4/1/2020 – It was a whirlwind of activity at Drexel just a few days ago. Denise Dillon was named the new women’s basketball coach at Villanova after being at the helm at Drexel for 17 years. Concurrently, Amy Mallon, Dillon’s assistant and associate coach for 16 years, was elevated to the head coach position for Dragons. She wanted her first head coaching job to be the right job, and everything fell into place. There was a sense of familiarity and comfort in the announcement.
“There is a comfort level in knowing the culture we created and continue to build on,” said Mallon. “I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel because we created something strong.”
When a coach comes into a new situation, the players and the coach need to get to know one another and adjust the new situation. For Mallon and the Dragons there will be a sense of continuity as the players and coach know one another and will continue to work together during the transition which will ease the path.
In the current environment caused by the Corona Virus, the players and coach will need to interact remotely right now. Again, familiarity and comfort will help ease the change in uncertain times.
“It is a different time,” Mallon said. “At the end of our season, there was not a lot of closure. We got off the court, on the bus, came home, and have not seen each other. The transition is different. Through technology letting the team know I was going to be their next coach, you could feel the excitement. You want to hug and high-five, but you can’t. It was good to see them smile and feel a little comfort. It’s the unknown that causes fear, but we’ll stay together and be even better.”
Defense has always been a constant at Drexel. The Dragons have been one of the top defensive teams in the country in women’s collegiate basketball. Mallon was the architect behind the defensive schemes. That will continue to be the backbone of Drexel basketball while knowing offense is needed.
“Defense will always be a staple,” said Mallon about the direction of the team. “On the offensive end you have to work with the personnel. My goal is to play team basketball. We have great players coming back, and know we’ll find a way to elevate them.”
After 16 years together Dillon moves to Villanova and Mallon moves one seat over on the bench. There will still be a relationship that will be maintained from one side of Lancaster Avenue to the other.
“We’re going to know each other better now,” Mallon thought about their future. “I have her as a colleague and a friendship that is not going anywhere. My opportunity to be the head coach is something that I am excited about and for Denise, too. I know we will be there to support each other.”
And the competitors will meet on the court next season as they will play one another. They know what to expect, not sure if they will be comfortable, but it will be familiar.
Written By: Glenn Papazian