18 Players Coached By Keitha Adams Have Gone On To Pro Careers
UTEP Secures 16 C-USA Academic Accolades
Anete Steinberga Leads Four Miners In Double Figures
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Steinberga Named First Team & Thornton Tabbed Second Team; Thornton Also All Defensive
Hosts Jon Teicher and Julie Levesque interview head women's basketball coach Keitha Adams, head tennis coach Mark Roberts and men's basketball player Konner Tucker.
Post-Game Interviews (vs. Houston Baptist, 11/19/11)
Photo Gallery by Michael Patrick Reese
Photo Gallery by Michael Patrick Reese
Photo Gallery by Michael Patrick Reese
Photo Gallery by Michael Patrick Reese
Photo Gallery by Michael Patrick Reese
Competitor, motivator, role model, teacher, winner.
While any of those words can easily be used when describing UTEP women's basketball head coach Keitha Adams, one thing is certain.
Her accomplishments since being named the seventh head coach in program history on April 20, 2001, are simply amazing.
Adams, who recently signed a contract extension to keep her with UTEP through the 2017-18 season, has achieved plenty.
She has delivered three league championships, including claiming both the 2012 Conference USA regular season and tournament title, guided UTEP into a pair of NCAA Tournaments, while changing the fortunes of the program for good. She isn't going anywhere, either, having recently signed a six-year contract.
All three 20-plus victory campaigns, four of the five seasons of at least 18 wins and seven of the 10 campaigns with at least 16 triumphs all time at UTEP are courtesy of Adams. Furthermore, every player who has exhausted her eligibility at UTEP during her tenure has graduated.
Adams, a two-time C-USA Coach of the Year (2008 & 2012) while also being a finalist for the national distinction once, has compiled a mark of 184-147 to easily surpass the individual she supplanted (Sandra Rushing; 123-175, 11 years) as the all-times wins leader in program history. Her squad has finished at .500 or better seven times, including six winning seasons, to match the amount of such campaigns in the 27 years before her arrival in the Sun City.
When you truly take into the consideration the lack of a winning tradition for the program prior to Adams, the appreciation for the success she's attained increases tenfold. The Miners had never won a conference crown-let alone finish better than third- advanced beyond the semifinals of a league tournament nor earned a bid for the NCAA Tournament.
UTEP has become a well-known name both regionally and nationally, with it making 17 appearances in nationally-televised games (11-6 record in games) under Adams' leadership. It was nationally ranked for the final six weeks of the 2007-08 campaign, climbing as high as 18th/23rd before finishing 23rd/25th.
The Miners also received votes in both major polls in 2008-09 and 2011-12, securing recognition the final nine weeks last year. UTEP has been mentioned in the preseason poll three times, including doing so with three votes for 2012-13.
Including the both school (men's or women's) and C-USA single-season recording setting 29 wins in 2011-12, the Miners are 181-124 over the past 10 years (2002-03 season-present). The effort obliterates the prior standard at the school for a decade-long stretch (115-155 from 1990-91 through 1999-2000).
UTEP has emerged as one of the best programs in the state of Texas. The Miners have the third-most wins in the Lonestar state during the past six years (129-58), trailing only the last two national champions (Baylor, 181-34 & Texas A&M, 164-47).
The Miners have also proven to be elite in regards to fellow C-USA schools. Since they joined the league in 2005-06, UTEP owns the best overall winning percentage (143-73, .662). Additionally, UTEP is responsible for two of the three teams in C-USA history to have at least 15 league wins and 28 overall victories in a single year.
The sequence started with the then first 20-win season in program history, with the Miners racking up 22 triumphs in 2006-07. The ensuing campaign would be even more magical. The Miners were 28-4, including an unprecedented 16-0 in Conference USA play to claim the program's first league title. It marked the second conference crown by a women's program at the school, and the 28 victories equaled the 1966 Texas Western NCAA Championship team.
Adams was chosen as the C-USA Coach of the Year and was one of eight finalists for the national honor, while Jareica Hughes earned the first of her two straight C-USA Player of the Year distinctions.
It was a season of streaks, with the Miners winning a school and C-USA record 23 straight games from Dec. 8-March 8. When the run was finally halted in the league championship title game, it stood as the longest active stretch in the country.
UTEP, which had never even received votes prior to Adams' tenure, climbed to as high as No. 18 while being nationally ranked in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls over the final six weeks of the season.
It earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in exhilarating fashion, with ESPN cameras covering the selection show live from El Paso as the Miners' name came up on the board. UTEP dismantled Western Kentucky, 92-60, in the first round of the tournament before bowing out to eventual national runner-up Stanford in the round of 32.
There was a fitting conclusion to the season, with Natasha Lacy and Izabela Piekarska becoming the first players in school history to be selected in the WNBA draft. Lacy was tabbed by Detroit in the second round with the 28th overall pick while Piekarska was chosen by Sacramento during the third round at the 43rd overall spot.
Adams has overseen the development of some of the best players to ever don a uniform for the Orange and Blue. Twelve of the 18 major individual career records at the school are held by players who were mentored by Adams. Additionally, four of the seven members of UTEP's 1,000-point club were coached by Adams.
She has shown an innate ability to produce professional-caliber players, with 17 players she has coached in her career going on to star at the next level. Included among them are Lacy of the L.A. Sparks, and European standouts Hughes, Kasia Krezel, Izabela Piekarska and Claudia Porras.
She has also impacted the international game at the highest level, with Noni Wharemate representing New Zealand at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.
The efforts of the Orange and Blue have not gone unnoticed in the Sun City, as Adams has renewed interest in the once dormant program. The top two and eight of the 10 largest single-game crowds in school history have come during the Adams era.
UTEP has rewarded the fans with a mark of 82-18 over the past six years, aided by the 15-2 effort during the 2011-12 campaign. It enters the 2012-13 season in the midst of a school-record six straight years with 10+ victories.
Success on the basketball court is only one part of Adams' coaching philosophy. More importantly, Adams stresses academics. Every student-athlete who has exhausted her eligibility with Adams has earned a degree.
Adams has also aided in the development of the student-athletes in terms of real life, with her ground-breaking mentoring program affording the Miners with tremendous role models. The program has been so successful that the UTEP Athletics department started its own version of a mentoring group for female student-athletes in Jan. 2008.
The Miners had a historic campaign in 2011-12, setting both the school (men's) & C-USA single-season record for wins by finishing 29-4. The four losses were by a combined 15 points.
UTEP won both the 2012 C-USA regular-season and tournament championship. The tournament crown was the first in program history while it marked the second regular-season championship at the school. The Miners earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, battling hard before falling to nationally-ranked Penn State (11/12), 85-77, in the first round.
The 15-1 mark in league play resulted in a .938 winning percentage, the third best all time in C-USA. UTEP also enjoyed separate winning streaks of at least 10 games, including a school-standard 10-0 start to the year. Other single-season records set included blocked shots (197), games played (33), rebounding margin (+9.5), scoring defense (54.2), scoring margin (+13.4), double-digit wins (21), road wins (11), wins by at least 20 points (10) and overall wins (29).
Gloria Brown was voted first-team All-C-USA, a member of the all-defensive team, named the C-USA Sixth Player of the Year and also selected as the 2012 C-USA Tournament Championship MVP.
UTEP showed tremendous resiliency during the 2010-11 season, never giving up despite the loss of four key players to injury and several heartbreaking defeats. A single-season school record 12 of the 14 defeats on the year were by single digits, including pushing No. 22 Houston to the break before falling 68-64 in the C-USA tournament.
Adams helped oversee the development of transfer Gloria Brown, who won two of the six major C-USA awards. Brown was tabbed as the 2011 C-USA Newcomer of the Year while also being voted as the league's Sixth Player of the Year.
UTEP compiled a record of 16-16 in 2009-10, including a victory over rival Rice in the opening round of the C-USA tournament. Other highlights on the year were being invited to participate in the prestigious preseason WNIT, Hughes garnering all-conference accolades and Anete Steinberga landing on the All-Freshman team.
The Miners took care of business with a mark of 18-12 in 2008-09, and came within a game of repeating as C-USA champions. It earned the No. 2 spot in the league championship while Hughes once again was named the C-USA Player of the Year.
While the 2007-08 season is one of the most magnificent in program history, the Miners enjoyed a terrific campaign in 2006-07. UTEP set then school standards for wins (22) and fewest losses (eight). UTEP burst out of the gates at 11-1, before carrying the momentum into conference play.
UTEP -- which was tabbed to finish 10th out of 12 teams in the preseason coaches' poll -- exceeded expectations by winning a then school record-matching 10 league games en route to tying for fourth place. Included among those triumphs were the first three conference tilts, marking the Miners' then first 3-0 start in league play.
