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04-03-2008 Niya Butts Press Conference
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/03/2008
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Niya Butts Introductory Press Conference Quotes

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Arizona Athletics Director Jim Livengood addresses the mediaˇ?

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Good morning.? First of all, thank you all for being here.? This is an incredibly exciting time for the University of Arizona and womenˇ?s basketball.? We are going to introduce a young lady to you today that we think is absolutely a home run in every aspect as far as being the new head coach of the Arizona Wildcats.?

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Niya Butts is going to be our new head coach, and you will hear from her in a moment, and I think you will all see why we are so excited about the direction she will take our program.? Why her?? Why now?? Rocks were turned over, lots of people were talked to, and when we got down to it there was a tremendous pool of people who could serve in this role.?

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This is a critical hire for the University of Arizona, because it is a new era.? It is a chance for us to get better, it is a chance for us to move forward.? What does Niya bring?? She brings a great deal of enthusiasm, a great deal of experience going back to her playing days at Tennessee, and certainly she has promised us we will be doing those same things on championship night.? Secondly, her experiences, certainly at the schools she has been at, and most importantly the last five years at Kentucky, she has done everything you could ask a young assistant coach to do.? She was their associate head coach.? Kentuckyˇ?s athletic director, Mitch Barnhart, could not have been more gracious with his kind comments about who she is, what she is, and what she can mean to our university.?

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So with that, I am excited, we are excited about the future.? This young lady is a great fit for Wildcat womenˇ?s basketball, she is a great fit for Wildcat athletics, she is a great fit for the University of Arizona, and she is a terrific fit for Tucson.? Please let me introduce you to the eighth head coach of the University of Arizona womenˇ?s basketball program, Niya Butts.

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Niya Buttsˇ? opening remarksˇ?

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Thank you.? First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone that is here today.? I feel really, really privileged to have so many people in the room excited about my hire here at the University of Arizona.? Iˇ?m very, very excited.? If I could jump on this table right now and turn cartwheels and flips I would about my excitement and enthusiasm for Arizona basketball.? I just think so many great things can happen here.? I canˇ?t tell you how excited I am to get to tomorrow and the next day, and the next day so I can move forward.? I canˇ?t wait to get to know my team, get to know these recruits, get to know the people of Arizona, get to know the media.? I love you guys (the media) by the way.? I want to make sure I get that across so you can be nice to me (laughter).

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Iˇ?m just so excited about everything that is going on, I canˇ?t express it enough.? The one word I can tell you I will bring here is a lot of energy.? I have a lot of enthusiasm, I have a lot of pride in what I do and I think you will see that come through in recruitment, through the kids on the floor, through my staff, all of the above.? And I am so thankful for everyone here at Arizona for giving me this opportunity.

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Questions from the Mediaˇ?

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Have you ever been to Tucson?

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Niya Butts: ?Yesterday, I got to Tucson (laughter).? I had not been to Tucson before Tuesday night.? The moment I touched down I said Iˇ?m home.? So, that should give you a sense of how I feel about getting this opportunity to come to Arizona and the tremendous amount of pride I will take in being the head womenˇ?s basketball coach here.

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Where you aware of the opening first, or did Arizona contact you and initiate the process?

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NB: ?When you have a situation like Arizona, and a school of its caliber, and the things they have been able to accomplish over the years throughout many of their sports, you are always aware of Arizona.? The moment this job became open, I thought, wow, that could be a super opportunity, a super chance if I could get in the mix for that job.? I was contacted by someone and asked if I would be interested.? And I go, hmm, is that a trick question? (laughter) Because at that point in time, Iˇ?m thinking who wouldnˇ?t be interested in the University of Arizona.? So, this is a tremendous opportunity for me and I hope you all can see how excited I am to be here, and my energy and what Iˇ?m ready to do and put forth for this program.? Iˇ?m ready to put my heart and soul into it, and I hope that comes across in everything I do.

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What do you say to the person who says you are only 30 years old, you are kind of young to be a head coach?

