Former University of Iowa standout and Des Moines native Jennie (Lillis) Baranczyk (pronounced bah-rahn-check) was named the sixth head women's basketball coach at Drake University on April 17, 2012.
In Baranczyk's third season the team finished the 2014-15 season with a 20-11 record, including a stellar 15-3 mark in MVC games. It’s the first 20-win season for the Bulldogs since the 2007-08 campaign while the 15 conference wins are the most since the 2001-02 team also had 15. Drake finished second in the conference standings, its best finish since 2001-02. The banner year helped Drake lead the Valley in attendance and finish 45th in the nation with an average of 2,623 fans per game. In the classroom, the Bulldogs climbed to the WBCA Top-25 Honor Roll finishing fourth in Division I with a team GPA of 3.599.
All this was accomplished even after Drake lost the returning MVC Player of the Year, senior Kyndal Clark, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the year against South Dakota. The team, featuring six first or second year student-athletes along with five upperclassmen, stepped up in place of Clark, led by sophomore Lizzy Wendell.
Wendell, who was named MVC Freshman of the Year in 2013-14, was even better in her second season. She led the league in scoring at 21.8 points per game, and became just the fourth Drake sophomore to reach 1,000 career points. Wendell scored in double figures in all 31 games and dating back to 2013-14 has scored 10 or more points in 45 straight contests. She earned All-MVC first team honors for the second consecutive year.
Also on the All-MVC first team was sophomore point guard Caitlin Ingle. Ingle was the Bulldogs’ floor leader averaging a league-high 6.7 assists per game. Ingle notched the MVC’s first triple-double since 2009 and first in Drake history, recording 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, in the win over Missouri State on Jan. 30. Twice she handed out a career-high 15 assists in a game, first against Bradley on Jan. 4 and again at SIU on Feb. 6. The 15 assists are tied for the third most in a game in school history.
Rounding out Drake’s All-MVC first team selections was freshman Maddy Dean, who averaged 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Dean was named the MVC Freshman of Year for her outstanding debut season.
Freshman Becca Jonas averaged 12.5 points and a team-leading 9.1 rebounds per game. Jonas was an honorable mention All-MVC selection. Jonas and Dean were also selected to the MVC All-Freshman team.
Drake advanced to the WNIT postseason tournament for the first time since 2012. The Bulldogs were knocked out in the opening round by Eastern Michigan. However, the young team gained valuable postseason experience and will carry that to 2015-16 when they are projected to again challenge for the conference title.
Year two under Baranczyk's watch was filled with success on and off the court as the team finished 17-15 and 9-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play. The Bulldogs advanced all the way to the MVC Tournament title game, where they lost to the defending champions, Wichita State. Clark was selected the MVC Jackie Stiles Player of the Year, while Wendell capped off a special first season with being named the Co-MVC Freshman of the Year. Clark and Wendell were both named to the All-MVC First Team, while Ingle joined Wendell on the MVC All-Freshman Team. Junior Liza Heap earned honorable mention MVC Scholar-Athlete honors.
Baranczyk's teams have been highly successful in the classroom during her tenure at Drake, highlighted by the 2013-14 squad's prestigous accolade from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. The Bulldogs ranked sixth in the NCAA Division I WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll with a 3.571 team grade point average. It was the first time a Drake women's basketball team cracked the WBCA Top 25 Honor Roll since the 2001-02 campaign.
In her first season leading the Bulldogs, Baranczyk became the fifth Drake women's basketball coach to win 10 or more games in their first season. Clark netted a pair of honors being named to the all-MVC second team and the all-Defensive team.
Baranczyk came to Drake after a two-year stint as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Colorado, where she was on the staff of head coach Linda Lappe, a former Drake assistant coach. Prior to Colorado, Baranczyk was an assistant coach for four seasons at Marquette after two seasons as an assistant coach at Kansas State.
"Jennie Baranczyk is an extraordinary fit for the Drake Women's Basketball program," Drake Athletics Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb said. "She is a demonstrated teacher of the game, a tenacious recruiter of Iowa and the Midwest and she is committed to the holistic development of the student-athlete. Jennie has been mentored by four talented head coaches, including former Drake head coach Lisa Bluder, and is uniquely prepared to lead Drake women's basketball program. I am thrilled she is part of the Bulldog family."
"I am absolutely delighted that Jennie is our women's basketball coach," said former Drake President David Maxwell. "We have a wonderful program with a proud tradition of winning with exceptional young women who excel as much in the classroom as they do on the court, and we have high aspirations for the team's future. Jennie has just the right combination of experience, values, leadership, basketball smarts and passion for the game to make those aspirations a reality."
