June 12, 2002

New SCU Coach has Area Ties

June 12, 2002

By Jon Wilner
Mercury News

After conducting a national search for its women's basketball coach, Santa Clara University chose someone who grew up a few miles from campus.

The Broncos announced Tuesday that they have hired Michelle Bento, a Syracuse assistant who attended Mountain View High (class of '87) and was recruited by former Santa Clara coach Ken Thompson.

Bento starts work Monday and has received a multiyear contract (terms not disclosed).

She replaces Chris Denker, who took a similar position at Colorado State after leading the Broncos to 21 wins and the NCAA tournament last season.

``Chris did a phenomenal job,'' Bento said. ``The foundation is laid. It's up to me to take the program to another level.''

Bento's family is scattered from San Jose to Santa Rosa. She attended Santa Clara summer camps as a kid and played Central Coast Section playoff games in the old Toso Pavilion. But as a senior at Mountain View, she picked Fresno State over Santa Clara.

``Now looking back, I think I was crazy for doing that,'' she said. ``I was young and didn't understand everything.''

After college, Bento was an assistant at San Jose State for four seasons and served as the Lynbrook High softball coach in '94.

She spent two years at Fresno State and four at Syracuse. The Orangewomen were 18-13 last season.

``With her recruiting ties to both the east and west coasts, she should be able to attract top-quality talent to our program,'' Broncos Athletic Director Cheryl Levick said.