TORY VERDI Head Coach
New England native and 19-year coaching veteran Tory Verdi was named the 11th women's basketball head coach at the University of Massachusetts on April 9.
"This is a truly exciting time for our women's basketball program with the addition of Tory Verdi as our head coach," Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford said. "Tory has a tremendous track record of success that will be a real asset for our program as we compete for Atlantic 10 Championships. His enthusiasm for building a winning culture that promotes success in the classroom, in competition and in the community makes him a great fit for the University of Massachusetts."
Verdi arrives in Amherst with a head coaching record of 72-61 after spending the previous four seasons at Eastern Michigan University. His teams advanced to the 2015 and 2016 Women's National Invitation Tournament, including a Round of 16 appearance, and the Mid-American Conference finals in 2015.
An experienced coach at both the collegiate and professional levels, Verdi-coached teams have advanced to postseason play 13 of the last 15 seasons since 2001-02. Arriving in Ypsilanti for the 2012-13 season, he took an 8-22 squad to a record of 24-13 in 2014-15 and 22-12 in 2015-16. He also secured the MAC's No. 1 recruiting class twice during his tenure.
CANDICE FINLEY Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator
University of Massachusetts women's basketball head coach Tory Verdi announced on May 31, 2017, the addition of Candice Finley as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. The addition of Finley reunited the duo after they worked together for four years at Eastern Michigan.
"I'm so excited to announce that we have added Candice to our staff," said Verdi. "Candice is one of the best recruiters in the women's game. I have seen her work first hand at Eastern Michigan where she garnered a top 50 recruiting class in the country and back-to-back top recruiting classes in the Mid-American Conference."
Along with her four years at EMU, Finley also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater Eastern Kentucky and a season coaching at Southern Connecticut State University.
"I am very happy to be back working under coach Verdi and even more excited about the direction the UMass women's basketball program is heading," said Finley. "I am honored to be part of such an amazing staff and am excited for the opportunity to share some of my experience with the outstanding young women in our program. I believe a lot of the pieces are in place for us to be extremely competitive in the Atlantic 10."
In her time alongside Verdi at Eastern Michigan, Finley was a major component in the rebuilding of the Eagles' program which included a pair of trips to the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), including a Round of 16 appearance, and the Mid-American Conference finals in 2015.
DANNY HUGHES Assistant Coach
A veteran collegiate coach, Danny Hughes was named as assistant coach to Tory Verdi’s staff in May 2016. Hughes arrives in Amherst after spending the previous seven seasons at SMU.
His previous Division I stops also include St. John's (2008-09) and University of Houston (2005-08). He was interim head coach at UH for the 2007-08 season.
During Hughes' time at SMU, he was part of a staff that helped lead the Mustangs to back-to-back postseason appearances after a two-year stretch of sub-.500 records. SMU won the 2012-13 Conference USA Championship with C-USA Player of the Year Keena Mays.
While an assistant for the Red Storm in 2008-09, he helped guide the team to the third round of the WNIT, marking just the second time in program history St. John's had advanced that far. Hughes' duties included working with the guards, and he was able to help shooting guard Monique McLean garner an All-Big East second-team selection.
Before going to St. John's, Hughes spent three seasons at Houston. While with the Cougars, he was responsible for all aspects of recruiting while also overseeing compliance, fundraising, practice and game preparation, as well as coordination of all scouting reports.
CANDICE WALKER Assistant Coach
A dynamic young coach, Candice Walker enters her second season with the UMass women’s basketball program after being announced as an assistant coach for Tory Verdi’s staff in May 2016. Prior to her elevation to assistant coach, she spent the 2015-16 campaign as the program’s director of operations.
In her role as the director of operations, Walker was charged with all facets of program organization including daily operations, travel, practice preparation and film analysis.
Before her time with UMass, Walker spent the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons as an assistant coach at Wilmington University (Del.). She also coached with Point Guard College after graduating from Loyola University (Md.) in 2013.
While at Loyola, Walker earned a bachelor's degree in 2011 before she attended graduate school while competing in 117 games for the program, the sixth-most by any student-athlete in Loyola women's basketball history. She led all Mid-American Conference rookies in points and assists as a freshman during the 2007-08 campaign en route to MAAC All-Rookie Team honors; however, injuries derailed her 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. She was granted a medical hardship waiver to return for a sixth season and closed out her career while working towards a Master of Arts degree in 2012-13.
HILLARY SPEARS Director of Operations
University of Massachusetts women's basketball head coach Tory Verdi announced the addition of Hillary Spears as the Director of Basketball Operations in July 2016.
"Hillary is a great addition to our program," said Verdi. "I'm excited to work with her as she will be instrumental to the daily operations of our program."
Prior to joining UMass, Spears served as the Director of Basketball Operations at LIU Brooklyn beginning in August 2014.
Spears joined the Blackbird family after spending the 2013 season working for the WNBA's Indiana Fever as a Basketball Operations Intern. There, she worked in the front office, as well as in community and player relations and directly with the team and game day operations staff.