Albright named new Nevada women’s hoop coach
Appeal Sports Writer
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – When Kim Gervasoni suddenly resigned on May 22, Nevada’s associate athletic director Rory Hickok sat down with the women’s basketball team and promised that he would do right by them.
“They had worked so hard to get the program to where it is,” Hickok said. “We were not going to go backward. We found the best qualified coach for this team. She is a perfect fit.”
To put it simply, Hickok and athletic director Cary Groth delivered in a big way.
Jane Albright, the winningest head coach in Northern Illinois and University of Wisconsin history, was introduced as Nevada’s new head coach Wednesday afternoon in a press conference at Legacy Hall.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to be here today,” said Albright, who has 397 career wins, but was let go at Wichita State after compiling a 48-94 record in the past five years . “Kim (Gervasoni) and her staff of creating the foundation for a bright future in women’s basketball. I’m looking forward to meeting the players and getting started as soon as possible.
“This place is irresistible. The part of the country where I came from was flat (Wichita State). When I flew in for my interview, I was like a little kid. I was trying to see Lake Tahoe. The vision everybody has here is the same. I promise you this team will work as hard as you’ve ever seen.”
Albright, who compiled a 397-311 record in her three previous stops and made nine NCAA appearances, becomes the 10th head coach in Nevada’s short women’s basketball history. She agreed to a five-year contract, which still must be approved by the Nevada Board of Regents.
“We had to be quick, but we had to be thorough,” said Hickok, who led the national search and chose Albright over four other finalists for the position.
Hickok said he received phone calls from some of the biggest names in college basketball – Pat Summitt from Tennessee, Gino Auriemma from UConn and Tara VanDerveer from Stanford – extolling the virtues of some of the candidates.
“When Pat Summitt calls you listen,” Hickok said. “When Deb Patterson (Kansas State) calls, you listen.”
Both coaches called on behalf of Albright.
“Jane is a passionate teacher and a player’s coach,” Summitt was quoted as saying in the university’s press release. “I am confident she will do a great job at the University of Nevada. Jane will bring enthusiasm and energy to women’s basketball at Nevada, and will embrace the Reno community and its fans.”
“Jane will bring great experience, expertise and passion for winning,” Patterson said. “With Jane at the helm, the Wolf Pack will be poised to compete for conference championships. Jane is one of the best in the game at creating a program that will excite fans and recruits.”
Albright talked about her first priorities as head coach.
“I’m going to meet the players and get to know them and meet with the three recruits we have coming in and get a staff,” she said.” Making them understand we have talent here and get the players in a groove. And recruiting which will be going on at the same time.”
Hickok said Albright will have a free hand in terms of hiring a staff, and that nobody has been promised a job. That means that assistant coach Jackie Moore and basketball operations director Amber Young will be in limbo for a little while.
Dellena Criner, a two-time all-WAC performer, was one of a few players who attended the press conference.
“She seems very positive and she is anxious to get us ready for this year,” Criner said. “A lot of people seem to vouch for her and give her credit and she seems pretty successful.
“She is about to approach 400-plus wins and she has good relationships with players she has coached.”
It’s those relationships, according to Albright, that have meant the most to her.
“We’ve won big games which I can remember but I remember the people more than anything,” she said.
Albright admitted that she is coming into a pretty good situation. Nevada, which won 18 games last season, returns 12 of its 17 players. The only key loss was guard Mikail Price, who surrendered many of her minutes to freshman Johnna Ward toward the end of the season.
“I have confidence in the kids and have high expectations,” Albright said. “The players seem to have a great work ethic. This is certainly not a rebuilding team. This program is in a great place and I get to come in and reap the benefits.
“People have put a lot of work and energy into this program. We’re going to have big dreams.”
Criner said that Albright talked a little bit about offense and defense in her meeting with the players.
Gervasoni’s teams were known more for their pressure defense and forcing turnovers.
“She runs a lot of offense; a lot of quick hits,” said Criner. “Not too much pressing; only when it was needed. It’s a different aspect.”
One thing that impressed Nevada administrators is her ability to build a program and attract fans.
Albright likes to get involved in the community, and she promised that her athletes will be visible. And, she hopes that will put people in the seats.
“She will interact with the community in such a positive way and be a positive role model for the players,” said coaching great Kay Yow of North Carolina State when asked to comment on Albright. “She brings so much more than just being a basketball coach and will be involved in all areas of the program. She is a role model who is great for college athletics.”
– Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281
THE ALBRIGHT HIGHLIGHTS
1981-1983 – Served as a graduate assistant to Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee. The Vols won their first NCAA title in 1982.
1983-1984 0 Assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati.
1984-1994 – Compiled a 188-110 record at Northern Illinois University, and guided the Huskies to five 20-win seasons, three conference titles and four NCAA appearances.
1994-2003 – Compiled a 161-107 record at the University of Wisconsin. She led the Badgers to four 20-win seasons and seven pots-season appearances in nine seasons, including a second-place finish in 1999 in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
2004-2008 – Compiled a 48-94 record at Wichita State.