Houston Baptist Women's Basketball Camps
Donna Finnie | Head Coach
Finnie was named the fifth head coach in program history on April 17, 2013, making history in the process as she became the first international ever to land a head coaching position in NCAA Division I basketball. Now in her sixth season, Finnie sits as the winningest coach at the Division I level in program history.
2017-18 was an interesting year for the Huskies as they were plagued by injuries and at one point, had only six healthy scholarship players for several weeks. Blair Gillard transitioned from her outstanding volleyball career at HBU and helped the Huskies as did walk on Kierra Calloway. The Huskies featured strongly in conference statistics with Natalia Gwarda leading the conference in blocks per game and Amanda Johnson having a breakthrough junior year, improving from 5.1ppg as a sophomore to a team leading 15.4ppg. Johnson was a third team all conference selection as well as first team Southland all academic selection and the schools’ first Co-Sida all district honoree in women’s basketball. The Huskies graduated no seniors and return 11 letter winners. The Huskies had another outstanding academic year, posting a team GPA of 3.472 which placed them #23 on the WBCA national poll. This is the fourth year out of the last five that the Huskies have finished top 25 in the nation in team GPA.
The 2016-17 season was a rebuilding year, as the Huskies had eight freshmen, six sophomores and only one senior, making them the youngest DI team in the nation. The young squad played a testing schedule, opening at top-10 teams in Baylor and Texas, which prepared them for a tough Southland Conference schedule. Much progress was made, with all returners starting at least one game each and getting valuable playing experience. Senior guard Heidi Byrd was named Southland Conference Women's Basketball All-Academic Second Team as she finished her career 10th all-time in assists. The Huskies finished strong in the classroom once again with a 3.43 team GPA and sophomore guard Amanda Johnson was named Varsity Academic Athlete of the Year at the end of year athletic awards as she continued to carry a 4.0 GPA in her biology degree.
The 2015-16 season was another milestone season for the program as, for the third year in a row, the Huskies recorded the highest winning percentage in program history since transitioning to Division I in 2007. The season also marked the highest win total (9) for the program in Southland Conference regular-season play. The team has continued to thrive academically under Finnie’s guidance, with the team posting their best-ever combined semester GPA of 3.65 in the fall of 2015 and finished the year with the fifth-highest GPA in the nation (3.612). In Finnie’s first four years as head coach the Huskies had a near-perfect APR percentage, only losing one point over the course of that time.
There were some outstanding individual achievements as well, most notably from senior Anna Strickland, who led the nation in rebounds per game (14.2), and recorded 23 double-doubles, ranking her third nationally. Additionally, In the final game of her career, Anna recorded one of the most dominant performances in Southland Conference history, recording 21 points, 31 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks. Her 31 rebounds were the highest individual game total recorded all season, and the most in a Division I women’s game since the 2006-2007 season. No NBA, Men’s Division I or Women’s Division I player has reached those numbers in all four categories in the last 20 years. Strickland finished the season with an All-Conference selection in addition to an All-Defensive team nod. Her teammate and fellow post player Monet Neal received Honorable Mention All-Southland Honors as well. Monet Neal, Ekemini Essien and Rachel Arthur all went on to play professionally overseas at the conclusion of their senior year. Arthur secured a Bundesliga D1 contract in Germany, Essien with Solent in the English league and Neal signed to the Premier League in Ireland.
