The University of Oregon ushered in a new era of women’s basketball with the announcement of Paul Westhead as the program’s sixth head coach on March 26, 2009.
Entering his fifth year at the helm, Westhead will look to rebound from an injury-plagued 2012-13 season and recapture his early success with the Ducks.
To help in the endevour, Westhead will have the services of sophomore Jillian Alleyne. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year is back after leading the Ducks in scoring (13.0), rebounding (11.9) and blocked shots (1.3). The 6-foot-3 forward grabbed 376 rebounds during the 2012-13 campaign, the second most in single-season school history. She ranked No. 7 in the NCAA in rebounds per game and was 10th among freshmen in scoring. Westhead also returns guards Laura Stanulis and Lexi Petersen, who both missed last season with injuries, in addition to starters Ariel Thomas, Danielle Love, Jordan Loera and multi-sport star Liz Brenner.
Westhead wasted little time instituting his fast-pace and up-tempo style of play after signing on with the Ducks. After winning just nine games prior to his arrival, Westhead led the 2009-10 squad to an 18-16 record, the program’s best mark since 2005. In his first year on the job, Westhead’s offense produced a program record 2,767 points, while the Ducks also set a new conference record knocking down 284 three-pointers.
During his first two years at Oregon, the Ducks finished among the top-15 in the nation in scoring, averaging 81.4 points (2010, 2nd) and 73.3 points per game (2011, 15th). In fact, during that two-year stretch, the Ducks averaged 79.0 points per game overall, outdone only by Oral Roberts (84.7 ppg) and Gonzaga (82.7 ppg). In each of his first three seasons, Oregon led the Pac-12 in 3-pointers made.
In his first four seasons on the job, Westhead produced three all-conference guards in Micaela Cocks (2010), Taylor Lilley (2010) and Nia Jackson (2011). In addition, forward Amanda Johnson earned all-conference recognition (2012) and twice was named honorable mention all-league (2010, 2011). Alleyne (2013) was an honorable mention selection last year, in addition to her all-freshmen honors.
Following the 2009-10 season, Lilley went on to sign a free agent contract with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, after leading the nation with 124 three-pointers and breaking the Pac-10 and Oregon single-season records.
Also shining in Westhead's system was Johnson, who was one of the greatest scholar-athletes ever at Oregon.
Johnson earned the 2012 Toyo Tires Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award. She is also the only player in school history to be named a three-time Academic All-American. In addition, she was named a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American, while also being named to the 2011 Capital One Academic All-America First Team, improving upon second-team honors from 2010. Johnson was a first team Pac-12 All-Academic selection in her sophomore, junior and senior seasons. Laura Stanulis earned Pac-12 All-Academic second team recognition in 2012, following up her first team selection from the year before. Danielle Love earned second team all-academic recognition in 2012.
During Westhead’s tenure, four other Ducks have earned all-academic honorable mention nods: Cocks (2010), Lilley (2010), Kristi Fallin (2011) and Deanna Weaver (2012).
Westhead and his staff have been getting it done on the recruiting trail. Oregon’s 2011 five-member freshman class received a top-50 rating from ESPN Hoopgurlz and his 2013 class included guard Chrishae Rowe, who was rated the No. 67 player in the nation by ESPN.
A veteran basketball coach with a resume that spans nearly four decades, Westhead has coached in the NBA and WNBA, as well as the men’s collegiate ranks.
The sixth head coach in the history of the Oregon women’s basketball program, Westhead came to the UO after serving as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder for one year (2007-08). He headed to Oklahoma City less than two months after winning the WNBA championship in 2007.
An innovative coach with a signature up-tempo style, Westhead translated that approach to the women’s game when he was hired by the Phoenix Mercury on Oct. 11, 2005. It took him less than two seasons to build a championship-caliber squad, as he guided Phoenix to its first WNBA championship in 2007. That hardware made him the only head coach in history to win a championship in both the NBA and WNBA.
During two seasons with the Mercury, Westhead posted a 41-27 (.603) record, the highest winning percentage in franchise history, as well as a franchise-record 23 victories in 2007. His up-tempo style also set WNBA records for scoring average for two consecutive seasons.
Prior to his time in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury, Westhead spent two years (2003-05) as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Westhead's last collegiate job was from 1993-97 at George Mason University. Prior to that stint, Westhead spent two seasons (1990-92) as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets.
He is perhaps best known for his historic tenure as the head coach of the Loyola Marymount men’s basketball program.
Westhead spent five years (1985-90) at LMU, turning the Lions into an impressive program and legitimate title contenders. Westhead built a 105-48 (.686) record at LMU, leading the Lions to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and a run to the Elite Eight in 1990. A recent ESPN 30-for-30 documentary, titled "Guru of Go", focused on Westhead and his time with the Lions.
Westhead’s other coaching stints included the head job with the Chicago Bulls during the 1982-83 season. Westhead’s NBA head coaching career began with the Lakers organization, lasting nearly three years (1979-82). In 1979, Westhead succeeded Jack McKinney, leading the Lakers to the 1980 NBA championship with rookie guard Magic Johnson and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabaar on the roster.
The collegiate ranks was where Westhead began his head coaching career at LaSalle University in 1970. In nine seasons (1970-79) with the Explorers, Westhead led the team to one NIT, two NCAA Tournament performances and a 142-105 record.
In a combined 18 seasons at the college level at LaSalle, Loyola Marymount and George Mason, Westhead comprised a 285-223 (.561) record.
Westhead has also spent time with the USA basketball programs, and in 2005 was a guest clinician at the USA women’s youth development festival teams in Colorado Springs, Colo. Westhead has also been a head coach in the ABA (2000-01) and the Japanese Pro League (2001-03).
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Westhead graduated from St. Joseph’s (PA) in 1961. He and his wife, Cassie, have four children: Monica, Patrice, Paul Jr., and Julie.