Stollings introduced as new head coach

Her new deal will pay her $425,000 annually over the next six seasons.

Newly hired womens basketball coach Marlene Stollings talks about her goals for the team during a press conference at Williams Arena on Tuesday.

Newly hired women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings talks about her goals for the team during a press conference at Williams Arena on Tuesday.

Jack Satzinger

In 1995, Marlene Stollings and the Ohio State Buckeyes ran on to the Williams Arena floor and put up 93 points on the Gophers in a double-digit win.

Stollings returned to the Barn on Tuesday afternoon, but this time as Minnesota’s new head coach.

Stollings, who later transferred to Ohio University to finish her schooling, plans on many more 90-point games  — but this time with the Gophers in the winning column.

“We will play an exciting brand of basketball,” Stollings said Tuesday at her introductory press conference in the Williams Arena Club Room, filled to the brim with media and fans. “I’m a firm believer that offense generates defense,”

Minnesota ranked 149th in the NCAA in points per game last season, but Stollings said she hopes to up that number next season.

 University athletics director Norwood Teague called his new coach an “innovative thinker.” She has already brainstormed ways to use star guard Rachel Banham next year to get other players involved in the offense.

 “She’s already outstanding,” Stollings said of Banham, “but … there’s yet another level she can go with her game.”

And Banham can’t wait to get to work with her new coach.

“As a point guard, I love to just get the ball and go end-to-end,” Banham said. “I’m so excited for that, and I know our team is excited for that as well.”

Teague called the overall hiring process “careful” and “detailed,” but he found the ideal candidate just over a week after dismissing former head coach Pam Borton.

Teague said a large pool of candidates expressed interest in the position, but Stollings stood out.

“It showed what a big-time job we have,” Teague said, “and that there’s a lot of interest in what we are doing.”

Stollings’ deal will pay her $425,000 annually over a six-year span. And every year Minnesota reaches the NCAA tournament, she will receive a $10,000 bonus.

A Sweet Sixteen berth would garner $25,000, Elite Eight $50,000 and a Final Four appearance $75,000. If the Gophers win the national championship, Stollings would pocket $100,000.

Stollings has one thing in mind to get Minnesota back to making the deep tournament runs that were customary a decade ago.

“I think recruiting will be the lifeblood of our program,” she said.

Those recruiting efforts will start in Minnesota, where Borton struggled to put some of the state’s top talent in a maroon and gold uniform. Stollings grew up in Ohio dreaming of playing for the Buckeyes and said she hopes Minnesota girls have the same aspirations for their home team.

“I know what it’s like to be a little girl and have a childhood dream to play for your state school in the Big Ten Conference,” she said.

Banham stayed home to play for the Gophers and has amassed a fantastic individual career, but she has yet to reach the NCAA tournament. She said she’d be happy to help with recruiting efforts.

“I love having my parents here to watch me play and my brothers and sisters,” she said. “These fans are incredible.”

Gophers fans were also chomping at the bit to see a new head coach.

“I thought [Borton’s dismissal] was a long time coming,” said Eric Boogaard, a Gophers fan and Rogers, Minn., native. “I also think it was two years overdue.”

Boogaard started watching Gophers women’s hoops as a teenager in 2003. Now, he said, he follows the team closely and even attends girls’ high school games to evaluate recruits.

He admittedly didn’t know much about Stollings before the announcement and said he was hoping for a bigger name to take over the opening.

“I’m not disappointed, but I’m kind of underwhelmed,” he said.

Stollings has been a head coach for three seasons — two years at Virginia Commonwealth and one year at Winthrop.

Kyla Radha, a Gophers fan from Andover, Minn., said she’s concerned about Stollings’ tendency to jump from one job to another.

“I was a little skeptical because she hasn’t stayed at a program for a long time,” Radha said. “Will she be around after two years?”

Stollings has worked for eight different schools since 2000, but none were Big Ten institutions.

Now, Stollings is back at the Barn and said she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

 “This is the pinnacle of coaching, and to be at this level is a dream come true,” she said. “You look at this as a life-changing stop and lifelong stop.”