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NB: I say to them, why not?? Why not?? What is wrong with 30?? I am more than ready to be the head coach at the University of Arizona.? I think the experiences I have had have prepared me for this day.? Whether that is as a player, as a coach, in my experiences in the Big Ten, the Ohio Valley Conference, and the SEC, and helping rebuild Kentucky in a power conference. All of that has given me a lot of experiences and what it is going to take here at Arizona to get the job done.? And you know what guys, Iˇ?m ready to go.? I have a lot of energy, and this is going to take a tremendous amount of energy, but I have a passion for it.? I donˇ?t know who would have more passion than I would.ˇ±

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What is your top priority, what is the first thing you want to get done?

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NB: ?The first thing for me that is most important is to get to know my players and the people of Arizona.? I want to get to know this team and understand what it is I have and what it is I have to do, and to try to assemble a staff that is going to be as passionate as I am about the University of Arizona, and moving forward.

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People, to me, are the most important.? Surrounding myself with good people is going to be the first task, because I believe you win with people.

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How tough is it going to be to fill the shoes of a coach that was here for 17 years?

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NB: I think any time you have a coach that has been at a school as long as coach (Joan Bonvicini) was here, and she obviously has done a tremendous job, that is always tough to follow.? Because there hasnˇ?t been much turnaround at Arizona, in any of its sports.? So, always coming into a situation where there is a lot of tradition and a lot of precedent set through someone else, it is going to be hard to do.? But, there is no one more prepared to do that than me.? No one more excited to do that, ready to face that challenge.? I know it will be tough, but I look forward to that.

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With your experiences, have you developed a sense of basketball style on the court?

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NB: ?I was ready for that question, thank you by the way (laughter).? Coming from the SEC, obviously, that is a league that is very fast.? I have played a lot of up-tempo basketball, and I like that.? I like to play that way, however, I am a basketball coach.? You cannot play that way if you donˇ?t have the personnel. So, you have to be smart about that.? We all love to play up and down and score a lot of points, but sometimes it is just not possible.? So my first thing is to figure out what this basketball team needs here at this current time at Arizona and what style we need to play to make us more successful.

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What would people say about how you are on the sidelines?

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NB: Oh, wow.? Iˇ?ll tell you this.? At Kentucky, fans would come up to me after the game and say, ˇ®Coach, we were trying to get going.ˇ? And they would say that because during games if I felt like we needed a push I would always lift my hands and get the crowd going.? I am a very energetic, emotional coach.? I am very active on the sideline.

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Do you feel there is an advantage being a female coaching a womenˇ?s sport?

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NB: Being a female, Iˇ?m not sure there is an advantage or not.? But, there is an advantage having Niya Butts coaching the womenˇ?s team here at Arizona.? That is the only advantage I could attest to.

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What made Arizona attractive to you?

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NB: The number one thing that I looked for, especially when I came on the interview was people.? I felt really comfortable talking with everyone, talking with the other coaches.? So, it was the people, that was the number one thing. ?The second thing is that there is an average temperature of 83 degrees, and I donˇ?t know anybody living in America that wouldnˇ?t like that everyday (laughter).? But it is also in a great conference in the Pac-10.? So, I think there are so many things that go along with this job that are just tremendous, and that a person in my position would relish the opportunity to get to be here and move forward with the program.

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Did you go straight from Tennessee as a player to being a coach?

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NB: I did.? After I played at Tennessee, I went directly to Tennessee Tech, which is in the Ohio Valley Conference, I was the third assistant there, but I also got my masterˇ?s degree at the same time I was there.? I want to say, if he is watching, Bill Worrell, who was the former basketball coach at Tennessee Tech University, he gave me my very first coaching opportunity.? And I appreciate it greatly, and I want to let him know that.? I called him before the press conference to say, coach, thank you for giving me an opportunity. And without that opportunity I wouldnˇ?t be here, so Iˇ?m very appreciative of that.

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Have you always wanted to be a head coach?

