A new era in women's basketball at the University of Saint Mary was kicked off Wednesday.
The program officially brought aboard Bruce Erickson, a longtime coach with career stops at UMKC and Oklahoma State, as the new head coach for the Lady Spires.
“Bruce Erickson is a great pick to head up our women’s basketball program,” USM athletic director Rob Miller said. “He brings a lot of experience to the job. He’s coached for over 30 years, he’s coached at every level, and he’s coached at Division I programs.
“He’s going to bring in some great recruits, and he’s a real great guy.”
Prior to coming to USM, Erickson, originally from Phillipsburg, Kan., coached high school basketball in Kansas for 24 years. He won more than 300 games during his tenure coaching at Salina South High, Ellis High and Moreland High.
From there, he took on roles as director of basketball operations and director of player development at Oklahoma State.
Most recently, Erickson spent four seasons with the UMKC women’s basketball program, where he helped lead the Roos to their first 20-win season in the last 20 years, two 30-win seasons and the program's first-ever trip to the WNIT.
Coach Erickson, for his part, said he wants “to build on what Saint Mary is all about and try to work toward a conference championship and ultimately, a national championship.
“I want to keep recruiting the same quality of student-athlete that Saint Mary is famous for — players who will get us to the next level and still succeed in the classroom,” the coach said. “I wanted to coach at a level where the players really and truly love playing the game of basketball and understand that they are students first.”
Coach Erickson succeeds Mike Basler, who coached the team for nine seasons.