LaVonda Wagner Press Conference Comments
May. 2, 2005
CORVALLIS, Ore. - May 2, 2005 - Formal Press Conference Introducing Oregon State Women's Basketball Head Coach LaVonda Wagner
Opening statement from Women's Basketball Head Coach LaVonda Wagner:
'I would like to thank you all for coming - It's a good day to be a Beaver, and I'm excited about being a Beaver. Before I get started, I would like to thank President Ray and Athletic Director Bob De Carolis for having the confidence in me to take over this program, and bringing me to Corvallis. I'm extremely excited to be at a university that is a high academic university, and to be in the Pac-10 which is a very prestigious conference - nothing be great things are going to happen.'
'When I had my initial talk with Bob and his staff about this position, I was very impressed with their commitment and their vision for this program, and where they want to go - to win championships, to be in the hunt for a Pac-10 title, to be in the hunt for a national championship title. That to me is where you want to be and you want to be with people who understand what it takes to get there. I'm coming from a program at Duke University, where that's the norm. I was looking for a situation where I could come in, and I could be successful, but where I also had the support and the vision of the people at the top, who understand what it takes and want to take this journey with me. To me, this is a dream come true.'
'In my first conversation with the current players, I told them that it was time to start talking and walking like champions and that they needed to see themselves in their mind's eye being that. So far, so good, they've done that, and I'm really excited.'
'Oregon State University is a program that athletically and academically is on the rise. If you look at the athletic department and the success of the softball team, men's soccer, baseball team and what they've done, the football program, and most recently the job that Jay John and his staff has done with men's basketball in a very short period of time in making postseason this past year - that's an indication of success and support. That's why I'm here, because I want to be a part of that success and a part of a group of people who are eager and excited for winners.'
'I'm committed to taking the helm. My staff and I, and my players are going to work really hard to build a program that the community, the university, and the state of Oregon can be proud of.'
Wagner on the issue of recruiting:
'The biggest thing with recruiting is relationships. The first thing that myself and my staff have to do is to get out into the state of Oregon and really meet the right people and get in touch with the players that are here and really try to own this state. Recruiting is the bloodline of any program and every good coach knows that. It's the first order of business. The morning that I took this job, I was on a plane to Phoenix, and the first thing I did was recruiting. To me, recruiting is one of the most important things - it goes like this: My current players that are here and committed, my staff, and recruiting.'
Wagner on the challenge of taking over a program that struggled to win last season and her style of play:
'The only way that we can go is up. I've told the players that as well, the only way we can go is up. As far as my philosophy and my style, that's going to depend on the staff and the personnel that I have. We will play both ends of the floor, we'll play hard, and we're going to play smart. We want an inside-outside attack, because it's hard to defend. We're going to challenge each other to get better - better on the floor, better with recruiting, better in the classroom.'
Wagner on competing in the Pac-10:
'The Pac-10 is a great conference. It's a power conference. To be a head coach in a power conference is anyone's dream. Stanford is the model at the top and they have had that tradition and success for a long period of time, so everyone is looking to knock them off. The parity has gotten better in the Pac-10 with the five teams that made the NCAA Tournament and how they fared. I think you can come in and do some damage pretty quickly, and everyone is looking at Stanford trying to knock them off. My dream is for everyone to be looking at Oregon State.'
Wagner on the process of hiring her staff:
'I'm in the process of interviewing. My philosophy is that my staff will be the second-most important group to me, outside of my family and my players. It's important for me to get the right pieces and the right fit for my student-athletes and for the university. Every single day, those are people who are going to make us better.'
Wagner on how the players have reacted to her hire:
'We're moving forward and we're not going to look back. Today's a new day and we know where we've got to go and we know we have some challenges ahead of us. We are a tight circle and we're going to take this journey together. We're going to have our success and we're going to have setbacks, but we're only going to go forward.'
Wagner on the four recruits that signed letters in the fall and other potential signees:
'The young women that made the commitment to come to Oregon State in the early recruiting process are to my knowledge still coming. Every single day we're looking for people who can make us better. If we find someone who's still available in the 2005 class that can fit with us and make us better academically and athletically, we will give them the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise, we're looking at young women in the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 class - we're searching for the right fit every single day.'
Wagner on what the timeline is for making the NCAA Tournament on WNIT:
'That depends on the young women that I sign, and what we bring in. We began working on that three weeks ago when I took the job. That's our gold. We're taking steps and we're going forward.'
Wagner on why she chose Oregon State over other options:
'That's a great question. I had been offered a series of jobs over the years and a series of jobs this past year. I knew what I wanted when I became a head coach and I was looking for something special. I think that people make a place, and when I came here for my interview and even when I talked to the administration before coming to campus, I really bought into the vision and I really bought into the support. I knew that these were people that I wanted to surround myself with because they would make not only my dreams happen, but the dreams of the student-athletes happen. It's been a great thing so far and I only see better things coming. I came here for the people.'
Wagner on the national level of recruiting:
'Being at Duke really allowed me to become a national recruiter, and when I was at Illinois we did more regional recruiting and foreign countries. You have to go where the players are and you have to be persistent. The first order of business is being able to get into the state of Oregon and building those relationships. Hiring someone from the West Coast who knows those contacts - I know who the players are, but I need to know quickly and effectively the people I need to be in touch with - is a key. You have to go where the players are, and you have to go where people are interested. I look at it this way, if Oregon State can recruit and sign me, then I can recruit someone else.'
Wagner's key to recruiting:
'The thing that I found out about recruiting is, you have to find out what people want. You have to find out what people want and what they are looking for, and who is closing the deal - whether it's the student-athlete, whether it's the parents, whether it's the teacher, whether it's the minister - you have to find out who's closing those deals and what it is that they want. If you can figure that out in an effective manner, then you can recruit some people. You build that relationship based on trust. We have a lot to offer here at Oregon State - the people are great, we have a quality education that we can provide, and an opportunity to play in the Pac-10 which is a power conference. We have a lot of things on the table that are very attractive and now we have to go out and find the people who are willing to take the opportunity and run with it.'
Wagner on what her transition of moving across the country from Duke says to potential recruits:
'It says a lot. Duke opened a lot of doors, and in my background of women's basketball and recruiting it helps to have those national contacts. As far as my transition to Corvalls, it's been one that's been well planned out. I'm still not used to the time-zone yet, but I'll get that piece. I'm just taking my time and building a foundation that will stay. You have to lay the brick and you don't want it to blow up on you and so you end up back where you started. We're starting from scratch, and we're laying down a strong foundation that will last for years and years to come.'
Wagner on coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the challenge of getting Oregon State to the level of some teams on the East Coast:
'East Coast versus West Coast there is a different type of style of play that I've noticed. West Coast basketball is a more fundamentally sound and smarter type of game, it's not so much the run, run, run, I happen to like both and I'm in an advantage because I've been in both. Being in the Midwest where it's more of a physical type of game and now coming from the ACC, I know what it takes, and I really want to go inside-out, and be able to attack the basket that way.'
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