Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn is back in her home state to receive her biggest honor yet as she approaches the conclusion of an illustrious career.
Dunn, who plans to retire from coaching at the end of the WNBA season, is one of six people being inducted Saturday into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The return home has brought back plenty of memories for Dunn, a Nashville native who still has plenty of ties to Tennessee.
She went to high school in Dresden, Tennessee and graduated from UT Martin. Dunn earned a master’s degree from Tennessee, whose campus is about a mile away from the Hall of Fame.
“I have a lot of family and friends that can attend this because they’re from in state, and I think that makes it even more memorable for me,” Dunn said. “I spent time coaching at Austin Peay in the state of Tennessee. I still have a lot of roots here. I still have a home in west Tennessee. I still have family living in Tennessee.”
This year’s induction class also includes former Iowa star Michelle Edwards, broadcaster Mimi Griffin, former Sacramento Monarchs standout Yolanda Griffith, former Maryland player Jasmina Perazic and former Southern Illinois women’s athletic director Charlotte West. The Hall of Fame also is honoring the 1976 U.S. Olympic team.
Although Dunn played half-court, 6-on-6 basketball in high school, she couldn’t play college basketball because UT Martin didn’t start a women’s program until after she left. But she still found a way to stay involved of the game for well over four decades.
The 67-year-old Dunn went 447-257 in a 25-year college head coaching career that included stops at Austin Peay, Mississippi, Miami and Purdue. She owns a pro record of 202-182 with the ABL’s Portland Power (1996-98) and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (2000-02) and Fever (2008-present). She led Indiana to the 2012 WNBA title.
Dunn said she has a total of 44 years of experience that includes all her seasons as a college and pro head coach, plus her years as an assistant and as a scout. She also has coached volleyball, tennis and softball and even taught physical education.
“The fact I didn’t get to participate (as a player) in college basketball was a determining factor in me wanting to coach,” Dunn said. “I wanted to be around the game. And then once I started coaching, I loved the strategies. I use the term that it’s a chess match with moving pieces.”
Her career has lasted so long that it’s only fitting that Dunn coached two of the players in her induction class: Edwards and Griffith. Edwards called Dunn “the best pro coach I ever had.”
“She had the personality, she definitely had the X’s and O’s and we trusted her,” Edwards said. “She was just a lot of fun. She made it fun.”
Edwards played five seasons in the WNBA and nine seasons in Europe after helping Iowa win two Big Ten championships. Griffith, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time WNBA all-star, was named most valuable player of the 2005 WNBA Finals after leading Sacramento to that year’s championship. Perazic played on three Atlantic Coast Conference championship teams and helped Maryland get to a regional final or beyond each of her four years.
Griffin was ESPN’s primary women’s basketball analyst from 1983-99 and was the first woman to work as a color analyst for an NCAA men’s tournament game. West, recognized as a Title IX pioneer, worked as the Southern Illinois women’s athletics director from 1960 to 1986.