Learning from Luby
Just hours after his 15th-seeded University of Texas-San Antonio squad nearly upset Baylor in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Luby Lichonczak was back in his apartment stuffing his suitcases and preparing to relocate to Washington, D.C., for his newest endeavor: Mystics assistant coach.
In joining the Mystics’ coaching staff, Lichonczak reunites with head coach Julie Plank, whom he coached as an assistant when Plank attended Ohio State.
"Julie was very intelligent and did whatever it took for us to win," Lichonczak said. "She was a player that put the team first and was great to work with. She gave it everything she had each and everyday and that’s what we’ll expect of our players."
In his own right, Lichonczak has a coaching resume that few can match. He began his college coaching career as an assistant for the University of Idaho men’s basketball team. The following year, Lichonczak switched over to the women’s program where he worked under Hall of Famer and current Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.
Lichonczak then followed VanDerveer to Ohio State where he first met Plank. In 1990, Lichonczak became the head coach of Radford University where he led the Highlanders to six conference championships and three NCAA tournament appearances in 11 years.
Lichonczak has also spent time coaching at Old Dominion, Colorado State, and Texas A&M. More recently, Lichonczak worked as an advanced scout for the Minnesota Lynx and the Indiana Fever.
To devote all his efforts to the Mystics, Lichonczak is taking a leave of absence from his position as associate head coach at UTSA. Though he will miss being with his team, Lichonczak thinks this experience will benefit the UTSA program.
"I think it’s a tremendous asset for UTSA to have someone who is in the professional ranks be part of their program," Lichonczak said. "It’s a positive point for the school."
Since arriving in D.C., Lichonczak’s days have been filled with scouting, conducting individual workouts, and preparing the playbook. Lichonczak said the team plans to implement a high-octane style of play.
Though Lichonczak has yet to meet the entire team, one player in particular has caught his attention in workouts.
"Marissa Coleman has come in and worked out with some of our players and her skill set is absolutely incredible. She can shoot the three, put the ball on the floor, and get her shot off against pressure," Lichonczak said. "She’s a wonderful player and also a wonderful person. She’s a delight to be around and a delight to work with."
Though Lichonczak has only been in town for a month, he has developed a comfort level with fellow assistant coaches Trudi Lacey and Vicky Bullett. With training camp just around the corner, Lichonczak is optimistic.
"I sense a real infusion of positive energy," Lichonczak said. "The players seem very excited about the upcoming season. I sense a real positive excitement surrounding everyone within the Mystics organization."