Opinion: UTA Athletics made the right choice for head coach of the Lady Mavericks

Shereka Wright, women’s basketball head coach, in front of College Park Center on Sept. 10. Wright was an All-American at Purdue University before being drafted 13th overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.

On Sept. 4, UTA Athletics announced the hiring of Shereka Wright to lead the women’s basketball program.

The decision to bring the Copperas Cove, Texas, native back to her home state was a good one. Her experiences as a player and coach should help her maintain the culture the Lady Mavericks have created over the past seven years.

Wright comes to UTA after spending two years as the associate head coach under Stephanie White at Vanderbilt University. Before that, she worked as an assistant under her former college coach Kristy Curry at Texas Tech University and the University of Alabama. Coaching at those powerhouse universities might be beneficial for her, especially when she is joining a conference as strong as the Sun Belt Conference.

In her time as an assistant coach, Wright made it a point to recruit from her home state of Texas. It didn’t matter if she was coaching in Nashville, Tennessee, or Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s admirable that she never forgot the Lone Star State on her journey through the coaching ranks, and I’m excited to see what she can do in her first stint as a head coach on the recruiting trail.

I believe being from Texas can help Wright make UTA a more desirable program for future recruits in the state, not that it wasn’t desirable before. It’ll be nice to see some homegrown talent stay at home.

Wright’s playing experience caught my eye when the athletic department first announced her hiring. It’s not every day you get a Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame member to be your head coach, let alone a former WNBA player. That’ll help her relate to her team better because she knows exactly what they are going through right now, and she knows exactly what to do to reach the highest point of women’s basketball as a player.

There are some things I hope Wright does as she’s taking over the Lady Mavericks. I hope she maintains the Oklahoma recruiting pipeline Krista Gerlich and her staff created when they were here. Oklahoma’s style of basketball is exactly what any team needs because the state seems to produce unselfish players who are willing to share the ball for the benefit of the team.

I also hope Wright brings some facets of the up-tempo offenses Kristy Curry and Stephanie White were running at their programs when she was there. The Lady Mavericks were already known for their efficient shooting and tough defense under Gerlich, but it’ll be fun to see the tempo kicked up a few notches, especially with this year’s team. Keeping some of the Sun Belt defenses on their toes could be what this team needs to take the next step into the NCAA Tournament.

Finally, I hope Wright maintains the family atmosphere around the women’s basketball program at UTA. The Lady Mavericks always seem to be on the same page when they’re on the court and from speaking with some members of the team, they all get along very well. I want to see that atmosphere stay alive around this program, and I firmly believe Wright can keep it going.

UTA Athletics made the correct choice when it found the women’s basketball program’s 10th coach. The transition from the Gerlich era to the Wright era should be a smooth one.

@c_amaya7

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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