June 5, 2012
Boca Raton, FL - Florida Atlantic University Head Women's Basketball Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay has announced Harry Elifson and Vera Jones as assistant coaches for the 2012-13 season.
"Our student-athletes are going to benefit greatly by being surrounded by these two individuals," said Lewis-Jay. "Harry and Vera will make an immediate impact with not only our current student athletes, but future student athletes as well. I am honored to have both of them joining our Owl family."
Elifson has several years as a NCAA Division I assistant coach after being one of the most successful girls basketball coaches in Florida high school history. He comes to FAU after two successful seasons at Wright State University, helping the Dayton, Ohio, college achieve consecutive 20-win seasons and appearances in the Women's Basketball Invitational.
Elifson also spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Morehead State University and was on the coaching staff at the University of South Florida from 2000-06. As associate head coach, he helped the Bulls to their best-ever record (21-11) in 2004-05 and back-to-back appearances in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. He also played an instrumental role in recruiting Jessica Dickson, the 2004 Big East Freshman of the Year who has since advanced to play in the WNBA.
"Harry is a tireless worker, his work ethic and attention to detail will be extremely valuable as we look to the future of Florida Atlantic women's basketball," said Lewis-Jay. "He has been a big part of building winning programs and his experience will help us lay the foundation for success."
Elifson's Florida background also features coaching Class 5A state championship teams at St. Petersburg's Boca Ciega High School in 1995 and 1996, and was a semifinalist in 1999. His 1995-96 team ranked 18th nationally by USA Today, he was a finalist for the 1997 National High School Coach of the Year Award and he was the head coach of the East team in the 2000 Adidas High School All-American game. Elifson posted a 234-87 (.730 winning percentage) high school coaching record from 1989-2000.
"Having coached in the state of Florida for 19 years at the high school and collegiate level, Harry's connections to the state are immeasurable and will help us as greatly in recruiting not only the state of Florida but the entire Southeast region," said Lewis-Jay.
Elifson echoes the same sentiments on joining the program.
"It's difficult to put into words the excitement I feel about becoming a part of the Florida Atlantic family," said Elifson. "I look forward to working with Coach Lewis-Jay and executing her vision for our program."
Jones also brings a veteran presence to the FAU coaching staff after stints as an assistant at Indiana University and the University of Dayton, served as interim head coach at Jacksonville's Edward Waters College, and coached at high schools in South Carolina and Maryland. She has an extensive broadcasting background as a WNBA and college basketball television analyst for ESPN, Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Net and Madison Square Garden Network.
"Vera has spent the last five years in Florida after coaching collegiately in the Midwest," said Lewis-Jay. "Her recruiting ties in both areas will serve us well. Vera has spent time as an analyst with both the Big Ten Network and ESPN, and she has a great understanding for the game."
As an assistant, Jones has already shown her ability to impact a program. At Dayton, she played an instrumental role in one of the nation's top two-year turnarounds from 2004-06. The Flyers won 12 games, a nine-game improvement, in Jones' first season, and had a 17-12 record in 2005-06.
"Vera is a proven leader and motivator, as an Author of multiple books and she is a sought after public speaker," said Lewis-Jay. "She has conducted numerous team building/motivational workshops throughout the country and our team will be immediately affected by her expertise. Vera has a presence that will capture both the fans and prospective student athletes alike.
As a player, Jones was one of the most prolific three-point shooters in Syracuse University history, ranking third in school history with a .353 (41-of-116) three-point field goal percentage and is 11th with 1,113 career points. She was a 2002 inductee into the Syracuse Orange Plus Hall of Fame after helping lead the program to its first Big East Tournament title, a Big East regular season championship, and NCAA Tournament appearances in 1985 and 1988. She was named the 1988 Big East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Jones added: "I have always been passionate about the game of basketball which is why I guess since I was five I've always been around it, either as a player, a coach or a broadcaster," said Jones. Even greater than my passion for the game is my passion for motivating and mentoring young people. "I cannot wait to get started helping Coach Lewis-Jay build academic and athletic leaders and champions with the FAU women's basketball program."
Lewis-Jay will enter her first season as the Owls' head coach in 2012-13. The program is coming off one of its most successful seasons with a 17-13 record. The team placed second in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division and was selected to participate in the Women's National Invitational Tournament.