Nationally known for her top-notch recruiting classes, Marsha Frese enters her fifth season as head women’s basketball coach at UMKC. Named as the Kangaroo head coach on April 25, 2012, Frese brings 17 seasons of experience as a Division I player and coach to the UMKC campus.
In her fourth season at UMKC, Frese saw her team post a long list of accomplishments both on the court and in the classroom. Academically, nine players were named Academic All-WAC honorees. Athletically, multiple Roos ranked near the top in a slew of categories, both nationally and amongst the conference, as well as the team posting one of the biggest wins in program history, topping Kansas 47-44 in historic Allen Fieldhouse. The victory was just the fourth win over the Jayhawks in program history, the first since 2003, and the first in Lawrence since 1989. The Roos held KU to just two first quarter points, and 44 total points, the fewest ever allowed to KU by UMKC.
In a 16-point win over CSU Bakersfield, the first win over the ‘Runners in program history, UMKC held CSUB to just 40 points, the fewest points allowed by a Roo team since Nov. 16, 2010 against Rockhurst, and the fewest to a Division I team since allowing 36 to IUPUI on Jan. 23, 2010.
The Roos ranked 26th in the nation in rebound margin in 2015-16 (+7.3), as well as nearing the top in multiple categories in the WAC, including ranking first in free throw percentage (73.9), rebounding defense (29.8), rebounding margin (+7.3), defensive rebounding percentage (69.9), and offensive rebounding percentage (40.6). UMKC also ranked second in offensive rebounds (13.4) and third in field goal percentage (40.6).
Individually, a number of Frese’s players posted career-best seasons in 2015-16. Sophomore Kiana Law was named WAC Player of the Week on Dec. 14, after posting monster games against Kansas and Denver. Law finished the season 15th in the WAC scoring (10.0), fourth in rebounding (7.1), and third in defensive rebounds (5.0). The Pittsburgh native notched three double-doubles, including a 20-point, 10-rebound performance over the Jayhawks, a 17-point, 14-board effort against New Mexico State, and a 12-point, 15-rebound game against Utah Valley. Sophomore Aries Washington ranked 10th in the WAC in scoring, posting 11.2 points per game. Washington also ranked 12th in the conference in rebounds (5.8), 10th in assists (2.4), second in free throw percentage (86.3), and seventh in offensive rebounds (2.3). The Kansas City native recorded two double-doubles on the season, a 23-point, 11-rebound effort against Stephens College, and notched 16 points and 12 boards against Bethany College. Washington finished the season ranked sixth all-time at UMKC in free throw percentage at 81.3 percent, and her 86.3 percent from the charity stripe over the course of the season ranked sixth in the UMKC record books. Samantha Waldron scored 9.3 points for the Roos, which ranked 24th in the WAC, and ranked in the top-15 in four categories in the conference; field goal percentage (14th), three-point field goal percentage (7th), three-point field goals made (10th), and minutes played (6th).
Under Frese’s guidance, the Roos established a standard of excellence for classroom performance as UMKC earned top honors in back-to-back years with the highest team GPA in all of Division I women’s college basketball for both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. UMKC was named the top honoree on the WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for maintaining the highest GPA in the entire country with a 3.628 GPA in 2014, while in 2015 UMKC upped the number to 3.726. In the program’s 35 year history, this marked only the second and third times UMKC was named to the WBCA top-25 while earning the nation’s top overall honor for the first and second times.
A tireless worker with an ability to draw in the nation’s top talent, Frese has extensive experience rebuilding programs at every level, including in the Big Ten, the ACC and the Mid-American Conference. This recruiting trend continued at UMKC where the Roos 2014 recruiting class was ranked among the top 130 recruiting classes in the country, according to All Star Girls Basketball. This marked the first time a UMKC women’s basketball recruiting class had been recognized by a nationally respected recruiting publication. The class of seven student-athletes, which also earned an “Honorable Mention” ranking from Blue Star Basketball, included Sierra Bone, Paige Husa, Law, Kristen Moore, Chandler Roof, Waldron and Washington.
The infusion of talent payed dividends immediately as the 2014 recruiting class made an impact with the Roos ranking first in the NCAA in percentage of points scored by freshman, while the squad led the WAC in freshman minutes played, points, and rebounds by freshmen. Washington added to the accolades, becoming the first Roo since Eilise O’Connor in 2011 to be named to the conference All-Newcomer Team, while Husa, Law, Waldron, and Washington all placed themselves throughout the UMKC freshmen annals.
Her first recruiting class for the ‘Roos, meanwhile, included Fort Smith, Arkansas, native Calli White notching one of the top freshmen seasons in program history. White set the UMKC record for three-point field goals made by a freshman (73) and starts by a freshman (30) during the 2013-14 season. White’s 73 made three-pointers are third most all-time among all classes. Among freshmen, White ranked eighth in scoring, fourth in assists, fifth in steals, tenth in field goals made and third in three-point shooting in program history.
