TUSCALOOSA, AL (WIAT) - Kristy Curry was introduced as Alabama's new women's basketball coach on Thursday. She brought enthusiasm and optimism to the news conference in Tuscaloosa. "I absolutely love a challenge and I think the opportunity to be at the University of Alabama the academic side, the athletic side, the success of all the programs there is no reason that women's basketball can't be special and special again."
The Crimson Tide women's program hasn't been to an NCAA Tournament since 1999 and has won just 14 SEC games in five seasons. The very first priority for the new head coach is to bring it top quality players to the program.
"Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program." Curry said. "We are going to do everything we can to secure the borders of the state of Alabama and the Southeast. We are going to go right we are going to go left and we are going North and South. And I am excited. I think there is great talent in this area and we are excited about selling the University and this program."
Curry owns an overall record of 309-149 in 14 seasons with Purdue & Texas Tech. Curry's teams have reached the NCAA Tournament nine times & post-season 12 times. She is a graduate of Northeast Louisiana University.
News Conference Transcript Via Alabama Media Relations:
Kristy Curry Introductory Press Conference Transcript
Director of Athletics Bill Battle
"When we started our search for a women's basketball coach, our staff had done a great job of compiling names, and at the top of the list was Kristy Curry and it went on down. We talked about and researched and got comfortable with a list. It soon came to our knowledge that Kristy was really interested in this job, and she went to the top of the list and stayed at the top of the list for the whole time we were there. I spoke to her on the phone and I was very impressed with our conversation – she's got a nice southern accent, she's from Louisiana. Her style of basketball coaching is exciting. The job that she has done both in the Big Ten and the Big 12 was very impressive as well. When she and her husband Kelly came in, I was very impressed with both of them and believe that they will not only put a great product on the basketball court, but they will be great additions to our community as well. We are excited to have Kristy and Kelly and their two daughters come in and join our family, and I am very honored and proud to present to you our women's basketball coach Kristy Curry."
On his first hire as The University of Alabama's Director of Athletics:
"I didn't want to make a statement. I wanted to hire a good basketball coach and improve our program. That's what I think we did. We were fortunate as I said to get somebody of Kristy's caliber to join us here. I think she saw a great challenge and obviously she saw a great athletic department [and] a great university. That was all part of it. Moving back to the South was part of it. She saw a nice community for her family. She's got two beautiful daughters. There's a lot of appeal for her to come back. You can see the fire in her eyes when she speaks. She turns everybody on – fans, players – all of us. It will be exciting times again."
On the process of his first hire:
"It was great because we won. We got our first choice. I think our staff did a great job of vetting candidates, and we looked at a lot of different candidates. When it became evident that Kristy was interested, she became our No. 1 candidate. We zeroed in, and it didn't take long for that to happen. We were fortunate that it worked out that way."
On building fan interest in the women's basketball program:
"Well we talked a lot about that. That's an important thing. We talked about Foster Auditorium. There are advantages to playing in Foster, we think, but there are advantages to growing out of Foster, and our goal is to grow out of Foster. We would like to have 5,000 or 7,000 fans. That creates another problem, but a good problem and we look forward to that day when we can do that."
Head Women's Basketball Coach Kristy Curry
"I'm extremely honored and proud to be the new head coach at The University of Alabama. I want to thank Dr. Judy Bonner, Coach Bill Battle, Shane Lyons, Marie Robbins and Doug Walker. If I can recruit half as well as those guys can, we're going to be okay. I really appreciate the process and how they handled it. I do want to thank the folks at Texas Tech and the players that I left in that room Saturday night. They will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will continue to be there and support those guys. I've been blessed to coach a lot of great players at both Purdue and Texas Tech, and I wouldn't be standing here without those administrations, those players and those people, so I really appreciate them. I want to make three points today. The first point, the most important aspect to this change, is our current players – doing everything that we can every single day to invest in them at the highest level. I'm looking forward to getting to know each and every one of them as people. I've had a chance to visit with them on the phone and they've been incredible, so I'm excited about their arrival back in town next week. The second point is recruiting. Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program. We're going to do everything we can to secure the borders of the state of Alabama. In the Southeast, we're going to go right and we're going to go left, and we're going to go north and south. I'm excited; I think there's great talent in this area, and we're excited about selling The University of Alabama and this program. Obviously the coaches that have reached out to me have had so much success here; they've been phenomenal – from Coach Patterson, just right down the line, Coach Murphy, Coach Saban, Anthony Grant. It's been an honor to have the chance to visit with so many of these folks and how much they believe in the Alabama family, so we're proud to be a part of that and we're looking forward to recruiting. The reception so far has been phenomenal in that area. It's been fun to be on the phone calling and saying, ‘Hey, it's Alabama and we're excited to be here." It's been a lot of fun lately. The third point is this fan base and our former players, and doing everything that we can to call, meet and touch base with every one of those former players. There's a rich tradition here, and I'm proud to be a part of that – 10 NCAA Tournaments. I had a chance to leave Coach Rick Moody a message on the phone this morning, and I look forward to talking to him. I look forward to talking to Wendell [Hudson] and continuing to embrace the past and build on the future, so we're proud to represent something bigger than ourselves. The second part of that is the fan base and building that fan base, getting out and working hard in the community. They're going to be the team behind our team, so we're really excited about hugging necks, shaking hands and jumping into this community. Again, I am so proud and honored to be here. Kelly, Kelsey and Kendall are still in Lubbock, but they'll be here in the next couple of weeks, and we look forward to investing and working hard in this community both as a family and as a program. Thank you so much for your support and Roll Tide!"
