered a one-bid league, meaning the conference tournament winner is likely the only team to earn an NCAA berth.