‘Sometimes, when things go wrong, people go and point fingers. Our athletic season is just as much our responsibility as the coaches’,’ senior center Ashley Biggins said about former head coach Mark Adams.
After seven-and-a-half years as head coach of the UCI Women’s Basketball team, Adams resigned.
‘None of us saw it coming,’ said junior forward Lauren Yadon. ‘We were never informed that we needed to do certain things to keep him here. The practice on the evening of Dec. 26 was normal. Afterwards, however, we were told about the decision made by the athletic staff and [Director of Athletics and Campus Recreation] Bob Chichester.’
‘Mr. Chichester told us that they [he and Mark Adams] had outlined goals for the season that [Adams] was unable to meet.’
The season started off on a discouraging note as the women’s basketball team lost their first seven games of the season. The losses however, have been and are the manifestation of a young team, injuries and the loss of three athletes.
‘The lack of intensity in the first half, and inexperience of the team, contributed to our losses,’ said senior center Ashley Biggins.
Freshman forward Haley Tull commented, ‘We had a habit of playing [well] in the first half and relaxing in the second half. The other team just kept going while we relaxed.’
Adams, after nine seasons both at Hardin-Simmons and UCI, stood at a 132-144 record. Adams left the team under what seems to be the inability to produce a winning women’s basketball program at UCI. The reasons even now are elusive as the word ‘fired’ was being used interchangeably with ‘resigned’ during player interviews. However, the players themselves were unsure about the terms of Adams’ resignation.
The women’s team was immediately placed in the care of Interim Head Coach Molly Tuter.
Tuter is a 1997 graduate of Arizona State University. In that same year she also signed to the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team. She came to UCI after serving as an assistant coach at UCLA for two years.
Within the first two games back without Mark Adams, the women have regained their fervor and strength. On Jan. 2, UCI won their first game of the season against the University of San Diego. Fans and athletic staff were ecstatic as the final minutes of the game determined that their lead would not be overtaken. There is a noticeable change of feelings toward basketball under the new reign of Tuter.
‘His [Adams’] style was different. He pushed us hard, [but] he was not a bad coach,’ Tull said.
Now, with Tuter in charge, ‘We play more relaxed now and things are more consistent,’ Tull said.
‘Our chemistry kept us together during this time, we are a pretty tight knit group,’ Biggins said. ‘Our coach isn’t here anymore. We all took the news in and nobody said much. It’s sad that he’s gone, but whereas before when we had three-and-a-half hour practices and we didn’t know what we were doing. [Now] we go in, do what needs to be done and leave. We aren’t overloaded or burnt out anymore.’
Under the new leadership of a woman head coach, there’s a general consensus that the team seems to be more relaxed. They are beginning to find joy in playing again.
‘[Tuter] relates to us more on a player level,’ Yadon said. ‘She was in the WNBA [and] she’s been overseas. She understands us mentally and physically better. We are working harder now with more fun and excitement in the game.’
There are new expectations for this year’s team as they are now under the helm of Tuter, but the departure of Adams is still an emotionally vulnerable and ambiguous subject. Adams could not be reached for this interview and Chichester was unavailable for comment.