March 28, 2012
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Below is a transcript of Ole Miss head women's basketball coach Adrian Wiggins, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and Executive Associate Athletics Director Lynnette Johnson.
Executive Associate Athletics Director Lynnette Johnson:
"It is another great day in Ole Miss athletics and women's basketball. I would like to thank our search committee, Dr. Don Cole and Michael Thompson, for all their hard work and effort. We had tremendous interest in our women's basketball position. This is a testament to the history of our program, the commitment of our university and our current women's team. To quote Mike Glenn, I think lightening in a bottle has struck three times. So right now please welcome our new athletics director Ross Bjork to introduce our new women's head coach."
Athletics Director Ross Bjork:
"I want to welcome our student-athletes that are here today. I have only met a few of you but I look forward to getting to know you at the appropriate time. It is great to be back here in Oxford to celebrate this monumental occasion for Ole Miss Basketball and introduce our next head coach. I would be remissed if I didn't say thank you to everyone in the Rebel Nation for the welcoming that you have given my family. It has been unbelievable and that really speaks volumes to the passion that is here. Thanks to everyone for what has happened in the last week. Now, I am glad I am not the new guy on the block. I am glad that we were able to hit the ground running and hire the best coach possible for Ole Miss women's basketball. I want to thank Lynnette Johnson for chairing the search committee and Michael Thompson and Don Cole for really identifying a great pool of candidates. Also, I want to thank Danny White for being a great connection to Adrian at Fresno State here in our own athletic department. When we hire coaches, and me in particular, we look for lots of different characteristics for hiring the best coach possible. When I was brought up to speed on the search last Wednesday, I wanted to make sure that the characteristics matched the candidate pool. When I was told who the finalists were I was really pleased that they had identified the candidates that match what every athletic director and administrator would want in a head coach. We wanted someone who would be true to the institution, do things the right way, be a competitor and win at all levels. I wanted to make sure that we had all that. The things that I look for in a head coach are: Identity for a program; Someone who has relationships with student-athletes and someone who has a track record of getting the players better each and every day through player development; and somebody who is committed to academics and someone who can recruit. We want somebody who has the organizational skills and the discipline to lead a great program, and somebody who has passion for the game. We want somebody who is involved in the community and somebody who has integrity and who is a great leader and a proven winner in all facets on and off the court. Adrian met all of these requirements. This man has those ingredients. He has success at a high level and he is ready to get Rebel basketball back to where it belongs. We have great history here. We have a new arena on the horizon. All those ingredients add up to what this program can be all about. We needed a leader, and have a leader now, who can get us there. I want to welcome Adrian Wiggins and his family to Oxford. Your new Ole Miss Women's Basketball coach is Adrian Wiggins."
"I want to start off by thanking Fresno State, their administration and all the people who helped make our women's basketball program a success. I am very thankful for my experience there and for them allowing me to come explore the opportunity here at Ole Miss. I need to thank several people moving forward. I want to thank Danny White. He worked with us at Fresno State and developed the confidence that we are capable of doing this. I want to thank the search committee. They did a wonderful job. They did not sell Ole Miss, they represented Ole Miss. They made it an easy choice. Lynnette Johnson really took the time to make sure that I felt all right. I could see the passion that exudes all over this campus when it comes to athletics and academics. That is very attractive to me. I want to thank Dr. Don Cole and Michael Thompson for reaching out to me. We all recognize that we want growth and improvement. There was a genuine care, desire and liking. The way they represented the University was very attractive to me. It said a lot about where we are and where we can go as a basketball program. I want to thank Chancellor Dan Jones. He let me into his home and took the time to talk to me. He wanted to know about me and where I was from. He was genuine and represented Ole Miss so well. I want to thank my family. I want to thank my wife Heather for working and supporting me in my endeavor to get into coaching. I could not do this without the support of my wife, father-in-law, brother-in-law and my two children. I want to thank our new athletics director, Ross Bjork, for taking the time to meet with me. It was not easy under the current circumstances, but he made it happen. He knew a lot about women's basketball and that showed me that he had a genuine desire to invest in women's athletics. To be able to have those conversations on a professional level is hard to do and I appreciate his willingness to do so. We are going to develop leaders. That will be a big deal in our basketball program. When I look at the type of leader that I will be looking for, I want someone who can see the storms coming and prepare for the storms. I think that is important. I want someone who is going to take that and make us better through the storms. I really saw that in Ross and I understood how he got to this point in his career so quickly. He represented Ole Miss in a way that made this an easy situation to come into. Our family would like to represent Ole Miss in this way. I understand the history of the Ole Miss women's basketball and understand that we have been to Sweet 16s and Elite 8s. We have had some wonderful things go on in women's basketball. We want wonderful things to go on in the future. What are we going to do as a staff and as a program? We are going to make them understand that we are here for two big reasons. The number one reason is to gain a degree. That is why they are here. Our student-athletes will attain a quality degree from the University of Mississippi. The other thing is that we need to win. Our program cannot exist unless we win. You probably won't hear me talk about winning too many times, because there are a lot of things that make you win. If they don't get a degree and we don't win basketball games, then we won't get to experience all of the other wonderful things that are a part of university life. There is more to life than basketball and there is more to basketball than basketball. We will talk a lot about stuff