Carly Thibault-Dudonis had just gotten home on Wednesday night. She became head coach of the Fairfield University basketball team in April, and on this night her team had beaten Fordham on the road, in overtime, to improve to 3-3.
She was Lindsay Whalen's associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator at Minnesota before leaving for Fairfield.
"It wasn't something that was necessarily on my radar,'' she said. "I loved my time in Minnesota and loved working for Lindsay and wasn't necessarily looking to be a head coach all that quickly. I love what we were doing and what we were building. But this checked a lot of boxes.''
Thibault-Dudonis excelled at recruiting for Mississippi State, which went to two Final Fours during her time there, and at Minnesota, where Whalen's freshmen represent the highest-ranking recruiting class in program history.
Her career will be worth tracking. She also is the ideal person to speak with this week about some of the most important stories in women's sports:
Thibault-Dudonis and Whalen have been close friends since Mike Thibault, Carly's father, drafted Whalen out of Minnesota to play for the Connecticut Sun. Mike was the the WNBA team's head coach at the time.
Carly, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve and a bunch of Whalen's former Lynx teammates celebrated with Whalen when she was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September in Springfield, Mass. It was, according to several attendees, quite a party.
This week Whalen also learned she will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, raising the question: What does she get when she fills out her Hall of Fame punch card?
Whalen hinted this week that while she is honored, she has something that could be described as Hall of Fame fatigue. "Not many people get to say something like that,'' Thibault-Dudonis said. "But she's just amazing. She's so humble and would never carry herself in a way that lets you know she's gotten every accolade known to man.
"It was great to have her here in September, and it's just an hour, hour-and-a-half down the road from us [in Fairfield, Conn.]. It was so cool to see such a good person surrounded by people who love and support and care about her.''
Carly's father is headed to one or more Hall of Fames, and he recently retired as coach of the Washington Mystics. He'll remain Washington's general manager, and he named his son, Eric, to be his replacement.
Did Carly ever consider anything other than the family business of coaching? The valedictorian at Monmouth College said she considered going into sports psychology, but decided she could apply that discipline from the sideline.
Mike Thibault is an assistant to Reeve on the Team USA staff. "We always joked that he was never going to actually retire — he was going to croak on the sideline, if that's something you can say in the newspaper,'' Carly said. "I don't think we ever thought we'd see this day. But it's a good time for him, and he has talked about the difficulty of committing the energy needed to be a coach and GM. It'll be a cool dynamic.''
McCutcheon announced during the season that he's retiring from coaching after the Gophers volleyball season ends. The Gophers begin NCAA tournament play on Friday. McCutcheon will become the Gophers' assistant athletic director and sport development coach.
"I didn't get to know Hugh well when I was there, but I admired him from afar,'' Thibault-Dudonis said. "One thing that happened when Minnesota built the Athletes Village is that each sport was given its own, dedicated area. The place became like a fortress, and you needed a fingerprint scan to get into every door.
"I was surprised to see that move because he seems to thrive in his current role, but my Dad got to a similar point, where maybe you just feel it's time for a change.''
As for taking over at Fairfield, Thibault-Dudonis said, "It's been so much fun. I've been blessed with a great group of women.''
Don't be surprised if, someday, the former Gophers assistant is coaching against Reeve, her brother or Whalen.