On why she chose to come to Alabama:
"I think having grown up in the Southeastern Conference and understanding that it's a great league – an opportunity to be back in The South, as you can tell with this accent. I'm five hours and ten minutes from my parents. It's the first stop I've had where I've been blessed to be close to family and close to a part of the country that I love, respect and admire so much. And obviously it's The University of Alabama. It's a great opportunity to build and create a legacy here, and we're excited about it."
On the effect that Alabama's overall athletic success has on recruiting:
"It's evident that the resources are in place to be successful, and there's no reason in the world why women's basketball can't compete at the level that those programs are. If you look at women's tennis this year, you look at men's and women's golf, I mean, four national championships a year ago and I think the commitment that the administration has made is evident and they are making the same commitment to women's basketball or I wouldn't be sitting here. We're excited about that and the opportunity to learn from those coaches and share ideas. They've been phenomenal, from calling to getting a chance to visit with them when I was on campus before – going out of their way from the professional side to the personal side. And what a great place it is to raise a family in Tuscaloosa, which is the most important aspect when you make a move: Is this the best thing for your family?"
On the atmosphere potential at Foster Auditorium:
"I think that we see it as the best home court advantage in the country, the opportunity to, night in and night out, have 3,000 folks in there and sell that out. We've got to build our fan base. We've got get out there and shake hands and hug necks and build those relationships to where we do create the best home court advantage in the country. Recruiting is about relationships. It's not about buildings and trees. It's about people, and I think building those relationships is the most important factor with our fan base, with recruiting, and with every aspect of the program. If we can take care of those things, we're going to make sure that [Foster Auditorium] is full."
On her style of play:
"Obviously the joy of coaching is taking what you have and making the most of it. As you go into a new situation, that's going to be a lot of fun because maybe it's not exactly the type of personnel we would be used to, but at the same time they are very similar. I've had a chance to watch a ton of film, and I feel good about the style of play that we can get these players playing. We're going to defend and rebound. We're going to get after you defensively. We're going to change our defenses. We want to keep the offenses off-balance. We don't want to be so predictable. And on the offensive end we're going to look to score quickly, score easily and score a lot. That's the type system that young women want to play in. We want to score six to eight to ten points off our inbounds and sidelines per game, execute in the half court and play smart. At the same time it's going to be fun, and we want to get up and down on both ends of the floor."
On reaching out to Kaneisha Horn vs. starting fresh with own recruits:
"I've already reached out to her and her parents. I'm not ready to talk about personnel yet, but I've been enjoying visiting with her and her family and look forward to building that relationship."
On her previous experience with players recruited from state of Alabama:
"It's obviously very talented. I think the freshman class in the state of Alabama might be one of the best in the country, 2016. Obviously in 2014, there's quite a bit of talent, and I have enjoyed talking to a lot of folks that we've had relationships with in the past from our previous stops. We're excited about it. (The) 2015 (class) is very good, but 2016 might be one of the best classes in the entire country, so there's a tremendous amount of talent, and like I said, we want to secure the borders to this state and not let anybody out. We want to make sure that we take care of home first, and then we'll go left, we'll go right, we'll go north and we'll go south. When you look at the location, it's so intriguing in recruiting. It's close to so many different areas. You've got New Orleans that's 4.5 hours away, Memphis 3.5 hours away, three hours to Atlanta, an hour to Birmingham, 4.5-5 hours to the coast and Nashville 3.5 hours away. It's exciting. I could be a little off, but I'm learning. I'm so excited to hop in the car and be able to go watch a high school game. Talent-wise in this area within 250 miles, there's a tremendous amount of talent that are the kind of people that we want to build relationships with. At Texas Tech, we had recruited the state of Louisiana, being my home state, and Mississippi. I actually have an unofficial coming through next week from Mississippi that came to my elite camp at [Texas] Tech, so we've built a lot of relationships through the years and it's been fun to connect with a lot of people."
On whether Alabama has the ingredients needed to build a tradition:
"I don't think there's any question. I was blessed to work for a Hall-of-Famer Leon Barmore and got his thoughts on this move. I feel like the experience I had there in getting the chance to go to two Final Fours and work with Kim Mulkey, who's at Baylor now, and obviously what she's done there – we were raised in a system that is absolutely one of the best to be raised in. You take those ideas and you go out into your own program. There's always something unique to a situation, there's no way to shy away from that. When I'd gotten to Purdue, they'd just won the national championship and two years later we returned, but each situation is unique and obviously following a legend in Marsha Sharp who I talk with on a daily basis and have learned so much from her. Pulling from each one of those situations and being able to put those ideas here and certainly I've learned from some of the best, so I'm excited about the potential and the opportunity for us to build a legacy here that's going to be much bigger than I. There's no way in the world this can't be very special and a special place to play women's basketball."
On style of play she prefers offensively and defensively:
"On the defensive end, we want to make sure that we don't allow the offense to dictate what we do. We want to be dictating what they do, so we'll change our defenses from a miss to a make, but we want to make sure that we're active, that we play with a lot of energy, and that we're not passive. We want to be very aggressive, and we want our defense to be our best offense. Like I mentioned earlier, we want to defend and rebound. If you can defend and rebound at the highest level, you're going to be able to create easy baskets. Easy baskets win games. We want to push and be aggressive on the offensive end, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we're smart. From our offensive execution on the inbounds to our sidelines to our press breaks, we want to make sure that we're smart there and can also run a controlled situation."
On the completion of her staff:
"It's a work in progress, but I may leave [my husband] in Lubbock. We'd love to have it in place by June 1, so we're working on it."
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