WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard spoke to the Bowling Green Rotary Club today, and yours truly was in attendance. Here’s a random collection of thoughts from Heard during her speech. Heard discussed more, including each recruit more in-depth, but these are just some highlights:
Jalynn McClain – a “well-needed” player because she’s a post. Heard knew of McClain while she was an assistant at Louisville. Called her an “old-school” player with lots of different moves.
Micah Jones – Heard: “What from what I’ve heard, she can really shoot the basketball.”
Mariah Sunkett – Heard said the staff lost out on a couple of other post players. Sunkett was set to attend another school that had an interim coach, but that coach was told by the athletic director that he couldn’t sign any more players since it wasn’t certain that he’d be back next season. The coach then called new WKU assistant Margaret Richards. Heard said Sunkett fits the Lady Tops’ up-and-down style perfectly.
Heard: “I had to pry her thoughts away from Middle Tennessee. I thought that was a huge get for us. … Kendall was one I fought and fought to get on campus, and I sold Kendall on the vision of being able to play in Kentucky and take Western Kentucky to the stop.”
MTSU coach Rick Insell was actively recruiting Noble. Heard: “Of course, the fella down the road was telling her that we weren’t going to win and other things.”
Heard said she had to fight to get Noble to visit. After she did, the two compared WKU and MTSU. Said the last thing to ask was about the head coach, and Noble hesitated. “I said, ‘I hope that hesitation was for him, not for me.’ She said, ‘Actually, coach, I feel really close to you.’ “
Heard said she was on a recruiting trip when Noble verbally committed, actually sitting next to a MTSU assistant. She excused herself to take the call and celebrated in a crowded parking lot when Noble gave the news. “I was smiling so hard when I came back.”
Heard on returnees: “The relationships that I’ve built with them already, I feel like we’ve come a long way. I actually really miss them, not seeing them on campus right now.”
Heard said Chastity Gooch was probably the most impressive player in spring practices. “She has a ton of potential. I’ve just got to get her to reach that potential, and that’s our goal as a staff.”
Heard said the team might have to be selective with its press defense because of depth: “That might have to be in moderation, because last time I checked, I have three post players.”
Other sound bytes
On gaining fans: “I remember the days when Diddle was packed out for the Lady Topper games, and I really believe that we can get back to that. I know we all have to go out and promote that, but I also know that once we get you to a game, you have to enjoy it, have fun and be excited when you leave there.”
“I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but I can promise we’re going to compete as hard as you’ve seen the Lady Topper compete in a long time.”
On assistant Greg Collins: “I kind of had to pry him away from Arkansas, and it wasn’t easy. He has an unbelievable gift. He’s very good at Xs and Ox, but he’s also great on the court and with individual skill work. From watching film and watching the young ladies, we need as much individual work as we can get.”