like that. We will spend time teaching our student-athletes why we do what we do. We will set goals. We will work very hard to achieve those goals. We will learn to deal with the success and the failure of those goals. That is how we develop great citizens and learn how to cope. That is how we become leaders. We will have storms, but hopefully we will see them coming. In my world, a storm can mean someone setting a good back-screen. We will know what to do when that back-screen comes. We are going to have a clear message about what our expectations are in regard to our student-athletes. I am very excited about the staff that we are going to assemble. I can announce at this point that we are thrilled to have our associate head coach, Brett Frank. We coached together for nine years at Fresno State and I have coached against him for much longer. I am excited that he will be joining me here in Oxford. We have the opportunity to add very important people in this program and we will do that. We will recruit and bring in head coaches that have proven success and that have won at a very high level. I know our players will be thrilled about that when the time comes. We will have a lot of teaching opportunities and time to grow this program. We will work constantly at getting better every day. We will be a team that is built off of attacking. We have to define who we are as a basketball program. We will not sit back and let someone tell us what we are supposed to do. It is important that these young ladies learn and grow so that they get to a point where they can define what they want out of life and choose the professions they want to get into, the lives they want to live, and the families they want to raise. It starts with defining who you are on a daily basis within our basketball program here at Ole Miss. We will not sit back and let people do things when we are very capable of doing things on our own. If we are going to mess up, we are going to mess up trying our best. Offensively, at Fresno State we led the nation in three-point shooting, but don't get lost in that message because I would also argue that very few people have driven to the basket and made more layups than we have. There are other ways to score than shooting a three-point shot, but don't get me wrong we will hit a lot of three-pointers. The fans and the Rebel Nation will love it. Our goal is to grow together. We inherited a place [at Fresno State] ten years ago with 67 season tickets sold and about 100-200 people in the stands. At my last two home games we had 7,350 and 3,500. We will build something very special, but it will start with doing things right on a daily basis, on and off the floor. We won 28 games last year and also had a 3.2 GPA in the fall. We will have well-rounded student-athletes. This is a place to have fun, live your lives, and live up to your dreams. That is going to be our challenge as coaches. I am really looking forward to seeing the `lightning in the bottle' explode. I am looking forward to the challenge we have."
On the hiring process:
"My athletics director came to me and said that Ole Miss had contacted him. This was the day after the NCAA had selected us for the tournament. He wanted to know if I had any interest there and if they could contact me. I said yes. We got into a situation where we stopped communication until my season at Fresno State was over. When the season was over we went down the road quickly. There was a lot of information in a short period of time."
On inherited personnel:
"Most of my observations have been through statistics and word-of-mouth. I am a big stats person and they don't lie. I get a lot of confidence in what they can do from reading the stats from the games. There were a lot of games lost by just a few shots. That comes down to shot selection. I have not evaluated them on film yet. I serve on several committees for ranking teams around the country and I understand from who they have played where they are. I think we have 11 players coming back and we want to start fresh with them. I think that is fair. I don't want to go back into the past on what their stats and numbers were. I run a different system, so we will see how they do in my system."
On challenges in the SEC:
"This is a great league. It gives us a great challenge. In my world, every game is a beast. If you don't take it that way, then that is probably why you feel like somebody else is a beast. Every practice is a beast. We would like to become a beast. We might not all agree that we are today, but the goal is to be respected in this basketball conference, that is one of the best. We want to hang banners, and we will never shy away from that. I can say that because I know where myself and Coach Frank have come from. I don't have enough fingers to count the number of banners that we have hung up over the last few years. It is not something that we take lightly. It is a great league and if we can get to a point where we are hanging banners in this league, then that will be a very impressive point."
On achieving a rise in attendance at Fresno State:
"It is everything. There is not just one thing that does it. I think that this is a very broad-based company, as I like to refer to it, that has a lot of facets. We went out and we spent time in the community with our student-athletes. I remember how many times we said that we wanted to win the community service award this year. Period. That was our goal and we won it a couple of times. We spent a lot of time in the community. We went to our supporters and said that we wanted to build our game atmosphere and our attendance. There was emphasis there. We won a lot of basketball games and that definitely helps a lot. There are a lot of reasons, but above all else we had young ladies that people wanted to support. Our team was very accessible and nobody was too cool for school in our program. I have all the confidence that we will not have any too cool for school girls in this program either."
On recruiting in the SEC:
"I get asked the question about how I can recruit in the South and in Mississippi without having many ties here. I remind them that I was not from California either. If I like you and think you can play, I will tell you that. The challenge for me is to get better every day. I told our players last night that my goal is to make sure that every recruit that we bring in here is better than you. Their goal as a player is to never, ever let me bring in a player that is better than you. We will develop ourselves that way with this mentality. That is our challenge. The SEC has great recruiting challenges. There are a lot of new people I need to meet. That is a fun thing for me to meet new coaches in a different part of the country. We recruited on a national level at Fresno State. We went to all the national tournaments and I am very familiar with all the national coaches. In this league there are very good players and I am aware of that. I hope there will be a lot of people that I can draw from and use that to represent Ole Miss."