Penn State women's basketball officially introduced Carolyn Kieger as its newest head coach on Friday to a Bryce Jordan center practice facility full of Lady Lion fans, hopeful for a new and successful chapter in the program's history.
"We will develop deep relationships here," Kieger said to the crowd. "We will develop tremendous leaders and in turn win championships because of that process."
According to athletic director Sandy Barbour, Kieger's hiring was the result of an extensive interview process that included speaking with more than 100 people in the women's basketball world. Kieger was named a Coach of The Year candidate earlier this season and had taken Marquette to three-straight NCAA Tournaments before falling a few weeks ago in the second round.
On the desks of both Kieger and Barbour, the challenges will begin to stack as they look to build Penn State women's basketball back into its historically successful form.
For Barbour, Penn State is continuing to invest in both men's and women's basketball, with locker room, weight room and behind-the-scenes upgrades on the way this summer. For Kieger, she faces the challenge of improved results, helping put fans back in the seats they once occupied.
"To the alumni who are watching, wow, what an incredible bar you have raised," Kieger said. "I promise to you that we will produce a product that you will be proud of, a team that you will rally behind and a culture that will embrace you whenever you choose to come home."
Penn State has yet to announce its 2019 schedule, but in the eyes of Barbour, the rebuilding process for women's basketball will not be years in the making. The Lady Lions may not see their national title dreams realized overnight, but that journey will begins sooner, rather than later.
"The getting to work has already happened," Barbour told StateCollege.com. "From a recruiting standpoint when she was named last week she was able to jump on the phone last week. Obviously recruits moving forward are a big part of the piece of the puzzle and the success, but frankly, we expect to have more success, upward trajectory with these players, who are talented young women.
"I think it's going to start moving up and you guys know me well enough to know I'm not going to get pinned into a timetable because it depends on so many things, but I can guarantee that there is going to be excitement in this program and excitement on the court and an upward trajectory, starting now."
As Kieger walked down the hallway of the Bryce Jordan Center toward her new offices, away from the throng of people, she fixed her hair and took a deep breath. The past week has been a whirlwind to be sure, but the work, the real work, has only just begun.