ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
As just the fourth head coach in Delaware women’s basketball history, Natasha Adair plans on building a family-oriented culture of trust, passion and winning, “the Delaware way”.
Adair was announced as the new women’s basketball head coach Monday at a public event held at the Bob Carpenter Center.
“You want to be a part of a historic tradition and be a part of a program that is no stranger to success or national prominence,” Adair said. “I’m excited to continue that tradition, but take it to new heights.”
Adair spent the past three seasons as the head coach at Georgetown. There, she transformed a four-win team into a postseason contender — advancing to the WNIT in each of the past two seasons. Adair was also recently selected to be a court coach for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U-19 World Cup.
Adair replaces Tina Martin, who was head coach of Delaware for 21 years and led the Blue Hens to 408 victories, four NCAA tournaments and seven WNIT appearances. Martin retired on April 29, telling The News Journal that she was retiring from coaching at Delaware, but not from coaching.
Athletic director Chrissi Rawak heralded Adair as the “best person to lead this program.” Her selection was the result of a “listening tour” in which Rawak spoke with current and former players and others close to the program. Rawak gave special thanks to Elena Delle Donne and men’s basketball head coach Martin Ingelsby, who both provided insight during the search process.
“Coach Adair is about investing in young people and creating excellence in everything she does,” Rawak said during the event. “She’s a listener, she’s a teacher…she leads with integrity, she’s a champion and she’s fun.”
Adair is just the second head coach on Delaware’s current staff to leave a head coaching position in a Power Five conference to join the Blue Hens. Field hockey head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof, the only other, left Michigan State for Delaware in 2006. Adair highlighted the leadership at Delaware, its winning pedigree and the sense of community she felt as reasons for her decision.
“This is bigger than just a university, this is a family,” Adair said. “Why did I make this decision? It’s about family, it’s about tradition, it’s about being a part of a team.”
Prior to arriving at Georgetown, Adair served as head coach at The College of Charleston from 2012-2014, where she faced off against Delaware three times. She went 1-2 against the Blue Hens and led the Cougars to an overall record of 35-31.
In each of the past two seasons, her Hoya teams defeated Delaware 61-50 in 2015 at Georgetown and 54-46 in 2016 at the Bob Carpenter Center. Much like Delaware football head coach Danny Rocco, Adair took note of Delaware’s fans and facilities when she was a guest.
“Just being in the Bob Carpenter Center is electric; I can’t lie, it’s something you want to be a part of,” Adair said. “I want to continue to make the Bob Carpenter Center the toughest place to play in the CAA,” she later added.
In her address to the public, Adair said she would be “remisced” if she did not recognize Martin.
“She built the components of a winning program here, from the ground up,” Adair said. “I’m honored to be able to continue that tradition.”
Adair inherits a roster that will lose only two graduating seniors, Erika Brown and Hannah Jardine. Delaware expects to add three transfer students who sat out the 2016-2017 season, Gadson Lefft, Alison Lewis and Danielle Roberts and three freshmen, Kate Cain, Lizzie O’Leary and Erin Antosh.
In addition, the Blue Hens return first team All-CAA selection Nicole Enabosi and starters Abby Gonzales and Makeda Nicholas.
“The cupboard isn’t bare,” Adair said.
Adair, who will leave Wednesday for the Team USA U-19 camps in Colorado Springs, has not yet fully analyzed the team’s current roster, but did say that she pulled out her scouting reports of the Blue Hens when the Delaware job crossed her radar. Adair met members of the current team for the first time directly after the event.
“We really like that she’s family-oriented and she seems down to earth and easy to talk to,” Enabosi said. “We’re just really excited that she is coming to turn around the program.”
A self-described “player’s coach”, Adair said she is excited to learn her new team and get to work.
“I’m passionate,” Adair said. “I’m energetic. My energy is contagious. I want to get excited about every aspect of the game. I want that to trickle down to my team. Will we hold them accountable? Absolutely. But I’ll be the first one to praise them as well.”