Women's Basketball

    May 8, 1997

    Chris Gobrecht Named USC Women's Basketball Head Coach

    LOS ANGELES -- Chris Gobrecht, a former USC player and a 2-time Pacific-10 Coach of the Year while at Washington who is regarded as one of the nation's top coaches, will return to her alma mater as the head coach of the USC women's basketball team, Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett announced today.

    Gobrecht, 42, replaces Fred Williams, who left last month after 2 years as USC's coach.

    "We're very excited about having a Trojan come back and run our women's basketball program," said Garrett. "Not only is Chris an outstanding coach, a proven winner and a great motivator, but she is someone I've wanted here for a long time. Her teams play hard, intense, winning basketball. With Chris, the Women of Troy have the chance to again become one of the nation's dominant teams."

    Said Gobrecht: "In some ways, I can't believe I'm here and in some ways, I can't believe it took so long. I'm thrilled to be back at USC. I'm so happy to feel such a passion for an institution where I'll put so much of my effort in the coming years. That makes it so much more of a meaningful experience. I have a great deal of respect for the tradition of the USC women's basketball team and I feel honored to have the opportunity to take the program back to the highest level."

    Gobrecht spent 11 years (1986-96) at Washington, compiling a 243-89 (.732) record. She led the Huskies to 9 NCAA Tournament berths (including advancing to the regionals 4 times), 3 conference championships (1986-88-90) and 4 second-place league finishes. Her teams won at least 16 games each season (including getting 20 wins 8 times). She was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1988. Her 1990 team, which pinned the only loss on national champion Stanford, set a school record for victories (28) and finished No. 3 in the AP poll (the highest ranking ever in the program's history).

    Gobrecht comes to USC after spending the 1997 season at Florida State. She began the process of reconstructing a downtrodden Seminole program and finished with a 5-22 record.

    Prior to her stint at Washington, Gobrecht spent 6 seasons (1980-85) as the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, where she began a rebuilding process and ended with an 84-92 record. The 1985 Titans earned a berth in the Women's NIT and Gobrecht was a national Coach of the Year finalist.

    Her 18-year Division I career record is 332-203 (.621). She reached the 300-win plateau at an earlier age (39) than all but one other coach in NCAA women's basketball history (Tennessee's Pat Summitt).

    Gobrecht began her coaching career in 1978 as the head coach at Santa Fe Springs (Calif.) High near Los Angeles. Her team went 20-4 and advanced into the CIF AAA playoffs. In 1979, she became the head coach at Pasadena (Calif.) City College, guiding her Metropolitan Conference titlist squad to a runner-up finish in the state junior college tournament.

    She has also coached at the national and international level. She was an assistant for a 1990 USA Basketball select team which traveled to Czechoslovakia and Italy. In 1989, she led the East Team to a silver medal in the U.S. Olympic Festival.

    Under her maiden name of Chris Geiger, she was a 3-year (1974-76) starter on USC's basketball team. She also played volleyball for the Women of Troy for 2 years (1973-74). She received her bachelor's degree in public affairs from USC in 1977.

    Following graduation, she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer, spending the year teaching English at St. Mary's College in Apia, Western Samoa.

    Born in Toledo, Ohio, on Feb. 9, 1955, she prepped at Huntington Beach (Calif.) High.

    She and her husband, Bob (who has his bachelor's and master's degrees from USC), have 2 children: a son, Eric, 10, and a daughter, Madeline, 8. She has a number of relatives with a USC background: her father, William, taught at USC; her mother, Adrianne, has a doctorate degree from USC; her sister, Gwynn, is a USC graduate; her father-in-law, Bob Sr., and sister-in-law, Carol, have USC degrees; and her nephew, Jeff Orswell, is a USC graduate who was a member of the Trojan Marching Band.

