Daugherty paints bright future for WSU

PULLMAN—New Washington State women's basketball coach June Daugherty forecast a bright future in the Friday news conference announcing her hiring. The former Huskies' coach drew quite a crowd and the throng was not disappointed as Daugherty relayed a strong message of confidence, talked recruiting, and spoke frankly on a number of topics --- including her feelings about her previous employer.

"Welcome to the new championship era in Washington State women's basketball. I am fired up," said Daugherty.

Indeed, she was. Asked if there would be a certain degree of revenge involved when she faced off against the Huskies, Daugherty was both candid and concise.

"More than you'll ever know," she said.

The place went crazy.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be here," said Daugherty, who introduced her family, spoke about the splendor of Pullman -- saying she "had no idea," -- and praised the efforts and accomplishments of both the WSU athletic department and the current team and former staff headed by Sheri Murrell.

"We landed in a better place," she said, of Washington State. "And we are very excited about it."

Daugherty, asked how she will adjust going from head coach of the Huskies to taking the reigns at Washington State, said she is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's a little different, I guess it just depends on your perspective and where your allegiance is, but we're just thrilled to be here and we're looking forward to the challenges," she said. "I think everything is here that we can offer student athletes. The Pac-10 conference is unbelievable in women's basketball. We're one of 10 schools in that conference, we should own the West Coast in recruiting -- We will own the West Coast in recruiting. "And I think our style of play is something that our fans are going to enjoy over here and all the cities that we play in, and there are just so many positives."

Daugherty said her conversations with athletic director Jim Sterk, who called the hiring "a home run", men's coach Tony Bennett and his wife, Laurel, and former men's coach Dick Bennett and his wife Ann, was critical in taking on the challenge to right the proverbial sinking ship which has been the WSU women's basketball team of recent years.

"We want to contend for the Pac-10 title every year," she said of the running team she intends to craft. "Its an exciting style, I think you'll enjoy it. We're about team, I love to recruit kids that will put the team first and share the basketball. I think when you have that kind of play, you get some real tough defensive assignments for some opponents."

When asked what she will bring to the recruiting table, Daugherty said, "I think there is still some opportunity out there to recruit some student athletes, I have some people in mind, we will look at that opportunity, but it is a little bit late, if you will, in the recruiting game. But as of, probably another two hours we'll be on the phone with some people."

Daugherty spoke candidly when asked if there were any recruits who have committed to the UW who could end up following the coach to Washington State. Any who wanted to transfer to Washington State for the upcoming season would need to obtain a release from Washington, something Daugherty said should be granted if so requested.

"I don't know what's going to happen as far as student-athletes who want to transfer and join us over here. But I think honestly whether it's Washington State or anywhere else, I think as young people, as they make the decision that they would like to transfer somewhere, they should be given that opportunity. It's their career, it's their four years. (But) I don't have any input or any insight on any of that...I think kids should be able to go where they want," said Daugherty.

Although the team has suffered considerably of late, Daugherty was optimistic regarding the future of the program, saying "Today is a new day, we're moving forward and we're not looking back."

"I have been in situations before where I have walked into a program that has not had a lot of success," Daugherty said. "What I bring is, I have the experience, the know withal, to get out there and identify the talent. I think I am very well connected on the West Coast and internationally with the student athletes that are out there, and recruiting. I think my experience, the success I have had as a coach, is attractive to a lot of people out there, and we are just going to go out there and make sure everybody knows what this program has to offer, both academically, athletically. I will tell you, it's a great town."

  • Daugherty made it clear in the press conference that she will focus on athletes as students first, saying that she hopes the team will maintain the highest GPA of any team on campus, and that all her players will graduate in the four years they plan too. "It's paramount that our students have a 100 percent graduation rate," she said.

  • About 70 people were at the press conference, including Bennett, members of the media, fans and alumni of WSU, Daugherty's family and friends, and current players.

  • Players were not immediately available for comment following the conference, as they left quickly to attend a meeting with their new coach.

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