The 2014-15 season was HBU’s most memorable in recent history. The Huskies went 15-18 overall and 6-12 in Southland Conference play, earning a berth to their first SLC Tournament, despite being without the services of the previous year's First Team All-Conference selection, Shanice Steenholdt, and losing starting point guard, freshman Lisa Zderadicka after just three games. As the eighth seed, HBU began a memorable Cinderella run as it knocked off the fifth seed, fourth seed, and top seed Stephen F. Austin on ESPN3, becoming the first eighth seed to reach the SLC championship game. Before a national crowd, HBU fell to reigning tournament champions, Northwestern State, 58-50, but had seniors Tayler Jefferson and Erin McGarrachan earn All-Tournament honors. Strickland was named to the Southland All-Defensive Team. At season's end, HBU was ranked 26th nationally in field-goal percentage (44.0) and 39th in rebounding margin (+5.6), leading all Southland teams in both categories. For the second-straight year, the Huskies got it done in the classroom as well, with the team was honored by the WBCA for their outstanding academics. Over the summer, two Huskies signed contracts to play basketball overseas: McGarrachan with Leicester Riders of the Women's British Basketball League and Steenholdt with Club Desportivo Torres Novas of Portugal's Liga Feminina League. In October 2015, Jefferson became the third Husky to sign a contract as she joined Spain's CN Reus Ploms. The Huskies continued their outstanding work in the classroom during the 2014-15 season earning their second-consecutive selection to the WBCA Academic Top-25 Honor Roll; this time finishing 17th in the nation with a 3.445 combined team GPA.
In Finnie’s first year at the helm of the program in 2013-14, the team made huge strides both on and off the court. The Huskies won 12 games, the most since HBU began the transition to NCAA Division I in 2007. The Huskies also boasted the highest RPI in program history (251); a significant improvement from the 2012-13 campaign. Offensively the team exploded to produce one of the most efficient scoring attacks in the nation. The Huskies shot 44% from the field, which led the Southland Conference and ranked 39th nationally out of 344 eligible teams. The charge was led by Steenholdt, who finished in the top three in multiple statistical categories including points per game (18.1), field goal percentage (54.9%), rebounds per game (9.8) and blocks per game (1.8). Her exceptional effort earned her First Team All-Southland Conference honors.
Success continued in the classroom, where the Huskies had one of their most successful school years in program history. In the second semester, the team posted a combined 3.6 GPA, which included five players earning a perfect 4.0. This was the strongest academic performance, top to bottom, since the founding of the program. All thirteen players on the Huskies' roster earned at least a 3.0 GPA, which netted them all spots on the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. This is the first time in the history of the program that every member of the team has made the All-Conference Honor Roll. At the conclusion of the academic year the Huskies were recognized nationally, earning their first ever selection to the WBCA Academic Top-25 Team Honor Roll, finishing with the 12th highest team GPA in Division I with a combined 3.514 GPA in 2013-14.
Prior to becoming the head coach, Finnie served as an assistant coach at HBU for three seasons. During that time, Finnie had primary recruiting responsibilities and was instrumental in recruiting all of the players she inherited on the Huskies’ roster. Over her first three seasons at the helm, Finnie spearheaded a recruiting effort that reloaded the roster. Focusing in Texas and internationally, Finnie put together a diverse roster that featured players from Finland, Germany, Scotland, England and Australia during her tenure as an assistant coach.
Finnie came to HBU after spending 10 seasons as a national team coach in Scotland. She started as an assistant coach for Arthur McGuire and then was promoted to head coach when McGuire retired. She was the head coach from 2003-2010 for the U18 national team and also had a stint coaching the U16 national team. Finnie became the first head coach at any level to win two consecutive FIBA Tournaments in 2005 and 2006 and the first Scottish female to win any FIBA level tournament. Following those wins, she then led the national team into three FIBA European B Division Championships with former Huskies forward Erin McGarrachan, setting a then-record for single game rebounds with a haul of 27 in the 2010 Championships in Romania.
In her 10 years coaching national teams, Finnie coached in over 20 different countries including several trips to the US where she would bring her team to play in exposure events/team camps. She also helped her players look at scholarship opportunities in the US and has helped 10 former players attain scholarships at the DI and DII level.
Finnie was also the Talent ID Manager for Basketballscotland for two years and worked on identifying talented youngsters across the country while working with the Institute of Sport to develop annual plans for personal strength, conditioning, and skill development. One of her former players, Rose Anderson, who played for Finnie for four years, represented Great Britain in the basketball tournament at the London Olympics. Finnie is a certified UK Sport coach as well as a former governing body tutor for coach education across the country, delivering coach education courses to high school teachers, club coaches and further education colleges.
An Edinburgh, Scotland, native, Finnie played collegiate basketball at Lamar University and then graduated with a BSC in Applied Sports Sciences from Heriot Watt University in 1998.