At Clayton State, Dennis Cox had developed a dynasty.
In 10 seasons at the school just outside Atlanta, Cox was 267-57, including a run from 2010-13 when he went 96-6. He did not miss an NCAA Tournament. The Lancers won the 2011 Division II national championship and captured the past four conference titles.
But when the San Francisco State women's basketball coaching position opened up this summer – Joaquin Wallace was replaced after a 14-14 season and was 41-71 in the previous four years — Cox found himself considering a switch. San Francisco was a cosmopolitan city that reminded him a lot of Atlanta. The Gators had not produced a winning team in years, but first-year athletic director Charles Guthrie was determined to bring them to national prominence.
“And I am a Giants fan, which had a lot to do with it,” Cox said with a laugh. “But I would not have come here had I not believed that Guthrie could get it done. He'll get us to where we were at Clayton State, in terms of facilities and budget.”
Cox accepted the San Francisco State job on Aug. 1. By the time he got to San Francisco, he had just a few weeks to scramble for recruits before the school year began. Seven players remained on the roster from last season, including two walk-ons. After working the phone in those first days, Cox reeled in a few newcomers. Then, he held open tryouts. When the dust settled, he had cobbled together a roster of 13.
The next order of business was hiring a top-notch assistant, and Cox found one in Jennifer Temple. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Temple spent the past two seasons as the coach at Franklin College in Indiana, where she amassed a 35-18 record.
“Make no mistake, I pulled one off when I got Jennifer,” Cox said. “She knows people out here on the West Coast. Recruiting is going to be critical for us getting things started, and she's really good at talking to kids and coaches.”
“I really wanted to work with Dennis,” said Temple, who met Cox four years ago at a Division II Final Four. “I feel I can learn a lot from him. This is a challenge, but in taking on this challenge together, I think we can be very successful.”
Saturday's exhibition at Pacific saw 5-foot-5 junior guard Jasmine Flanagan, one of the holdovers, score 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
“This group of players is buying in to what we're teaching,” said Cox. “We play a full court, up-tempo style. I don't know if every one of our players is suited for that, but we're going to commit to it. Right now, they're doing everything that we ask.”
As he spoke in the basketball office, Cox referenced a new era in San Francisco State athletics. Temple nodded in agreement.
<p>”We can't speak for what's been here in the past, but we're committed to putting together not just a winning program, but a championship program at the national level,” Cox said