April 29, 2014
BOISE, Idaho - Boise State Athletics welcomes home Bronco alum Sunny Smallwood as the associate head coach for women’s basketball, as announced today by head coach Gordy Presnell. Smallwood, a 24-year veteran of college coaching, brings with her a tremendous amount of experience and success. She has built a solid reputation as a top recruiter and has been credited with bringing numerous highly-regarded recruits to the schools she has worked at over the years. Smallwood replaces Ben Finkbeiner, who left in early April for Utah State University, where he was given the opportunity to work with his father Jerry Finkbeiner, the head coach of the Aggies.
Smallwood will assume the roles of both recruiting and defensive coordinator for the program. She is a highly regarded on-court coach who has developed several of her recruits into talented athletes that have-gone on to earn numerous postseason accolades.
“Sunny is one of the premier coaches in the country and success has always followed her where ever she has been. Boise State basketball just got a lot better today,” said Presnell. “We are not only fortunate to hire such a quality person and a fantastic coach, but also a Bronco alum. She has recruited first-round WNBA draft picks, top-10 recruiting classes and numerous postseason honorees. She is one of the premier recruiters in the country and we are lucky she has decided to come home to Boise.”
Smallwood comes to Boise State after nine seasons at the University of Nebraska where she spent the last six as the associate head coach. During her time there she helped lead the Cornhuskers to eight postseason appearances, including six trips to the NCAA Tournament. In six of her nine seasons in Lincoln, Neb., the Huskers won 20-or-more games, including a 26-7 mark in the recently concluded 2013-14 campaign.
In 2009-10, Smallwood helped develop one of the top defenses in Nebraska history while powering the Cornhuskers to a 32-2 record, a Big 12 regular-season title and the school’s first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.
In 2012-13, the Huskers captured their second NCAA Sweet 16 bid in four years by working their way to a 25-9 record that included a 12-4 Big Ten mark. NU’s regular-season and conference win totals were each the second best in Husker history, as Nebraska earned a Big Ten runner-up finish.
Smallwood’s defense sparked a 10-game winning streak for the Huskers in Big Ten play. Nebraska led the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.9 ppg), three-point field goal percentage defense (.275) and defensive rebounding (27.9 rpg), while ranking second in conference play in scoring margin (+7.6 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.348).
One of the major factors in Nebraska’s recent success was because of four-year starting point guard Lindsey Moore. Smallwood played a lead role in signing the two-time Nancy Lieberman Award finalist and 2012-13 national player of the year candidate to Nebraska from the state of Washington. Moore, who earned Associated Press All-America honors in 2013 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection, was the 2009 Washington High School Player of the Year and a Parade All-American.
At Nebraska, Smallwood focused her on-court coaching attention to developing the Huskers’ backcourt players, while coordinating the team’s defense. She was also responsible for all aspects of Nebraska’s individual player development workouts, while assisting with opponent scouting.
Smallwood arrived at Nebraska from the University of California, where she spent the 2004-05 season as the associate head coach for the Golden Bears. Smallwood helped Cal land one of the nation’s top-10 recruiting classes during her only season in Berkeley.
Before heading to California, Smallwood spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, including her last eight seasons in Seattle as the Huskies’ lead assistant. She was the Huskies’ recruiting coordinator in each of the 11 years she spent on the staff at Washington.
During her time in Washington, Smallwood helped the Huskies to six NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the regional semifinals in 1995 and the NCAA Elite Eight in 2001.
Smallwood worked under two head coaches at Washington, first for Chris Gobrecht and then June Daugherty. In eight seasons under Daugherty, Smallwood helped UW earn seven postseason tournament appearances.
In her 11 seasons at Washington, she helped at least one player earn first-team All-Pac-10 honors in all but one season. Smallwood’s recruiting resume included Jamie Redd, a McDonald’s High School All-American and UW’s all-time leading scorer, and Amber Hall, the Huskies’ all-time leading rebounder, along with All-Pac-10 selections Megan Franza, LeAnn Sheets, Loree Payne, Andrea Lalum and Giuliana Mendiola, the 2003 Pac-10 Player of the Year.
Smallwood’s international recruiting base included Laure Savasta, a member of the 2000 French Olympic team, and Hall, a Canadian National Team member.
Smallwood began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Washington State from 1990 to 1993. In her first season in Pullman, the Cougars earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament.
A 1983 graduate of Boise State with a degree in secondary education, Smallwood was a two-time first-team academic All-Mountain West Athletic Conference (MWAC) selection for the Broncos as a player from 1979 to 1983.
After college, Smallwood spent seven years as the head coach at Boise High School, leading her team to state tournament appearances in 1986 and 1989. She also served as the head volleyball coach for one season, an assistant volleyball coach for three years and an assistant track and field coach for seven seasons.
Born in Deadwood, S.D., on May 28, 1961, Smallwood attended high school in Price, Utah, where she was a multi-sport standout at Carbon High School and earned 16 varsity letters.