ORONO — Edniesha Curry was plucked from the far side of the world to help the University of Maine women’s basketball team focus on the small details.

Like sturdy cones. The kind you see on highway construction sites.

Curry was a recent arrival as the new “skills coach” when she went outside Memorial Gym on Wednesday and snagged some unused orange cones to help make ballhandling drills more effective. Cones that are shorter, or flimsier, are too easy for players to dribble around, to essentially cheat. That won’t do.

“That was the best workout, going to get those cones,” she joked Thursday, seated in Coach Richard Barron’s office after a whirlwind week that saw her fly all the way from Vietnam, where she had been coaching, to her new home in Orono, where she’ll serve as the third assistant coach at a salary of $35,190.

Curry, 36, was jet-lagged for four days, then got to work, using those cones in a 40-minute workout with forward Liz Wood.

The goal on this day was to get Wood, who averaged 13.8 points and 7.7 rebounds as a junior, to lower her hips when she dribbles, to make it harder for defenders to knock her off course en route to the basket.


In addition to the cones, Curry placed three smaller balls on the court that Wood needed to reach down and pick up as she dribbled, while never taking her eyes off the attentive Curry staring back at her from 10 feet away.

“We want to be able to improve our direct drives. We’re creating these opportunities for our offense, but it seems like we’re getting ridden away from the basket and we’re not finishing,” Barron said.

“If you put something where they have to grab it, then they can’t overstride, they have to drop their hips to get there. We want it to become muscle memory, more instinctive and natural. We’re trying to figure out how do we become better at the simple things we’re asking them to do within the offense.”

Hence the addition of Curry, who is replacing Sean Smith. Curry brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience throughout the world. The California native played at Cal State-Northridge and the University of Oregon before being drafted by Charlotte of the WNBA. In a decade as a pro, she had stops in Greece, Israel, Poland and Hungary, and two stints in the WNBA before retiring in 2009. That’s when she got into skills coaching, a protege of Ganon Baker, who is widely acknowledged as one of the best.

When Barron was looking for someone who could help his players get better, he contacted Baker, who directed him to Curry, then helping develop a nascent women’s basketball program in Vietnam. The interest was mutual and instant.

For Barron, bringing Curry aboard marks a shift in philosophy. Typically, assistant coaches are hired with an eye toward what regions of the country they can help recruit, much the way a presidential candidate might pick a running mate.


“Do I want somebody that I have to coach them how to coach? Which means they’re not doing a whole lot for my players, but maybe they’re going to bring me better players,” Barron said. “Or do I bring in better coaches who help the players we have get better? And Edniesha’s passion is making players better.

“We’re not going to be the call that everybody drops all other schools for. It’s going to be finding that hidden talent, finding kids with potential and developing them over four years to become better.”

Curry, affectionately called “Eddie,” fell into coaching without realizing it. While at Oregon, she helped in the offseason with the top AAU program in the state, doing all the “backyard lessons” with the children. She found she enjoyed it but never considered making it a career.

As an in-demand player overseas, Curry’s duties included helping coach her professional team’s junior squad. By the end of her playing career, she said she found herself devoting more and more time in her offseasons to coaching.

“A lot of people said I was born to coach and I just didn’t get it. I fought it for a long, long time,” said Curry, a 5-foot-4 guard in her playing days. “But whenever I got out there, I never needed a whistle, I commanded the respect and attention and the love. So when it was time to hang up my shoes, I was ready. I was excited to coach. It wasn’t about me anymore.”

Curry has spent her first days in Maine watching film of last year’s team, which finished 23-9. She focuses on nuances, like footwork, that she feels she can help players improve.


She is eager for her new players to start arriving on campus in the next month so they can get to work. The players get two hours of court time with coaches until practices officially begin Oct. 3.

Curry said she’s always wanted to be a college coach, and she’s long wanted to return “home.” Even if home happens to be Maine, a school she knew nothing about before Barron sought her out.

Her mother already has bought a plane ticket to fly up from Texas for Maine’s first game. Curry is planning on getting her father a “Maine Dad” sweatshirt.

“Home is where you make it. I could have been in Vietnam for three years; it would have been home for me,” Curry said. “I think that makes it easier when you come somewhere and you start calling it home. You don’t say, ‘Oh, I’m working at Maine, I’m living in Maine, it’s kind of like a pit stop.’ I’m here. I’m going to make it home. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity and have fun.”


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