April 14, 2003
MADISON, Wis. (April 14) - New Badger head women's basketball coach Lisa Stone presented her full staff at the Wisconsin team's annual awards banquet held Sunday in Madison. Stone had previously announced that her long-time friend and Drake associate head coach Donna Freitag would be her first assistant. Also joining the staff are former Arizona associate head coach Denise Ianello, former Drake player and graduate assistant coach, Stephanie Schmitz, and UW director of basketball operations Sheli Kuhl.
Stone said of the hires, "I am ecstatic about my staff. I have surrounded myself with great people. Donna Freitag, my longtime friend and associate head coach at Drake, and Denise Ianello will be in charge of recruiting. We're excited about our opportunities to spread our recruiting base.
"Stephanie Schmitz, a former player of mine, a former assistant of mine, is eager and willing to help develop players. Sheli Kuhl is a key, instrumental hire for us as well. It was important to keep Sheli (and program assistant Julie Dobie) on staff from the standpoint of consistency. They possess the organizational skills and communication skills to help us with this great transition. So I am unbelievably excited to have these women that are going to join me and help lead Wisconsin women's basketball to great places."
Denise Dove Ianello was the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for 11 years at Arizona. She is credited with helping elevate the UA program to that of a Pac-10 and national powerhouse. Over the last 11 years, Ianello has been instrumental in recruiting All-American talent. Since the 1998-99 season, Arizona has had an impressive run of five straight top-20 recruiting classes.
As the program's associate head coach, Ianello was part of the success that last season saw Arizona have a 22-9 season and NCAA bid. The rest of the coaching ranks have recognized her accomplishments as well. In a national poll of coaches conducted by the Women's Basketball Journal, she was named one of the nation's top 10 assistant coaches two years in a row, including a No. 5 ranking in 2002.
Ianello, whose husband Rob accepted the UW football team's tight ends coaching position in March, said, "I am just looking forward to a whole new opportunity, a whole new experience, not only at Wisconsin but Big Ten basketball. I'm looking forward to helping the program and build on the success that's already been formed here. (As well as) recruiting the Midwest even more than I did at Arizona, and developing and helping the perimeter players and doing whatever I can do to help Lisa and the program succeed."
Stephanie Schmitz was the feisty point guard who in 2002 led Drake to its first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 20 years. Schmitz graduated in communications, and served as a graduate assistant on the Drake staff this past season. She will earn her master's degree in advertising in May. She completed her playing career ranked third in career assists at Drake with 546 for a 4.0 assists per game average. She was also fourth in steals with 220, and fifth in three-point goals with 135.
Assistant coach Donna Freitag, who grew up with Stone in nearby Oregon, Wis., was excited for the newly named staff to begin its Wisconsin basketball journey. "I'm very excited about the combination of experience as well as youth. The hiring of Denise (Ianello) gives us a third coach with a lot of experience--a lot of great recruiting experience and coaching experience. Denise is a great guard coach as well as a well-known recruiter. There is a lot of respect out there for Denise. And I think the addition of Stephanie Schmitz is going to be incredible because she is closer to the players' ages. She is just fresh off the court and has a lot of experience as a successful guard. She is someone that is going to be very fired up to do anything. She has a lot to learn but has a great knowledge of the game."
Freitag began her career as an assistant coach at Wisconsin from 1986-94, then served as an assistant coach at Bradley University two years before becoming the head coach from 1996-2000. She was called by Stone to join her at Drake the past three years as associate head coach. Freitag and Stone are both graduates of the University of Iowa where they played basketball together from high school through college. Freitag noted between the top three assistants there are 40-plus years of coaching experience now on the Wisconsin staff.