The architect behind the success of the Tulsa women's basketball program, Kathy McConnell-Miller completed her sixth season as the head coach of the Golden Hurricane in 2004-05. In six seasons at TU, McConnell-Miller has an overall record of 91-88. She is the school's all-time leader for coaching victories, and has the longest tenure in school history by a TU women's basketball coach.
Over the past two seasons, McConnell-Miller has taken Tulsa basketball to new heights with a combined 38 overall wins, back-to-back third-place finishes in WAC play and a pair of postseason appearances in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. She has guided the Hurricane to winning seasons in three out of her last four years, and has led Tulsa to 14 or more wins in five of her six seasons, including two 19-win campaigns and one 17-victory season.
McConnell-Miller has guided Tulsa to its best two seasons in school history and has the program on the brink of becoming a contender for a conference championship and a perennial NCAA Tournament team. However, TU's recent accomplishments were made possible by her hard work and dedication to putting Tulsa basketball on the national map and helping a tradition-starved program achieve success.
When McConnell-Miller took over the Tulsa women's basketball program in 1999-2000, she inherited a program that had just one winning season in its 14-year history, and had averaged just 5.8 wins per season with an overall mark of 81-250 (.324). In fact, the program was dropped after the 1986-87 campaign and laid dormant for nine years before being relaunched for the 1996-97 season. During its first three seasons in the late `90's, the Hurricane combined to win just 21 games and did not finish higher than fifth place in the WAC, which was split into two eight-team divisions.
McConnell-Miller's success during her tenure can be gauged in one sentence: She has taken TU from an average of 5.8 wins per year during the programs first 14 seasons to 15.2 victories per year during her six seasons as head coach. In fact, she needed just nine wins during her sixth season to equal the school's overall record of 81 wins during the previous 14 years.
Before her arrival, not a single TU player had ever received all-WAC First or Second Team recognition. Since her first season, Tulsa has placed at least one player on either the all-WAC First or Second Team. Three different players have earned all-conference first team honors, including current forward Jillian Robbins who became the school's first repeat selection to the first in 2004-05. Four players have been selected all-conference second team and three different players were named to the all-WAC defensive squad.
During the 2003-04 campaign, McConnell-Miller helped freshman Jillian Robbins earn all-WAC First Team honors and Robbins became TU's first freshman to receive WAC Newcomer of the Year honors. TU players have earned WAC Player of the Week honors 17 times during McConnell-Miller's tenure, including Robbins who was named the WAC Player of the Week a conference record five times in 2004-05.
During her six seasons McConnell-Miller also has the Hurricane excelling off the court as well with four ESPN Academic All-District first and second team performers, and Golden Hurricane players have earned all-WAC Academic Team honors a total of 23 times. Former Hurricane greats Allison Curtin and Becky Heidotten were each selected to the Creamland Dairies Student-Athlete Award of Excellence.
Since McConnell-Miller took over the women's program in 1999-2000, she has made the Golden Hurricane tough to beat at home. Tulsa registered its best home record in school history with a 12-1 mark in 2004-05, and is 22-6 on its home floor over the past two seasons. TU has posted nine or more home wins during five of her six seasons, and has produced a 40-18 record over the past four seasons.
Beginning with her first season as a head coach, Tulsa's home attendance has nearly doubled. Over the past four seasons, TU has a home attendance average of 1,507. In 2002-03, TU's registered a school best 1,910 fans per game at home, an increase of 871 from her first year. Tulsa also set a home attendance mark with 4,519 fans against top-ranked Duke in 2002-03. The Hurricane played in front of a school-record 8,532 fans at Texas A&M in the opening round of the 2005 WNIT, and 6,183 fans witnessed the Hurricane's game in Springfield, Mo., during the first round of the 2002 preseason WNIT against Southwest Missouri State.
Tulsa produced another 19-win season in 2004-05 with a 19-11 overall record and turned in its second consecutive third-place finish in the WAC with a mark of 11-7. TU tied the school record for overall and conference wins and established a new single season record with 12 home wins. Tulsa began the season with a school-record seven game win streak and received votes in both the Associated Press Top-25 poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top-25 Poll for five weeks. TU was once again selected for postseason play in the WNIT, but fell on the road at Texas A&M in the first round. The Hurricane defeated preseason top-25 teams Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri State and topped Atlantic Coast Conference member, Georgia Tech, who was receiving votes.
Tulsa chalked up a combined record of 9-5 against NCAA Tournament and WNIT teams, and was ranked 60th or above in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) the entire season, including as high as nine. McConnell-Miller led Tulsa to one of its biggest wins in school history over perennial NCAA Tournament team, Louisiana Tech, in the regular season finale.
During her fifth season of 2003-04, McConnell-Miller led the Golden Hurricane to the best season in school history. Tulsa posted the most wins in one season with 19 victories, recorded a third-place finish in conference play, which marked the Hurricane's best finish as a WAC member, and Tulsa advanced to the WAC Tournament semifinals for the third time in six seasons. TU's season culminated with its first-ever postseason tournament appearance with a WNIT bid. Tulsa also posted the best non-conference record in school history with an 8-5 mark. McConnell-Miller picked up her 60th career coaching victory against Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 31, 2003, and her 70th career win against San Jose State on Feb. 28.
