Raegan Pebley hails from Orem, Utah, but her new post in Fort Worth sure feels like home.
Pebley’s family members from Texas packed her news conference Tuesday as TCU announced Pebley as its new women’s basketball coach. Her parents live in McKinney and she has extended family in Austin.
“When we reached out and started having a conversation and realized she had Texas ties and had played at the highest level, and when you meet her and see her energy, it’s pretty apparent that she would be a great fit for us,” athletic director Chris Del Conte said.
So Pebley, who was 46-20 the past two seasons at Fresno State, will be TCU’s seventh head coach. Just as family was a reason for her to come to Fort Worth, she hopes to make it an emphasis of her program as well.
“I promise you that these players, these student-athletes, these women who make up what TCU basketball is will be a part of my family,” she said.
Pebley replaces Jeff Mittie, who left after 15 years on March 18 to take over Kansas State.
Fresno State went 22-11 and 15-5 in the Mountain West Conference this past season, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as a 13th seed, where it lost to No. 4 Nebraska 74-55 on March 22.
Before her tenure at Fresno State, Pebley spent nine seasons at Utah State, where she went 110-155. She built that program from the ground up, as her first season was the year the school reinstated the women’s basketball team. She led the Aggies to two WNIT appearances in her final two seasons with the team.
Tuesday, she said that experience was key in the formation of the coach she is today.
“You learn how important player leadership is,” she said. “We had to grow that leadership. It took us four years to get seniors. You had to learn how to forgive yourself for the mistakes you make. You have to learn how to develop players because in those first years, a lot of our players weren’t Division I-ready players, but they wanted to be a part of something special and new, so we had to develop them over the years.”
Pebley was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 2011, and was a finalist for the 2012 WBCA national coach of the year award in her first season with Fresno State.
Pebley is a 1997 graduate of Colorado, where she scored 1,045 points and had 701 rebounds. She led her team to four conference championships, two NCAA Tournament Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. She played her final year in the inaugural season of the Big 12 Conference.
In 1997, Pebley was drafted 21st overall by the Utah Starzz of the WNBA and spent two seasons in the league, which is certainly a selling point to the TCU players.
“We really like her,” junior Donielle Breaux said. “It seems like we’re going to have a lot of fun with her. She’s been where we’ve been. She’s already been in college and the WNBA where most of us are trying to go.”
Pebley is a defensive-minded coach, not unlike her predecessor, but puts emphasis on steals, turnovers and deflections to create offense from defense.
When that is all said and done, she said she envisions the program meeting three goals.
“We’re going to graduate. We’re going to cut down nets. We’re going to have a lot of memories,” she said.