Baranczyk helped recruit and develop numerous all-conference student-athletes at all three schools she coached at before Drake and was instrumental in Colorado securing the No. 27th-ranked 2012 recruiting class by ESPN HoopGurlz. At Colorado, she coached All-Big 12 first-team forward Brittney Spears and All-Pac-12 guard Chucky Jeffrey as well as Pac-12 all-freshman team members Lexy Kresl and Jen Reese. On the floor she had a coaching emphasis in the development of the post player's at all three schools.
"Jennie was an important part of our first two years at Colorado, and her loyalty, commitment and hard work have helped to point us in the right direction," Lappe said. "We are definitely disappointed to be losing a great coach, and an even better person, but we couldn't be happier for her and her family and know that she will be a great fit at Drake University. We wish Jennie the best of luck as she heads back to her home city."
Baranczyk reached postseason tournament play every season as a player and assistant coach. She coached in two NCAA tournaments and won two WNIT championships (Kansas State in 2006 and Marquette in 2008) as an assistant coach . At Iowa, she played in three NCAA tournaments and one WNIT and helped Iowa win the 2001 Big Ten Tournament.
A three-time captain at Iowa, Baranczyk (formerly Lillis), was a four-year letterwinner at forward from 2000-04 under Bluder. One of the best all-around players in Hawkeye basketball history, she was a three-time All-Big Ten Conference selection, earning first-team honors as a junior in 2003 and second-team honors as a sophomore in 2002 and as a senior in 2004. She was an honorable mention All-American in 2003.
She graduated as the only player in Iowa history in the top 10 of five major statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, and is one of only two Hawkeye players to score more than 1,700 points and grab 800 rebounds.
"Jennie is a great fit for Drake," said Bluder. "She is a Des Moines native who knows the importance and value of women's basketball in this state, having lived it. She will do a wonderful job as a leader of the program. Jennie is a hard worker who knows the game well and has values that match the Drake philosophy. She will bring the same competiveness that made her a great player, and invigorate the Drake players and community with her passion for the game and desire to be successful. I am proud to see Jennie take over the program and I know it is in good hands."
Baranczyk graduated from Iowa in 2004 with her bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and from Kansas State with her master's degree in Counseling and Student Development in 2007. At Iowa, she was the recipient of the 2004 Big Ten Conference's Medal of Honor. First awarded in 1914, the Big Ten's oldest award is given annually to a student in the graduating class of each university that demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. Baranczyk was also a three-time Academic All-Big Ten pick, a WBCA Scholarship Award recipient, CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree, and a Collegiate Basketball Award for Excellence semifinalist as a senior in 2004.
In her prep career, she helped Dowling Catholic in Des Moines win state championships in 1998 and 2000 and she is a member of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Hall of Fame.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to coach this team to continue to build upon the winning tradition the Bulldogs have established in the Missouri Valley Conference," said Baranczyk. "I strive to sign student-athletes who will love Drake University and will make the alumni and the Des Moines community proud. I want to thank Sandy Hatfield Clubb, David Maxwell and the rest of the Drake administration for sharing their vision clearly and giving me the opportunity to lead this program into the future."
On the date of her hire, Baranczyk who was 31 years old at the time of her hire was the second youngest Division I head women's basketball coach. Even as one of the younger Division I head coaches she has made an immdiate impact in women's basketball as she attended the 2013 edition of The Center for Coaching Excellence (CCE). Along with 31 fellow WBCA-member college women's basketball coaches she completed the invitation-only, two-and-a-half day elite leadership program hosted by Columbia University in New York City.
Created in 2011 through a partnership between Columbia and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and funded in part through a grant from the NCAA, the CCE provides an unparalleled, exclusive learning experience for attendees.
Baranczyk and her program are actively involved in the Des Moines community. In 2013-14 and 2014-15 the program reached its goal of completing 1,000 community service hours in the Drake and Des Moines communities. The team has made a similar pledge for the 2015-16 school year. Baranczyk sits on the board for the Young Women's Resource Center in Des Moines.
Her father, Terry played college baseball and basketball at Simpson College and her brother, Brian played college basketball at the University of Albany in New York.
Jennie and her husband, Scott, have a son, Eli, and a daughter, Jordi.
"I am honored and thrilled to be the head women's basketball coach at Drake University," Baranczyk said. "As a native of Des Moines, I remember very clearly the winning tradition of Drake women's basketball. This is truly a great fit for me, my family and for Drake. I'm excited to be able to recruit and work with student-athletes who will share in the same goals and vision. I'm very proud to represent the Drake Bulldogs and we will work hard to be a significant part of this community."