Press Conference Transcription
April 8, 2014
Norwood Teague, Minnesota Athletic Director
Good afternoon everyone. Thanks to everyone for being here. This is a great crowd. This is a historic day for Golden Gopher women's basketball. I am very excited about [Marlene Stollings]. This crowd here shows what are program is about and we are going to get even stronger crowds in Williams Arena moving forward. I told Marlene that over the past week. When we began this search on March 28, I mentioned that we were looking for the right candidate for the university, our women's basketball program, and especially our student athletes. After a very careful and detailed process we arrive at the right choice, who we feel can lead the program into the future. That person is Marlene Stollings. Coach Stollings is a proven head coach and a proven recruiter. At each step in her career, she has improved the program big time. You have seen her records at Winthrop and VCU. She worked miracles and I have followed her the entire way, enjoying her success. She has demonstrated the ability to guide student athletes both on and off the court. The university's leadership, including Dr. Kaler and others, believes that she will lead a dynamic program for years to come. In our search for the best fit for the University of Minnesota and our student athletes, we encountered a very deep and diverse candidate pull. That was a big thrill for me. It showed what a big-time job we have and that there is a lot of interest in what we are doing. Coming out of that pool, coach Stollings distinguished herself as an innovative thinker and strategist. She believes in playing an up-tempo style, which I believe our student athletes and fans will enjoy. That combine with an already great group of players should bring an exciting brand of basketball to Williams Arena next season. We could not be more excited about this day. This is the next step for Golden Gophers women's basketball. With that, it is my pleasure to introduce the new women's basketball coach of your Minnesota Golden Gophers, Marlene Stollings.
On how Marlene Stollings stood out in the coaching search...
I looked at a couple of things when it came to Marlene. One, she is a recruiter. Two, she is a leader. Third, she is a very good communicator and she has proven that. The jobs she has pulled off while coaching the last few years have been impressive, and I watched that. It was more than just her up-tempo style, but the up-tempo style will be fun to watch.
On if keeping in-state recruits was important in the coaching search...
I have seen Marlene recruit well as a head coach and an assisted coach. As an assisted coach, she did a great job with an Ole Miss class. I know she will put together a good staff, recruit at a high level and do her best to keep in-state talent at home. Now, there are only 15 players on a basketball team, so you cannot keep everyone home. I know Coach Stollings will recruit in-state talent. I knew that was an issue that we had to address.
On the pool of candidates...
It was a deep and diverse field. We tried to move through it at a good pace, so that we had someone here like Marlene Stollings. We had a very good group of deep and diverse candidates.
Marlene Stollings, Minnesota Head Coach
This is a great day to be a Golden Gopher. This is an incredibly special moment in my life. I am deeply honored to be sitting here as the next head women's basketball coach for the University of Minnesota. I would like to thank President Kaler who took time to visit with me on Saturday and talk about the vision of this university and program. I want to thank Athletic Director Norwood Teague who is known as one of the best Athletic Directors in the country and it did not take long for me to figure out why he is the best. I would like to thank Beth Goetz and Mike Ellis who have been superior leaders who have helped me along in this process. Mike believed in me from the beginning of my career and I am forever grateful to him.
Personally I would like to thank my high school coach, who let me shoot the ball 30 to 40 times per game and the high school custodian who would let me into the gym 6:00 am workouts. I want to thank my teachers and superintendent who allowed me to excel at an elite level. I also want to thank an AAU coach who reached out to me. I would like to thank my family: my older brother, my loving older sister, my mother, and my father. These people have all taught me to remain dedicated and to focus on every detail. Thank you to my colleagues at VCU who provided the opportunity for me to coach at a high level in the Atlantic 10 conference. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to a young group of players whom I care so much about. I have an incredible staff and want to thank coach Nick for traveling with me this week. Lastly, I would like to thank Coach Shaka Smart, Coach Rogers, and Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin. I was fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated winners and people who inspired and challenged me.
I grew up in Big Ten country where people are crazy for women's basketball. I was fortunate enough to play in sold-out games with crowds of 2,000 people. I traveled to an Ohio State women's basketball game and I recall the long line of traffic that was backed up from the stadium for two or three miles. I know what it is like to have a childhood dream to play for your state school in the Big Ten conference. There is no bigger stage. I could not be more excited about this next chapter. This is an exciting time for women's basketball. I assure you that I will continue to grow our national brand and play an exciting form of basketball. I am a firm believer that offense generates defense. We want to develop and offensive machine that is high-powered and hard to guard. This style will be fun to play and fun to watch.
I will emphasize discipline, accountability, and unity. We will strive to make the university and the community proud. I will take the next few weeks to assemble a staff that will be highly dedicated to our team and our game plan. It will be essential that our staff are hard workers that make everyone around them better. Recruiting will be the lifeblood of our program. This state is filled with some of the best and brightest coaches and players in the country. There is a rich and proud tradition in Minnesota. We strive to do our very best to keep our players in Minnesota so that they can represent this team on a national level.
I have a message for fans. We need your help, Gopher Nation. Williams Arena is one of the most storied venues in all of college athletics. My challenge to you is to make this arena the toughest environment in the nation to play a women's basketball game. I know you're some of the most passionate fans in the Big Ten and we need your support to make this place a special environment.
I will bring to this program extreme passion, tireless work ethic, and relentless drive to improve. This is truly a dream come true for me and one of the best days of my life. Thank you and go Gophers!
On talent base already existing at the University of Minnesota...
This team already has a lot of talent and that is exciting for me. The amount of talent that exists in Minnesota will allow us to move up the ladder and accomplish great things in a short amount of time. I am optimistic that we can move up quickly and I'm happy with the incoming class that we have as well. Certainly there is a lot to work with already and I can't wait to get on the court.
On translating up-tempo style from Atlantic Ten Conference to Big Ten Conference...
I certainly think that we have the necessary pieces to the puzzle in place for an up-tempo season. It takes a little bit of time to get used to that style but we will work on that during the pre-season and we will showcase our style in November.
On convincing recruits to stay in Minnesota...
Building and maintaining relationships are the two most important aspects of my recruiting. I want to be able to connect and build a rapport with the players so that we all feel comfortable. Our staff will be committed to building those relationships. I know that many young girls grow up here in Minnesota with aspirations of playing in Williams Arena. I want them to feel as though they are counting down the days until they can come to school here and play here.
On timeline and composition of coaching staff...
We don't want to put too much of a time limit on our search, but we are actively researching possible staff members. It's an ongoing process, but we don't want to rush anything. One hire affects another hire, so we want to take our time and make sure that we get the right mix of people.
On goals and expectations for this season...
Going to the NCAA Tournament will always be our goal. We want to be playing into the second weekend of the tournament. We want to give our ladies the opportunity to play in a Final Four again. We will have very high expectations of what we want this program to do on a national level.