‘I will encourage them, I will inspire them’: ASU introduces new ASU women’s basketball coach Natasha Adair

Less than two weeks ago, Natasha Adair was coaching the Delaware Blue Hens in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.Now she’s the coach at Arizona State. (Photo by Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

TEMPE – Citing a desire to contend for a national championship, Arizona State’s newest coaching hire made a strong first impression.

“That’s what really was important for us,” athletic director Ray Anderson said about new women’s basketball coach Natasha Adair. “To have someone who can recognize and appreciate and respect what had been here for 25 years, but not be at all intimidated about knowing there’s appropriate changes to be made.”

Anderson, ASU President Michael Crow and senior associate athletic director Christina Wombacher introduced Adair to a packed theater at Sun Devil Stadium Monday.

Adair, 49, expressed her gratitude to the ASU community and outlined her plans for the program, emphasizing her intention to create an encouraging and supportive environment for the players.

Included in those plans is focusing on passion and character before winning, making sure to serve the community and prepare players for life beyond the court.

“The biggest thing is you have to be an advocate for young people,” Adair said. “I will encourage them, I will inspire them, I will encourage them to take calculated risks so they know what they can accomplish.”

She also explained her formula for the game, repeating the phrase, “Defend, rebound, run and score.”

“We want to make sure that whoever we play, they’re uncomfortable,” Adair said. “We’re going to execute, we’re going to value possessions, and they’re going to have fun while they do it.”

Anderson threw his full faith behind Adair, citing the rigorous and thorough search the program went through after Charli Turner Thorne announced her retirement earlier this month.

Anderson said a big factor was that he knew Adair could follow such a long-tenured and accomplished head coach, having done the same at Georgetown and Delaware.

At Delaware, she racked up a 95-58 record and a number of accolades during her five-year head coaching stint with the Blue Hens.

Related story

She led the program to its first NCAA Tournament since 2013 this season and was named the Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year a season ago after reaching the WNIT semifinals.

During her tenure, Delaware boasted consecutive 20-win seasons, won its third CAA title and averaged its most points since 2012-13.

She has over 20 years of coaching experience and previously held the head coaching position at Georgetown and the College of Charleston.

ASU finished ninth in the Pac-12 this season, failing to reach the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the second straight season. The Sun Devils struggled at the end of the season, finishing with a seven-game losing streak and 12-14 record.

Adair spoke highly of the program, acknowledging the culture of winning that the university has. She also thanked Turner Thorne in her speech for laying the foundation for the program, but said she hopes to take the team a step further.

“We want to contend for a national championship,” Adair said. “We want to get to the Final Four.

“They’re exceptional student-athletes. We just need to push a little harder in certain ways and work a little harder.”

“Natasha brings the drive, the competitiveness, the spirit, the edge, which is important to the student-athlete experience,” Crow said. “We are totally committed to making things work.”

Adair said she has already spoken with the players to get to know them and is excited to get started.

“I cannot wait to get in the lab with you,” Adair said, addressing the players. “There is so much that we want to do and so many things we want to accomplish.”

Brooke Tyburski Brook Tie-bur-skee (she/her/hers)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Brooke Tyburski expects to graduate in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. She is working for the Phoenix sports bureau.