SLU Coach Gray-Miller Signs Extension

Saint Louis University women's basketball coach Shimmy Gray-Miller wanted to get her contract extension done before the start of the season. Now she doesn't have to worry about it.

On Friday afternoon it was announced that Gray-Miller had signed a contract extension that will keep her in charge of the Billikens program through the 2011-12 season.

"I can breathe," she said following her team's 81-64 exhibition victory over Missouri-St. Louis at Scottrade Center on Friday night. "I can relax. I really feel, more than anything, more than the perks and all that that comes along with it, the thing that I'm the most relieved about and pleased about is I have some stability."

The coach, just the sixth in the history of the women's program, is entering her third year with the Billikens and has the team headed in the right direction. She inherited a team that won four games during the 2004-05 season and led that group to 13 wins last season.

Gray-Miller has five players returning who started 10 or more games for last season's team and has a strong recruiting class, with five players orally committed, that is expected to sign on Nov. 14.

"This is the place where I want to be," Gray-Miller said. "I don't have my eye on any other job. I feel good about putting that out in public so that no one will come looking for me or my name won't keep popping up (for other jobs) like it did last year."

With Chaifetz Arena set to open next season and the improvement in resources in the last few months since Rick Majerus was hired, the future of the SLU women's program is bright.

"The potential of this program is awesome," Gray-Miller said earlier in the preseason. "Everything is in place. There's no reason you can't have a successful basketball program here. The last thing was the upgrade in the facilities. … If we can't build something special in the next few years, then I deserve to be fired. Everything is in place."

Gray-Miller said on Friday night that her contact status was being used negatively by coaches who were recruiting against her. Other coaches told recruits that Gray-Miller wasn't going to stay at SLU much longer or wouldn't be there for the recruits' four years in the program.

"I feel some stability," she said. "It helps with recruiting. It helps with current players. I like St. Louis, I like this athletic department and I love my kids."

The Billikens off-the-court achievement should also be noted. The team has a 3.336 grade-point average last season, which ranked 17th among NCAA Division I women's basketball programs.

"Coach Gray-Miller has done an outstanding job of lifting our women's basketball program to a competitive level within the Atlantic 10 Conference in a short period of time and certainly deserved to be acknowledged and rewarded," senior associate director of athletics Doug McIlhagga said in a press release. "Her competitive spirit, energy and dedication are the foundation of a program that will continue to improve as we prepare to open Chaifetz Arena."

HARRIS JOINS THE TEAM

The early departure of Chicago area freshman guard Tatiana Ortiz opened up a roster spot on the Billikens filled by a walk-on with local ties.

Jennifer Harris is a 5-5 guard from Hazelwood East, where she averaged 4.6 points, 2.2 steals and 2.1 assists per game last season. Harris was a starter on a Spartans team that went 24-6, tied for the Suburban North Conference championship and finished second in Missouri Class 5 last season.

Harris did not play in the Billikens' exhibition game on Friday night.




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