Mid-summer Q&A with Dawn Plitzuweit

BY JEREMY HOECK

jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

Dawn Plitzuweit
South Dakota women’s basketball coach Dawn Plituzweit shares a light moment before a youth camp Tuesday morning at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (Photo by Jeremy Hoeck)

After just over two months on the job as head women’s basketball coach at the University of South Dakota, Dawn Plitzuweit has certainly been busy.

A staff had to be assembled. She and her family had to get settled into Vermillion. Youth camps were run. Recruiting trips had to be organized. And an upcoming trip to Australia had to be planned.

I caught up with her Tuesday morning before a junior high camp at the DakotaDome.

Over two months, what’s it been like?

It’s been really busy. We’ve got an incredible staff put together, so it’s been fun to work with all of them. All of our players came back in the middle of June, so we’re in the middle of week three of workouts with them. Getting ready to hit the road for recruiting and finishing up these camps.

July is a busy month, isn’t it?

It really is. We get on the road recruiting, we’ll watch kids, and then we’ll come back and start our practices for Australia.

So, when is that trip?

We leave Aug. 7. That’s 40 days from now, approximately.

Obviously with international travel, there are certain things you’ve got to get organized.

There’s a learning curve we’re going through right now. That is figuring out what we need to take, how we need to travel, what all the plans look like. There’s a lot of prep work going on right now, but Alex (Antonen) is doing a great job of getting that figured out.

These are unique trips to take, aren’t they?

It’s really a great opportunity for us, basketball while we’re there is good, but the bonding is outstanding. The practices before we go, we really expect those to be helpful for us.

During summer workouts, have you seen some improvements there?

It’s been really good. Our kids, their energy has been very good, their attentiveness has been very good. We’re tweaking, we’re teaching the same kinds of work ethic and commitment, but maybe the terms are a little bit different. The vocab for the kids have been different. They’ve been grinding. It’s been challenging, but they’ve responded really well.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far, or maybe even the thing that stands out the most so far?

We’re still trying to figure out who we are. We’re trying to put togetghetr our identity right now. Today’s our first day with Abbi back,t his morning we had a conditioning workout, then camps. That’ll still take some time.

That’ll take some time even beyond Australia, won’t it?

Exactly. But if there’s a question, that’s probably what it is right now. Where do we go? Who do we give the ball to? We’ll be known for our toughness and our grit, all those things our kids have been a major part of it int eh past. That culture remains the same, but yet, how are we going to put the ball in the basket? How can we score more points than our opponents? Those things are yet to be determined.

Especially when you turn the page from where they were, everything is new, isn’t it?

I think certain players really respond, their roles change when you graduate five kids and you have a new system in play. That’s something we haven’t even scratched the surface on yet.

Even just getting outside of Vermillion, have you been able to meet people and develop some contacts?

Not a whole lot yet. July we have an opportunity to get out and watch more kids. We’ve been fortunate in being able to bring some of those high school kids and teams into Vermillion for camps. The numbers have been outstanding. That’s allowed us to meet some coaches and players from outside this area.

More on Dawn Plitzuweit’s hiring at USD

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BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

There were way too many tidbits from Monday’s announcement of Dawn Plitzuweit as the new women’s basketball coach at USD that I won’t be able to share in a story, but I wanted to post them here.

Here are some thoughts from both Plitzuweit and USD athletic director David Herbster.

Coach Dawn Plitzuweit

On unique challenge of entering a championship program: I think the biggest thing for our ladies to understand is that because you’re at the top of the mountain doesn’t mean you stay there. Now you begin. You go back down to the base and you start to climb again. Certainly, graduating five seniors that had a huge impact on this program will help them understand that it’s something we have to start working on immediately.

On coaching staff process: Bringing in the people that are the right fit for what we want to do moving forward is really important. To me, it’s more important to get it done right than to get it done fast, although getting it done fast and right would be the best case scenario.

On vision for the program: Right now, the biggest thing for us is to understand that all of the little things add up to success. Focusing on the process and letting the results take care of themselves is the first key.

On getting acclimated to recruiting in South Dakota: That’s certainly an exciting opportunity for us. Girls’ basketball in the state of South Dakota and the region is performing and winning at a very high level. And so, to get connected to those players and those coaches is a huge piece to this puzzle, and I’m looking forward to that.

On the style she brings: For us, what we’ve been able to do during the course of time is take a look at what makes the most sense with the personnel we have currently. What I’m really comfortable teaching is the motion offense. It’s a very versatile style of play, it’s something where in time where point guards are posting up and post players are shooting threes, and everywhere in between. And the personnel we have is close to that. What we might do is modify it for a little while. My first year at Northern Kentucky, we ran a patterned offense because that fit the young ladies we had. Year two, we started a motion offense that had a post player on one block and one block open for anyone else to post up. That changed over the course of time. A lot of it will depend on the young ladies we have and how comfortable they are with it.

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Athletic director David Herbster

On how Plitzuweit entered USD’s radar: We called her. When you’re out there, you’re talking to other people, you’re going through the names, she was one of those that came up. When she got the call from us, it wasn’t somethings he was looking for, it was something we presented to her. Like many of them, it takes a little bit of time. Real quickly, we were able to have a great conversation with her on the phone, and pretty soon you’re meeting in person, and then pretty soon she’s agreeing to come here. The whole thing happened pretty fast.

On multi-year contract availability: Certainly in the conversations we have, if you don’t have multi-year contracts, if you don’t have the facilities, if you don’t have the ability to provide the resources, this is not that attractive of a job, even if you’ve won the WNIT. If she’s (Plitzuweit) going to leave some place where she has a multi-year contract and come to place where there aren’t multi-year contracts, that’s a big red flag for anybody.

On role new arena played in search: The arena is a huge factor, but as much as anything, so is the facilities on campus. What we’ve found over the last several years, our facilities and what we have planned are really nice, but this campus is beautiful.

Dawn Plitzuweit Timeline

 

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Dawn Plitzuweit

Prior to arriving at the University of South Dakota, Dawn Plitzuweit has served as an assistant head coach or a head coach at six different schools.

In nine seasons as a head coach, she boasts a 188-93 record (.669 winning percentage) and has made a post-season appearance in eight of those years.

Northern Kentucky: Head coach

2015-16: 19-14, WBI First Round

2014-15: 19-14, WBI First Round

2013-14: 18-13, WBI Second Round

2012-13: 15-13, WBI First Round

RECORD: 71-54 (.568)

Michigan: Associate head coach

2011-12: 20-12, NCAA First Round

2010-11: 17-13, WNIT First Round

2009-10: 21-14, WNIT Semifinals

2008-09: 10-20

2007-08: 19-14, WNIT Quarterfinals

RECORD: 87-73 (.544)

Grand Valley State: Head coach

2006-07: 21-8, NCAA DII Regional

2005-06: 33-3, NCAA DII Champions

2004-05: 28-6, NCAA DII Elite Eight

2003-04: 11-15

2002-03: 24-7, NCAA DII Regional

RECORD:  117-39 (.750)

Green Bay: Assistant coach/recruiting coordinator

2001-02: 24-7, NCAA First Round

2000-01: 22-9, WNIT First Round

1999-00: 21-9, NCAA First Round

1998-99: 19-10, NCAA First Round

RECORD:  86-35 (.711)

Wisconsin: Assistant coach

1997-98: 21-10, NCAA First Round

RECORD: 21-10 (.677)

Michigan Tech: Assistant coach

1996-97: 21-9, NCAA DII Regional

1995-96: 18-11

RECORD:  39-20 (.661)