In her first official day as head coach of the women’s basketball program, Raegan Pebley let it be known that her first priority was and always will be her student-athletes.
“It’s not about the paycheck. It’s not always about the wins and losses. It’s about relationships,” Pebley said, “And we’re going to carry that into Fresno State women’s basketball.”
Pebley, who led Utah State to unprecedented success, faces high expectations as the successor to Adrian Wiggins, who created a Bulldog dynasty that won four Western Athletic Conference championships and advanced to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
She plans to build on those accomplishments by using the platform Wiggins created, along with her own coaching styles.
“We will build and continue the success this program had,” Pebley said. “We will continue to have [success] and the foundation will be built on relationships.
“You have my commitment and my investment that my staff, once we get that going, will invest everything we have to achieve your goals and become the amazing women you’re already on the way to becoming,” Pebley told the handful of players in attendance Monday.
Pebley is no stranger to the Bulldog basketball team, having played against them and even recruited some of the same players.
“I think something that was exciting for me is that I knew who Ki-Ki [Moore] was on the court. I already knew who Rosie [Moult] was and who [Alex] Sheedy was. All of these young women, I knew who they were,” Pebley said.
“There are a lot of these young women I feel like I know where their left hand is at and where their right hand is at. Where their strength is and where their weaknesses are, and I’m excited to continue to build upon that,” she added.
Inheriting a program that has proven successful and being familiar with the ins and outs of the players, Pebley said that they would still play the same up-tempo Bulldog basketball they learned under Wiggins because it’s the same way she loved to play.
“I also know that this team’s had a lot of success, doing some of the things I love to do and that’s playing up-tempo basketball,” she said. “We’re going to get aggressive defensively. It’s not in my personality to be passive, to sit in a half court and to slow this game down. We’re playing up-tempo and we’re going to go and expose these strengths that these women have.”
For sophomore Alex Sheedy, having a coach that is familiar with the team’s style of play is a plus, but buying into that philosophy is an even bigger plus.
“It’s good. We’re really excited about that more than anything because I think it means that it’s not going to be such a huge change,” Sheedy said. “It’s nice to know that there’s a coach that knows who we are and isn’t trying to change that, because it’s obviously worked for us and she knows that.”
For Bree Farley, knowing Pebley has also recruited her homeland of Australia as much as Wiggins was enough to get excited about in it’s own.
“I’m quite a bit happy so hopefully we get some more Aussies out here,” Farley said. “As soon as I found out that she was head coach, it was one of the first things I thought about because when Coach Wiggins and Coach Frank left. That was something that not every other college does, of course. Having an Australian connection and recruiting in Australia is really important for Fresno State and it makes me happy.”
Pebley will have great expectations to meet in her first season at Fresno State as she spearheads the program’s transition into the Mountain West Conference. Until then, she plans to start the process of hiring her assistants right away. Pebley did not disclose any details as to whether she’d retain assistant coaches Amy Parrish or Sadiaa Jones, or bring in her own team of assistants.
Regardless, Pebley said she will select “the best staff that we can that can help us achieve our goals.”