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NB: Early on, maybe in high school, probably not.? But once I got to college, I played with some great players, and they would always say that I was going to be a coach.? Sometimes I would say, no, Iˇ?m not going to be a coach.? Then coach (Pat) Summitt would always say, you might want to think about coaching.? Then finally, around my sophomore and junior seasons, I started to think, well, I think I might want to coach.? So the players would come over and ask me, Niya, what do you see.? Or, Butts, what do you see.? So I thought, well, I can do this.? This is pretty good, and I enjoyed it.

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Did you talk to coach Pat Summitt during any of this process?

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NB: I have.? She is a great mentor.? She has given me a lot of tips and pointers, and I will be talking to her a lot after this.

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Have you ever had the chance to recruit in the West?

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NB: I have recruited in the West. I have never signed a player from the West, but I have recruited in the West and have some ties.? But I will tell you this; I have the energy to recruit anywhere.? So, I am excited about that. California has great kids, Arizona has great kids.

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How much do you know about the Pac-10 Conference?

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NB: I know that Arizona will soon move towards the top of that conference Iˇ?m hoping here in the near future, and I will work tirelessly to make that happen.? And I know it is a good conference for womenˇ?s basketball.? Stanford is always very successful along with others in the conference.? But I think that in the Pac-10 definitely Arizona can be one of the top teams, and Iˇ?m just looking forward to getting to work and making that happen.

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Do you think your young age helps you form a bond with the team and the future recruits?

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NB: I definitely think that it could help.? I think I can relate to the players, obviously, Iˇ?m a little bit removed.? But, I think it always helps to have someone you can talk to that you are playing for who can understand your perspective and where you are coming for, and it definitely will play a role.? So, Iˇ?m hoping that plays a big role in recruiting.

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Do you think you will go to the Final Four?

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NB: I hate to say this, because this is live and people are going to get this on the internet (laughter).? Yes, I think I will go to the Final Four.

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Do you have idea about who will make up your staff?

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NB: I definitely have people in mind, however, my staff is not complete.? And I know more than anyone else in this room that it is going to be very important to get the right people.? Like I said earlier, you win with people.? So, Iˇ?m not going to rule anyone out.? Iˇ?m going to talk to everyone I need to talk to and make sure I get the right fit for me, and the right fit for Arizona.

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Did your teams draw well at Kentucky?

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NB: We did.? We drew really well.? I donˇ?t want to quote the wrong numbers here, but I know we were close to 5,000 for the season, and I think Memorial seats close to 8,500.? So, we did draw pretty well.? And I look forward to getting out to the community, doing whatever I can, going to restaurants, whatever I have to do to get people in the stands here at Arizona.? And I will make that commitment. ?Iˇ?m going to do everything in my power to get people here to come for these games.

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Do you find it similar having to sell your program at Kentucky where menˇ?s basketball is number one, to coming here where Arizona menˇ?s basketball is number one?

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NB: ?I do, Kentucky and Arizona have two great menˇ?s programs.? I think it is always huge for a womenˇ?s program to have a good menˇ?s program to stand beside.? The one thing about it, whether we like it or not, you might hear some womenˇ?s coaches say that menˇ?s basketball has this or menˇ?s basketball has that.? You will never hear me say that.? I think it is absolutely wonderful that menˇ?s basketball is what it is because it gives me as a womenˇ?s basketball head coach instant name recognition with my recruits, with the AAU coaches across the country and high school coaches.? When you say Arizona, who doesnˇ?t get excited about Arizona?? And they think basketball, so that is a huge help for me and I think that is well in line with how it was at Kentucky.? You say Kentucky basketball, and their initial reaction isnˇ?t who is it, it is Kentucky basketball, people recognize that.

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How big of a basketball fan are you?

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NB: I would say Iˇ?m a huge basketball fan.? Iˇ?m more of an Arizona fan than anyone right now (laughter).? In general, I am a huge basketball fan.? I love watching the game.? I like the NBA, just because Iˇ?m just amazed how skilled those guys are.? Iˇ?m looking at them and wondering, why donˇ?t my players do that? (laughter)? But, I like the game, I do enjoy it.? Over the years, it has become increasingly harder for me to watch the game strictly for my enjoyment because Iˇ?m always seeing a play or a move.? But, I do enjoy it.

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