Madonna grad set to begin first season at B.C.

CHESTNUT HILL – Joanna (Bernabei) McNamee has been successful every step of her basketball career.

The Weirton Madonna legend is now ready to embark on her greatest challenge.

McNamee is in her first year as head women’s hoop coach at Boston College, taking the post after two successful campaigns at the University of Albany. She inherits a program that is a bottom feeder in the power-packed Atlantic Coast Conference.

BC is coming off a 7-23 record last winter, going 2-14 in the ACC, a conference that includes national powers Notre Dame and Louisville. The Eagles are predicted to finish in the basement of the 15-team loop this year.

McNamee’s charges open regular-season play Thursday at Rhode Island.

“The transition has been going well. I brought some staff members from Albany with me which has really helped the process,” McNamee said. “We really have only one player that is familiar with our system so it is a work in progress. But the players have bought in 100 percent and are working extremely hard and making progress every day.”

McNamee, age 43, guided Albany to 21-12 and 24-8 marks the last two seasons. Such success is not on the BC radar just yet.

“We aren’t basing our expectations on a number of wins. Rather we are focusing on playing harder and smarter than our opponents and then let the outcome take care of itself,” the former West Liberty All-American noted. “The talent is not where we would like it yet but we are just trying to control the controllables such as work ethic, rebounding and outworking people.”

Prior to her two years at Albany, McNamee enjoyed an impressive stint at the University of Pikeville in Kentucky. She directed Pikeville to a 63-26 record during her three-year tenure at the NAIA school. She guided her charges to a 26-9 record and a Final Four berth in her final season at Pikeville. As a result, the former Blue Don was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA Regional Coach of the Year and the Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year.

Despite the low ACC forecast for her Eagles, McNamee is ecstatic about her new gig.

“I am really enjoying it. It has been fun. Boston College is a great university with a great academic reputation, and the city of Boston is terrific,” McNamee said. “The staff and student body here has been supportive. It is really a special place. We are in a big-time school in a big-time conference with a small-town community feel.”

And about her season opener against the Rams, McNamee said, “Our non-conference schedule is designed to prepare us for the rigors of the ACC but also being able to compete.”

The West Liberty and OVAC Hall of Famer enjoyed a brilliant Madonna career. She carried the Lady Blue Dons to three straight state tournament appearances. The highlight being a state title her senior season.

She was named captain of the West Virginia Class A All-State Team and captain of the OVAC Class A-AA West Virginia squad in her senior season at Madonna. The multi-talented guard finished her prep career with 1,002 points and more than 500 career assists.

McNamee selected West Liberty to continue her academic and basketball careers. She again scripted a brilliant basketball resume, earning All-American honors while being named WVC Player of-the-Year.

Bernabei-McNamee launched her coaching career at West Virginia Wesleyan. That was followed by stops at Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and the University of Maryland.

Joanna and her husband Joe McNamee have two sons, Luke and Caden.

INDIANS AIDE

BRIDGEPORT HAS one of the best Class AA grid programs in West Virginia. The multi-state champions Indians, however, had a few coaching openings pop up this summer due to late departures.

Second-year John Cole still had one spot to fill when official practices commenced in August. He landed a gem when he secured Jed Reed.

Reed is a Wheeling Park graduate and former Patriot grid standout. He went on to author a sparkling grid career at Fairmont State. Reed was a three-year starter and four-year letterman for the Falcons. He was twice selected as an all-WVC defensive back.

He later coach defensive backs at Fairmont State before embarking on a grid coaching stint at ZB Vance High School in Charlotte, N.C.

Reed is a principal partner at Precision Outdoor Insurance. He and his wife Katie reside in Bridgeport with their two children, Colton and Sophia.

BUBBA’S BITS

KUDOS TO Wheeling Hospital for establishing the Women’s Health Holiday Classic at Buckeye Local on Dec. 29. It will showcase eight local prep girls teams as well as shedding a much-needed spotlight on women’s health.

THE CLEVELAND Browns may never get it right. There was no need to fire both the head coach and offensive coordinator. The Brownies should have kept OC Todd Haley to advance the maturation of prized rookie QB Baker Mayfield.

MARYLAND FINALLY made the proper decision in terminating DJ Durkin as the Terps’ head football coach. When a player needlessly dies under your watch, you need to be held accountable. If Durkin was not axed, the locker room would have remained divided and recruiting would have tanked.

QUAKER VALLEY (Pa.) saw its grid season end Friday night with a 31-24 playoff loss to North Catholic. The Quakers are coached by St. Clairsville High product Ron Balog.

WHEELING CENTRAL grad Kurt Stein has his Oakdale (Md.) grid squad still undefeated via a 24-0 playoff nod over Tuscarora.

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