Greg Collins, the 11th head coach in Lady Topper Basketball history, was introduced to the public by WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart on Wednesday afternoon inside the Paul Just Media Center in E.A. Diddle Arena.
Collins, who has served on the Lady Topper Basketball coaching staff for the last six seasons and has 16 seasons of assistant coaching experience at the collegiate level, will take over the reins of the program as a first-year head coach in the 2018-19 season. Over his six seasons on staff, the Lady Toppers have captured 154 victories, four conference tournament championships and two more regular season conference championships.
Prior to his time with WKU, Collins also served as an assistant coach at Louisville (2003-07) and Arkansas (2008-12) and saw success at both stops. During his tenure at Louisville, the Cardinals won more than 70 percent of their games and garnered the program’s first-ever Top-25 ranking while making three consecutive NCAA appearances. At Arkansas, Collins played a key role in the recruitment of C’eira Ricketts, who was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and later earned Associated Press All-America honors before being selected with the 24th pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Collins takes over a Lady Topper program that posted a 24-9 record during the 2017-18 season. WKU won its second consecutive C-USA Tournament championship and third in four seasons as a member of the league. In the team’s fourth NCAA appearance in the last six years, WKU fell to eventual Elite 8 participant Oregon State in the opening round in Knoxville, Tenn.
Former players on Collins…
Kendall Noble (WKU guard, 2013-17)
“Coach Collins is a great coach and really knows the ins and outs of the game of basketball. I know all of the players will really like playing for him. It will be different for the program with a new head coach, but I know that Coach Collins is ready and will do a great job at WKU.”
Alexis Govan (WKU guard/forward, 2012-15)
“I think this is a great hire, Coach Collins really is a basketball genius. He and Coach Heard built the program together, and I’m extremely happy that WKU has decided to leave the program in the hands of someone who is familiar with everything around it. Coach Collins has helped the Lady Toppers have success and knows what to do to keep that high level of success going.”
Tashia Brown (WKU forward, 2015-18)
“Coach Collins will do a great job taking over as the head coach here at WKU. Even though he has played a background role behind Coach Heard, he has been huge in helping us have success ever since he has been here. This is a team and a program that has won a lot of games, and I know that with Coach Collins running things, that success will continue.”
Ivy Brown (WKU forward, 2015-18)
“I’m really excited for Coach Collins. He has been a huge part of my development as a player and did the same for Chastity [Gooch] before me. I don’t think anything will change as far as expectations from the players and the team, and the winning culture that we’ve had ever since I’ve been here will keep going under him. He’s played a behind the scenes role for a lot of our success over the last six years, so I’m excited to see what he can do as the head coach.”
Press Conference Transcript
WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart
“I appreciate everybody being here today, it’s certainly a great day for our program. I want to start off by thanking Michelle Clark-Heard for the phenomenal job she did as our head coach. It was just a little over six years ago when we introduced her as our head coach and she inherited a team, a program that had a record 21 losses. You fast forward to where we are now after six years as our head coach: 154 wins, four NCAA tournaments, four conference tournament championships, two regular season championships, a truly phenomenal job in every aspect of our program on and off the court. The good news is, a big reason of why I feel we had those numbers, in addition to Coach Heard, is the man to my right (Greg Collins) being so involved in our program every step of the way in those six years. Greg has been truly invested in our players, in our program, every aspect of it: recruiting, coaching, in-game adjustments, scouting, you name it, and Greg Collins has been right there every step of the way. We’ve been blessed the last six years, I’ve felt like we’ve had two head coaches here and that’s a big reason we’ve had so much success and a big reason why I have so much confidence on where we’re headed in the future. It’s my pleasure to today, formally, announce, our new head coach Greg Collins.”
On when he identified Greg Collins as head coaching material…
“Everything that I have witnessed first-hand over the last six years has shown it. Greg was always a very loyal assistant and a behind the scenes guy. Anyone around our program would tell you how involved he was in every aspect of our program. Everything that Greg has done here over the last six years has played a tremendous role in our success, but look at his overall body of work. This is someone who has been an assistant coach for 16 years at high-level programs and also has experienced as a high school coach and a WNBA scout. If this was a blind resume and we put that resume out there and introduced this person as our head coach, people would be thrilled. I am thrilled that he is our new head coach.”
On the speed of naming Collins as the head coach…
“I think when you know who the next person is, there’s no reason to prolong it. I knew that when Michelle left that Greg Collins was going to be our new head coach. In knowing that, certainly any time a head coach leaves, the natural emotions start coming out with anxiety, confusion and not necessarily knowing what the future will hold. I knew that Greg would be the guy when the day came, and I thought I owed it to our players not to drag it out any longer.”
On the state of the program…
“We’ve come a long way in six years. This is a program that has a lot of history, and we get everybody’s best shot now; we don’t sneak up on anybody. We have a new head coach and we lose Tashia and Ivy Brown, and those two are massive losses in terms of production. We’ve got great players returning and a great recruiting class. As much as we’ve done over the last six years, there are things that we haven’t done. I know it’s a big goal to win an NCAA Tournament game. The higher you climb, the harder it is to reach that next rung, but those are the problems associated with winning, and the problems associated with winning are always better than the problems associated with losing.”
Lady Topper Basketball Head Coach Greg Collins
“I just want to say thank you to Dr. and Kacy Caboni, Todd and Rebecca [Stewart] and thank you most of all to Coach Heard and Luther. They are some of our best friends. This whole thing would not have happened if she hadn’t had a vision that this program could be back to a Top 25 ranking. It was my job to be a part of making sure that happened, and I’m proud of what we’ve done over the last six years. I always want to thank my wife Rae: whenever I’m on the road for games or recruiting, there has to be somebody here at home holding the fort down. You can’t do your job on the road if you’re worried about something at home, so I thank her and everyone else for making sure that’s taken care of. Thanks to a lot of great players that we’ve had, and now we’ve got a new crew that are ready to take those reins and pick up where Ivy and Tashia left off this season to keep this thing rolling.”
On the changes that will happen with the program…
“Over the last six years, Michelle and I worked very closely together, so there are not a whole lot of changes in what we will do. We worked really hard to make sure this thing got back right. We worked to make sure we got the right type of players in here, played the right schedule and made sure that we won ball games. There won’t be a lot of change with what we’re doing on the floor and the type of players that we’re recruiting; we’re just going to continue doing that and build upon it.”
On the current players with the program…
“We chose these specific young ladies for different reasons, we knew that each of them had something to add to what we were doing. We want to be able to continue moving forward with what they can do and continue to win. It’s not like this will be a new system, they already fit with what we do. All we have to do is continue to improve and get ready for the next season.”
On the style of play…
“There won’t be much difference. I think the difference will be how we had to play last year to win and how we played prior to last year. Last year we had a very short bench with only nine players, and four of those were freshmen. We couldn’t play quite the up-tempo game that we had played in the past, so our goal is to add to the roster and pick the pace back up to start playing fast a little bit more. The style of play that we have played is consistent with what Michelle and I both wanted, we were working on the same agenda with that.”
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Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications
Women’s Basketball | Women’s Soccer