KATIE GEARLDS: I didn’t know how cool it was to walk up here to that song. That’s pretty special. And to hear “Welcome Home,” man, something I’ve been dreaming of since probably I graduated.
Thanks for being here. Thanks to the Big Ten. I think this is a great day, yesterday, too, but a great day for women’s basketball. An exciting season. Looking forward to what we have coming back. Four teams made it to the Sweet 16. We’re just going to do whatever we can to make Purdue proud.
I’m still trying to figure out how in the world I’m following Coach Izzo and Coach Painter is behind me. Just figured they didn’t want anybody to go to the bathroom in between the break, so here I am.
Q. As you try to put this team together, who are you looking to from a leadership standpoint to help you push this thing forward?
KATIE GEARLDS: Yeah, really the three we have here with us today, Cass Hardin, Jeanae Terry, Madison Layden, we’ve named them captains. Those are the kids that really grabbed onto everything.
All of our student-athletes have done a really good job this summer, especially here in the last two and a half weeks with the transition of believing and buying into the new system. But those three are our captains. Those three are going to lead us all year long.
Q. You went into Purdue kind of in difficult circumstances. Has this been a whirlwind to you? Have you caught up with all of that?
KATIE GEARLDS: My head is above water, my feet are moving really fast underneath. I know that.
High school wasn’t that long ago. I’m not that old (laughter).
Yeah, emotionally it’s been a roller coaster for everybody. But I knew going in in March or April that the transition was going to happen. It just happened sooner than everybody expected. I’m ready. I’m ready to grab this thing by the horns, and we’re going to run with it.
Q. What environment are you trying to cultivate with this team? Something new?
KATIE GEARLDS: There’s no secrets in playing college basketball. We want to have a team that competes every day, we want to have a team that’s hard to beat. When you’re hard to beat, fans are itching to get back into the arena, it’s going to be loud, you have to take care of games at home, win games on the road that you’re supposed to be.
If you’re hard to beat, you might steal a game you’re not supposed to win on paper. That’s what we want to live by, compete every day. Make sure we compete every day hard, we play basketball the right way. Basketball gods will take care of the rest.
Q. How are the girls buying into your program so far?
KATIE GEARLDS: They’ve been working their tails off for us. The biggest thing is just changing culture. In the ’90s, early 2000s, Purdue was on top of the Big Ten. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to lead my alma mater. With that opportunity comes a huge responsibility. I take a lot of pride in making sure we continue to work our tails off to make Purdue proud again.
Q. You got to play against IU, now you get to coach against them. How excited are you?
KATIE GEARLDS: Yeah, it doesn’t matter what year it is, that IU/Purdue rivalry is something that’s going to live on.
I’m excited to go down to Assembly Hall, a little different for me now. A little less control as a coach than as a player. Excited to have this opportunity. Great team. Coach Moren has done an incredible job of building that team up. They got a squad back.
We’re chasing them. We’ll see what we can do.