Oldfield ready to `rejuvenate'

Maryland introduces new women's coach, her plan for success

College Basketball

April 04, 2002|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - On Monday night, Brenda Oldfield was at home in Minnesota watching the University of Maryland men's basketball team win its first national championship.

Yesterday, the former University of Minnesota basketball coach was here, officially introduced as the new coach of the Maryland women's team with aspirations of someday leading it to the same accomplishment.

Oldfield, 31, made the most of her one season at Minnesota, leading the Golden Gophers to a 22-8 season - 14 more victories than the previous season - and their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994.

For her efforts, she was selected the Associated Press national Coach of the Year and received another reward on Tuesday when she agreed to a six-year contract that guarantees her $275,000 a season to become the successor of longtime Maryland coach Chris Weller, who retired last month after 27 seasons and 499 career wins.

"I am here for one reason - to rejuvenate this program," said Oldfield, who spent two seasons as coach at Ball State, building a 35-22 record, before moving on to Minnesota this past season. "I've been given this tremendous opportunity by an administration that has a vision that extends beyond the walls of the state of Maryland or the [Atlantic Coast] conference."

Maryland athletic director Deborah Yow quickly assembled a search committee led by senior associate athletic director Kathy Worthington, and Oldfield just as quickly became a top candidate. After an initial phone interview, Oldfield came here for a second interview last week.

"When the committee met [Oldfield] in person, we saw that she shared the same work ethic, integrity and winning attitude that's the hallmark of this athletic department," Yow said. "We knew that with Brenda's cutting edge, technical X's and O's knowledge that she would be the coach who could take this program, in a few years, back to national prominence."

Oldfield is likely to bring along a number of assistants from Minnesota. She said she was honored to follow in Weller's footsteps and hopes to extend the great tradition that was built.

One of the biggest initial challenges for Oldfield, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a three-year starter at the University of Arizona, will be recruiting in unfamiliar surroundings, but one of her priorities will be to ensure the top state talent stays to play at Maryland. With the new Comcast Center in place for next season and the strong support from the administration, she feels confident she'll be up to the task with the Terps coming off a 13-17 season in which they finished last in the ACC.

"It is absolutely my goal to keep the best players at home and build our team from the inside out," she said. "It's a deep-rooted state, and I'm very excited about the challenge and opportunity because there is so much talent both in the Baltimore and Washington areas and the neighboring states."

On Tuesday night, Oldfield met with her new players for the first time and was impressed with their enthusiasm.

"The biggest thing that we talked about was really the accountability of this team. This is their team and their program, and we talked about really wanting to build this program with them," she said.

Oldfield's new players, asked by the search committee to write down what they would want in a new coach, appeared equally impressed.

"We wrote a list of qualities we would like to see in a new coach, and I think they took it into consideration because she's everything we pretty much wanted," said junior guard Terri Daniels. "She's been great at all her programs, and I think it's an excellent opportunity for our team to start with a new slate, work hard all over again."

Having left Ball State after two seasons and then departing Minnesota after just one, Oldfield, who married her husband, Steve, in 1998, was quick to say she was committed to the Maryland program for the long haul. Yow added that a clause in the six-year contract "will encourage her to stay."

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