Kelly Graves leaves program to take head coaching job at Oregon

James Snook-US PRESSWIRE

We don't normally report about the women's program around here, but this is big enough news to warrant a post.

Lady Zags head coach Kelly Graves has taken the head coaching job at Oregon, the Spokesman Review reported on Tuesday.

Graves came from Saint Mary's in 2000 and turned the women's program into an equal draw in Spokane and in March Madness. When Graves came aboard, the Bulldogs finished his first season with an overall record of 5-23 and were winless in WCC play. He leaves the program after 14 years and finishes with an overall record of 316-136.

Much of the turnaround in the program lies in Graves' hands. He has made the NCAA Tournament seven straight years and the Lady Zags have won or tied the regular season conference title 10 years in a row.

The highlight of his coaching career was the fantastic run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament where the No. 11 Gonzaga upset its way to the Elite Eight behind the steady hand of Courtney Vandersloot. Gonzaga beat No. 6 Iowa, No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Louisville before eventually succumbing to No. 1 Stanford.  After the season, Graves signed an extension to coach the women's team until 2021.

This is an important crossroads for the women's team. Graves has turned them into a steady top-25 draw, and it appears that Mike Roth and the athletic department will take the search quite seriously.

"We want to move quickly, but we want to make sure we hire the best person for the job," Roth said. "We are not going to rush, but we are also not going to drag our feet."

Graves will replace Paul Westhead, who finished with a 66-92 record at Oregon in five years.

Edit: Here is a good interview courtesy of KREM.

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