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Tennessee Coaching Candidate: Five Things To Know About Lindsay Gottlieb

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Tennessee is looking for a new women’s basketball coach and many fans are expecting big things.

Most would prefer athletic director Danny White to swing big to find a replacement for Kellie Harper, who was unable to help the Lady Vols return to national championship contention during her five years as the head coach before being fired on Monday.

That’s the expectation for Lady Vols basketball: reach Final Fours and compete for national titles.

The recent attention on women’s basketball thanks to the incredible run of Caitlin Clark at Iowa and the team success of schools like LSU and South Carolina has added to Tennessee’s desire to return to the national conversation.

One candidate who could help Tennessee do that is Southern California head coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

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Here are five things to know about USC’s head coach.

Gottlieb started coaching before she finished playing

Gottlieb played college basketball at Brown University in Providence, R.I. In her final season as a player, Gottlieb served as a student assistant coach.

She dealt with a knee injury in her final year, which led her to begin work on a coaching career.

Gottlieb also received Brown’s Heart and Soul Award when she was a senior. 

Gottlieb’s head coaching experience is on the West Coast

Gottlieb has served as the head coach at three schools: UC Santa Barbara (2008-11), California (2011-19), and USC (2021-present).

She also spent time as an assistant coach at Syracuse, New Hampshire and Richmond in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But Gottlieb’s head coaching history resides on the West Coast. 

Would that affect her decision if Tennessee offered her the job?

Gottlieb would need to consider what kind of staff and recruiting ties she would have in place when considering a move east to coach the Lady Vols.

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Gottlieb has coached in the NBA

Gottlieb took a break from the college game in 2019 when she went to work for the Cleveland Cavaliers. She became the first women’s basketball head coach to leave for an NBA coaching position.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr praised the Cavs’ hire at the time.

“She’s a wonderful person and a helluva coach,” Kerr, whose two sons attended Cal when Gottlieb coached in Berkeley, said at the time of the hire.

Two years later, Kerr said he wished the Warriors had hired Gottlieb. Her reach in the coaching world extends beyond the women’s college game.

Gottlieb has recruited at a high level

USC signed last year’s No. 1 recruit in the nation in JuJu Watkins. Watkins starred as a freshman at USC, earning first-team All-America honors after averaging more than 27 points a game.

Gottlieb turned around and signed the No. 1-ranked signing class for 2024.

One objective for Tennessee will be to recruit at a higher level more consistently. Gottlieb has proven the ability to do that at USC.

Would Gottlieb be able to convince Watkins or any of USC’s signees to follow her if she took the Tennessee job? That’s unknown. But Gottlieb’s ability to attract talented players has been established.

Gottlieb has made one Final Four

Tennessee’s program goals are well known.

The Lady Vols haven’t reached the Final Four since 2008, the last time the school won the national championship.

Can Gottlieb get them there?

She’s taken one team – her 2012-13 California team – to the Final Four. USC was close this season, losing to UConn on Monday in the Elite Eight. USC should enter next season as a top candidate to make a Final Four run.

Gottlieb would be familiar with the expectations in Knoxville if she took the Tennessee job.

She already has the same expectations at USC.

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7 Responses

  1. There will only ever be one Pat Summit. You will never be able to replace her or meet her high qualities and it’s not far to ask that if each coach that follows. You’re aiming so high and she’s gone and never to be replaced. Treat your coaches for who they our not because there not Pat Summit. They did best they could with who they had. Top player out most of year with an injury is that coach Harper’s fault?

  2. I love the tradition at Tennessee I love women basketball as well. Ms. Gottlieb would be out of her mind to leave USC, with the team she has, plus juju Watkins is absolutely fabulous basketball player, seems like a great young woman and her teammates adore her. They will win a national championship just a matter of time.

  3. I’m excited to watch women’s basketball be here in my lifetime to watch it grow. Excited about my granddaughter. She’s playing basketball and seems to be a pretty good ball or herself. God is good.

  4. Coach Lindsay Gottlieb is a great coach w great recruiting…..Go Lady
    V-Ol would like to see her in Knoxville-

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