Judy Malone captures 400th career win

    UCSD women’s basketball coach Judy Malone gained her 400th career win when the Tritons defeated Western New Mexico for the second time in the 2004-05 season, during the Triton Invitational on Dec. 29. The career milestone makes her one of the top-20 ranked members of all Division II coaches in the country. As of Jan. 12, her career record is an impressive 401-320.

    Malone has proved to be a powerful leader throughout her 29 years at UCSD. She was one of the founding members of the women’s basketball program at the school when she attended the university in the 1970s.

    “I was mad that there was a men’s program,” Malone said. “So me and a few friends rounded up some kids who were interested and started the program.”

    Malone played three seasons with UCSD and finished with an all-time fourth-ranked record of 1,001 points.

    After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in biology in 1974, she began her career as the assistant coach for the women’s team. After only two years, she was promoted to head coach for the Tritons.

    “The first few years were rough,” Malone said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I thought I knew the game but it’s so different when you’re on the [coaching] side.”

    Most coaches have more experience in assisting before they are promoted to the head position, and Malone certainly felt the pressure.

    “After only a few years of coaching, we were playing in one of the strongest conferences in our division in the nation,” she said.

    Despite the challenges, Malone worked hard to help the Tritons gain national recognition as a Division III squad, and UCSD managed to qualify for playoffs five times in six years. When UCSD moved up to Division II, the program took off and so did Malone’s career.

    Malone discloses that much of her success as a coach is a result of the highly motivated and driven students that UCSD attracts.

    “Kids that go to UCSD are driven in general to succeed,” she said. “Anybody with a degree from UCSD is sought after for job openings, and the kids that go here know that.”

    That drive for success extends to their performance on the court. One of the proudest moments in Malone’s career is an academic success story of a player. A recruit from a junior college came to play for the Tritons and was struggling to keep up in school. However, thanks to the support of her teammates and coach, by the end of her career at UCSD, she was doing well both on the court and in the classroom, enabling her to graduate, according to Malone. One of the reasons Malone has stayed at UCSD so long is because of the highly competitive nature of the student-athletes.

    Malone’s favorite part of coaching in this environment is that UCSD does not give scholarships; but instead promotes strong academics. Because there is no money involved, Malone knows that every player on her court is playing because she wants to, and not for monetary rewards. In addition, because athletes must be admitted to the school in order to play on an athletic team, she does not have to worry about “baby-sitting” her players to make sure that they are getting the grades they need to remain on the team.

    “They’re all smart kids,” she said. “They stay motivated and do well without me forcing them to go to study hours or get tutors.”

    While Malone loves the fact that UCSD attracts great players without offering scholarships, she admits that it’s difficult to compete with other schools that offer such advantages.

    The coach is impressed with how far her team has come over the years and expects a solid season from this year’s crop of players.

    “We’ll probably finish fourth in [the California Collegiate Athletic Association], behind Chico, Pomona and Bakersfield,” she said.

    Malone’s tireless efforts and passion for the program placed UCSD on the women’s basketball map. No doubt there is a strong future for this team under such an accomplished and consistent coach as Malone.

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