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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘This is potentially the best job in the Big Sky’: Arthur Moreira embraces promotion to new Idaho women’s basketball coach

Idaho head women’s basketball coach Arthur Moreira, left, was promoted from assistant this summer after the departure of Carrie Eighmey.  (Courtesy of Idaho Athletics)
By Peter Harriman The Spokesman-Review

MOSCOW, Idaho – Abrupt departures have been a recent and unfortunate characteristic of University of Idaho women’s basketball coaches.

Jon Newlee, a fixture in Moscow thanks to 15 years with the Vandals, left for a job in Australia following the 2022-23 season, after which the Vandals finished 13-17. The move was described by UI athletics director Terry Gawlik as mutually agreed upon.

Newlee was replaced by Carrie Eighmey, who led the Vandals to a 15-16 record in her only season at Idaho. Unbound by a contract, which she never got around to signing, Eighmey left in April to become the head coach at the University of South Dakota.

Now comes Arthur Moreira. Following seven seasons as an assistant at the University of San Francisco, Moreira joined Eighmey’s staff at Idaho as an assistant coach and head of recruiting.

He said he was blindsided by Eighmey’s sudden resignation: “I found out the same day you guys did.”

But instead of papering the college basketball universe with his résumé, Moreira stayed in Moscow, tending to the UI program, and he is now Idaho’s new coach.

“Arthur’s strong recruiting skills, his quest for improving our program, and relationship building within the community made it a clear choice to promote him to head coach,” Gawlik said in a statement announcing Moreira’s hiring last week. “He brings in a great depth of international ties and connections to the Northwest.

“He is an exemplary leader and is passionate about our student-athletes on and off the court. The team is in good hands, and I can’t wait to see Arthur’s impact on the program and the Vandal community.”

First things first. While a contract is currently being negotiated, “I will sign it for sure,” Moreira said. “Whenever it is ready, I’ll sign it.”

Moreira, who will be the first Brazil native to become an NCAA Division I head coach, doesn’t look or act removed from his own playing days for Minas Tenis Club, an elite South American U19 basketball program.

An earnest, youthful exuberance surrounds him, perhaps propelled by Moreira’s delight in finding himself in his present circumstances.

Moscow is the first college town he has called home.

“My first homecoming here, we had recruits in,” he said. “I thought this was the best experience ever. ”

The ICCU Arena is the best midmajor facility in the county, according to Moreira, and the fact the Vandals averaged 1,400 fans per game last year, compared to 400 during his time at USF, is tantalizing for the future. A goal this year is to push attendance to over 2,000 per game.

“I truly believe this is potentially the best job in the Big Sky Conference,” he said.

The Vandals will convene in July for summer workouts, and there are only three returners on a roster of 13, including junior Sarah Brans, who stepped up last year to become Idaho’s primary rebounder after graduate transfer Hope Butera went down with a season-ending knee injury, and senior guard Ashlyn Wallace, from Lapwai, whom Moreira praises for staying with the Vandals through three coaching changes and calls “one of the toughest players I have ever coached.”

Brans, Rosie Schweizer, a graduate transfer from Pacific and an Australian native, and Jennifer Aadland, a graduate transfer from Augustana University, are the tallest Vandals at an unremarkable 6-foot-1. But Moreira maintained “we’ve got everything we need.”

He said the Big Sky “is wide open this year. We could be right in the mix.”

Expect Idaho to continue the attention to defense the Vandals displayed under Eighmey, to push the pace more on offense and to always be able to fall back on their intensity.

“Every drill is going to be a competition. There will be a winner and loser. I want to install that culture from day one,” Moreira said.

This assertion gets the attention of anyone familiar with Moreira’s former boss at USF, Molly Goodenbour, who dealt with allegations she was abusive to players there.

Moreira said he learned a lot from Goodenbour, but he contrasts that with his season working for Eighmey, who he said paid enormous attention to the well-being of her players.

Moreira said he seeks a middle way, where “I can take the middle ground and create my own style.

“At the end of the day, I want our players to have a positive experience. We all started playing basketball because it was fun at one point.”

Following an unexpected promotion to head coach this year at a university and in a town he has come to appreciate, Moreira finds the fun has already begun.