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Kathy McConnell-Miller Named Head Women's Basketball Coach

Apr 27, 2005

BOULDER - The University of Colorado at Boulder has named Kathy McConnell-Miller head women's basketball coach effective immediately.


McConnell-Miller, 37, replaces Ceal Barry who retired in March after 22 seasons with the Buffaloes to become the school's assistant athletic director for student services. She is the sixth head coach in the 31-year history of the program.


McConnell-Miller spent the last six seasons as head women's basketball coach at the University of Tulsa where she constructed an impressive turnaround of the Golden Hurricane program. Before her arrival in 1999-2000, Tulsa had just one winning season in its 14-year history, an overall record of 81-250 (.324), and was actually dropped as a varsity sport for nine years following the 1986-87 campaign. In her six seasons at Tulsa, McConnell-Miller recorded a program-best 91 wins (15.2 wins per year), winning seasons in three of the last four years and two postseason appearances.


This past season Tulsa finished 19-11, recorded its second-straight third place finish in the Western Athletic Conference, and earned its second-straight WNIT postseason berth. The Golden Hurricane posted a 9-5 record against NCAA Tournament and WNIT teams last winter, including wins over perennial basketball powers Louisiana Tech, Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri State. Tulsa tied its team record of 19 overall wins and 11 WAC wins set in 2003-04, and sported a program-best 12 triumphs on its home court -- the Reynolds Center.


Kathy McConnell-Miller was
on the University of Tulsa
sidelines for sixseasons.
(Tulsa Sports Information)

 With an overall record of 91-88, McConnell-Miller is Tulsa's all-time leader for coaching victories and owns the longest tenure in school history by a women's basketball coach. McConnell-Miller, who earned WAC Coach of the Year honors in her rookie season as a collegiate head coach in 1999-00, has led Tulsa to 14 or more wins in five of her six campaigns.


Under the direction of McConnell-Miller, Tulsa placed at least one player on either the All-WAC first or second team, each of the last six seasons. McConnell-Miller also had the Golden Hurricane excelling in the classroom sporting four ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first and second team performers. Tulsa players also earned 23 All-WAC Academic Team honors. One of McConnell-Miller's prize players was Allison Curtin who was an Associated Press honorable mention All-American for the Golden Hurricane and was drafted by the Houston Comets in the first round of the 2003 WNBA Draft.


Prior to her appointment at Tulsa, McConnell-Miller spent four seasons on Theresa Grentz's staff at the University of Illinois (1995-99). She was an assistant coach for her first three years before being promoted to associate head coach for her final season. The Fighting Illini posted an overall record of 76-45 and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments with McConnell-Miller on the bench. Illinois won the Big Ten Conference Championship in 1997 and twice advanced to the Sweet 16. While at Illinois, McConnell-Miller was vital in the signing of a pair of recruiting classes that ranked among the top five in the nation.


McConnell-Miller coached with Grentz for a total of six years as she went with Grentz to Illinois from Rutgers University in 1995. McConnell-Miller was a Rutgers assistant for two seasons (1993-95), helping the Lady Knights post a pair of winning campaigns, the 1994 Atlantic 10 Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Her recruiting expertise was well documented at Rutgers as her last class was rated as the 14th-best nationally, giving McConnell-Miller back-to-back Top 15 classes.


Her first collegiate assistant coaching job came at her hometown school, the University of Pittsburgh. She joined the Panthers in 1991 and served as the recruiting coordinator. She was also an assistant coach for the 1993 Big East All-Star Team which played in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


McConnell-Miller enjoyed a four-year playing career at guard for the University of Virginia (1986-90). She played in four NCAA Tournaments with the Cavaliers including a pair of Sweet 16 appearances and the 1988 Elite Eight. McConnell-Miller earned her bachelor's degree in rhetoric and communications from Virginia in 1989.


One of eight children, she is one of six McConnell siblings who attended college on a basketball scholarship. Five McConnell's are presently in the coaching ranks, one at the professional level, one at the college level, and three at the high school level. Her older sister, Suzie McConnell-Serio, is the head coach for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA.

