Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

Stephanie White ready to speed up Vanderbilt as new coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Stephanie White plans to do for the Vanderbilt Commodores what she's done in a very short time with the Indiana Fever in the WNBA.

Yes, the Commodores will be playing fast. Very fast.

''I like to use the term 'push with poise,''' White said. ''We certainly want to play fast. We want to play up-tempo. I want it to be fun for the players. We'll run a lot of stuff, but we won't necessarily have A, B, C, D structure. We'll give them the opportunity and freedom to read and react and play off one another.''

Vanderbilt introduced its newest women's basketball coach Wednesday, capping a nearly monthlong search. White will be finishing out the WNBA season coaching the Fever, and she brought along her former Purdue head coach Carolyn Peck, a Vanderbilt alum, to run the program as interim coach until she can join the Commodores full-time later this year.

The new Vanderbilt coach is familiar with the defensive-minded Southeastern Conference from her work as a broadcaster. Only four SEC teams averaged 70 or more points with Florida leading the league with 77.4 points per game. Vanderbilt ranked 11th in the SEC scoring 62.5 points per game.

White has plenty of experience with offense, and she sped up the Fever from a grind-it-out approach to leading the WNBA in offensive pace last season when she became the first rookie head coach to take her team to the WNBA Finals. The Fever also ranked third with 78.1 possessions per game. Through three games this season, Indiana (2-1) is tied for second averaging 90 points a game and still leads the league in offensive pace.

''We're going to have to learn how to play fast. I think we're going to have to learn how to play fast and still be together and not be rushed mentally,'' White said. ''That's still the process we're going through a little bit with the Fever as well.''

White said Peck will be the key to running the Commodores while she keeps her commitment to the Fever. White will be able to take advantage of the WNBA's Olympic break to work with Vanderbilt. Using technology to watch video of every practice will also help her transition to the Commodores once Indiana's season ends.

''That's why it's important with Carolyn and I's relationship,'' White said. ''We'll be in communication daily on what's going on with our players and how they're handling the transition.''

Once White joins Vanderbilt full-time, Peck then will be associate coach. She hugged White after finishing up the news conference, then Peck noted this gives her a chance to return to the place where her husband proposed.

''I want to help Stephanie cut down nets, and what better place to do it than right here at Vanderbilt University,'' Peck said.

White currently has a roster losing three seniors from a squad that went 18-14 but missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. That led to Melanie Balcomb resigning April 27 after 14 seasons. So far, White and Peck have only been able to talk to the Commodores by phone, but Peck will handle meetings once the players return to campus in June.

''This is not really a rebuilding process,'' White said of a program whose lone Final Four berth was in 1993. ''There are great players that are already here with this team. A terrific incoming freshman class that we get to build on and get some momentum.''