A well-respected assistant coach with an impressive track record as a talented recruiter, Sunny Smallwood closed her ninth season on the Nebraska coaching staff in 2013-14, and her sixth as the Huskers' associate head coach.
Smallwood, who joined Coach Connie Yori's Nebraska staff before the 2005-06 season, played a major role in helping the Huskers to eight postseason tournament bids in nine seasons, including six NCAA Tournament trips.
In 2009-10, Smallwood helped develop one of the top defenses in school history while powering Nebraska to a 32-2 record, a Big 12 regular-season title and the school's first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance.
In 2013-14, the Huskers earned another NCAA Tournament win with a first-round victory over Fresno State. Nebraska finished with the second-highest winning percentage in school history (.788) after posting a 26-7 overall record that included a 12-4 Big Ten mark. NU also captured its first-ever conference tournament title. NU led the Big Ten in scoring defense (63.4 ppg) and scoring margin (+12.2 ppg) while finishing the season ranked in the top 25 in national polls for the third straight season.
A proven recruiter, Smallwood also helped the Huskers sign the best recruiting class in school history in 2013. The six-player class, which included Natalie Romeo and Darrien Washington (California), Chandler Smith (Washington), Jasmine Cincore (Tennessee), Kaylee Page and Emily Wood (Kansas), was ranked No. 9 nationally by ESPN.
In 2012-13, the Huskers captured their second NCAA Sweet 16 bid in the past four years by working their way to a 25-9 record that included a 12-4 Big Ten mark. The 25 wins ranked third in school history, while NU's 12 Big Ten wins matched the 2013-14 team for the the second most conference victories in Husker history.The 2012-13 Huskers finished second in the Big Ten regular-season standings, after reeling off nine consecutive league wins, including an unbeaten February.
Smallwood's defense sparked a 10-game winning streak for the Huskers in Big Ten play from Jan. 20-Feb. 28. The Big Red were unbeaten in February thanks to a defense that led the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.9 ppg), three-point field goal percentage defense (.275) and defensive rebounding (27.9 rpg), while ranking second in conference play in scoring margin (+7.6 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.348).
In 2011-12, Smallwood helped guide a young Husker team to the fourth-best record in school history with a 24-9 mark and another NCAA Tournament trip. Nebraska featured two true freshmen in the starting lineup along with sophomore All-American Jordan Hooper in every game. After going 10-6 in the Big Ten, the Huskers battled to a runner-up finish in their first-ever Big Ten Tournament by posting three straight wins.
In her final five seasons at Nebraska, the Huskers averaged 24 wins per year to mark the most successful stretch in school history. In the first 35 seasons of NU women's basketball, no Husker team had ever won 24 games in a season.
One of the major factors on the court during that run was the play of four-year starting point guard Lindsey Moore. Smallwood played a lead role in signing the two-time Nancy Lieberman Award finalist and 2012-13 national player-of-the-year candidate to Nebraska from the state of Washington.
Moore, who earned Associated Press All-America honors in 2013, was the 2009 Washington High School Player of the Year and a Parade All-American. She closed her Nebraska career as the school's all-time leader in assists (699), starts (132) minutes played (4,360) and victories (94). The two-time All-Big Ten selection also earned a pair of selections to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
"Sunny has shown a tremendous commitment to our program for the past nine years and her knowledge and experience have been invaluable," Yori said. "She is a firm believer in the ideals we have set forth in our program, and she has played an important role in recruiting and the development of our players both on and off the court."
Smallwood focused her on-court coaching attention to developing Nebraska's backcourt players, while coordinating the Husker defense. She was also responsible for all aspects of Nebraska's individual player development workouts, while assisting with opponent scouting.
Smallwood came to Nebraska from the University of California, where she spent the 2004-05 season as the associate head coach for the Golden Bears.
Smallwood helped Cal land one of the nation's top 10 recruiting classes during her only season in Berkeley.
Before heading to California, Smallwood spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, including her last eight seasons in Seattle as the Huskies' lead assistant. She was the Huskies' recruiting coordinator all 11 years she spent on the staff at Washington.
During her time in Washington, Smallwood helped the Huskies to six NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the regional semifinals in 1995 and the NCAA Elite Eight in 2001. Smallwood worked under two head coaches at Washington, first for Chris Gobrecht and then June Daugherty. In eight seasons under Daugherty, Smallwood helped UW earn seven postseason tournament appearances.
In her 11 seasons at Washington, Smallwood helped at least one player earn first-team All-Pac 10 Conference honors in all but one season.
Smallwood's recruiting resume included Jamie Redd, a McDonald's High School All-American and UW's all-time leading scorer, and Amber Hall, the Huskies' all-time leading rebounder, along with All-Pac 10 Conference selections Megan Franza, LeAnn Sheets, Loree Payne, Andrea Lalum and Giuliana Mendiola, the 2003 Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year.
Smallwood's international recruiting base included Laure Savasta, a member of the 2000 French Olympic team, and Hall, a Canadian National Team member.
Smallwood began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Washington State from 1990 to 1993.
In her first season in Pullman, the Cougars earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to her on- and off-court coaching duties, Smallwood was also the director of Washington State's summer camps.
A 1983 graduate of Boise State with a degree in secondary education, Smallwood was a two-time first-team academic All-Mountain West Conference selection for the Broncos as a player from 1979 to 1983.
After college, Smallwood spent seven years as the head coach at Boise High School, leading her team to state tournament appearances in 1986 and 1989. She served as the head volleyball coach for one season, an assistant volleyball coach for three years and an assistant track and field coach for seven seasons.
Born in Deadwood, S.D., on May 28, 1961, Smallwood attended high school in Price, Utah, where she was a multi-sport standout at Carbon High School and earned 16 varsity letters.
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