Season wrap-up with WKU Lady Tops coach Michelle Clark-Heard

I sat down today with WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard to talk for the first time since the Lady Tops fell to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament last month.

Heard just got back a few days ago from the Final Four in Nashville, and the team began spring workouts Wednesday. We hit on a number of topics about the direction of the program, and Heard’s comments are available below:


Reaction from people to WKU at Final Four: “I was actually pretty overwhelmed with the great responses. I think a lot of people watched not only the tournament championship game, but they watched the Baylor game. We were able to represent not only our conference, but just mid-major schools in general.”

What’s next step for WKU? “To keep climbing. To put us in a position to be a top-25 program. That’s what I’ve talked about from day one. That’s what we talk about as a staff and as a team, and also to go into Conference USA and embark on something new – a big challenge for us. I think competing at the top tier of that conference is our next step. Then the next step is to be able to get an at-large bid in the NCAA, even if something happens where we don’t win the tournament. Getting in the tournament and winning – not just getting to the first round. That’s where we have to go to now.”

Competition in Conference USA: “It’s going to be, day in and day out, a battle. I’m excited about our journey into Conference USA. I think it fits how we finished off in the Sun Belt. There are unbelievable coaches in that league and a lot of talent, so we’ll have to be mentally prepared. … Our team is excited about that journey. It’s an athletic conference – way more athletic than what we just faced. We’ll have to keep getting better.”

What would you say to people who expect you to eventually move on? “Again, at the first press conference, I said this is my dream job. That has not changed. I want to be here as long as Dr. Ransdell and Todd (Stewart) and everyone wants be to be here. This is a special place for me. No one can imagine how great it can feel to drive up every single day and walk into a place where you know you’ve had something to do with the success, not only as a player but as a coach. That’s important to me. My family loves it here. I’m not far from home. We talked about the benchmarks and where we’re trying to go. I want to be a part of that. I want to help us win a game in the NCAA and see the kids keep progressing. A lot of people look at things differently. When you’re a coach and you’ve done it for a long time, you have to evaluate where you’re at as a person and your family and everything else that comes with the territory.”

Having lineup options next year: “I think that’s what will help us be successful moving into Conference USA and going to the next level. You’ve got to have a bench and have multiple kids at different positions. … I’m excited about being in that position. You can have different rotations at different times – adjusting to the talent and teams we play so we can make sure the matchups are the way we need to. I get excited.”

Govan returning to court Wednesday: “Some baby steps. She did some shooting things and halfcourt stuff. She’s going to have to progress, but she’s released, and she’ll just have to work her way back into full contact. It’s exciting to have her back.”

Recruiting update: “You can draw up plays and do all these things you want to do, but it’s about players. It’s about developing them, but it’s also about getting them. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s been awesome, because we’ve had a lot of attention from some really good players who are starting to show more interest. It’s good to receive a phone call from a kid or coach who wants to transfer in.”

Update on schedule, which will include road game at Louisville and home game vs. Ole Miss: “We’re trying to finish up. It’s a headache, because I’m telling you now, no one wants to play us. It’s a good problem to have, but not a good problem for me. We have to look at things like RPI and strength of schedule. People have recognized what we’ve done here the last couple of years, so we’re still working on trying to get that finished.”


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