Villanova Athletics released a press release this past Friday that officially named Drexel Head Coach Denise Dillon to be the new head coach for the women’s basketball team. Dillon, a Villanova alumna from the class of 1996, played for Head Coach Harry Peretta during her four years, and was named to the Villanova Hall of Fame in 2012. Peretta hired her after she graduated and she was an assistant coach in the program from 1997-2001.
Dillon is the winningest coach in Drexel women’s basketball history, and was named CAA Coach of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2018. She led the Dragons to a top-3 seed in the CAA 10 out of her 17 seasons, with six conference tournament final appearances, and one championship. The Dragons also had one NCAA tournament bid and one WNIT championship.
Dillon left Villanova to join the staff of the Drexel women’s team. She was the interim head coach for the 2003-2004 season, and was named the head coach the following year. She was the head coach at Drexel ever since, and has had notable success along the way.
Villanova Athletics held a press conference via Zoom this past Friday, allowing media and members of the Villanova community to interact with Dillon and ask questions. Coach Dillon was very enthusiastic and grateful for the opportunity, and referred to this position as “a dream come true” multiple times.
“There was only one place that I would’ve left Drexel for, and here we are,” Dillon said. “Villanova is that place.”
Dillon is excited to be working with the incredible support system that she will have, as well as the talented players that they have in this program. Dillon specifically mentioned reigning Big East Rookie of the Year Maddy Siegrist and her expectations going into her redshirt sophomore season. Siegrist had an outstanding year this past season, with 15 20-point games, shooting 76% from the free-throw line and 45% from the field.
“She is going to have a lot on her shoulders, but she wants that,” Dillon said. “She is capable of that.”
Dillon also talked about Samantha Carangi, who will be a junior in this upcoming season. Carangi has had bad luck when it comes to injuries, and that has definitely affected her playing over the past two seasons, but Dillon believes that she “can play a very strong role in rallying this team, and getting them all together.”
In terms of her coaching style, Dillon puts a strong emphasis on the defensive end and said that “our girls are going to learn early and often how to really turn it up a notch on the defensive end.” Dillon thinks that this is the best way to compete in such a tough conference like the Big East, especially with UConn making its return next year. When asked what three words she would use as the foundation of her program, Dillon said “effort, energy and together.” Dillon believes that if the team can focus on these three characteristics, everything else will fall into place and success will follow.
Although it will be difficult to replace a legend like Peretta after 42 years of success and honor, Villanova Athletics believes that Denise Dillon is the best person for the job now and in the future.