I caught up today with Western Kentucky coach Michelle Clark-Heard and new Lady Topper assistant Candyce Bingham.
We talked about Bingham’s hire, the addition of JUCO guard Jasmine Crawford and other roster updates. Heard declined to comment further on the departures of LeAsia Wright and Mariah Sunkett beyond Monday’s statement.
Here are comments from Heard and Bingham:
Hiring Bingham: “When I went back and looked at what I needed to do with that position, I wanted someone who knew me – someone who knew basically everyone on my staff, and someone who knew how to win. I wanted someone I thought the girls would be able to connect with right away. … And I was looking at a little longevity, too. I knew I could have her for a while, and I thought it would be good if we had some consistency.”
Bingham’s experience as player, coach: “Our ultimate goal is to get our team to the Final Four. To bring in a player and coach who’s been involved in it twice in a national championship game capacity, I don’t know where else I would have had to go to find that. She has the passion and the will to be great.”
Watching Louisville’s title game run: “Most of those players I sat in on a home visit or was on campus with. We told them we could reach that again if we continued to get players. It was something special to watch. Jeff Walz does an amazing job, and those kids played their hearts out.”
Bringing in a guard in Jasmine Crawford: “The position that we really struggled with was having a point. Micah (Jones) did a phenomenal job, but that’s not her true position. We wanted to have depth at that position, so no matter what, we have someone who can lead the charge.”
More on Crawford: “She’s very vocal and charismatic. The first day I talked to her on the telephone, I thought it was amazing because I thought she could be the fit. I wanted to get her on campus and around our players, and she fit like she’d been here the whole year.”
More on Crawford: “She’s a true point guard. She can handle the ball, she can pass it. She gets to the basket very well, and she has a level of quickness that I think will be good for us. She likes defense, too, so it’ll all fit.”
Will you add more players in 2013 class? “If it’s going to be a fit or something that will help us improve, we’ll do it.”
Coming to WKU: “I’ve always wanted to get into coaching, and I knew she had the third assistant open, but I didn’t know if she was going to ask me for it. That was the end of it. I wanted to come with her when she first got the job, but I had already talked to coach Walz about getting into grad school. Once she asked me, I was all in.”
Relationship with Heard: “It’s a little different now that I’m not a player and a little older. At U of L, she was like another mother to me. We’d talk about not just basketball, but life. Being here, she’s only going to teach me more.”
Did you think Heard was ready to be a head coach then? “We always talked about it. I knew she wanted to eventually get back to Western and be a head coach.”
Being grad assistant on national runner-up team: “I knew what those ladies were going through, and I knew they could get to the Final Four. It was a great experience being on the other side of it. I want to come here and show these girls that it’s possible and very fun to get to those levels.”