Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM NOV. 4, 2023 49 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA T he Notre Dame brand has always been alluring to Carlos Knox. He came up watching David Riv- ers, who started at point guard as a true freshman for former Fight- ing Irish coach Digger Phelps in the 1980s. He also grew up with the Notre Dame-Navy football rivalry. His grandfather sat him down every year for that game — appointment viewing. Those aren't the reasons Knox, a two-time NCAA Division II scoring champion at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis, is in his first season as Notre Dame women's basketball's player devel- opment program director, though. One person is largely responsible for his presence in South Bend. "It was Niele Ivey," he said. Knox and Ivey first crossed paths when Ivey dipped into the WNBA in the early 2000s. Knox was still playing professionally at that time. He often trained with the Indiana Fever to stay in game shape. The two remained in contact over the years. About a decade ago, when it became clear Ivey was on her way to becoming a head coach, Knox made it known he'd love to be on her staff someday. "Timing, it was always something different that was standing in the way of that," Knox said. Not anymore. Ivey is entrenched as Notre Dame's head coach, entering her fourth season on the job. Knox became a free agent in the coaching sphere when the Fever let him go after a brief stint as their interim head coach. Ivey didn't wait long to snag him. "When she called and we actually talked about it, I really liked what she had to offer," Knox said. "Working with her — because I've been with her men- tally and spiritually for the last 25 years — I couldn't pass that up." Ivey sold Knox on "a high level of an- ticipating a championship." Notre Dame is pulling in five-star talents to the pro- gram left and right. There is a plan in place to get Notre Dame back to the mountaintop. It's not a farfetched one, either. It's very real. It's right there, as tangible of a scheme as any nationwide. Knox is now a big part of the plan. His coaching career has largely been spent on the player development side. He's a relationship person. He knows how to get the best out of athletes. He relates to them well because he was a highly suc- cessful hooper himself when he was their age, but he has also shown he can work well with the best of the best. Ten-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings cred- its Knox for fostering her success during one of the most illustrious women's bas- ketball careers of all time. "When I look at players, I'm able to see their strengths and weaknesses very quickly," Knox said. "I'm able to put programs together to get them exactly where they need to be." "The girls, our team, they love him," Ivey added. "They're getting better because of him. He's really great at what he does." While nobody on the Notre Dame roster was bad by any means in 2022-23, some of the aforemen- tioned five-stars didn't fully un- lock their potential. Class of 2020 five-stars Maddy Westbeld and Kylee Watson, for instance, prob- ably have higher gears they can get to in their respective games. That's where Knox comes in. When the NCAA recently ex- panded the size of coaching staffs, Knox was the first person Ivey called. "He's always been on my short list to work with, but he's always been employed somewhere else," Ivey said. "He's great at relation- ship building. He gets it. He's been at the highest level. He knows what it takes." Coaching pros versus college kids can be a stark contrast, but Knox isn't only versed in the for- mer. He was an assistant at Cincin- nati (2020-21), North Texas (2017-20) and San Diego State (2010-11) in addi- tion to his near decade-long stint with the Fever. He's as qualified for the posi- tion Ivey placed him in as anyone. At a recent Notre Dame practice, Knox, 49, had his sneakers tied tight and athletic wear on from head to toe. He was active in going through drills that day, which is the norm. He's not going to just be in off-court meetings with players and helping devise game plans. He's a basketball mind through and through who's at the ready 24/7. "He's somebody I trust," Ivey said. "I don't have people around that I don't trust. That's been great. He's family. He really knows me. "He knows my vision. I knew he was going to come in and hit the ground running, and he has." ✦ Niele Ivey's Coaching Staff Gets Big Boost From Carlos Knox Knox, a two-time NCAA Division II scoring champion at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will serve as the Fighting Irish's player development program director. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA

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