When head coach Diane Richardson began coaching basketball, she left behind a renowned business career. Richardson served as a founder and chief operating officer of American Security Operation, a Maryland-based banking company, before re-entering the sport she loved, having played for many years as a teenager. On April 5, Richardson was hired as Temple Women’s Basketball’s new head coach.
Richardson brings a newfound energy to a Temple program in need of an identity. Her goal is to utilize an up-tempo style of offense that instills confidence in her players.
“I’m big on building confidence,” Richardson said. “That confidence piece pretty much carries you. In all of the situations I’ve been in and all of the jobs I’ve had in coaching, it starts with relationship-building and confidence.”
Richardson was hired from Towson University just two weeks after former head coach Tonya Cardoza was fired. Temple went 13-15 last season, and are projected to finish seventh this season.
Richardson was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic women’s track and field team and a 1979 Regional Champion in the 200-meter and 400-meter races. She’s now using that experience to fuel her goal of making Temple one of the fastest teams in the nation.
“We’re gonna be fast, we’re gonna play hard, and we’re gonna have fun,” Richardson said during Temple’s Cherry and White event on Oct. 25. “We’re probably the fastest team in the league. We score pretty quickly, and then if you put the ball on the court, we’re gonna steal it from you and score again.”
Richardson came out dancing during her introduction on Cherry and White night, bringing all of the fans to their feet. Her fun attitude to the game has brought life back to the Owls.
Players have seen the energy increase since coach Richardson took over, said graduate Jalynn Holmes.
“We have a lot of better energy this year,” Holmes said. “So far we’ve been picking each other up, getting better each day.”
Richardson is implementing an “equal opportunity offense,” meaning every player on the floor will have the chance to shoot the ball to create a variety of scoring opportunities. It also means that every new piece for the Owls will be involved from day one.
Before Richardson, Towson had only reached one postseason in the previous 49 years of the program’s existence. With her as head coach, Towson advanced to two postseason appearances during Richardson’s five years there.
Senior guard Aleah Nelson, senior forward Rayne Tucker and junior guard Tarriyonna Gary are all transfers from Towson who are already comfortable with Richardson’s active style of coaching. Her leadership style also leads to higher standards for three players who reached 24 wins with Towson last season.
“The expectations are high being with coach Rich year three,” Nelson said. “The expectations are to have a winning season and to win a championship.”
Last season, graduated forward Mia Davis was the focal point for almost all of Cardoza’s offensive sets. This season, Richardson plans for the team to have no primary scorer for the entirety of a game. The Owls also finished last in the AAC in three-point shooting percentage with 24 percent in 2021.
The resurgence of the team’s offense was noticeable in the Owls’ scrimmage against St. Thomas Aquinas on Nov. 1, especially with Richardson’s goal of the team shooting 46 percent from three this year.
“Rather than putting a goal on the board without having fluff to it, we like to have tangible things,” Richardson said. “That’s the skill development piece, that’s the piece where the players are getting better positioning, better footwork.”
Nov. 7 marked the beginning of her era at Temple, with the Owls’ 67-49 loss against No. 24 Princeton University. They also face challenging opponents like the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and Tulane University this season, with each of these teams winning more than 20 games last season.
Richardson brings aspects of her business mindset to basketball by setting tangible goals while implementing team-focused strategies like she did while playing basketball growing up.
While former Olympian and former COO stick out on her resume, Richardson is prepared for her biggest challenge yet, she said.
“I’ve got big shoes to fill, but I’m excited about this opportunity,” Richardson said. “I’m excited for what Temple has, and what we can do together to bring this team winning again.”
Ethan Briddell contributed reporting
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