Chris Long begins his fourth season as the head coach at Louisiana Tech with his sights set on returning the Lady Techsters to the NCAA Tournament.
Long has led Louisiana Tech to a pair of Western Athletic Conference regular season titles in his first three years and one NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006.
Long was named WAC Coach of the Year in 2006 after guiding the Lady Techsters to the WAC regular season and tournament titles and the NCAA Tournament.
During that 2005-06 season Long led the storied women's basketball program back into the Top 25 after a one-year hiatus. That combined with the Lady Techsters' WAC regular season and tournament titles and appearance in the program's 25th straight NCAA Tournament earned him the league's top accolade as voted on by the conference coaches.
It was a deserving honor.
2006-07 was a little bumpier for Long and Co. as the Lady Techsters lost seven of their first nine games before righting the ship to win 15 of their last 21 while capturing a share of the program's 15th straight regular season conference title.
However, a loss at the hands of the host school, New Mexico State, in the 2007 WAC Tournament in Las Cruces kept the Lady Techsters out of the NCAA Tournament. Almost immediately after the loss, Long took a bold step by turning down a WNIT bid - a move that solidified what the high goals of Lady Techster basketball are.
In 2007-08, inexperience and injuries took their toll on the Lady Techsters as Long's team posted a 16-15 mark, finishing tied for fourth in the league. Tech lost two of its top scorers in Whitney Jones and Sidney Stewart for the majority of the season and lacked the offensive consistency to make a run to the NCAA Tournament.
"Louisiana Tech women's basketball has been about playing in the NCAA Tournament," Long said. "We did not do enough (the last two years) to reach that goal. "The returners and newcomers will fight to get back to the NCAA Tournament and begin a new streak this year. I'm excited about the possibilities for this year's team."
Long has added an entirely new staff to the mix this year, including hiring former Techster All-American Teresa Weatherspoon as associate head coach. Weatherspoon will join first-year assistant coaches LaRita Wilcher and Sara Carter to form this year's Tech staff.
Long was hired as only the fourth head coach in the program's history on April 8, 2005, and wasted little time in making his mark. He took a team that had faltered to a 20-10 record the previous season and led it to 26 wins and only five losses in his first year against a tough non-conference schedule and the grueling road in the WAC.
During his three years at the helm, Long has led Tech to a 59-33 mark and he's done it the old-fashioned way...with defense.
After surrendering 66.4 points a game in 2004-05 (the year before Long took over the reins), Louisiana Tech allowed only 60.6 ppg in 2005-06 and 61.2 ppg in 2006-07 while ranking among the nation's leaders in numerous team defensive categories.
Louisiana Tech accomplished these defensive improvements despite facing out-of-conference schedules that included Tennessee, LSU, Ole Miss, Iowa, Kansas State, Arizona, Mississippi State, Alabama, Western Kentucky and Rice.
Another one of Long's mindsets -- that never-say-die mentality -- has also been apparent in his team's play. In only the second game of his head coaching career, Tech overcame a 19-point deficit with less than eight minutes to play in a 95-91 double overtime win over NCAA Tournament-bound Iowa in December of 2005.
It was the second largest come back in Lady Techster history and just an illustration of what Lady Techster fans were in store for from Long-coached teams.
Many of the qualities that made Long successful in his first two years as boss on the Techster sideline were instilled during his assistant coaching days under legendary Hall of Fame head coach Leon Barmore.
It's these qualities and many others learned at an early age from his father who was a high school coach and principal that have helped lead him to where he is today.
Long took over the reins of the Louisiana Tech women's basketball program when he was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in a press conference held April 8, 2005, in the Hall of Fame Room in the Thomas Assembly Center where Louisiana Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau made the announcement.
He became only the fourth head coach in Lady Techster basketball history, following in the footsteps of Sonja Hogg, Barmore and Kurt Budke.
Long's hiring was considered a no-brainer after being hired by Barmore in May of 1999 and being groomed by the Hall of Famer for three years before Barmore's retirement in August of 2002.
During his six years as an assistant, Long made a name for himself in the women's basketball coaching circle nationwide as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.
Long made quite an impact at Louisiana Tech during those years, proving to be a valuable asset to the Lady Techster program. Having been courted for several Division I head coaching jobs around the country during that time, the Vicksburg, Miss., native showed his loyalty by staying at Louisiana Tech.
That loyalty -- Long's six-year tenure as assistant coach was the second longest in Lady Techster history -- paid off for Long and the Techster Nation April 8, 2005. Long was the second youngest head coach in the program's history.
During his three years as the program's No. 1 assistant under Budke, Long's responsibilities included working with the Lady Techster post players, serving as the offensive coordinator, serving as the head of junior college recruiting as well as working with high school recruits, scouting, scheduling and serving as the academic coordinator for the Techster players.
Without a doubt, one of Long's best attributes is his uncanny ability to dissect opponents' tendencies, strengths and weaknesses with his incredible scouting reports.
During his assistant coaching days at Tech, Long's scouting reports helped the Lady Techsters defeat the likes of Purdue, Texas Tech (twice), Old Dominion, Mississippi State (twice), Illinois, Ohio State, TCU and Western Kentucky, just to name a few.
During that same time, six of the Lady Techster post players that Long worked with were selected in the WNBA Draft, including 2003 WNBA Rookie of the Year Cheryl Ford.
Long was instrumental in the development of all of these players, including both Ford and Amisha Carter (2004 2nd round New York Liberty), both of who were named Western Athletic Conference Players of the Year.
In addition to Carter and Ford, Long worked closely with Trina Frierson (2004 second round Seattle Storm) who was a 2003-04 Naismith Player of the Year finalists, and Ayana Walker (2002 second round Detroit Shock), who was a 2001-02 Kodak All-District selection.
In his six years as a Tech assistant, the Lady Techsters recorded a mark of 167-29 while winning six straight conference regular season titles (2000, 2001 Sun Belt; 2002, 2003, 2004 Western Athletic) and five straight league tournament titles.
Long, has been instrumental in the Techsters post-season success helping Tech to eight NCAA Tournaments, including four Sweet 16 appearances and a pair of Elite Eight stops.
Prior to his arrival at Tech in 1999-2000, Long already knew plenty about the Louisiana Tech women's basketball program, having grown up relatively close in Vicksburg, Miss.
The 40-year-old came to Tech in 1999 after serving as head coach at Vicksburg High School for two seasons where he led the Missy Gators to two straight North State Finals and a 46-19 record. While at Vicksburg, Long coached former Lady Techster forward Trina Frierson, who earned all-state honors.
Long earned his undergraduate degree in advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1991 and later received his masters in school administration at Alcorn State in 1997.
Long is married to the former Claudia Stalcup of Brandon, Miss., and the two have a 10-year-old son named Jack and a nine-year-old daughter named Bailey.
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