Cori Close, who had coached in 15 consecutive NCAA Basketball Tournaments, was named UCLA head women's basketball coach on April 21, 2011. Close is in her second season after guiding the Bruins to a 14-16 overall record in 2011-12 and a 9-9 mark (tied for fifth) in the Pac-12. The Bruins' roster was decimated with injuries last year as UCLA finished the season with just seven healthy players.
This is the first head coaching assignment for Close, who has worked as associate head coach or assistant on teams that have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last 15 seasons, won at least 20 games in 15 of the previous 16 seasons and won or shared a total of 11 conference championships.
"Cori has established herself as one of the top women's basketball associate coaches in the nation and is certainly ready to take the next step," said UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. "Cori has enjoyed great success at Florida State and UC Santa Barbara, on the court, off the court and on the recruiting trail, and has a great vision for the future of our program. She will continue to build upon the foundation that has been established over the last few years."
"Cori is a great fit for UCLA," said Petrina Long, UCLA Sr. Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women's Administrator. "She has enjoyed great success throughout her career and possesses all the tools to keep our program at a high level. She is thrilled to be coming back to Westwood and we are excited to have her back."
Close, who served on the Bruin coaching staff in 1994 and 1995, returns to Westwood after spending the last seven seasons as associate head coach at Florida State University. Considered one of the top offensive minds in the game, Close helped guide the Seminoles into a nationally-recognized program in her time. FSU ranked among the nation's top 30 teams in scoring, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage the last two seasons.
Florida State advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of coach Close's seasons in Tallahassee and won at least 20 games in all but one. Point guard play and offensive efficiency were strong points under Close's direction. FSU shot at least .418 from the field in each of the last seven seasons and hit over 37% of its three-point attempts the last two seasons, including a school-record 212 made three-point shots in 2010.
As FSU's offensive coordinator, Close was responsible for developing the offensive schemes that best suited the team's personnel. Her ability to prepare information and disseminate it to the student-athletes has been exemplary. In addition to her on-court tasks, Close was also instrumental in recruiting (she coached four first-team All-ACC Freshman team selections and five players selected in the WNBA draft while at FSU) while also working with the school's marketing department in their efforts to promote the program.
During the 2010-11 season, Florida State posted a 24-8 record, finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 11-3 mark, was ranked No. 20 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after matching the program's best tournament seed ever at No. 3. The 2010 FSU squad captured a share of the ACC regular season championship, set a school record with 29 wins and advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Jacinta Monroe was selected in the first round of the WNBA draft, No. 6 overall, the highest of any FSU player.
The 2009 Seminole squad also won a share of the conference regular season crown and earned the highest seed into the NCAA Tournament in school history, at the time, at No. 3. The 2008 FSU team earned its highest regular season ranking ever in the polls to that point in time, at No. 18. In 2007, Florida State advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history and earned its highest ranking to that point, at No. 19, in the season's final national poll. In Close's initial season in Tallahassee, FSU posted its first 20-win campaign in 14 seasons.
Close joined the FSU staff after serving nine seasons (1995-2004), the last three as associate head coach, at her alma mater, UC Santa Barbara, class of 1993. Some of her duties included overseeing skill development of the players, on-court offensive coaching, recruiting and scheduling. Under Close's coordination, UCSB undertook one of the most demanding non-conference slates in the country each season.
As UCSB's player development coordinator, Close significantly contributed to the mentoring, nurturing and motivation of the student-athletes. Her work led to such achievements as a 98 percent graduation rate, seven WNBA players, 15 professional players overseas, 12 Big West Conference MVPs, nine district All-Americans and one second-team All-American. Close was responsible for all offensive tactics, offensive instruction and game-time decisions which helped result in eight NCAA appearances, including three second round games and a trip to the Sweet 16, one NIT consolation championship and 10 Big West Conference regular season or tournament championships. The Gauchos landed three top-10 ranked recruiting classes during her tenure in Santa Barbara.
Close was also instrumental in fostering support and increasing revenue streams for the UCSB basketball program. She developed and implemented a comprehensive marketing plan, designed fundraising initiatives, coordinated speaking, community service and radio/television appearances and created a Fastbreakers booster program. Her efforts were rewarded in the women's hoops program becoming the largest revenue producer in the department of athletics.
Close began her collegiate coaching career at UCLA while serving in the role of the restricted earnings coach on the first staff of then-new head coach Kathy Olivier in the 1994 and 1995 seasons. She earned her Master's Degree in educational administration during her time at the University.
As a player, Close was a four-year starting point guard at UC Santa Barbara and captained the 1992 and 1993 teams which each advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A native of Milpitas, CA, she was a 1993 first-team all-Big West selection and the MVP of the 1993 Conference Tournament. Close was the first player in school history to record more than 1,000 points and 500 assists for a career and ranked among the top 10 in seven Gaucho statistical categories. She averaged a school-record 8.3 assists per game in 1993 which was among the top 10 marks in the nation that season. On April 30, 2005, Close was inducted into the UC Santa Barbara Athletics Hall of Fame.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT CORI CLOSE
Sue Semrau - Florida State Head Coach (1998 - present)
Ann Meyers Drysdale - UCLA Hall of Famer and four-time All-American; current General Manager of the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury
Mark French - (UC Santa Barbara head coach 1988-2008)
Close's Year-by-Year Coaching Record
Players Coached by Close in WNBA Draft