It took only nine hours for Drexel to decide on its next women’s basketball coach.
School president John Fry, executive vice president Helen Bowman, and athletic director Eric Zillmer were all in on in-house candidate Amy Mallon.
“For some people and some groups, they don’t know what they have because that person is so close,” Zillmer said Wednesday. “That is not the case with Amy Mallon. We know she is very special."
Mallon was named Drexel’s sixth Division I coach lon March 27. She is replacing Denise Dillon, who took the same job at Villanova after 17 seasons with the Dragons.
Mallon worked as an assistant coach under Dillon for 16 seasons, but that was more of a title than a role. She orchestrated Drexel’s defense and worked as the associate head coach since 2007.
“Working with Denise pretty much gave me the opportunity to take over," Mallon said. "I feel like I did pretty much everything but stand on the sideline as an associate head coach.”
Drexel’s defense has been the team’s heartbeat. The Dragons have finished among the top two teams in scoring defense in the Colonial Athletic Association for 10 consecutive seasons.
A big part of Mallon’s success will depend on the offense. Senior Bailey Greenberg and her 17.3 points-per-game average are gone, but Drexel’s playing style under Mallon likely won’t be much different. Mallon said the Dragons will emphasize team basketball, but the offense will be tailored to the strengths of the players.
“I’m not looking to re-invent the wheel,” Mallon said. “I think we have established something that’s pretty strong, and I think it’s about changing with the type of players. But our main thing is competing.”
Drexel made 10 postseason tournament appearances in the last 11 seasons, and it was likely on its way to another after clinching a share of the CAA regular season title before the season was suspended.
The pressure of sustaining that success won’t be unfamiliar territory. As a player, Mallon led Richmond to back-to-back conference championships in 1990 and 1991. She transferred to St. Joseph’s for her senior season and responded by being named Big 5 player of the year. Mallon was inducted into the Philadelphia Big 5 Hall of Fame in 2002.
“To me, that’s what competing is all about,” Mallon said. “That pressure is what drives you."