Quotes: Michelle Clark-Heard, Todd Stewart, Gary Ransdell and Jeff Walz discuss Clark-Heard’s hire

Folks, there’s plenty more to come on Michelle Clark-Heard’s hire as new women’s basketball coach, but for the moment, I’m going to unload lots of quotes on you from her introductory news conference.

The comments are from Clark-Heard, WKU president Gary Ransdell, interim athletic director Todd Stewart – a title that was officially announced at the news conference – and Louisville coach Jeff Walz, who was in attendance.

Here are their thoughts:

Todd Stewart

“It became clear that Michelle Clark-Heard’s experience as a head coach, recruiter, mentor to young women, developer of talent, game strategist and former player made her the ideal person to lead the Lady Topper program.”

“The passion she has for WKU, and you couple that with her unique set of experiences. She’s been a head coach – a very successful head coach. … When you add it all up with her natural exuberance for the job and WKU, it was an obvious choice.”

Michelle Clark-Heard

“This is an amazing day for me – one that I have dreamed about. Now, I’m right in the middle of it.”

“Twenty something years ago, when Paul Sanderford walked into my house and told me how special it would be on the Hill, I never imagined I’d be sitting here as the one that was going to be leading the Lady Toppers out on that floor.”

“As an assistant and as someone that has a dream, my dream is to lead young ladies too and mentor them and put my stamp on the program. That’s what I’m here to do.”

“I’m going to do everything I can to be the best I can be. I’ll be in the community, I’ll be on the road as soon as we leave this press conference. I’m trying to figure out where I need to go to find the next player because I know the deal. Dr. Ransdell said ‘Recruit, recruit, recruit,’ and I will be doing that.”

What style do you want to play? “I know what my philosophy is and what I like to do. I’m going to have to assess the talent I have, and what we will do is play hard and get after it. What I like to do is press and get up and down the floor. That’s my game. That’s what I know.”

“The facilities are second-to-none. Young ladies are very special when it comes to seeing all the little things. They see the dorm, and if they don’t like the dorm, they might decide that’s not where they want to be. But we have it all. Western Kentucky has all the facilities, and not just for basketball.”

On bringing energy back to the program: “That’s all I know. I know the standing and the clapping and the waving of the towels. That’s one of the things I’m looking to bring back. I’m going to be in the community. The team will be whereever we have to be to make sure we’ll get fans in the stands. … That’s what WKU is about. Whatever I have to do, wherever I have to go, whoever I have to preach to that WKU women’s basketball is back and ready to roll, that’s what I’ll do.”

“Getting back to the top is going to be taking what I have standing here and the recruits I add to them. The focus is right now. It’s not for a year later, two years down the road. It’s now.”

“We’re going to recruit against Coach Walz and everywhere else, and that’s what it’s about. We’ve got to get the best.”

On how AAU basketball has changed the game: “That’s where a lot of that talent is coming from. That’s the talent pool. There’s a lot of talent. We have some years where it’s bigger in the state of Kentucky, but that’s where it starts. When you have that, you have opportunities for all the schools to recruit nationally. There’s enough around for the three teams in the state. We can compete to get the best.”

Gary Ransdell

On meeting Clark-Heard on Tuesday: “That was a good get-acquainted period. Clearly, that went well.”

“She convinced me that she’s got the fire and the focus and the talent to be successful here. I agree with her – this is not a long-term turnaround. This is an immediate turnaround. We’ll see how long it takes us to get NCAA tournament worthy.”

On completing a thorough search for the next permanent AD after interim period: “I’m not sure how long permanent is, but maybe we can work on that one.”

Jeff Walz

“You’re upset because you lose a dear friend, but we’re excited for Michelle. She has the chance to coach at her alma mater and be two hours away from home, and we understand that’s something she can’t pass up.”

“She’s be successful because she knows how it works, and that you have to put great people around you. One thing I’m pleased about with myself is that I surrounded myself with great people like her, and she’ll do the same.”

On getting three strong WBB programs in the state of Kentucky: “It’d be great. Just look at the men’s side. Just this region right now is full of talent, and we can do that in women’s basketball. We’re all going after the top players, but you can’t let the second-best player slip away and become great. You have to have players. We can all coach, but you’ve got to have great players.”

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