A headshot of Ashley Langford, the former James Madison associate head coach. Langford has been named as the head coach of Stony Brook’s women’s basketball team. PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES MADISON ATHLETICS

A new era is here for the Seawolves, but the expectations remain the same.

Stony Brook officially named James Madison associate head coach Ashley Langford as its new women’s basketball coach on Wednesday, April 28. Langford, who joined the James Madison coaching staff in 2017 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2020, will become the Seawolves’ sixth head coach in the Division I era and tenth overall.

Langford’s teams at James Madison reached the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) semifinals in 2019 and the WNIT third round in 2018, winning three straight Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles and going 58-11 in conference play during her four seasons with the Dukes.

“This is truly an exciting day as we welcome Ashley Langford to the Seawolves family as our new women’s basketball head coach,” Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron said in a press release. “Our program has reached historic levels of success over the past two seasons, and I have every confidence in Ashley to lead our women to even greater heights on and off the court. She is an extremely focused leader who brings high energy and high character to Stony Brook.”

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Langford, who played college basketball at Tulane from 2005 to 2009, began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn in 2009. She also held assistant coaching positions at Buckell, Denver, Navy and Old Dominion before landing at James Madison. 

“I’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” she said. “I’m so glad that everything aligned and Stony Brook became an opportunity for me. It really fits with my values. I really believe in high academic standards, and President McInnis and Shawn Heilbron lead the way at Stony Brook. We’re going to compete on the court at a high level, too.”

Former head coach Caroline McCombs shocked the community on April 2 when she announced  that she would be leaving Stony Brook to accept the head coaching position at George Washington. The news broke less than two weeks after McCombs and the Seawolves played in their first NCAA Tournament in program history.

McCombs went 130-76 at Stony Brook in seven seasons since taking over in 2014.

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On April 24, World Exposure Report announced that Langford and current Wake Forest assistant coach Erin Dickerson had visited Stony Brook’s campus for matters related to the vacant position.

Stony Brook must maintain the upward momentum that McCombs departed the program with. The Seawolves were named America East champions for the last two years and have gone 66-17 since the start of the 2018-19 season.

“I’m excited to continue the success, and just do it in my own way,” Langford said. “I have to be me. I have to be authentic. That’s what makes me good. I’m not the type who can come in here and try to be somebody else … I’m going to work just as hard to make sure that we get another championship and return to the NCAA Tournament.”

Langford worked under head coach Sean O’Regan during her time at James Madison. She temporarily assumed head coaching duties while O’Regan was out with COVID-19.

“I was elated for Ashley when I heard she would be the new head coach at Stony Brook,” O’Regan said. “She’s going to do an absolutely wonderful job. She’s hard working, thorough and really connects with people. Stony Brook hired an absolute star in this profession. I wish her the best of luck.”

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Her vision as Stony Brook’s head coach is to play a faster brand of basketball while maintaining the Seawolves’ defensive strengths. Stony Brook allowed 52 points per game last season, the fourth-best rate in the country.

“They’re already used to getting in a stance and really dictating the game with their defense. I’m glad that’s already ingrained in them,” Langford said. “But then, on the offensive end, I want more movement. I want the pace to pick up. I want the players to make plays. I want it to be more free and less sets.”

A press conference introducing Langford will take place at Island Federal Arena on Friday, May 7 at 11 a.m.

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