In her fourth season of 2002-03, McConnell-Miller led Tulsa to a 14-16 overall record and a WAC mark of 9-9. The Hurricane tied a then school-record for the best conference finish with a fourth place showing in the 2003 WAC race. She picked up her 50th career win against San Jose State on Jan. 30.
McConnell-Miller also helped give the Tulsa basketball program several other firsts in 2002-03. Allison Curtin became Tulsa's first All-American, and the first TU selection in the WNBA Draft when she was selected in the first round. For the second straight season, Tulsa's recruiting efforts paid off as TU's 2003-04 class were ranked as the No. 25 recruiting class in America for two or less signees.
She began her third year with the school's first-ever nationally ranked recruiting class and the most experienced group of returners in her three seasons. The 2001-02 freshmen class ranked as the 41st-best recruiting class in the nation according to the January edition of the All-Star Girl's Report, and the group was the top-ranked class among WAC schools.
McConnell-Miller blended the talented newcomers with a solid group of veteran returners and the result was one of the best seasons in school history with an overall mark of 17-13 and a WAC fifth-place mark of 11-7. TU chalked-up the second-most wins, tied the record for the most conference victories and consecutive games won (6) in school history. McConnell-Miller's guidance and steady hand yielded three players on the all-WAC postseason team, including Leela Farr, the school's first all-WAC First Team performer, second-team selection Carla Morrow, and Alyssa Shriver was named to the all-newcomer squad. Tulsa, which posted a 9-6 overall home mark and a record of 6-3 in league games, also saw its home attendance rise to the second highest single-season average of 1,357.
In her first season as Tulsa's head coach, McConnell-Miller jolted the TU women's basketball program with vigor, enthusiasm and enough motivation to win 14 games, which was then second most in school history at the time. Under her leadership, Tulsa finished fourth in the WAC with a 9-5 record, which was TU's best finish in its four years as a conference member, recorded a 9-4 home mark and capped off the season by registering its first win at the WAC Tournament. McConnell-Miller earned WAC Women's Basketball Coach of the Year during her rookie season.
McConnell-Miller's first season put her among the elite of Tulsa basketball coaches. She won more games in her first season, including conference games, than any other coach in TU history. She also made the Hurricane tough to beat at home. Tulsa was 6-1 in conference games and 9-4 overall at home in 1999-2000. At the time, the nine wins tied the school's single-season mark and the six league wins were the most at home in one season.
In one year, McConnell-Miller reshaped and rebuilt a Tulsa basketball program many thought would never prosper. With the same group of players who craved success and wins for the previous three years, McConnell-Miller rewarded their appetites with a dream season that has served as the cornerstone for Hurricane basketball.
Success has followed McConnell-Miller throughout her 13 seasons of coaching at the Division I level. Top 20 recruiting classes, winning seasons, conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances are just a few ways to describe the results McConnell-Miller has had as a coach. With all of her prosperity, it is no wonder McConnell-Miller has become one of the most sought-after instructors and speakers. She frequently speaks and teaches at camps and clinics around the nation.
On April 12, 1999, McConnell-Miller became the eighth head coach in the history of the Tulsa women's basketball program, but just the second since the women's program was reinstated in 1996-97.
McConnell-Miller, 36, came to Tulsa after spending four years on the coaching staff at the University of Illinois (1995-99). She was the Associate Head Coach during the 1998-99 campaign, while serving as an assistant coach for the Illini the previous three seasons.
McConnell-Miller coached under highly respected Theresa Grentz for six years, four at Illinois and two at Rutgers.
While at Illinois, the Fighting Illini posted an overall 76-45 record, advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of her four seasons, including two "Sweet Sixteen" appearances, and won the Big 10 Conference Championship in 1997. During her tenure, McConnell-Miller played a key role in the signing of two recruiting classes ranked among the top five in the country. Her first class at Illinois was ranked as high fourth in the nation and the freshmen class during her final season was also ranked fourth in several major national publications.
In addition, attendance at Illinois games increased during her tenure as a member of Grentz's coaching staff. Attendance jumped from less than 700 in their first season to over 6,000 fans during the 1998-99 campaign. In two seasons at Rutgers (1993-95), McConnell-Miller's recruiting expertise was well documented. Her last class was rated as the 14th-best nationally, giving McConnell-Miller back-to-back classes ranked among the top 15. In her tenure, the Lady Knights posted two winning seasons while advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 1994.
Before that, McConnell-Miller was an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh (1991-93) where she served for two years. She was also the Panther's recruiting coordinator.
In 1993, McConnell-Miller worked as an assistant coach for the 1993 Big East All-Star Team, which played in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, McConnell-Miller competed collegiately at the University of Virginia where she was a four-year letterwinner. As a player, McConnell-Miller helped the Cavaliers reach the NCAA Tournament four times, including two trips to the Sweet Sixteen and one to the Elite Eight.
One of eight children, McConnell-Miller is one of six of the eight siblings who attended college on a basketball scholarship.
Five McConnell's are presently in the coaching ranks, including one each on the professional and collegiate levels, and three others coach at the high school level. Her older sister, Suzie McConnell-Serio, is the head coach for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx.
McConnell-Miller earned her bachelor's degree in rhetoric and communications from the University of Virginia in 1989.
She and her husband, Brad, have three children: Brice (5), Mackenzie (3) and Macie, who was born on August 23, 2004. The family resides in Bixby.
McConnell-Miller's College Coaching Record
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