    Chris Gobrecht's Head Coaching Record
                                 OVERALL          LEAGUE    LEAGUE  
    YEAR    SCHOOL                W   L           W   L     FINISH  POST-SEASON
    1980    Cal State Fullerton   7  23           2  10     6th
    1981    Cal State Fullerton  10  20           2  10     6th
    1982    Cal State Fullerton  18  12           3   9     6th
    1983    Cal State Fullerton  13  15           3  11     6th tie
    1984    Cal State Fullerton  17  11           7   7     4th
    1985    Cal State Fullerton  19  11           8   6     5th     NWIT
    CSUF Totals (6 years)        84  92 (.477)   25  53 (.321)
    1986    Washington           24   6          10   2     1st     NCAA 2nd round
    1987    Washington           23   7          14   4     2nd     NCAA 2nd round
    1988    Washington           25   5          16   2     1st     NCAA reg. semi.
    1989    Washington           23  10          15   3     2nd     NCAA 2nd round
    1990    Washington           28   3          17   1     1st tie     NCAA reg. final.
    1991    Washington           24   5          15   3     2nd     NCAA reg. semi.
    1992    Washington           17  11           9   9     6th     
    1993    Washington           17  12          11   7     3rd     NCAA 2nd round
    1994    Washington           21   8          12   6     4th     NCAA 2nd round
    1995    Washington           25   9          13   5     2nd     NCAA reg. semi.
    1996    Washington           16  13          10   8     3rd tie 
    UW Totals (11 years)        243  89 (.732)  142  50 (.740)
    1997    Florida State         5  22           0  16         9th
    FSU Totals (1 year)           5  22 (.185)    0  16 (.000)
    CAREER TOTALS (18 years)    332 203 (.621)  167 119 (.584)

    "First of all I must tell you this is one of the most exciting appointments that I've had the privilege of making as the Athletic Director here at the University of Southern California. Women's basketball is very important to us. Having a quality coach is essential for us. We went out and looked for people who we thought understood USC, a person who we believe is a winner, and can instill all the things that USC means to our student-athletes, faculty and alumni. It was an easy choice, and I can finally put women's basketball behind me. I have someone who I believe can take us to the level we want to achieve. With that I'm going to stop talking and bring the person up who I'm very excited to introduce you to -- Chris Gobrecht."

    "This is a day with a great deal of mixed emotions. Twenty years ago I graduated from this great institution. I was one of the youngest graduates ever. It was 20 years ago and at that time I felt nothing but a deep love and devotion and loyalty to USC. From there I went to become the head coach at Cal State Fullerton and my emotions and feelings about USC turned to awe and admiration. At my university, it was happening at a level that was higher than anywhere else in the nation at that time. It was defining women's basketball for the future of the sport. I don't know that there's a program anywhere in the country that's had a greater impact on the development of the game of women's basketball than the University of Southern California. It was happening with class, it was a tremendous success, it was the program at that time. From Fullerton I went to the University of Washington and regarded USC with a great deal of respect. It was a formidable opponent, who every single year had to be dealt with. It was one of the more difficult games on the schedule every single year. Any time a win came it was a significant win.

    "Over those years and through that time it had always been a buried dream to some day be the coach here. But it just didn't seem like it was ever going to happen. I think that I had given up a little bit on that dream and put it to rest. I think my family had given up that they would ever see me again, and I would always be far, far away. So of all the people who might be happy about this appointment, nobody is more happy than my husband and myself. We both graduated from USC. And then a close second would be the many, many family members we have here in the area.

    "Trying to come to grips with the realization that it finally happened, that I'm going to be the coach at USC, it's kind of hard to believe. As I said in the press release, in some ways I can't believe that it's finally happened, in some ways I can't believe it took so long. So I would also want to say that there's not another program in the country I would have left Florida State for at this time. That was an extremely difficult decision. It's not something that was done easily by any means. It's a very truthful statement. There is not another situation in the country that I would have left Florida State for. So I hope that that gives some sort of indication that it means to my family and myself to be at USC.

    "I think that the team we have here has done some pretty wonderful things. I'm so excited to have a chance to coach Adrain (Williams) and I think she's got some pretty darn good teammates too. I have competed against several of them in my last season at Washington. I also know that I have to deal with some major losses in Tina Thompson, Erica Jackson, Rashida Jeffery and Michelle Campbell. Those are not losses that are going to be taken lightly. It's my opinion that three of the four years that Tina Thompson competed at USC, and her freshman year she played with Lisa Leslie, that Tina was the finest player in the Pac-10. I wish she had two more years.

