New Women's Basketball Coach Getting Back to Her Roots

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CLEMSON -- New women's basketball coach, Cristy McKinney looks to bring the program back to where former coach Jim Davis used to have it.

McKinney, who continually challenged Western Athletic Conference power Louisiana Tech in her 12-year run at Rice will have a familiar conference to deal with next year. She grew up in North Carolina and played at N.C. State.

She said she was glad to get back to her roots.

"Everyone around here understands how big ACC basketball is. I am back home and thrilled to be a part of ACC basketball again," McKinney said.

Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips said former coach Jim Davis did well to build the program to its current position. He won the school's only Atlantic Coast Conference titles in women basketball and brought the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament 14 times in his 18 years.

However, the Tigers went 8-20 last season with only two conference wins versus Georgia Tech and N.C. State. Davis was named a Clemson assistant athletic director on March 19.

One of McKinney's designs for a resurgence is recruiting. She said she hoped to center her recruiting efforts starting at home in South Carolina.

"We will have to be visible in this state," she said.

The new coach also said increased program visibility will help pack fans into Littlejohn coliseum. Last year the average home attendance was 1,010.

Compared to 2,876 in the 2000-2001 season when the team went 21-10.

Phillips said he was especially impressed with McKinney because of the academic restraints that encompass the Rice athletic department. What she did at that program proves she can succeed just about anywhere, Phillips said.

"Rice is not an easy place to win," he said.

McKinney comes to Clemson after becoming Rice's winning-est women's basketball coach with 216 victories. In those years she led the Owls to its only post season games, including several appearances in Women's National Invitation Tournament and Rice's only two in NCAA Tournament bids.

Last season, she took Rice to a 24-9 overall record, winning the WAC conference tournament. She said she hopes to get into the gym with the returning Clemson players before the end of the semester.

Quotes from Cristy McKinney Opening Press Conference, April 18, 2005

"I am very happy to be a part of this University as the new women's basketball coach. This is a tremendous opportunity for me. I have been coaching for a long time and I love the game, I have a lot of passion for the game.

"I want to win and I want to win big. With the resources and support we have for this program, I feel we are going to have a successful program.

"It is great to get back to my roots. I grew up in North Carolina and went to NC State, so I have been around ACC basketball. Everyone around here understands how big ACC basketball is. I am back home and thrilled to be a part of ACC basketball again.

"I wanted to get back in this area of the country. I wanted to come to a program where I would take the program a little further. We have done some good things at Rice, but we have some great opportunities at Clemson. We have the resources to attract the best players in the country.

"ACC women's basketball is tremendous. There is talent and athleticism on this team, so we will have to use it to the best of our abilities if we are going to compete with Duke and North Carolina and some of the other great programs in the league.

"I am a man to man coach who likes an up-tempo offensively. We won't be a run-and-gun team, but if we have the opportunity we will take it.

"We want to recruit South Carolina first, regionally second, and nationally third. We will have to be visible in this state.

"I expect this team to work hard. You can't be successful unless you work hard. Winning makes this game fun. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to get in the gym with the returning players over the rest of the semester.

Clemson Athletic Director Dr. Terry Don Phillips

"This is an extremely important announcement today because women's basketball is very important to our total sports program. We are excited to name Cristy McKinney as our women's coach today.

"I first learned of Cristy from a mutual friend that I respect greatly. This person alerted us about Cristy so we looked into her background. She brings impeccable credentials as a person. She is a good fit to work with all of us in this department.

"Being from East Texas, I have tremendous respect for Rice University. It is known for its academic excellence. She built a quality program, and won the conference championship over Louisiana Tech, a Final Four level program. That made quite an impression on me.

"Rice is not an easy place to win. She understands working against the odds and being successful in a competitive environment. Her profile was attractive to all of us.

"I want to thank Jim Davis for making this a very respected program, one that has been able to attract a coach the caliber of Cristy McKinney to Clemson. We are very grateful to Jim Davis for his contributions to Clemson athletics."


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