Ezell here to change program
Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 20:08
Everything is changing on East Tennessee State University’s campus and the women’s basketball program may be the perfect example of that.
Coach Brittney Ezell has been on the job just under four months. She was introduced on May 8, and is working on changing the face and perception of her program. Like many of the other projects going on around campus, she knows it has to start from the ground up.
“What I told the kids is they don’t know all the things they don’t know,” Ezell said. “Assuming they nothing and just trying to teach them as best we can everyday.”
The first step in the development of Ezell’s program was finding coaches she trusted and she believed in. Assistant coaches Nikki Davis and Laura Barry played college basketball at big-name Atlantic Coast Conference schools Virginia Tech and North Caroline respectively.
While Ezell’s third assistant coach did not play at one of the big time schools, she brings with her instant credibility. During her career at Saginaw Valley State University, Brittany Burkardt was a four-year starter and finished with more than 1,000 points and 600 rebounds. She averaged double-digit scoring in three of her four years.
“I tried to be very deliberate about it,” Ezell said. “I wanted energy, I wanted coaches that had played and would have immediate credibility.”
Rounding out Ezell’s staff is graduate assistant Nicci Kelly. Before coming to ETSU, Kelly spent a year in South Korea playing professional basketball. Kelly began her college career at Northwest Florida State College under coach Ezell before transferring to Louisiana State University to play her final two years.
After getting her staff in place Ezell, turned her full attention to recruiting. She wasn’t hitting the road first, though, she had to recruit the players who were already here.
“That was our number one recruiting job,” Ezell said. “To make sure that they understood they were our priority. Kids will do anything for you when they know you care about them and they trust you.”
While players are obviously the number one recruiting target, Ezell recognizes that she has to recruit more than just the people who will wear the uniform. She knows that just as important as the players are the local community members, ETSU faculty and staff and alumni.
“We’ve got to recruit them [alumni] back and we’ve got to recruit fans back,” Ezell said. “I’ve got to recruit faculty to get involved, staff to get involved. Recruiting is non-stop, 25-8 is what I tell my staff.”
Faces and names are not the only things changing within the women’s program, though. Changes to the locker room, coach’s office space, uniforms, logos and color schemes are all a part of Ezell’s plan to pump new life into the program. Part of her plan to re-energize the program has been to become active in social media.
“Forbes magazine came out with a study that teenagers are on social media three out of every four minutes during the day,” Ezell said. “I think if you’re not hitting them where they are looking the most then you’re being antiquated with your thinking.”
With the offseason winding down and the new academic and athletic year underway, Ezell knows there will be expectations to be met, but she is realistic in her approach and what she hopes to see in her team.
“Obviously they brought me here to win, but they brought me here to change the program,” Ezell said.
“We want to do everything in a first-class way and make it something that the people in Johnson City, alumni and current students are proud to say this is my team.”