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Itoro Coleman Press Conference Transcript

March 29, 2010

Opening Quotes

Terry Don Phillips: “Welcome everyone to this press conference in introducing Itoro Umoh Coleman as our new women’s basketball coach. We are delighted that Itoro is coming back home. When you look for someone in a leadership position, you look for someone who is a wonderful fit for your program, and Itoro is an excellent fit for this program. She loves her university. This is her alma mater, and she has had great success as a player under Coach Jim Davis.

“We’re delighted that Itoro is with us, and we look forward to many years with her. I can’t say enough of the leadership, insight, and instinct of Barbara (Kennedy-Dixon) in helping select coaches for this program. Barbara, like Itoro, has a great passion and love for Lady Tiger basketball, and this great university. Itoro was the individual that we wanted to come and lead this program back to where it was, and we are so delighted to have her here.”

Barbara Kennedy-Dixon: “I would like to thank everyone for coming out today as we announce our fifth head coach in the history of Lady Tiger basketball. Itoro and I go a long way back, as I had the opportunity to be a part of Itoro’s recruiting process as an academic advisor at the time. From that day, I have had the opportunity to watch this lady grow into a wonderful individual. Let me share a little bit with you of where Itoro has been and what she has done. She entered Clemson University in 1996 as a member of the women’s basketball team for four years. Two of those years, one being in ’96 and the other in ’99, that team won two ACC championships under the leadership of Coach Jim Davis.”

“Since her collegiate days, she has had the opportunity to play professionally in 2001 for the Indiana Fever and in 2003 for the Houston Comets. She also has Olympic experience in playing in the 2006 World Games. Her coaching career started out at Liberty University in 1999 as a student assistant, and from there she spent two years at Butler University between 2000-02. In 2003 she returned back to Clemson to serve as assistant coach under Jim Davis. In 2007, she was recruited hard by Coach Coquese Washington from Penn State as a recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. That position, to me, was very key in her efforts to pursue a head coaching position. It was a tough decision for Coach Coleman to leave us, but it was an opportunity for her to grow in the sport of basketball, while at Penn State.”

“Just knowing what Itoro can bring to the table, knowing her passion for Clemson University, for Clemson athletics, her passion for young people, and developing young people to be the best that they can be academically, athletically, and as individuals will be beneficial for this program. We have before us a very driven Clemson family member to come and take over our program, and to be competitive in the conference as well as beyond. So it is our pleasure to welcome back Coach Coleman. I look forward to working beside you as you rebuild Lady Tiger basketball.”

Coach Itoro Umoh Coleman: “I am so excited to be back home. I look out into the audience and see a lot of familiar faces, and that means a lot to me. I am truly blessed and honored to be leading this program that I love so dearly. I want to thank President Barker, Terry Don Phillips, and Barbara Kennedy-Dixon for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I want to thank my family and friends who came out today to support me, my Penn State family for their support, my high school Coach Windle Loftman, who always told me I would be a head coach some day, and to Coach Davis who brought me here to Clemson. Lastly, I would like to acknowledge my husband, my best friend, for his support.”

“I am very passionate about re-establishing a winning tradition for the women’s basketball program. This is something I take very personally, because I am a product of this university. And I want every lady tiger to have as great as experience as I did when I was here. I am committed to being the best, and I plan to work extremely hard to bring out the best in my players. Clemson is a great place, a great atmosphere, and has great fans; the community really embraces what Clemson is all about. The athletic department is surrounded by success, you look at what Coach Purnell has done with the basketball program, and what Coach Swinney has done with the football program, and not to mention the baseball, track, and tennis programs, and I could go on and on. I want to bring that same type of consistency and direction to the women’s basketball program. There is no staff that is going to out work my staff. There is no team that is going to outwork my team.”

“As the women’s basketball coach, I am going to work hard every day and make everyone proud to be apart of the Lady Tiger basketball program. That being said, I will not lose sight of my mission to shape and mold these young women. When my players walk across the stage with that degree, I know they will have the resources and tools to succeed. With the resources that Clemson has here, with the support from the administration, with my determination to be the best, there is no doubt in mind that we can win here. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get Clemson’s women’s basketball program back to where it belongs, and that is being recognized as a national powerhouse. I want to thank everyone again, and I am just excited to get started.”

Questions

Coach Coleman’s reaction to hearing about the job opening: “When I heard about the opening, I was very excited, because I knew they would bring somebody here to get the job done. I didn’t know they would call me. I was very excited when I got the call, but I was just excited for women’s basketball at Clemson period.”

Barbara Kennedy-Dixon on making the decision to offer Coach Coleman the head coach position: “As an administrator, you always have to have a hit list, because you never know when you’re going to have to hit it. She was at the top of my hit list. I called her in a timely fashion, to guage her interest in returning to Clemson.”

Barbara Kennedy-Dixon on what makes up a good coach: “The things I look for in a head coach is passion. There has to be passion from A to Z. A passion to develop young people, a passion to push young people to succeed, along with that push comes unconditional love. You also have to see eye to eye to reach young people, to motivate them to be the best in all arenas in life. I look for someone that has something to prove, and prove to me that you can take a program to the next level. I look for someone who has impeccable people skills for recruiting purposes.”

Terry Don Phillips on coming to the decision to hire Coach Coleman: “When this opportunity came up, you have names out there. As Barbara and I talked about the direction we wanted this program to go in, we found that Coach Coleman was the right fit. Barbara told me that she has the passion, and she has the love to bring Clemson women’s basketball into the right direction. I respect Barbara’s insights on this decision. And we interviewed one person and that was Itoro.”

Coach Coleman’s reaction to the offer: “It was really hard, and I have a strong bond with the players and the Penn State community. Although I was very flattered and honored it was a very tough decision to leave Penn State, but I wanted to be a head coach. I just never knew that I would be a head coach for Clemson. I’m excited and can’t wait to get to work. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but we’re going to have so much fun.”

Coach Coleman’s reaction to getting Lady Tiger basketball back into ACC Championship contention: “My focus right now is getting the best effort out of everyone of my players, and getting my players to compete for 40 minutes in every game. That’s my goal and that is my concentration. As soon as my players start playing hard, it will not take very long. If my players bring the effort and focus, then we can turn this program around a lot faster than what I expect. Getting Lady Tiger basketball back into ACC championship contention will probably take 3 to 4 years, but I’m looking to do it this year. That is a pretty lofty goal, but if our players bring the work ethic, we can make it happen.”

Coach Coleman on bringing ideas and knowledge from previous coaches she has worked under to this basketball program: “Coach Davis brought the best out of each and every one of us. At the time I didn’t understand, I didn’t understand why I had to run as much, but I know that he had every players’ best interest at heart, and I will take that from Coach Davis. From the other people I’ve been associated with, there is a combination of work ethic and knowledge and that has proved to be valuable. I plan to take a little bit from each, and work with the team to find the best system that fits us.”

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