So much can be said about “the process” in the Tuscaloosa area, but it’s not so often echoed in the halls of the women’s basketball facility as it is across the street on the football practice field.
No. 16 Texas A&M at Alabama
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18th
Where: Coleman Coliseum
Records: Alabama 13-5 (3-2), No.16 Texas A&M 14-5 (3-2)
Radio: 93.3 FM
The name for the legendary regimen to which coach Nick Saban holds his players accountable is noted within every one of Alabama football’s national championship runs. If it weren’t for the process, Alabama women’s basketball coach Kristy Curry might still be in Texas.
A conversation between Curry and Saban when she was considering leaving Texas Tech for Alabama in 2013 helped her make up her mind.
“When you have the resources academically, socially, psychologically and with nutrition, why can’t women’s basketball be great at Alabama?” Saban asked her. “Look at how good softball is, gymnastics and the success of all the other programs. When we have a good coach in place, and someone that’s willing to roll up their sleeves and go to work, you can find greatness at Alabama.”
That talk helped solidify Curry’s belief in the athletic department’s vision for the future. She knew her recruiting base in Tuscaloosa would be strong enough to succeed, but she didn’t know the shape the program was in at the time. Admittedly, it was not as strong as she initially thought.
The process made her visions seem more achievable.
“With our first recruiting class we had no choice but to bring in a lot of players because the cupboard was empty,” Curry said. “We did not have an impact player in place. In some instances, there are some impact players and you bring in a couple of new faces and it’s a quick fix. That wasn’t us; we knew it would be a process. I know it’s a word used frequently around here, but that is truly what it has been.”
When Curry left Texas Tech, it wasn’t without abandoning some of her previous accomplishments. The Red Raiders had three-consecutive 20-win seasons under Curry and made NCAA Tournament two out of her last three years in Lubbock. After four complete years at Alabama, she is still striving to meet that level of success.
To Curry, it still doesn’t feel like a step back.
“I feel like it’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” Curry said. “I’ve been so blessed to be at three incredible places. It’s unique, to be able to take my third different program to the NCAA Tournament would be incredible. I feel really good about where we are at and where we are headed, but coaches are never satisfied.”
Perhaps the most overlooked accomplishment in Curry’s five-year tenure with the Crimson Tide was leading the team’s move from Foster Auditorium back to Coleman Coliseum. It’s a move that she takes pride in headlining, as it leveled the recruiting landscape for Alabama and the rest of the SEC.
“The move to Coleman Coliseum put an exclamation point on what we have been trying to accomplish,” Curry said. “It justified that women’s basketball at Alabama is important. The way that the move to Foster Auditorium was perceived had a totally negative across the country. Perception is not always reality, but the move to Coleman Coliseum put us back on a level playing court with recruiting.”
Last season, Curry reached her first 20-win season with the Crimson Tide. Now in the final go-around with the six seniors who made up her initial UA recruiting class, the respect from the rest of the conference has returned, but the team’s ultimate goal is still to reach the NCAA Tournament.
“We always want to leave things better than we found it,” Curry said. “Right now I can know that we have done that, but we sure have a lot of work to do. We are not satisfied.”
The Crimson Tide is 3-2 in through the first five games of conference play. Alabama finished with a conference winning percentage above .500 in all 10 of its seasons when making an NCAA Tournament appearance.