INDIANAPOLIS- Former assistant Constantin Popa was named the new UIndy Head Women's Basketball Coach Wednesday. Popa spent the previous four years as the Greyhounds' top assistant, helping guide the team to 89 wins and three NCAA appearances.
“I'm very excited about this opportunity and would like to thank (Director of Athletics Dr. Sue Willey) and (University President Beverley Pitts) for making this possible,” says Popa of his new position. “UIndy is where I want to be and I look forward to the challenge of taking the program to the next level.”
The seven-foot-three Popa spent the last four seasons as an assistant on the Greyhound bench. Over that span, the Hounds tied a program record by garnering three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, including a “Sweet 16” appearance in 2009.
In 2009-10, Popa's third season at UIndy, the Greyhounds posted a 26-4 record and finished the regular season atop the GLVC East Division. The Hounds also put together a school-best 24-game win streak that year, while receiving the highest ranking in program history by topping out at No. 2 in the USA TODAY/ESPN Division II Coaches Poll.
In his time at UIndy, Popa mentored 2010 Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year and All-American Samantha Meissel, as well as all-conference forward Katie Lyons. The pair represents the only two UIndy women to shot better than 50 percent from the floor in each of their four years on campus.
Before joining the Greyhound staff in 2007, Popa spent two years as the varsity girls' head coach at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla.
“We are very happy to have Constantin take over as head coach,” says Dr. Willey. “His experience and rapport with the team should make the transition seamless. He has all the right attributes to be very successful in the position and we are confident the women's basketball program is in good hands.”
As a collegian, Popa excelled for the University of Miami Hurricanes from 1991-95. The Bucharest, Romania native was a two-time All-Big East performer and finished his career with more than 1,100 points and 700 rebounds, while his 263 career blocks still rank as the program's benchmark. After college, Popa was drafted in the second round of the 1995 NBA draft by the L.A. Clippers and later went on to star in both France and Israel as a professional.
Overseas, he helped three different European teams to a total of five national titles in two countries and was also a member of the Romanian National Team.
Adds recently-departed head coach LeAnn Freeland: "Coach Popa is more than ready to take over as head coach. I'm confident the program will continue to grow under his leadership. I wish the women's basketball program and the entire athletic department continued success."
Freeland was named the head women's basketball coach at Nova Southeastern earlier this week.