New UCLA women’s head coach Cori Close on the job:
“I’m very excited, and I feel prepared and ready. I’ve been prepping for this entire life. But I’m so humbled because I know I don’e do this alone and it’s not about me.”
On the Bruins’ talent:
“This is a very unique opportunity I have because this program is not broken. This program has great talent, and I have the opportunity to take the baton. I was sharing with players earlier that my expectations really mirror what’s going on at Pauley Pavilion. I love that we’re renovating and restoring and preserving Pauley Pavilion. We’re not starting over. There’s incredible rich tradition, foundational things in place that we are preserving. But we’re also adding to it. We’re adding new traditions. Were adding spice to it.
“That’s where I feel our women’s basketball program is now.”
On her primary goal:
“I’m really passionate about disciplined skill development; about coming in one way and every year adding that player development so that when you leave here you’re different than when you came.”
On John Wooden (breaking down in tears):
“My old staff said save this until the end because you know you’ll cry. Coming back here and knowing that I have a chance to build on the basketball tradition in a way that humbly reflects my deepest mentor is nothing short of an amazing honor.
Nan, I’ve thought about you so often, because you shared your daddy with us. The amazing sacrifice you made for sharing him as a mentor.
When I was here, I was in my sweats and I always wanted to meet Coach Wooden. Steve Lavin came up to my cubicle, and said we’re going. I’m in sweats, I can’t go. Come on, we’re going. I was so nervous, about as nervous as I am now. I walked into his wonderful home, said, ‘I’m Cori,’ and he asks, ‘How do you spell that? Ah my great granddaughter’s name is spelled that way, come on in.” That started a friendship, and I realized he meant much more to me than I meant to him.
Coach Wooden wrote me a note as I left California for Florida, and I had all these things they had given me, and as I arrived at Florida State, they matted all of them, including the note and the last picture we took. I am thrilled humbled, excited, driven to re-mat that photo in Bruin blue and gold to put in my office at UCLA.”