June 11, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University has appointed Mountain View, Calif. native Michelle Bento as the seventh head coach in the school's 38-year women's basketball history, Director of Athletics and Recreation Cheryl L. Levick announced today. Bento will begin her duties at Santa Clara on Monday.
Bento recently completed her fourth season on the women's basketball coaching staff at Syracuse University under veteran coach Marianna Freeman and was recently promoted to Associate Head Coach. She also played a major role in all organizational, management and administration areas of the program under Freeman.
A 10-year coaching veteran, Bento served as the program's recruiting coordinator as well as worked with the Orangewomen perimeter players and opponent scouting. In her four seasons at Syracuse, Bento coached two perimeter players who were invited to the WNBA pre-draft camp and one player who was invited to the USA Junior World Championship trials in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"Santa Clara has a great tradition of success in women's basketball and I am confident that Michelle Bento is the right person to lead our program," said Levick. "She is highly-qualified and prepared to be a head coach. She played a major role in helping Syracuse established a track record of success in the highly-competitive Big East Conference. With her recruiting ties to both the East and West coasts, she should be able to continue to attract top quality talent to our program."
Bento, who helped guide the Big East Conference all-star team to a 6-0 record in a summer tour of Germany in 2001, inherits a program that loses two seniors from a squad that went 21-10 last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons. She replaces Chris Denker, who accepted a similar position at Colorado State following two seasons at Santa Clara.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the Santa Clara women's basketball program," said Bento, who helped lead Syracuse to three wins over top-25 teams and its first NCAA Tournament berth in 14 seasons last season. "I grew up following Santa Clara and was recruited by (former SCU coach) Ken Thompson out of high school. Now, I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to come in and help take an already successful program to the next level. I could not ask for a better situation with such a great group of players returning and having the chance to return home to the Bay Area."
A 1992 graduate of Fresno State, Bento spent the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater where she coached the perimeter players, served as scouting coordinator and directed the strength and conditioning program. She also supervised academic progress.
Prior to returning to coaching at her alma mater, Bento spent two seasons as a graduate assistant and two seasons as a full-time assistant at San Jose State University. In addition, she is an experienced clinician, serving as a counselor at camps at Fresno State, San Jose State and Cal. Bento also served as the head girls' varsity softball coach at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif. in 1994.
As a player at Fresno State, Bento helped the Bulldogs basketball team to an appearance in the NIT in 1990, and was team captain and MVP of the 1991 squad. In addition, Bento played on the Fresno State softball team, and was named to the College World Series All-Tournament team in 1992.