In her second season, the Roos increased their offensive output by 20.8 points in their inaugural season in the Western Athletic Conference. In addition, Frese tutored O’Connor and Kim Nezianya to numerous WAC honors. The second leading scorer in program history, O’Connor was named to a pair of all-conference teams during her senior season while she also earned several academic honors, including being named a First-Team Academic All-America selection. O’Connor was also honored as a semifinalist for the Senior C.L.A.S.S. Award and the Allstate Good Works Team, receiving the NCAA Postgraduate scholarship and the Division I-AAA ADA Postgraduate scholarship. She was also selected by the WAC as its NCAA Woman of the Year nominee and its recipient of the Stan Bates Award. Kim Nezianya, the UMKC career rebounding leader, was named pre-season All-WAC while earning All-WAC performance honors as she led the league in rebounding with eleven boards per game.
Prior to her arrival in Kansas City, Frese recruited and coached countless All-America and all-conference players. Among this “Frese Family” are 2012 Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Whalen of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, Jenna Smith, the career leader in points, rebounds and blocks at the University of Illinois, and Janel McCarville, the top overall selection in the 2005 WNBA Draft. At Northern Illinois University, where she spent two seasons (2010-12) as Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Frese spearheaded the Huskie recruiting efforts and her hard work paid off. Her first recruiting class included MAC Freshman of the Year, Claire Jakubicek, the first NIU player to earn the honor in nearly ten years. Thanks in-part to Frese’s on-court acumen, the 2010-11 Huskies improved their win-total by 30 percent, 75 percent in league play, from the year prior. NIU also improved their overall win total in her second season, and advanced to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals for the first time in four years. A perimeter coach, Frese’s team led the MAC in three-point shooting and ranked tenth in the nation at 37.6 percent.
Coaching in the Mid-American Conference was familiar territory for Frese, who began her coaching career as an assistant at Ball State from 1999-2001. During this time, she helped deliver back-to-back winning seasons to the Cardinals for only the second time in school history. Tabbed with primary recruiting responsibility, Frese brought in 2001 MAC Freshman of the Year Johna Goff with her first class at BSU.
After her first stint at Ball State, Frese provided an immediate impact in her next role as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers posted an 8-20 record prior to her arrival. With Frese on staff, Minnesota turned around its basketball stock, winning 22 games. Frese also flipped the fortunes of Golden Gopher recruiting, signing the 15th ranked class in the nation, according to Blue Star Basketball.
When Frese’s sister, Brenda Frese, who had been with Marsha as the head coach at Ball State and Minnesota, was tabbed to lead the program at University of Maryland, it was only natural for Marsha join her on the Terrapins staff. As recruiting coordinator, Marsha Frese brought two all-Americans to Maryland, resulting in the 10th-best recruiting class in the country, according to Blue Star Basketball. Marsha’s recruiting efforts also helped lay the groundwork for Maryland’s 2006 national championship team.
A return to the Midwest and the Big Ten soon followed as Frese spent four seasons as Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Illinois. During her time in Champaign, Frese spearheaded four consecutive national top-25 recruiting classes, according to Blue Star Basketball. In her first year there, Illinois upset three top-25 teams as the Illini fought their way to the WNIT. In 2005-06, Illinois won a WNIT game and upended No. 15 Oklahoma. The next year, Frese helped coach Illinois to the WNIT round of 16 and a win over No. 16 Michigan State. She also coached two record-setting individuals: Lori Bjork and Jenna Smith, both Frese recruits. Bjork set a new single-season three-point record with 84 makes and was named Second-Team All-Big Ten. Smith set the Illinois freshman single-season rebounding record.
As a player, Frese excelled on both the high school and college levels. A former Miss Iowa Basketball, Frese helped Cedar Rapids Washington High School to the 1988 Iowa state title. During her prep career, she led the state in scoring twice (1989 and 1990) and was named 1990 Miss Iowa Basketball by both USA Today and Gatorade Circle of Champions. A two-time first-team All-State selection, Frese finished her high school career as one of the all-time leading scorers in Iowa history.
During her collegiate career at Rice University, Frese tore up the nets, lettering all four years and finishing her career ranked sixth in three-pointers made. She also left with the Rice school record for best three-point field goal percentage in a single season.
Before embarking on her coaching career, Frese spent four years as a television sportscaster at KALB-TV, the NBC affiliate in Alexandria, Louisiana, where she served as the station’s first female sports anchor. In addition, Frese worked as a radio analyst for Rice University and Louisiana College women’s basketball broadcasts.
Frese is married to Jason Elliott, who also works at UMKC as the Director of Major Gifts for the College of Arts and Sciences. The couple has two children, Kylan (11) and Camden (5).