Up next is assistant coach and alumna Kelly Curry. A four-year letterwinner for the Gophers, Curry finished her collegiate career in 2007 where she was ranked 12th (currently 19th) on Minnesota's all-time scoring list with 1,074 career points. Curry began her coaching career at North Dakota State before joining her alma mater in 2010. She became the head coach at Macalester (St. Paul) in 2014 where the Scots went 11-14, the program's highest win total in five years in 2016-17 season. She returned to Minnesota two years ago as a part of former teammate Lindsay Whalen's staff in 2018. Read more on Curry's last two years, what she enjoys about this current staff and reflects on past performances.
GopherSports: How would you sum up your two years being back at Minnesota?
Kelly Curry: "It's been very fulfilling for me to be able to come back again. Having to leave four years ago under Pam (Borton) was hard, so to be able to come back under Lindsay (Whalen) has been very fulfilling. Our two years have been filled with some awesome moments and some hard moments, but I really believe in our vision and the culture we're establishing, so that gives me a lot of fulfillment and great pride moving forward. It's been a lot of fun to continue to work for a place that I really care about."
GS: Have these two seasons felt different than when you were previously on staff?
KC: "I would say yes. My role is very different from the first time to now. The first time I was here I was very involved with recruiting; I'm still involved now but not as the recruiting coordinator. I think recruiting has changed with how we handle recruits both on campus and off campus. It's a deeper process because you're recruiting more of the family members and trainers. There have been a lot of rule changes, too, NCAA-wise with regards to workouts, access to players; all of that is very different. Also in my first stint with Pam, I did a lot more development with all of our guards as opposed to our forwards and posts like I have the last two years. And then coming back from Division III to Division I, a lot had changed in those four years since I had stepped away from this level. Another big change is that we didn't have the practice facility, so practices were different. We were just strictly practicing and playing at Williams and The Pav (Maturi Pavilion), so the resources have certainly been elevated."
GS: What do you enjoy most about working with this staff?
KC: "I love our cohesiveness and I love the support and love that we give to each other. I've never been part of a staff that's been so on the same page the majority of the time and just genuinely cares for one another and shows that through actions and kindness. I also think the way we think about basketball and recruiting has been very positive. I feel like, while we feel comfortable challenging one another, we're all really on the same page which is awesome."
GS: You mentioned you work with the forwards. How would you assess that position group?
KC: "Our wings group is a very promising group. With the addition of Kadi (Sissoko) next year, getting Justice (Ross) back and Gadiva Hubbard's leadership and experience, there's a lot of promise and potential there. I'm excited to get to work with a group that has experience and a lot of untapped potential that people maybe haven't seen yet."
GS: You're the liaison with the Lindahl Academic Center. What can you say about the team's performance in the classroom?
KC: "I'm very proud of our women. I think there are certainly tougher semesters than others, but overall we always have a goal of maintaining above a 3.0 GPA as a team, and we've successfully done that. I do think our women take academics seriously; they've been great communicators with me when things are going well or aren't going well. I give a ton of credit to (assistant director) Chris (Cords), he manages many student-athletes; he's always been very easy for me to work with and I think we jell well together, which I think has also contributed to the success of the overall team and the direction that they're headed. Our women know that academics is a huge part of our culture, and it's something that Lindsay is very adamant about them taking care of their business in the classroom, otherwise it won't work out for them on the court."
GS: In your time back, have there been any particular performances that stand out to you, either individually or as a team?
KC: "I think the Rutgers game at home was obviously very fun and a huge game for us. Diva's performance in that game, Jasmine Powell, Taiye (Bello), they willed us to win that game. I think too about our Purdue game on the road; Jasmine Powell took it to another level. I wasn't at the Big Ten Tournament, but watching from afar how the team really stepped up and competed on a big stage and was able to get a win in the postseason. Jasmine Brunson was unbelievable in that game. And probably the most fun game was the game at Notre Dame. It was a great team performance and a big win over an ACC team that has a lot of history."
GS: Off the court, are there any particular moments that you've enjoyed?
KC: "I felt like our trip to Washington D.C. was a lot of fun. Getting to be able to spend time in a great city, eating awesome food, going to a Wizards game and being able to sightsee, plus we played two quality teams and got two wins so I think that was a great trip overall."