    "When you consider the tradition and legacy of this program, this sport, at USC, I don't think it has to take a backseat to anyone in the country. In my opinion the two greatest players ever to play the game went here. And I'm not so sure that when Tina gets out of the pro game that she won't have joined that elite group and it'll be the three greatest players who ever played the game that played here. That's an incredible statement. I don't know that there's another program in the country that can make that statement.

    "The thing about USC is that is a very special and very magical place. The student-athletes that have an opportunity to attend here understand that. That's why it has been able to attract some of the finest people in the country.

    (on the recruiting situation) "I have to take a good, hard look at the roster. My instinct is that we should probably wrap it up for this year and go with where we are. It would be highly unusual to have a player of great quality available this late. We'd probably prefer to save those scholarships. We only have one senior, so to use up too many scholarships wouldn't be wise.

    (on the assistant coaches) "There's two top priorities. The first is connecting with the players who are currently in the program, and have an opportunity to sit down with them and get to know them better, help them to understand what the expectations will be. I want to hear their expectations as well. The second priority is to hire the finest coaching staff we possibly can.

    "USC has had these times of brilliance in women's basketball. The times that when there's been a drop or when it's not been quite as brilliant, it's taken some of the lustre off the years of brilliance. That shouldn't happen. The tradition is too great, the legacy of players is too great. The mission would be to have a program that has the kind of brilliance, that has national championship potential and Pac-10 championship potential on a regular basis, and have it so well established and shined up that when you think of women's basketball, you think of USC. That's the way it should be. To not have any of the lustre off of that. We can do that by being successful on a consistent basis. That will happen. These players are good enough for that to happen. Because we're USC we will continue to attract outstanding players. Any of the recent history of the program with its turmoil with coaches, that can become a distant memory. The program is great enough to rise above it. The institution is great enough to rise above it. The student-athletes that have stayed loyal to what this school is will make it rise above it. I'm exciting to what I perceive in these players as being strong and independent people who are motivated to be successful. I like that and enjoy coaching people like that.

    "Anyone who has watched my Washington teams, we got after it. If there was to be a definition of how we're going to be successful, it starts with a sense of entitlement for us to win. When my teams take the floor, they have a feeling that they are of course going to win because they've prepared so well, because no one has worked harder than them to get to that point and because no one's going to work harder than them that night on the floor. They will understand the team identity, trust one another, know they can count on each other. That sense of entitlement will carry you much further than confidence or cockiness or anything like that. All of those can be blown apart the instant things don't go quite like you want them to. True, true entitlement confidence never goes away. The intensity and the energy that we'll play the game is going to be fun for the players, and it's going to be a lot of work for them. They'll learn to enjoy it and love it. The fans will love it. A big part of why we drew such excellent support in Seattle was because the team was fun to watch.

    (on Florida State and the last couple of days) "It's been very difficult. I feel kind of badly for my family that's still back there and has to be in the midst of that. I don't fault Florida State for its anger. I understand that. This is not something that I was able to do easily. I spent 11 years at Washington and in those 11 years I only interviewed one time, and that was at USC. This is not me to do something like this, to go to a program for a year and then leave. But I think as we lead our lives and as we have our actions speak for who we are, you hope that you build enough of a sense of who you are for other people, so that when they see you do something out of character, the only thing that they wonder about is that there must have been a really good reason for doing it. This is out of character for me. But I think the people that know my family and myself know that there must have been a really good reason. I don't blame Florida State for being angry and upset. But I had to weigh out whether to be the virtuous warrior at Florida State or to respond and do something extremely important and meaningful for the people who I love most in the world."

    "It'll be exciting to play for her because of her background. I have a different outlook for the game now. Basketball will start being fun again ... She had some great teams at Washington, teams that were always up at the top of the conference. I know she'll put us at the top and keep us there ... We've been through a lot. There have been a lot of conflicts. We can put it behind us now."