Hello again! Here are some more answers to your questions. Hope everyone is having a great summer so far and Happy Memorial Day!
Question: Chante Black improved her shooting so much during her season she was injured and really made a name for herself last year. How excited are you to have her back for a final season and how dominate could she be down low for Duke?
Coach P: Chante has worked very hard, and I admire her work ethic and intensity. She is a terrific shooter, she has a great touch on the ball and there is no doubt in my mind that she is going to be a dominant force nationwide. For her it’s about finishing the job -- finishing strong at Duke both academically and athletically. She is a very motivated and coachable player. Her best days are ahead in the WNBA or overseas.
Question: With last year being hired in April and then heading off for USA Basketball, how excited are you to have the summer to be around Duke, recruit, etc.?
Coach P: It’s very exciting that I’ll be around Duke. I’ve actually had a weekend at home with my family. I loved the two summers that I worked with USA Basketball but I’m eternally grateful that piece of my career can be set aside so that all of my attention can be focused on Duke.
Question: You have been heavily involved in the community since during your career and have continued that since arriving at Duke. How fulfilling is seeing the smiles on the faces and being able to help the different organizations around the area?
Coach P: It is very fulfilling but I haven’t even really begun to start to do what I would like to do. I haven’t done near what I’m used to doing in terms of being involved in Durham. There are a lot of things that we can do and it is just a matter of time before I start matching up with more things that will get me out into the community.
Question: Last year, the women’s basketball program had a very good turnout for the alumni weekend. Have you been able to meet a good bit of the Blue Devil alumni and is the reunion something ya’ll are expecting to do on a yearly basis?
Coach P: The reunion weekend was incredible. I loved it and thought it was great even though I didn’t know everybody. It was more about allowing the alumni to connect and in time, I will get to know people. We will continue to work with alumni events because I thought that it was a rousing success and it taught me a bit about Duke Women’s Basketball history.
GD: Looking back as this past season and when you took over at Michigan State and Maine, what is the hardest part about taking over the reigns as a new head coach?
Coach P: I think that it is that you want things to be in place right away. Everything takes so much time and there is so much automatic demand, people want things to be immediate. However, relationships take time, working with people takes time, and getting to know the area takes time. There are so many things that you do new and human nature wants immediate gratification. When you are transitioning into a new position, relationships and getting to know people has to be cultivated. It’s been quite enjoyable.
Question: Since arriving at Duke, have you had a chance to get out and see any other athletic events on campus and maybe bring your family to the events?
Coach P: I wish. We went to two or three volleyball games, but beyond that we haven’t been able to make many other events. I hope to get out and see many more next year.
Question: If you were not a basketball coach, what do you think you would be doing?
Coach P: I think I’d be a professor. I think I’d be teaching at a great institution. I really enjoy working with students.
Question: This season the main focus was to get the ball inside to our fantastic post players. Will that once again be an emphasis for next season?
Coach P: It wasn’t an emphasis totally based on personnel. To play basketball and to win championships you have to score points in the paint. It’s a general philosophy to play the game from the inside out. Not only does it secure some points in the paint but it also opened up the perimeter for our three point shooters. If you can operate from the inside out, you are probably going to have a great deal of success. More importantly are the assists. It’s the ability to create offense through ball movement that we’re going to be emphasizing.
Question: What advice would you give to an aspiring young coach who wants to coach at the D1 level someday? What steps should that person take?
Coach P: It’s getting harder and harder to get into the Division I level. Levels matter; if you are Division II or Division III it’s very hard to cross into Division I. If you want Division I then the best bet is to get an entry level coaching position at any university to get your foot in the door. What I’ve found today is that people are far too picky. I just want to let people know that you do not have the luxury of choosing where you want to go. It is so competitive for any Division I opening and they should take any available position that is offered to them, regardless of location.