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Vonn Read took the podium for the first time as Syracuse women’s basketball head coach on Monday morning. After Quentin Hillsman resigned following allegations of inappropriate threats and bullying, Read was promoted from associate head coach to the acting head coach for the upcoming season.
Over the offseason, 12 players left the team, leaving Read a total of 12 players currently on the roster, nine of whom are transfers and freshman. Only three players from the Orange’s 2020-21 roster decided to stay for the upcoming season.
“It’s an honor for me to be leading this group of talented young ladies this season,” Read said in his opening remarks. “We have a lot of new faces, I think the fans are going to enjoy watching the team play this season.”
Here are three takeaways from Read’s introductory press conference:
Moving on from Hillsman
After The Athletic reported allegations about Hillsman’s threats and bullying, Syracuse University launched an external investigation on the former head coach. Read said that he participated in this investigation and answered all questions, and that during his time as associate head coach, he would bring any concerns he had to Hillsman. But no players “brought anything” to him that was on par with the allegations, he said.
When asked about Hillsman and the allegations, Read answered every question the same, saying that he didn’t want to talk about the past and that the “appropriate action” was taken by the university.
“I’m not going to talk about things that happened in the past,” Read said. “We’re trying to move forward as a program.”
Despite the allegations that were reported against Hillsman and the program, Read said that the decision to take the job wasn’t a “difficult” choice for him. He said that he still has a “fine” relationship with Hillsman and that he talked with Hillsman before taking the job.
In terms of basketball, Read said that his job is almost the same as it was when he was Hillsman’s associate head coach and that the players were comfortable with him taking the job. Read added that he is just going to be himself as a head coach, but that there won’t be a lot of “changes” in the everyday routine of the team from previous years.
“I wouldn’t say changes because I don’t try to compare regimes,” Read said. “But we’re laying out our program and culture for our young ladies. This has always been my vision and I’m laying that out for them.”
New faces everywhere
Read said that seeing 12 players leave from the team was “tough,” as he had coached all those players last season. With the multitude of new players this season as well as the controversy surrounding the program, Read emphasized the importance of players being comfortable with the coaching staff.
“I’m more responsible now for the players and their feelings,” Read said. “My role right now is to build relationships with these young ladies and make sure they trust our staff moving forward.”
Due to the heavy turnover, Syracuse lost a lot of its leaders from last year, including forward Kamilla Cardoso, who was the highest-rated recruit in the history of the Syracuse women’s basketball program. Read said that he doesn’t know who the leaders are yet since the team has only practiced once together, but he said that some of the older fourth- or fifth-year transfers are “stepping up.”
“We’re getting better on and off the court,” Read said. “We’re focusing on our chemistry.”
The Orange only have two listed forwards on their roster currently, as Read said some players will have to play out of position. But he said that Syracuse will make up for its lack of height with speed and an offense that centers around plays in the post.
“I would take speed over height any day,” Read said.
Priscilla Williams’ second year
One mainstay who has remained on the team throughout all the changes is sophomore guard Priscilla Williams, who led the team in three-pointers made last season (34). Read said that most players make a jump between their freshman and sophomore seasons, which he anticipates from Williams.
“She’s a highly decorated player and one of the best players to ever come here,” Read said. “We expect a lot from Priscilla.”
In her senior year of high school, Williams was named to the McDonald’s All-American team, which features the top-10 players in the country. Read said that Williams brought some of her high school success to the court for the Orange last year.
Read highlighted Williams’ play earlier in the regular season, specifically against ACC opponent Miami when she recorded a career-high 26 points. Williams went 6-for-6 from three-point range against the Hurricanes, not missing on any of her nine field goal attempts.
“Priscilla is really going to make a big step for us,” Read said.
The post Vonn Read speaks about moving on from Quentin Hillsman, new season appeared first on The Daily Orange.