Born on Sept. 24, 1967, McConnell-Miller and her husband, Brad Miller, have three children: Brice (5), Mackenzie (3) and Macie, who was born on August 23, 2004.


Quotes from Wednesday's Press Conference:


Kathy McConnell-Miller and AD Mike Bohn at Wednesday's Press Conference

Kathy McConnell-Miller was introduced as the sixth women's basketball head coach in University of Colorado history Wednesday morning at the Dal Ward Athletic Center. The following are excerpts from the press conference where McConnell-Miller, athletic director Mike Bohn and former head coach/current assistant athletic director Ceal Barry addressed the media.


Athletic Director Mike Bohn


On McConnell-Miller: "I think it has been a really interesting ride the last couple weeks. So, the first thing I want to do is salute our team. Our women's basketball players that (former) coach (Ceal) Barry recruited and still have eligibility here, have been real superstars as far as their patience, as far as their passion and as far as their willingness to allow the process to continue to work itself all the way through. My hat is off to our team first. I believe our new head coach is inheriting some great young ladies. Again, that is a tribute to them and to the previous staff.


"I'd also like to say ?thank you' Ceal Barry, (associate athletic director) Karen Morrison and the rest of the committee who helped so much in this process. I think it is important for everyone to understand that in order to attract the great coach that we were able to bring to the University of Colorado, it takes a lot of people to engage in that process. They have to clearly understand the environment, clearly understand the traditions and clearly understand the support basis that is here.


"When I first had the opportunity to talk with Kathy, we talked about the people in this room, the people that are in this community. That is what makes this a great institution and a great town. Obviously, the background that Ceal built up and the success here is well documented. But, if you get a look at the other pieces that are also important ?  faculty members on campus that were involved in the decision process and everybody who contributed to make this happen, I think that is why we are very fortunate to have what I believe to be the brightest, up-and-coming coach in America joining our program. I think there is no question that when we were looking for a coach, we really felt like we needed to do as much homework as we could. I think we feel that we know more about coach McConnell-Miller and her program than maybe her husband does; and I think that's a good thing. We were looking for a coach with intensity, because that's what I believe our fan base has. We wanted great character, integrity, work ethic and every single time we'd evaluate different characteristics, Kathy's name and what she stands for were clearly in the spotlight. We have been successful in attracting a leader, an individual who will be engaged in the community at every level and someone who will help build our budding program to the next level."      


WBB Head Coach Kathy McConnell-Miller


General: "This day for me, my family and my husband is one of the best days of my life. I professionally can't believe that I am sitting up here and will eventually be representing you as your head coach. This is an unbelievable opportunity for me. I want to thank first and foremost Athletic Director Judy MacLeod and Dr. Bob Lawless, former president of the University of Tulsa, for giving me the opportunity to become a head coach there and establish myself in the women's game. It has been a wonderful situation for me and I've grown in numerous ways. The result of me being here is my experience (at Tulsa). I have grown and matured as an individual, as a coach, as a mom and in every aspect of my life.


"I am ready for this job; I am ready for the opportunity to continue what Ceal Barry did in our game. Ceal, I want to thank you for sharing your strengths, for sharing what you've done and for sharing this program with me. What you've done for our game is exceptional and I know I can never replace you. But, I'm proud to be standing next to you and to continue the tradition and build on it.


"I had the opportunity to meet with this team and the opportunity to talk to them. They didn't have a lot of questions; they didn't have a lot of requests. They just had this look in their eyes that they wanted somebody in here that was going to motivate them, that was going to surround them with other great players and then put them in a situation to be successful. It only took a few minutes to realize that this is a great group of young ladies. For me, the ability to recruit, to bring in complementary players and role players and All-Americans into this program, is my job. I need to blend the present players with the future players. Recruiting is a big part of that. I have been a lot of places; I've recruited all over the country and I'm looking forward to broadening that horizon and really finding players to represent you and this university." 


