DOVER — Of all the schools in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to poach a coach from, the Hampton University women’s basketball team is probably the best place to start.
After all, the Pirates have won five MEAC titles in the last six seasons.
“They’re winning damn near 20 games every year so it makes logical sense,” said Delaware State University interim athletic director Skip Perkins with a laugh.
That’s where the Hornets have found their new women’s basketball coach.
And as an added bonus, she just happens to be one of the best players to come through the DelState program.
Barbara Burgess, the second-leading scorer in school history, was introduced as DSU’s head coach on Tuesday morning. Burgess played at DelState from 1985 to 1989 and has served as an assistant coach at Hampton for the last six seasons.
“It just feels so right to be back where I became the person that I am,” Burgess said. “Without DelState, I wouldn’t be who I am. I’m grateful for everything this university has given to me. This is my dream job and my second home.”
Burgess replaces Tamika Louis after DSU elected not to renew her contract at the end of last season. Louis had an overall record of 23-67 in three season.
Perkins said there were plenty of applicants, including numerous current head coaches, but Burgess had everything the search committee was looking for.
“Any time you can bring an alum home that’s more than qualified and eager for the position it’s a win-win,” Perkins said.
“I think her transition as a top assistant at Hampton really gave her the knowledge to be ready to be a great head coach,” Perkins added. “The timing is just right, right now. To be able to put her in a position with a quality team coming back and her experience with this conference, it’s a very exciting time for the institution.”
Burgess is a member of the DSU Athletics Hall of Fame and was the school’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1988 and 1989.
She also spent one season as an assistant at Norfolk State before moving on to Hampton. She does have head coaching experience, with Virginia Union from 1999 to 2001.
Burgess said she has dealt with the deaths of both her mother and father in recent years which prevented her from wanting to leave Hampton. When the Delaware State job became open in 2012, she did not apply.
But this time around, she felt no hesitation when she found out about the opportunity.
“I don’t think I was ready mentally three or four years ago,” Burgess said. “When the job came open I knew it was time. I’m a couple years older and a couple years wiser. I have more knowledge and I know that I’m ready now.”
Burgess does have a lot of work ahead of her.
The Hornets were 5-25 last year and went 2-14 in conference where they were eliminated in the first round of the MEAC Tournament. They will also be losing leading-scorer Tierra Hawkins to graduation.
At her introductory press conference Burgess said she’s excited for the challenge to help DSU get back to competing for MEAC titles.
“The bottom line is you being able to stop opponents, score, control the ball and execute what you have been taught,” Burgess said. “With those four things as the foundation, no matter who you are coach, the sky is the limit if you can do those four things.”
Six players from last year’s squad were freshmen. There are only two returning seniors for next season.
“We’re young, eager for a new beginning and ready to go,” Burgess said.
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at email@example.com or 741-8224.
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