Brooke Stoehr is set to begin her sixth season at the helm in Ruston and the former Lady Techster point guard and current head coach shared her thoughts on a variety of subjects.
Q: What has it been like since the NCAA reopened recruiting on June 1, and what are the benefits of being able to get back out on the road as well as having recruits back on campus?
A: We have had a number of unofficial visits on campus in the month of June once the NCAA opened it back up. You can watch prospects on film and you can evaluate skill sets, but there is a lot of intangibles you miss when you can’t see them in person; to see them interact with their teammates, and their coaches and the officials when something doesn’t go their way. It’s beneficial to have the ability to get face to face with them when they are on campus and to be able to go evaluate them in person starting July 6. We are looking forward to it. It feels like it has been forever. It’s been over a year. We are excited to hit the road next week.
Q: How has what everyone went through last year with Covid changed recruiting moving forward?
A: We find ourselves zooming more so now than just having typical phone calls. I had a couple of phone calls last night and it almost felt weird because I couldn’t see their face. I want to be able to see body language. I want to be able to see their reaction when you talk about certain things, or if you ask them a tough question or if they ask you a tough question. It goes both ways. You want them to see your genuine reaction, and we want to see the same thing from them. We said from the beginning of COVID that there were going to be tough consequences that came from it, but there were also going to be some really good changes. Anytime you get into a situation where you are forced to make adjustments and changes, that’s not all bad. We have had to make the most of it, and I think there are some really good things that have come from it.
Q: How important is it for Keiunna Walker and Anna Larr Roberson to become leaders this year?
A: Very important. Those are conversations that we started having with those two this past spring. It’s been really, really neat. I look at Keiunna Walker in particular, and I see how she has changed, and how she has grown and how she has matured. Not just on the court. It’s her being more confident and feeling comfortable saying things in practice. She has always brought energy on the court. But now she feels comfortable saying things to other players, and that is good. You think about a Peyton Manning who is directing traffic on a football field. You have to be able to say the tough things. I think it hard for young people to say hard things and not feel like someone will be mad at them. But, Keiunna and Anna Larr have really grown in that area, and that is super important for us. I know in the two weeks since our players have been back on campus, they have been spending a lot of time with each other off the court. Spending extra time in the gym. We feel like we have a really talented roster. It is just a matter of how quickly we can get them to jell and how quickly we can get them all on the same page.
Q: Talk about the one-time transfer rule and the transfer portal and how that is changing college athletics.
A: I think we all have to adjust. It’s here to stay. We always want what is best for our student-athletes and ultimately we want what is best for your University and program. I think with these changes, we have to adjust and adapt. You are going to lose some, and you are going to gain some. It has happened to us. I don’t think there is a team in the country that hasn’t had someone enter the portal. It’s where we are. I don’t think it’s all bad. I do think the one-time (transfer rule) will eventually curve some of this. I think you will see less and less players that have been at three or four schools as a result of this. I think at some point it will slow down. But I don’t think it will slow down for a while just because of the situation. I think this is an abnormal year because there are a lot of players that got the extra year back due to Covid. I think the next three high school recruiting classes will be impacted … your 22s and 23s and 24s. You can create the best culture and environment possible and maybe it just doesn’t work out for that individual. We as coaches always have to be recruiting because roster management has changed. It’s happened in football and men’s basketball and now you are seeing it in women’s basketball and some other sports because of the one-time transfer rule and the transfer portal. There are some really good things that will come from it for the student-athletes and for programs. There are also unintended consequences that will happen that we will figure it out as we move forward.