Susan Walvius led South Carolina into the postseason in five of her 11 seasons at helm, including five of the last seven. She took a floundering program to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments with an Elite Eight appearance in 2002, earning her SEC and WBCA District 3 Coach of the Year honors in just her fifth season on the job. Over her 11 seasons, she amassed a 165-160 record, giving her an 18-year career mark of 263-261.
Walvius built the program's success with a series of nationally-ranked recruiting classes. Between 2003 and 2008, she signed four classes ranked among the nation's top 20, including a 2008 group that was as high as seventh by Blue Star Index in the early signing period. In total, she attracted six top-25 recruiting classes to the South Carolina campus. The 2007-08 class was tabbed as the No. 18 group in the nation by The Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, and Blue Star Index rated the 2005-06 class as the 13th-best in the country. The 2003 class was ranked as the 10th-best class in the nation by All-Star Girls Report. The 1998-99 freshman class was named as the 10th-best in the country, while the freshmen who entered Carolina in the fall of 1999 were named the 22nd-best group in the country.
Under Walvius, the Gamecocks emerged as one of the best defensive and rebounding teams in the Southeastern Conference the last two years. In 2006-07, South Carolina led the SEC in blocked shots, rebounding margin and rebounds per game and ranked second in the league in field goal percentage defense and steals. In 2007-08, the Gamecocks were among the league's top five in all but one of those defensive categories as well.
With Walvius stalking the sidelines, Carolina turned the Colonial Center into a difficult place for opponents to play in 2006-07, compiling a 15-5 record at home that included an 80-48 pounding of in-state rival Clemson, a 95-35 wipeout of SEC foe Alabama and an 81-40 second-round Women's NIT victory over America East Conference champion Hartford. In fact, the Gamecocks outscored the opposition by an average margin of just under 22 points per game in home games played during the 2006-07 campaign en route to matching a school record total for home victories.
Walvius' crew posted a nine-game improvement in 2005-06 from the year prior, a mark that led all Southeastern Conference schools and ranked as the fifth-largest improvement in any of the power conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, Big East). A significant factor in the Gamecocks' improvement was suffocating defense, as Carolina led the SEC and ranked second nationally in field goal percentage defense, holding the opposition to 34.7 percent shooting. Walvius' team also ranked among the national leaders in blocked shots (third; 6.7 per game) and rebounding margin (fifth; 8.3 per game) and ranked among the top 30 teams nationally in scoring margin (16th; +12.2 points per game), field goal percentage (22nd; 45.0%) and scoring defense (26th; 56.8 points per game).
The Gamecocks set the school record for blocked shots and field goal percentage defense in 2004-05, then came back to break both of those records in addition to setting a new school mark for scoring defense in 2005-06.
During the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, Walvius posted a combined 48-15 mark with the Gamecocks and a 19-9 mark in the SEC. For her efforts, Walvius was honored as a finalist for Naismith Coach of the Year in each of those seasons.
Under Walvius in 2001-02, the Gamecocks recorded a 25-7 overall mark and finished second in the SEC with a 10-4 record. South Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament and into the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The team achieved its first national ranking in 10 years and finished the season ranked sixth in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. For her achievements, Walvius was selected as the SEC Coach of the Year by her peers and by the Associated Press, and was named as the WBCA District 3 Coach of the Year.
In 2002-03, Walvius directed South Carolina to a 23-8 record and a 9-5 SEC mark. Ranked 18th in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, South Carolina secured a 20-win season for the second consecutive year and posted the school's first back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 years. The Gamecocks defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga in the first round, marking the first back-to-back first round NCAA Tournament victories in South Carolina's history. The Gamecocks fell in the second round to host Penn State.
To celebrate the team's Elite Eight appearance in the 2002 NCAA Tournament, the Gamecock women were also chosen to open the state-of-the art Colonial Center on Nov. 22, 2002. The inaugural game attracted a state of South Carolina basketball record crowd of 17,712 to witness Carolina's victory over in-state rival Clemson. The record attendance was also the fifth-highest figure in the NCAA during the 2002-03 season.
Since being hired on April 28, 1997, Walvius worked hard to establish South Carolina's reputation as one of the up-and-coming women's basketball programs in the country. Her dedication to the program was critical to helping build top-notch facilities for the student-athletes, renewing the team's focus on academic success and developing the Mentors Program. Walvius is extremely involved with the marketing of the team and is a frequent guest speaker in the community and on radio and television.
Thanks to her work behind the scenes and on the sidelines, Gamecock home game attendance tripled. During the 2001-02 season, South Carolina established another precedent by selling out the Carolina Coliseum for the January 17th game against Tennessee. The announced attendance of 12,168 was the largest at any Carolina Coliseum sporting event all year.
Walvius' teams consistently achieved a high grade-point average and set a new team record with a 3.347 mark in the Spring 2005 semester. In addition, seven Gamecock players were named to the SEC Winter Sports Academic Honor Roll in 2005. Carolina led the league and set a new school record by placing 10 players on the SEC Winter Sports Academic Honor Roll in 2007, just one year after leading the conference with eight honor roll selections in 2006.
Walvius also recognized the importance of student-athletes receiving guidance in the real world before graduation, as she engineered the Mentors Program, which teamed up female leaders of the Columbia community with members of the Gamecock basketball team to further their real-world education, cultural and networking skills. The mentors helped the student-athletes work on their cultural and business education for life after basketball.
Prior to coming to South Carolina, Walvius was the head coach at West Virginia University. In just her second season at WVU, Walvius led the 1996-97 squad to its first winning season in five years with a 19-12 record. She displayed her ability as an outstanding recruiter by attracting a top-20 freshman class to West Virginia.
Walvius' ability to rebuild a program was first evident during the five years she spent at the helm of Virginia Commonwealth University. The youngest head coach in the country at only 25 years old, Walvius coached at VCU from 1990 to 1995 and led the 1995 team to the Women's NIT after posting a 20-10 record. That 20-win season was just the second in the history of the VCU program. Walvius' effort did not go unnoticed as she was named the 1995 Virginia State Coach of the Year and was nominated for National Coach of the Year in District 3.
Walvius began her coaching career at Bradley University in 1986 as an assistant coach for two seasons. After spending a year in private business, she returned to coaching as an assistant at Rhode Island before accepting the head position at VCU.
As a player at Virginia Tech, Walvius established herself as one of the most successful players to wear a Hokie uniform. The four-year letterwinner was named to Virginia Tech's All-Decade team, is the school leader in career blocked shots and ranks second in field goals made and third in scoring and rebounds. An All-Metro Conference selection in 1986, Walvius was named All-America by Converse and Street & Smith's. She graduated in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in urban studies.
The Walvius CapsuleCoaching Timeline
South Carolina, head coach 1997-2008
West Virginia, head coach 1995-97
VCU, head coach 1990-95
Rhode Island, assistant coach 1989-90
Bradley, assistant coach 1986-88