Women’s basketball coach brings in assistants

By Jason Grodsky

Jolette Law made took her first steps toward rebuilding the women’s basketball program, bringing in three assistant coaches Thursday. Law, hired on May 11 after Teresa Grentz stepped down, welcomed Karen Middleton, Tamika Louis and Patrick Klein into the basketball family.

“I think we’ll have one of the finest staffs in the country,” said Law in a press release. “All three coaches come from winning traditions and have dynamic personalities and skill sets that will help us reach our goals here at Illinois. Each individual brings unique experiences to our program and, collectively, I think that will be a huge benefit for our student-athletes. We’ve found three of the hardest working coaches in the business and I feel blessed to have them all here as Fighting Illini.”

The three new assistants have previous experience with quality programs. Middleton comes to the Illini family after spending 10 seasons as an assistant coach for Stanford University, where she played a role in helping lead the Cardinal to eight Pac-10 Conference titles and 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. She also brings on-the-court experience to the Illini squad, having played for the University of South Carolina from 1988-91.

“Karen has made a habit of working with winners,” said Law in the release. “Her role with the successful Stanford women’s basketball program brings immediate credibility and a winning track record to Illinois. Over the years, Karen has consistently demonstrated an ability to identify, recruit and develop future All-America and All-Conference talent.”

Louis heads to Illinois after serving three seasons as the head coach at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich. The former Service Development Manager at General Motors in the Northeast Region was named Regional Coach of the Year in 2005 after compiling a 58-33 record at Mott.

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“Tamika is no stranger to competitive environments,” said Law in her release. “Tamika’s expertise in coaching, scouting, recruiting and mentoring, along with her management experiences, will have a positive impact on our program. She brings with her a commitment to the total development of our student-athletes on and off the court.”

Klein has spent the last two years as a graduate assistant with the women’s basketball team at Ohio State. In Columbus, Ohio, Klein assisted head coach Jim Foster. The Belpre, Ohio, native helped out in various areas of the Buckeye program in his two years as a graduate assistant, including scouting, community service and supervising the student managers.

“Patrick’s energy, enthusiasm and love for the game immediately won me over,” said Law in her release. “He is both a teacher and a student of the game. Patrick’s knowledge of the Big Ten, experience as a post coach, and leadership development training is sure to serve our staff and student-athletes well.”