Alma men's assistant takes over women's coaching spot

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Ryan Clark
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Ryan Clark, who has served as the assistant men's basketball coach at Alma since 2012, has been promoted to the position of head coach of the Scots' women's basketball program, it was announced Friday, March 30, by athletic director Steven Rackley.

He replaces Kris Johnson, who resigned earlier this month. The Scots were 5-20 this past season, 3-13 in the MIAA. 

"Ryan has established himself as a very well-respected coach not only in our department, but also among coaches across the MIAA," Rackley said. "Having been a part of the resurgence of the men's basketball program, he deserves this promotion and I'm excited to see him continue to grow as a coach with this new opportunity."

"For the past six years, I have had the incredible opportunity to work with and under coach Sam Hargraves here at Alma College with the men's basketball program," said Clark. "I can't thank him and Charlie Goffnett enough for their guidance, encouragement, friendship and positive environment they have provided for me.

"It is my honor to continue my coaching career here in a new, but very familiar, role as the head women's basketball coach. The staff and I are eager to get to work to re-establish the proud tradition of Alma College women's basketball."

During Clark's time as an assistant under Hargraves, the men's basketball team saw dramatic improvements, the peak of which was a 24-7 season in 2015-16, as the Scots finished the year as the No. 6 team in the final ranking. The Scots improved their Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association record in each of Clark's first four seasons and broke program records that had been in place for over 15 years such as most wins in a season and appearances in the MIAA postseason tournament.

"Ryan is very deserving of this opportunity and he is well prepared to lead his own team," said head men's basketball coach Sam Hargraves. "Each year he earned more of my trust which led to him being involved in all facets of running a successful college basketball program.

"I know this, he understands the importance of recruiting, and he will work tirelessly at it. I was very fortunate to be able to keep him on my staff the last six seasons and he truly was an integral part of us resurrecting Alma College men's basketball."

Six players have been named to the MIAA first- or second-teams during Clark's tenure, including Scott Nikodemski, who was a All-American, MIAA Most Valuable Player and two-time first-team selection.

Clark takes over a program that similarly saw continuous improvement in the last four seasons. The women's basketball team improved its conference record for three seasons before coming away with three MIAA wins in 2017-18. It also ended this past season on a three-game winning streak.

The women's roster in 2017-18 roster was comprised of 12 underclassmen, including eight freshmen. Sophomore guard Madison Hill ended the year with the ninth-most assists in a single season in program history at 104. Freshmen forward Charley Hengesbach and center Jeny Brandt are also among the program's top single-season shot blockers; Hengesbach's 48 blocks are third on the all-time list, while Brandt's 35 are seventh.

Junior forward Madeline Barnauskas led the team in points (10.9 per game) despite missing nine games due to injury. Freshman forward Emily Eldridge was not only one of Alma's best players, she was one of the top rookies in the MIAA. Eldridge finished second on the team with 10.1 points per game (fourth among MIAA freshmen) and first on the team with 6.0 rebounds per game (third among MIAA freshmen). She also posted three double-doubles.