One of the first orders of business for a new coach is to set up a new recruiting network.
Dawn Plitzuweit had a similar task when she arrived in Morgantown, but her first recruiting trip kept her within the walls of her new facility. Seven of her players return to WVU women’s hoops for her first season at the helm, but she had to recruit all 13 of her players from the moment she was announced as coach.
“Certainly, it’s a new style, a new system, and I’m certainly aware of that not only as a coach but also as a parent who has had kids who have gone through that,” Plitzuweit said. “Change is hard for everybody.”
Plitzuweit’s two children, Lexi and AJ, are college basketball players, so she has an intimate understanding of a student-athlete’s mentality. AJ started his career in junior college before moving to South Dakota, where he currently competes and his mother’s previous coaching job.
“Change is really hard, it’s hard for everybody, so I’m trying to help our young ladies understand how special this can be and how special they are, and what we can do,” Plitzuweit said.
So when WVU’s new coach stepped on campus in April, she got straight to work. Immediately after her introductory press conference, she held a workout with her players and shared a meal in order to build an organic relationship with WVU’s returning players.
Plitzuweit did lose some key players from the previous season. KK Deans, WVU’s starting point guard, left the program after Mike Carey’s retirement and joined Florida. Esmery Martinez, one of the top rebounders in the Big 12 last season, also departed for Arizona.
She did earn some key dividends, including two preseason All-Big 12 honorees. Madisen Smith, one of the program’s most prolific guards, will return for 2022-23, while JJ Quinerly looks to build on her breakout freshman campaign.
“I think we have an opportunity to do something here, to build upon what’s happened with the progress and the success of teams in the past here, and to continue to grow,” Plitzuweit said. “And so I think…it’s really important that all 13 of our young ladies feel that value and that growth and their opportunity is ahead of them.”