April 26, 2021
Women’s basketball Hall-of-Famer Gail Goestenkors hired as Kentucky assistant coach
Extremely accomplished coach joins Kyra Elzy's staff
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Gail Goestenkors, who took Duke to the national championship game twice in her 15 years as the head coach in Durham, just made Kentucky’s coaching staff a whole lot more experienced.
The Wildcats announced on Monday that Goestenkors has been hired as an assistant coach under second-year head coach Kyra Elzy. Goestenkors’ accomplishments as a head coach are impressive and she should be an incredible asset to Elzy, who, two weeks before the 2020-21 season began, took on the unexpected task of leading Kentucky with a fiery passion. That was after former head coach Matthew Mitchell retired due to concerns stemming from brain surgery.
Goestenkors’ head coaching career was highlighted by her final 10 years at Duke, a span during which she went to four Final Fours, seven Elite Eights, and 10 out of 10 Sweet Sixteens. In 2007, she left the Blue Devils and went to Texas where she coached the Longhorns for five years. She has also been an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Sparks, Indiana Fever, and Team USA and is a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a part of the coaching staff on the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medal-winning teams.
“Our program is excited to announce Gail Goestenkors as an assistant coach and welcome her to Big Blue Nation,” Elzy said. “Gail will bring a winning pedigree to Lexington as a proven coach collegiately, professionally and on the international stage with USA Basketball. I love Gail’s passion for the game of basketball. When you combine that with her desire and track record of developing players, I know she is going to be a dynamic addition to our staff. Our staff is eager to continue offseason workouts and make BBN proud when we hit the floor this fall.”
“I am very excited to join the Kentucky women’s basketball family and cannot wait to experience Big Blue Nation firsthand this fall,” Goestenkors said. “This program has had so much success over the last decade and I am looking forward to continuing that success. Coach Elzy has a clear vision where she wants to take this program and I feel that same energy from the players and staff. I am thankful Coach Elzy has made me part of the Wildcat Family and cannot wait to get on the court and get to work.”
Goestenkors coached WNBA legend Alana Beard at Duke, as well as 10 other WNBA players during her time at Duke and Texas combined. She coached her players to eight national players of the year awards, 53 all-conference recognitions, and 75 academic all-conference nods.
Goestenkors was ACC Coach of the Year seven times and national coach of the year twice, winning the Naismith and WBCA honors in 2003 and The Associated Press award in 2007.
Kentucky went 18-9 in 2020-21 (9-6 SEC) and went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It had wins over Elite Eight participant Indiana and 3-seeds Tennessee and Georgia. The Wildcats also played Final Four participant South Carolina within five points but failed to live up to their high ceiling and go deep in the tourney. Their superstar player, Rhyne Howard, is returning for a highly-anticipated senior year.
Howard is the two-time reigning SEC Player of the Year, has averaged 19.9, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game in her Kentucky career, and is a top WNBA prospect. Perhaps Goestenkors can help bring out the best in Howard and help Elzy lead Kentucky further than last year.