Craighead signs three-year deal with Hornets

Marshall Hampson

Women’s basketball head coach Jamie Craighead had the interim title removed and signed a three-year contract with Sacramento State for the 2010-11 season and beyond.

Craighead became the youngest Division I women’s basketball head coach in the nation at age 29. She coached the Hornets last season under the title of interim head coach and led the Hornets to a 15-win season, which included a school-record 10 Big Sky Conference wins.

Craighead said she had a feeling she might get offered the position after the season and was glad she had it right.

“Not a whole lot of things really get me excited; I’m pretty level-headed,” Craighead said. “But knowing that I’m going to be here for three more years at least is very exciting. I’m very excited about the success we had this year and wanting to build on that.”

The women finished with the No. 3 seed in the Big Sky Tournament and reached the .500 mark for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

Athletic Director Terry Wanless said he and the administration made the right choice in keeping Craighead.

“She far exceeded the objectives that we had thought were capable of being obtained,” he said. “It wasn’t just about winning more games. It was about managing the program in such a way that she gained the confidence of the administration in a way that we felt very comfortable in moving her permanently into that full-time position.”

Craighead also coached the team to a seven-game winning streak from Jan. 21 to Feb. 23 &- the Hornets’ longest since joining Division I in 1991-92.

Despite the streak, Craighead said she will be expecting more from her team this year.

“This year was kind of a breakout year, but it’s not good enough,” Craighead said. “I tell our players we had a good season. There’s nothing great about being a .500 team. I understand anyone that’s around here in the department that hasn’t seen this type of success from the program is like, “That was a great year!’ When we win 20 games, that will be a great year.”

Craighead quickly became known for her offense coaching style. The team ranked sixth in the nation with 79.1 points per game and fifth in 3-pointers made per game with 8.8.

Junior guard Tika Koshiyama-Diaz played for Craighead this season and said she is eager to play for Craighead next year.

“I’m really excited that she’ll be with us for three more years,” she said. “I love our coach. Our system that we’re playing with right now will only get better for next year.”

Koshiyama-Diaz led the team this season in steals with 54 and was second with 141 assists.

After a year as interim head coach, Craighead said she’s already set expectations for the women and has plans to incorporate more defensive full-court and half-court plays.

“These kids know what to expect from me now,” Craighead said. “I know what to expect from them. They know how hard I’m going to push them. They know what type of fitness level they have to have to play the way that we play.”

Before working as the interim head coach last season, she coached as an assistant head coach for a year in the 2008-09 season.

“I learned something every single day,” Craighead said. “It’s different when you’re an assistant. You always have ideas but as a head coach you’re the one who decides if the ideas are going to get put in place. Every day is something new.”

Craighead played at the University of Oregon, where the Ducks reached the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament three times and won the 2002 Women’s National Invitational Tournament Champion her senior year.

Both Craighead and Wanless said they have the goal of the team making it to the NCAA tournament.”Our goals are like everybody else’s in the Big Sky,” Wanless said. “We’re trying to win the Big Sky Conference, we want to get into the NCAA Tournament and we want to make some noise once we get there. We think under Jamie’s leadership we can make that happen.”

Marshall Hampson can be reached at mhampson@statehornet.com