NIU women’s basketball promotes from within

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University head women’s basketball coach Kathi Bennett announced that two members of the women’s basketball staff have been promoted to new roles, as NIU Hall of Famer Debbie Whitman moves into an assistant coaching position and Stephanie Smith takes over as director of basketball operations.

Whitman, a 1993 graduate of NIU, spent the 2012-13 season with the Huskies as director of basketball operations. A three-year letterwinner for the NIU women’s basketball team from 1990-93, Whitman helped lead the Huskies to a 1991 WNIT appearance and the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Tournaments.

Prior to joining Bennett’s staff in 2012, Whitman worked as an assistant coach at North Central College, a Division III school in Naperville. She was the head coach of the DeKalb High School girls basketball program from 2005-10, where her teams posted a 95-51 record. She spent two years as an assistant at DeKalb before assuming the head coaching duties.

“The respect I had for Coach Whitman’s knowledge of the game was great when I hired her as our director of basketball operations,” Bennett said. “After spending a year with her, seeing her in action day to day, the impact she has had on our players and in the community, I’m fired up to have her here to say the least.”

Whitman is a member of the Assumption High School Hall of Fame, the NIU Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

A four-year letter winner for the Huskies from 2001-04, Smith spent the last two years as a graduate assistant for Bennett. She returned to her alma mater after eight years as a high school coach, including two seasons as head varsity coach at Burlington Central, where she tallied a 28-28 record. She also served as an assistant at Marian Catholic in Chicago Heights and at South Elgin High School.

During her career as a Huskie, Smith played in 113 games, starting 36 at guard. She scored 475 points (4.2/game) and held a career .350 three-point shooting percentage, 10th best in program history.

“In hiring Stephanie as director of basketball operations, I have hired a unique talent,” Bennett said. “After being our GA, she has built and instilled in our players the positive attitude we need, and shares her love for NIU. Debbie and Stephanie are exactly who we need.”

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