Associate Head Coach
Former Toledo associate head coach LaNitra Perry is returning to the Rockets’ 2018-19 coaching staff, head coach Tricia Cullop announced on April 19.
Perry is making her second stint with UT after being the associate head coach at the University of Memphis last season.
“I’m thrilled to have LaNitra back,” Cullop said. “She played an integral role in helping us re-establish a championship mentality during her previous stint at UT. I know our alumni will be excited to see her back because of the great bonds she developed during that time, and I can’t wait for our current players and recruits to enjoy her infectious personality. LaNitra is an outstanding person, possesses an tremendous work ethic and is very knowledgeable in every aspect of the game.”
Perry served as an assistant coach with the Rockets from 2008-11 and was elevated to associate head coach in 2011-12.
While working on Cullop’s original staff at Toledo, Perry helped the Midnight Blue & Gold amass a 96-40 overall record and a 50-14 Mid-American Conference mark over the course of four seasons. UT posted three 20-win campaigns during this time, winning three MAC West Division titles and earning three-straight Postseason WNIT berths.
The culmination of Perry’s time at UT came in 2010-11 when the Rockets won a school-record 29 games (29-8 record) and captured the 2011 Postseason WNIT championship. With the WNIT crown, Toledo became the first MAC men’s or women’s basketball program to claim a postseason national title. That same year, Perry was also instrumental in signing the MAC’s top-rated recruiting class.
In her final season with the Rockets in 2011-12, Perry nearly helped the Midnight Blue & Gold successfully defend their Postseason WNIT crown. Toledo went 24-10 overall and advanced to the ‘Elite Eight’, where they dropped a heartbreaking 74-73 overtime decision against Syracuse University.
“I’m beyond excited to be back at UT and working alongside Coach Cullop once again,” Perry said. “It’s not often that you get a chance to return to such a special place that is full of special people. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. It feels so good to be back.“
Perry left Toledo and spent the next four seasons as head coach at Kennesaw State University.
In 2014-15, Perry guided the Owls to their most-successful season (17-13 record) since they moved to the NCAA Division I level in 2005-06 and became a full Division I member in 2009-10. The 17 victories were the program’s most wins since joining the NCAA Division I ranks and the most since it won 18 games in the Owls’ final season at the NCAA Division II level (2004-05).
KSU tied for fourth place in the 2014-15 Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season standings, marking the program’s best league finish. That same year, Perry coached her first postseason award recipient with Jasmine McAllister earning A-Sun Newcomer of the Year honors.
Prior to her time in Toledo and Kennesaw State, Perry served on staffs at her alma mater Mississippi State University (2006-08) and Georgia Tech (2004-06).
Perry was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs (1996-2000) and was a two-time All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) honorable mention pick in 1999 and 2000. She also earned SEC All-Tournament Team and SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades in 2000. She still ranks in the Top 20 on the Bulldogs career charts in scoring (16th; 1,124 points) and rebounding (6th; 746 boards).
She helped lead MSU to three-straight postseason appearances, including two NCAA Championships. The 1999-2000 squad won 24 games (24-8 record) and advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship Game.
Perry graduated with a degree in education from Mississippi State in 2000. Before joining the coaching ranks, she played professional basketball overseas (2001 in Portugal; 2002 in Italy) and in the United States (2003-04 with NWBL’s Birmingham Power).
What They Are Saying About LaNitra Perry
“I was ecstatic when I heard the news that Coach Perry was returning to Toledo. Not only is she a players’ coach and a proven winner on so many levels, but she is an incredible human being. Her ability to relate and get the most out of her players is second to none. What sets LaNitra a part from so many others is her competitive fire and commitment to the process, which can only help to change and improve those she works with day-in and day-out. There’s a reason Tricia & her have remained connected and are now together again - they understand what it takes to WIN!”
- Former Rocket Allie (Clifton) Kalsow (2007-10) (Cleveland Cavaliers Sideline Reporter for Fox Sports Ohio)
Director of Basketball Operations
Lauren Flaum is entering her fifth season on the Rocket women’s basketball staff and first as UT’s director of basketball operations (DOBO). Flaum coordinates or assists in various administrative areas, including budget management, camps, on-campus recruiting, apparel contact and academics, overseeing expenditures and purchasing card procedures, maintaining all calendars and databases for the staff and team, creating recruiting and monthly mailouts, overseeing the guest coaches program and assisting with recruiting, camps, fundraising and team activities.
In addition, Flaum coordinates tape exchange with the opposition, assists with breaking down game film for the coaches and oversees team manager video responsibilities during practices and games. She is also in charge of creating highlight films throughout the season.
Flaum previously worked four seasons as coordinator of women’s basketball and video coordinator at UT.
During her time at Toledo, Flaum and the Midnight Blue & Gold have amassed a 77-52 overall record and a 43-29 mark in the Mid-American Conference. UT also advanced to the postseason on two occasions, including its first trip to the NCAA Championships since 2001.