On Ceal Barry: "Ceal and I have had numerous conversations, and Ceal has decided to move on and take on a different area of her life to grow in. I would be a fool not to utilize her in every aspect of my job. From the first conversation that I had with her, she has been embracing. She knows what it takes to win and she's done it. The game has changed, and we've talked a great deal about how the game has changed in the past 20 years. I like that part of the game; I like the players today and I like the recruiting aspects of today. The game has changed and technology has changed, but I am looking forward to that. Nobody can deny what Ceal has done for this program, and that will be recognized over the next 20 years."


On Her Style of Play: "I do know the triangle offense; I have seen it. I have had to prepare for it the last three years (against Jen Warden at Boise State). I know what it takes and what it's all about, but I do have a little bit of a different style. I like an up-tempo style of play. What I've really understood over the past six years is that you have to adjust to your players. You have to adjust to their athleticism, or lack thereof, their size, their speed, what they can handle and what they can't. But, if I was to pick a team and start from scratch, I'd like an up-tempo style. I like pressure, I like point guards who are generals on the floor and can handle the ball, can put it where it needs to be and can look at me and know what we need to do. I have that idea, but as coaches you have to make adjustments."


On Adjusting to Big 12 Conference: "I have been in Oklahoma the last six years, so I've been surrounded by the Big 12. Football, men's basketball, women's basketball ? it was all around us. The Tulsa men would win a big game and Oklahoma State would beat Centenary and that'd be the front page story. I know the conference, I know the prestige and that was very attractive to me. I am from the East Coast. I played in the ACC, coached in the Big East, coached in the Big 10 and certainly know that there is something pretty unbelievable about the Big 12. I am very aware of what I'm up against and the differences."


On A.D. Mike Bohn: "I know that I am the type if person who can work day in and day out with Mike Bohn. He's is wonderful and has inspired me. From every aspect of this search, there is no doubt that every day I come to work I will be working with a great man and a great institution."


On Filling Her Staff: "I have two people on my present staff that will come with me. One, Mike Neighbors, the other, Bethann Ord, who I've known for six years and has been my recruiting coordinator. The two of them are prepared to come to Boulder. I have two openings, and obviously I will evaluate the present staff. I've also had 10-15 calls in the last 24 hours (from around the country). But, I think I need to take my time and evaluate everybody that has ties and strengths in Colorado."


On Competing at Colorado: "One of the things that told me (I can compete here) is the perception of the program from anybody. From coaches in our game and from players, the perception is that the University of Colorado can win a national championship. Everything is in place for that to happen. After meeting people and visiting and touring this campus, you can see the expectations of that. There is an expectation that you can win at Colorado and compete in the Big 12 and on a national level; it is reality."


On Drawing Attendance/Attention: "I think that (ups and downs) is cyclical. Things happen, whether it's wins and losses or something else happening in the state. Those things happen. But, there definitely is going to be a push to increase this attendance. (Ceal Barry) is speaking 15 times (as part of the speakers' bureau) in the next two weeks to continue to promote the program. I will do the same. If you put a good product on the floor that people like to see, then the attendance will increase. But to me ? I don't care if it's an elementary school, a grocery store or the bank ? I m talking CU basketball, and that's it."


Former WBB Coach / Assistant Athletic Director-Student Services Ceal Barry


On McConnell-Miller: "We wanted somebody who is really going to take care of the kids and that is really going to care about the kids. I think Kathy really cares about her players. She is relationship-driven. I think this is going to be a smooth transition for our players and staff. It will be a tremendous fit.


"She is excited about the job, and her husband is excited about being in Boulder. For the players, it was their No. 1 choice, and I think being able to turn around from the prior situation to Kathy being hired, it just worked out the way it was supposed to work out.


"She is a confident coach, she has a lot of personality and she's got respect for people. We've never coached against each other, but we'd see one another on the road. This is going to be a good situation."