UTEP racked up a school-standard breaking 16 home victories, which included a then program best 13 consecutive wins at one point. They also took care of business on the road, securing five wins to equal the then second-most in school history.
The Miners turned some heads nationally by receiving votes in the Associated Press top-25 poll for the first time in school history. Helping realize that was UTEP stringing together 10 straight triumphs, also at the time a program first.
The squad was very good at both ends of the court, with UTEP setting school records to that point for assists (510), points scored (2,063) and steals (343) while checking in second for blocked shots (134), three-pointers made (168) and turnovers forced (628).
Two of Adams' players received postseason accolades. Hughes was named both the C-USA Freshman and Newcomer of the Year, becoming just the third player in UTEP history to be so honored. She was voted onto the five-member all-league defensive and rookie teams, as well as being tabbed to the all conference third team.
Fellow classmate Timika Williams joined Hughes on the league's all-freshman team. Her selection made UTEP the only member institution to have multiple players on the squad.
Adams' team registered 14 wins during the 2005-06 season, the then fifth-highest total in program annals. The squad was once again strong in the Don, racking up nine wins compared to five losses.
Her 2004-05 team was one of the youngest in the conference, with underclassmen accounting for nine of the 14 players. Nonetheless, UTEP earned 12 victories and won nine games at home for the second consecutive season.
In Adams' third year, the Miners had the tallest team in school history and won 16 games, 10 Western Athletic Conference games and finished 32nd in the nation in scoring defense at 58.1 ppg. Additionally, UTEP held a school-record six opponents under 45 points.
In 2002-03, she had a second team All-WAC selection and two players chosen for the WAC All-Newcomer team. The Miners improved on their victory total by seven and set the then school record with 418 assists.
In her first year at UTEP, Adams mentored second team all-league and all-newcomer Kimya Murray.
Adams came to UTEP after several successful years as head and assistant coach at Independence Community College in Independence, Kan.
At Independence C.C., Adams was the head coach for five seasons and guided the Lady Pirates to a 127-37 record, including back-to-back Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference titles in 1999-00 and 2000-01. Her teams also combined for a 35-1 conference record over her final two seasons.
In 2000-01, she paced the Lady Pirates to a 31-2 mark, the conference title and was named the KJCCC Eastern Division Coach of the Year. Her team also led the nation, averaging 94.0 points per game, and she coached the conference's freshman of the year. Independence ended the regular season rated fifth in the NJCAA poll.
During the 1999-2000 season Adams led Independence C.C. to a 28-5 record and her first conference crown. She also took her Lady Pirate squad deep into the Regional Tournament.
In her first three seasons as head coach, Adams' teams won 22, 24 and 22 games respectively and advanced to the Regional Tournament in each of those seasons.
A tireless recruiter, Adams has driven throughout the United States and made several international connections to find her talent. While at Independence, Adams honed her athletes into all-conference, All-American and Academic All-American caliber players. Included in the bunch were 22 all-KJCCC selections and five NJCAA All-Americans.
Adams also had an impressive track record of sending her student-athletes on to play at four-year schools. Fifteen of her former players went on to play NCAA Division I basketball, including two in the SEC, two in the Big 12, one in the ACC, three in the WAC and one in Conference USA. Svetlana Volnaya, who played at Virginia, was chosen in the third round by the Detroit Shock in the 2001 WNBA Draft.
While at Independence, four of her teams had cumulative grade point averages of 3.20 or better. The 1995-96 team was the NJCAA Academic Team of the Year after posting a 3.59 average. In 1996-97, her team was second in the nation with a team average of 3.29, while her team was fourth in 1997-98 (3.26).
Adams was an assistant coach at Independence C.C. for two seasons (1994-96) prior to being elevated to head coach. As the Lady Pirates' top assistant and recruiting coordinator, she helped the team fashion a 34-4 mark in 1995-96 and finish as the national runner-up at the NJCAA Tournament, limiting opponents to 57.4 points per game, a school record.
She also served as men's and women's tennis coach from 1994-95 at Independence. Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Adams coached basketball, softball, volleyball and track and field at Winfield High School in Winfield, Kan.
She was also an assistant basketball coach at Belle Plaine (Kan.) H.S., from 1987-89. A native of Oxford, Kan., Adams graduated with a degree in health, physical education and recreation from Southwestern College in 1989.
Adams was Oxford High School's all-time leading scorer and earned all-state honors as a prep. Her jersey was retired in 1986.