When people think of ETSU women's basketball the first thing that comes to mind is head coach Karen Kemp, as she is set to enter her 19th season at the helm for the Lady Bucs. Since taking over the program in 1994, Kemp has posted 264 career wins, giving her the most wins in school history.
In 2009-10, under Kemp's watch, the Lady Bucs made their third straight trip to the NCAA tournament, marking the fourth consecutive season ETSU appeared in postseason play. Also, ETSU's 23 wins were the most in school history, while it also marked the fourth straight year coach Kemp tallied 20-plus victoriesÃ¢ÂÂ€ÂÂœ marking the longest stretch in the program's existence. Kemp has now averaged 21 wins over the last four years - and she has posted a .656 winning percentage in that stretch.
Since joining the A-Sun in 2005-06, ETSU has posted 76 conference wins over the last five seasons, which marks the highest total over the span among active members in the league. The 76 victories also set a school record for most conference wins in four consecutive seasons. Overall, the Lady Bucs have won three conference tournament titles and two regular season championships since being a member of the A-Sun. Furthermore, Kemp has also coached two players of the year, two defensive players of the year, a freshman of the year, and 14 all-conference players since moving into the A-Sun.
In addition to the success in the conference, Kemp has also compiled wins over major BCS schools such as Mississippi State, Kentucky and Alabama in the last five seasons. In the end, Kemp's coaching philosophy has been "to be the best, we need to play the best," so she has gone out and played the likes of North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Mississippi State, Arizona State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Playing the best paid off for the Lady Bucs as guards Siarre Evans and TaRonda Wiles had outstanding seasons in 2009-10. They were both named Atlantic Sun co-Players of the Year, while Evans claimed her second straight Tournament MVP honor. After Evans led the league in scoring in 2008-09, Wiles took the title last season (17.4 ppg), and Evans won the rebounding crown (10.9). In the end, Evans and Wiles were the two Lady Bucs to receive all-conference accolades a year ago. Overall, Evans became the first player in A-Sun history to be named First Team All-A-Sun four straight years and only the sixth all-time to win multiple player of the year honors.
As a team, ETSU broke seven records last year, as the Lady Bucs' .719 winning percentage and 2,491 points scored were among several records to be taken over by the 2009-10 class.
Meanwhile, off the court, the Lady Bucs accomplished great things in the classroom in 2009-10, as 71 percent of the team landed Atlantic Sun All-Academic honors (10 players with 3.0 GPA or higher). Overall, the team posted a GPA of 3.02, while three players had a GPA better than 3.5.
In 2008-09, the Lady Bucs won their second A-Sun Tournament title, and were awarded with the second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Kemp achieved another milestone in 2008-09, as she picked up win number 200 with the Lady Bucs' 75-67 victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Jan. 8.
In 2007-08, Kemp's club made history by winning the 2008 Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships, which marked the first time in Lady Buccaneer history the team was represented in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2007-08 squad accumulated numerous accolades, as four ETSU student-athletes as well as coach Kemp won Atlantic Sun postseason awards. Kemp was tabbed Coach of the Year by her peers for the second time in her career and her team also achieved high standards in the classroom, by having five Lady Bucs named to the Atlantic Sun All-Academic Team.
In 2006-07, the Lady Bucs posted their best season since 1994-95, when Kemp took over the reins and led ETSU to a then school-record-tying 21-win campaign and its first-ever postseason appearance. Kemp did it again in 2007 as ETSU made its second postseason appearance in Lady Buccaneer history. Kemp's crew finished with a 20-12, 14-4 A-Sun record, marking the first time since the end of 2000 that ETSU posted back-to-back winning seasons.
Kemp's squad was busy both on and off the court during the 2006-07 season as eight student-athletes received conference accolades for their hard work and dedication. ETSU was led by seniors Brooke Wilhoit and Holly Moring, both named to the Atlantic Sun All-Academic team, along with freshmen TaRonda Wiles and Sarah Muniz. Wilhoit and junior sharpshooter Michele DeVault received Second Team All-Atlantic Sun honors, while Kemp's successful recruiting skills paid off as a trio of freshman stars were recognized for their efforts on the court as well. Latisha Belcher battled through a series of knee injuries to finish off a stellar rookie campaign by receiving A-Sun All-Tournament honors, and Devin Thompson joined teammate Siarre Evans on the league's All-Freshman Team. Kemp had the privilege to coach her first-ever Freshman of the Year candidate as Evans was tabbed the winner, as well as taking home Atlantic Sun First Team honors.
Kemp is just the second ETSU head coach to reach the 100-win milestone, doing so when her team defeated Western Carolina at Memorial Center on Feb. 11, 2002. Two years later Kemp became the all-time wins leader when her Lady Bucs defeated Davidson on Feb. 7, 2004, capturing her 119th career victory.
In her first season, Kemp's 1994-95 squad tied then a school record with 21 victories and won the only Southern Conference regular season title in school history. That team went on to participate in the National Women's Invitational Tournament, also a first for a Lady Buc squad.
ETSU also placed two players, DeShawne Blocker and Amy Engle, on the All-Southern Conference First Team and Southern Conference Tournament First Team, a first for Lady Buc basketball. Both Blocker and Engle earned league Player-of-the-Year honors. Kemp also coached then-junior Tiffani Mayes to All-Southern Conference First Team accolades during the 2003-04 season while also directing junior Brooke Wilhoit to a spot on the 2003-04 All-Southern Conference Freshman squad.
Kemp was rewarded for her efforts by being named 1995 Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year, becoming the only first-year head coach to win the award.
While her teams have been a success on the court, Kemp's squads have reached even greater heights in the classroom. Thirty-three of the 36 players who have completed their eligibility under Kemp have gone on to earn their degrees.
Kemp, named head coach on August 8, 1994, came to ETSU after successful stints as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State University and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. A native of Chatsworth, Ga., Kemp spent seven seasons at Chattanooga where she helped guide the Lady Mocs to Southern Conference regular season titles in 1991 and 1992 and the Southern Conference Tournament Championship in 1989 and 1992. In 1988, Kemp took on the added duties of Senior Women's Administrator at UTC and was responsible for the administration of six intercollegiate sports. Prior to joining the UTC staff, Kemp served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State.
Kemp played on the collegiate level at Berry College in Mount Berry, Ga., where she was a two-time All-America selection while helping lead the school to a four-year record of 120-19. A four-year starter, she averaged over 12 points and nine rebounds during her career and was a four-time NAIA All-District pick. She was also named to the NAIA National All-Tournament team as a freshman and junior.
Kemp earned a B.S. degree in interdisciplinary studies from Berry College in 1985. She is married to Eddie Gregory and is the mother of two children: Marcus (19) and LaKeisha (14).