“Lauren lends a hand in many facets of our program,” three-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Tricia Cullop said. “She organizes our fundraisers and works behind the scenes making sure our summer camps operate smoothly. Her fundraising efforts have enabled our program to take foreign trips every four years and enhance our program with new technology. She assists with our recruiting database entry, oversees our budget and community service efforts. She also oversees our film exchange program and takes care of any video needs our staff may have. Lauren is very intelligent and a great problem-solver, but what I appreciate most about her is her positive attitude and willingness to help out whenever needed. She makes everyone on my staff’s job easier.”
Flaum came to UT after working as a mortgage broker at Quicken Loans from 2012-13. She was responsible for establishing an ongoing financial services relationship with clients through the delivery of world-class service, as well consulting with clients about their current and future needs to help them achieve their financial goals.
A 2009 graduate of MAC member Eastern Michigan, Flaum remained at her alma mater as a graduate assistant video coordinator for both the women’s and men’s basketball programs from 2009-12. She was in charge of film exchange, assisted with video editing, assisted the coaches with scouting reports, planned travel arrangements including hotels, meals, and transportation; assisted the recruiting coordinator with on-campus visits for potential student-athletes; facilitated study tables for student-athletes; helped with academic needs and assisted in the planning and executing of both summer day camps and team camps.
As a student at Eastern Michigan, Flaum served as a manager for the men’s basketball team for four years. She traveled with the team and assisted in both pre- and post-game operations, including film sessions, practices and meals. She also filmed and edited practices and updated statistics for the staff. For her efforts, Flaum was named the Men’s Basketball Manager of the Year for the 2008-09 season.
Flaum was also very active in campus activities during her time at EMU and served as both the vice president and president of the College Panhellenic Council. She provided strategic leadership to the College Panhellenic Council Executive Board and oversaw nine sororities and over 350 sorority women. She also promoted positive relationships and implemented a community-wide assessment program to share community standards. Her efforts did not go without notice as she received the Outstanding Character Award for the EMU Panhellenic Council in 2007-08 and the Sister of the Year for the Sigma Delta Tau Sorority in 2006-07.
A native of Sylvania, OH, Flaum earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from Eastern Michigan in 2009 and her master’s degree in health and human services in sport management from EMU in 2011.
Director of Player Development
Brian DeBenedicts is entering his 18th year at the University of Toledo and first as Director of Player Development & Community Engagement on the Rocket women’s basketball staff. DeBenedictis will assist or coordinate numerous aspects of the women’s basketball program, including serving as alumni event and community service coordinator, creating recruiting and monthly mailouts, overseeing team managers, the mentor program and social media postings, coordinating team meals on campus and pass lists for all games and assisting with academics, banquets, camps, marketing and promotions, on-campus recruiting and fundraising. He will also continue to coordinate all aspects of team travel, which he has done for the last 15 years.
In addition to his new responsibilities, DeBenedictis will remain the Athletic Communications Director for the women’s basketball program. He will oversee communications for the Rockets, and is responsible for all media relations, publications, website management and new media for the team.
“Brian’s meticulous work habits, professionalism and outstanding people skills are a welcomed addition to our staff,” Head Coach Tricia Cullop said. “I’m thrilled he has decided to join us in a newly created position.”
An active member of CoSIDA, DeBenedictis assumed the position of assistant director for media relations at UT in 2000, and was promoted to associate director of communications in 2013.
As the Associate Director, DeBenedictis was the primary communications contact for the women’s basketball and men’s golf programs, while also serving as the secondary contact for football. He also oversaw a graduate assistant that works with women’s soccer, baseball, women’s track & field and men’s and women’s cross country teams.
In his role, he designed the layout and produced editorial material for the 250-page women’s basketball media guide, as well as the 100-page women’s basketball and 118-page football game programs. DeBenedictis also had a significant role in the athletic department’s social media planning and operation, increasing the amount of activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and assisted in nationally publicized stories featured in publications such as USA Today, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, New York Daily News and NCAA Championship Program. He also served as one of the executive producers for a monthly television show “Rocket Roundup,” which provides exclusive behind the scenes access to University of Toledo Athletics and was the primary media coordinator and championship manager for first and second round of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.
Prior to working at UT, DeBenedictis completed a two-year internship in the sports information office at Purdue, where he covered women’s soccer, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s and women’s golf, women’s track & field and wrestling. He was also the secondary contact for men’s basketball.
DeBenedictis is a University of Toledo graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in communication with a concentration in public relations and a minor in marketing in 1998. He is continuing his studies at Toledo, pursuing a master’s degree in recreation & leisure administration.
He is married to UT’s Senior Director of Administrative Operations for the Office of the President Katie (Abdulovic) DeBenedictis. They make their home in Sylvania with their two sons, Ethan (7 years old) and Grady (8 months), and a daughter Audrey (4 years old).