Waynesville, N.C., native Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick completed her fifth year as head coach of the UNC Asheville women’s basketball program during the 2016-17 campaign. Through her first five years at the helm, she has taken the program to new heights and set a new standard. That includes going from winning 22 games over her first three seasons combined to win 45 games in just the last two campaigns while capturing back-to-back Big South Conference Tournament crowns, two NCAA Tournament berths and one Big South Conference regular-season title.
In her time in Asheville, Kirkpatrick, the 2015-16 Big South Conference Coach of the Year, has coached six All-Big South Conference honorees, including 2015-16 league Player of the Year Chatori Major. She has also had four players earn Big South Championship All-Tournament honors with Major and Sonora Dengokl being named Most Valuable Player in 2016 and 2017.
It could be said that Coach Mock proved her mettle most during the 2016-17 season, guiding the Bulldogs to a 19-15 record that included an impressive finish and UNC Asheville’s second-straight Big South Conference Championship crown and NCAA Tournament berth. The 19-15 record marked just the seventh time in program history that UNC Asheville women’s basketball finished with a positive record. Two of those have come under Kirkpatrick’s guidance.
Tabbed as the league’s preseason favorite to claim the regular-season crown, the Bulldogs started the season well enough, winning four of their first five games. As the calendar turned to conference play, the Bulldogs lost key players to injury, forcing Kirkpatrick and staff to make changes to personnel and game strategies while asking players to expand their rolls. Despite going 9-9 in Big South play during the regular season, the changes and growth paid off in spades as the Bulldogs closed out the 2016-17 campaign winning eight of their last 10 games. Included in that stretch were two wins to wrap up the regular season and then four wins in four days to claim the Big South Conference Championship title. It was the first time in league history that a team had won four games over four days to take home the title and Coach Mock became the first women’s basketball coach at UNC Asheville to win multiple conference tournament crowns.
“Honey's passion and commitment to our team throughout the past four years is ultimately reflected in our drastic improvement and success this season. The best decision I made after taking this post four years ago was hiring her to be on staff. She has done a great job developing our perimeter players and off the court, she has served as a glue person in the program. Honey's selfless approach to coaching and taking initiative to get things done for our student-athletes is extremely valuable in our day to day operations.” -Head Coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick
Honey Brown is in her fifth year as a member of Kirkpatrick's coaching staff. Brown specializes in the development of perimeter players. Her primary responsibilities include serving as the team's academic liaison, the in-game defensive coordinator and equipment liaison.
The program has steadily improved over the past four years, with the Bulldogs achieving the biggest turnaround season in NCAA Division I women's basketball in 2015-16. Asheville amassed program-high regular season, (26) and conference wins (16) on their way to an overall record of 26-7. The Bulldogs also brought home their first-ever regular season conference title and the programs second Big South Conference Tournament Championship which led to an NCAA First round appearance.
Joy is entering her second year with the Bulldogs after spending the past two years as a Graduate Assistant at Liberty University.
“We are excited to have someone with Joy's experience and familiarity with the Big South Conference joining our staff. In her past two years serving as a graduate assistant at Liberty, she worked with a very talented program that earned an NCAA berth and a WNIT bid. She learned a tremendous amount regarding all facets of running a high-level basketball program. Joy has a passion for mentoring and encouraging young student-athletes as well as genuine excitement for the game of basketball. With time spent as a player at both George Mason and University of Richmond, I am confident she will bring a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table to help continue growing our program,” said head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick.
Tharrington played two seasons at Richmond (2008-09 and 2009-10) before transferring to George Mason for her final two campaigns (2011-12 and 2012-13). She was a team captain during each of her years at George Mason and was the co-founder of the campus Athletes in Action group there.
After two excellent years as the Director of Basketball Operations for women's basketball, UNC Asheville head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick officially announced on May 21, 2018, that Andre Jurko will be the new assistant coach for the Bulldogs.
Jurko spent 2016-18 with UNC Asheville as the Director of Operations. In that position, he assisted behind the scenes with video, scouting and travel arrangements among other duties as assigned.
While in Asheville, he has been a pivotal part of the program in achieving new heights. The last two seasons, he has seen the Bulldogs play in back-to-back postseason tournaments, numerous school records broken and 36 program victories.