March 20, 2006
This week I’d like to take the opportunity to say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to work with Cristy McKinney, who just completed her first season as Clemson’s women’s basketball coach.
Cristy is a former outstanding player for Kay Yow at North Carolina State, where she earned four letters as an accomplished forward from 1976-79. She scored 1,359 career points, pulled down over 600 rebounds and shot 78.3 percent from the free throw line during her career.
She was a member of N.C. State’s first ACC regular season championship team and still holds the freshman record for free throws made (135) and scoring average (17.5 points per game).
After her playing career, Cristy was an assistant at Western Kentucky for nine seasons. She helped the Lady Hilltoppers to a 43-18 record during the 1982-84 seasons, before leaving for Montevallo.
She served two years as head coach at NAIA school Montevallo (1984-85 and 1985-86), where she helped the Lady Eagles to a seven-win improvement and earned District Coach of the Year honors her second season. Cristy then returned to serve as an assistant at Western Kentucky from 1986-93. During that seven-year period, she helped Western Kentucky to a 169-47 record, seven NCAA appearances, and three straight “Sweet 16” appearances, and a Final Four appearance in 1992.
Cristy then took over a Rice program that did not have a history of winning. In the 11 seasons prior to her arrival in Houston, the Lady Owl program experienced just two winning seasons. After her arrival, Rice had a record of .500 or better in 10 of 12 seasons.
She compiled a record of 216-139 while in charge of the Lady Owl program. She is the school’s all-time winningest coach with the 216 victories. She guided Rice to consecutive winning seasons each of the last nine years, including six seasons of 20 wins or more.
Her teams averaged 20.4 wins per season over the last eight years. In 12 years prior to Cristy’s tenure at the school, Rice had a record of 133-190. She put together an outstanding run against WAC competition, compiling a 103-40 career record versus conference opponents. In Cristy’s final season at Rice, her Lady Owls tied Louisiana Tech for the regular season championship and then defeated Louisiana Tech for the WAC Tournament Championship. She was named WAC Coach of the Year with an overall record of 24-9.
In addition to her outstanding accomplishments on the court, McKinney stresses success off the court to her student-athletes. During her 12-year tenure at Rice, 100 percent of her four-year players have graduated. Over time, Cristy will do the same for Clemson. The advantage that she has at Clemson that she did not have at Rice is that we have a good history in women’s basketball. For instance, Clemson’s women’s basketball ranks in the NCAA’s top 20 in number of NCAA Tournament appearances.
We have firm foundation and a proud history with women’s basketball. Our program is not at the level we want it to be at the current time. However, we have no reservation that, under Cristy’s leadership, we will return women’s basketball to one of pride and strength.
Her record as a program builder speaks for itself. She is an excellent individual to work with, cares deeply for student-athletes, and is an outstanding coach. I’m thrilled she is here.
In Solid Orange, Terry Don Phillips
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