John Nicolais has been promoted to the position of Associate Head Coach on the Youngstown State women's basketball staff, Penguins head coach John Barnes announced.
Nicolais had served as an assistant coach at YSU since Barnes became the program's head coach in 2013.
"I'm excited to be able to reward John with this well-deserved promotion to the position of associate head coach," Barnes said. "I'm extremely blessed to have such a great staff to work with on a daily basis. John, Andy (Crane) and Courtney (Davidson) started this journey with me five years ago, and they, along with Nicole (Griffin) and Jenn (Lawrence) have all been a big part of the success YSU has had during this time. They each bring something special to the staff and form a great unit that our student-athletes can depend on each and every day."
Nicolais will take on the duties of defensive coordinator as part of his new position, and he will maintain his previous duties. Those duties include game scheduling, player development, game preparation, opponent scouting, serving as a liaison to the strength and conditioning coach, overseeing the male practice squad, being very active in the recruiting process and running individual camps.
With Nicolais on the bench, the Penguins have played in a postseason tournament three times in five seasons. They have also appeared on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association Top 25 Academic Honor Roll four times in that span.
In 2017-18, YSU made a memorable charge in the second half of the season to clinch a berth in the Women's Basketball Invitational. The Penguins went 7-1 in February and won nine of their final 11 games of the regular season, which saw their RPI jump 113 spots. YSU also played in the WBI and reached the semifinals of the tournament in 2015-16, and the Penguins earned an at-large berth into the Women's NIT in 2014-15.
Nicolais has worked closely with YSU's shooting guards throughout his tenure, and the success of that position group is notable. The Penguins have led the Horizon League in 3-pointers per game in each of the last four seasons, and five of the top seven single-season totals in program history have come under Nicolais and Barnes. Individually, Nikki Arbanas, Indiya Benjamin and Liz Hornberger, the top three players on YSU's career 3-pointers list, all played under Nicolais.
Prior to coming to Youngstown State, Nicolais spent 10 seasons as an assistant at the Division II level. He has been part of 82 wins at Youngstown State, and he was on the bench for a combined 246 wins in his two Division II positions.
Nicolais came to Youngstown as a highly-respected assistant at the Division II level over the previous 10 years. He helped Drury University to 101 wins over a five-year span, and he spent five years at Glenville State when the Lady Pioneers went 145-22. Nicolais' teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament nine times in his 10 seasons.