Vol. LXI, No. 20
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
When the Princeton University women's basketball team started its 2002-03 season by falling 86-47 at Baylor University, the Tigers chalked up the loss as a good learning experience.
But that trip to Waco, Texas set in motion a chain of events that led to Princeton head coach Richard Barron ending up in Baylor last week as the program's new associate head coach.
Barron's move was a double loss for the Princeton athletic community as his wife, Maureen, resigned her position as the Tiger softball head coach and will be a stay-at-home mother for the couple's three young children upon the relocation to Texas.
In explaining his move to the Lone Star state, Barron said he couldn't pass up the chance to work with Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey, who guided the Bears to the 2005 NCAA championship.
"I've known Kim since we played down there five years ago," said Barron, who posted a 74-91 mark in his six years at Princeton, highlighted by the 2005-06 team which set a program record for wins as it went 21-7 and tied for the Ivy League title.
"We stayed in touch; she has been a reference point for me. She is a great coach; she has been an Olympian and has won national titles as a player and a coach. It's a great opportunity professionally. It's a great staff; there is a real commitment at the school to women's basketball. Everyone was so positive and supportive; it was fun to be recruited."
Barron believes it will be fun to test his skills at the highest level of the women's college game, noting that he could see himself as a head coach of one of the top programs sometime down the road. "I'm focused in my job right now," said Barron, who said his duties will include recruiting, game preparation, and breaking down film, among other takes.
"I'm kind of doing things backwards; I've been a head coach for 11 years now but I haven't done it at a BCS school. I haven't worked with the elite scholarship kids and now I will be able to do that."
The move also affords Barron the chance to spend more time with his own kids. "It's a real challenge to have two head coaches in the family," said Barron. "You're not getting home until 8 in the evening; you're on the road for games. Now, I'll be home at dinner, I'll have more time with the children. Mo will get a chance to stay at home with the kids. It's a great place to raise a family."
It was tough for Barron to say goodbye to his Princeton family. "Our decision doesn't come from any lack of support at Princeton," asserted Barron, who guided Princeton to an overall record of 13-15 last winter as the Tigers went 7-7 in Ivy play, tying Penn for fourth place.
"Princeton is a special place. The meeting with the players was the hardest part. We have a lot invested in the kids and the program. It's hard to leave Princeton for any job but the players understood. It's tough because we talk a lot about commitment and sacrifice and I don't want the kids to think that we're disingenuous. We also stressed priorities; faith and family come first."
While Barron said that the 2005-06 season was clearly a major highlight of his tenure, it was the day-to-day process of building a champion that was most memorable.
"There were a lot of things that led to that," said Barron. "We developed a successful summer camp which helped with recruiting. We improved the program's visibility in the community. We'll miss the players more than anything. We left things better than when we found them; the journey was just as important as the results."
And now Barron is embarking on a journey that could see him someday land in the NCAA women's basketball Final Four.
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