Women's Basketball Coach Introduced
Kristy Curry comes to The University of Alabama after having spent the past seven seasons as head coach at Texas Tech. With a record of 130-98 throughout her career at Tech and a career record of 309-149 in 14 years, Curry guided the Lady Raiders to a 21-11 record in 2012-13 and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
While in Lubbock, Curry coached several all-conference, all-academic and all-America players over the last 14 seasons. Senior guards Monique Smalls, Casey Morris and Chynna Brown picked up All-Big 12 Conference Team honors last season with Brown as the lone representative on the All-Big 12 First Team. Tech was the only Big 12 team to have all three starting backcourt members named to the all-conference team.
In addition to her time on the court, Curry has spent time off the court contributing on several national and regional committees over the last year. She is currently serving on the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee and is a member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, where she serves on the Defensive Player of the Year Award committee.
After establishing herself as one of the most successful women's basketball coaches in school history at Purdue University, Curry took over the reigns of the tradition-rich program at Texas Tech on March 30, 2006.
On Nov. 23, 2007, Curry added another milestone to her resume as she captured her 200th career win in a 78-56 victory over Kennesaw State in the Basketball Travelers Classic in Lubbock. The 2007-08 season also saw the Lady Raiders return to postseason play as they competed in the Postseason WNIT.
In her first stint as a head coach, Curry was hired as the head coach at Purdue in April of 1999, becoming the first coach in NCAA history to inherit a national championship-winning team. She led her first squad to four-straight wins in the 1999-00 season, extending Purdue's school-record win streak to 34 consecutive games, a mark that ranks sixth all-time in NCAA history.
In her seven years at the helm of the Boilermakers, she compiled a career record of 179-51 (.778) and was 86-26 (.768) in Big Ten Conference games. Curry's teams won two Big Ten regular-season (2001, 2002) and three Big Ten Tournament (2000, 2003, 2004) championships. She also guided her teams to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four and championship game in 2001. Curry became just the second coach in NCAA history to guide her team to the NCAA championship contest in her second year as a head coach.
On Feb. 27, 2003, Curry won her 100th game as a head coach with a 74-48 victory against Indiana. Curry needed only 126 games to reach the milestone, getting there faster than any coach in Purdue history. In addition, Curry recorded her 100th victory quicker than coaching icons such as Pat Summitt of Tennessee, Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, Tara VanDerveer of Stanford and Jody Conradt of Texas.
Not only did Curry have successful teams, but she also had coached some very successful student-athletes in West Lafayette. Under Curry's leadership at Purdue, Katie Douglas became only the third player in Big Ten history, and the first Purdue player, to earn two Kodak All-America honors (2000, 2001). Douglas was the 2000 and 2001 Big Ten Player of the Year and was named the 2001 Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year. A two-time All-Big Ten pick, Douglas is one of six Purdue players under Curry to earn first team all-conference honors. Shereka Wright, who was an assistant on Curry's staff at Texas Tech, was the 2000 USA Today and Gatorade High School Player of the Year out of Copperas Cove, Texas, and finished her four-year career under Curry as Purdue's second all-time leading scorer. Following her senior season, in which she led the Big Ten in scoring in conference games, Wright earned first team honors on the inaugural Wooden Women's All-America Team. Lubbock native Erika Valek, a four-year starting point guard for the Boilermakers, capped her career by winning the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation's top player under 5-foot-8.
The on-court success of her teams has carried over into the classroom as well, both at Texas Tech and Purdue. In her seven years at Texas Tech, 13 times her student-athletes received Academic All-Big 12 honors and had been named Academic All-District five times. Twenty-four times her student-athletes received Academic All-Big Ten distinction during her time at Purdue. Every Boilermaker who finished her playing career at Purdue during Curry's tenure graduated.
Curry began her coaching profession in her home state of Louisiana as she started at the prep level at Weston (1988-90) and Mansfield (1990-91) high schools. From there, Curry quickly moved to the college ranks as an assistant at Tulane for two seasons (1991-93). Curry then spent a year at Stephen F. Austin (1993-94) before moving on to Texas A&M for the next two years (1994-96). She then returned to the state of Louisiana to be an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech for Hall of Famer Leon Barmore for three seasons (1996-99). In 1996-97, Louisiana Tech went 31-4 and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. In 1997-98, the Lady Techsters posted another 31-4 record and finished as the NCAA runner-up. In Curry's last season in Ruston, Louisiana Tech went 30-3 and advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
Off the court, Curry feels strongly about giving back to the community. She has been heavily involved with several organizations including, the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer, Joe Arrington Cancer Center, Junior League, Inc., of Lubbock, Salvation Army, South Plains Food Bank, Women's Protective Services, Komen for the Cure, Ronald McDonald House, UMC Children's Center, AMBUC's of Lubbock, Shoes for Orphan Souls, Toys for Tots, United Way, Girl Scouts and Habitat for Humanity. A highly sought after guest speaker, Curry was a keynote speaker for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's "A Time for Women" and is a spokeswoman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Aisles of Smiles". Curry has also made personal appearances for fundraising events and has recorded public service announcements.
A native of Olla, La., Curry graduated from La Salle High School and then went on to earn her bachelor of science degree in health and physical education at Northeast Louisiana in 1988, and her master's in education at Stephen F. Austin in 1994.
She and her husband, Kelly, have two daughters, Kelsey and Kendall.
Here is the text of Kristy Curry's press conference Thursday, followed by Bill Battle's opening statement and discussion.
Kristy Curry opening statement:
"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, Alabama player who was given a release, but who has not yet gone to another school):_"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."
Here is the text of Athletics Director Bill Battle's introduction of Coach Curry and subsequent discussion:
Bill Battle's Opening Statement:
"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."
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