Karen Barefoot arrived at the Ted a half-hour before her official introduction as the new Big Whistle for Old Dominion women's hoops. If she didn't personally greet all 200 people who attended, rest assured, their phones will buzz or their doorbells will ring any moment now.
Barefoot's energy and passion were the touchstones of Wednesday's exposicion de perro y poni at the Constant Center.
She sounded all the proper notes in her first public chat in front of a room that included fans, family, friends, invitees and school administrators.
Annual top-25 and NCAA tournament berths. Relentless recruiting, particularly of local and in-state talent. Up-tempo playing style. Defensive pressure. Ambitious, if selective, scheduling. Open-door policy. Connect with the community.
Occasionally, she even stopped to take a breath.
"For me, that's my goal. I'm going to shoot high," Barefoot said, referring to permanent residence in the top 25. "Everywhere I've been, I've always wanted to win a national championship. At the Apprentice School, when I won a national championship, people told me I couldn't do it. I did — (in) six years.
"I think that I've got to get a staff that understands our goal, and we're willing to work hard to get there, and we've got to get the players to be on the same page. I think we have the resources. I think, more importantly, we have the people, in the fans, and I think that's the support you really need, and that (gives) confidence to our program."
Those who clamored for a hire with more sizzle — a Nancy Lieberman, an Anne Donovan — should be reminded of the last time ODU engaged in this exercise.
Two years removed from an NCAA title, the school entrusted its marquee women's program to a 32-year-old with just three years' college head coaching experience, and only two years at the Division I level.
That didn't turn out too badly.
Wendy Larry's hire was arguably a bigger reach than Barefoot's, though comparison is tricky business because of time and context.
ODU was a higher-profile program in 1987 than in 2011. Recent slippage is due to reasons both internal and external.
Yet, 24 years ago ODU also could better afford to take a chance on a coaching hire because fewer schools allocated the resources to field a top-shelf women's program. Now, scores of schools, notably in marquee conferences flush with BCS bowl money, have caught and passed Old Dominion.
That's why athletic director Wood Selig was attracted by someone who not only was familiar with the program and the area, but who had a fairly lengthy track record of calling timeouts, running practices, and yes, building programs.
Barefoot, 39, already has won more than 200 games and has coached more than 350 games. She has won at all three of her previous stops — four if you count her three years in the ODU trenches as an assistant under Larry.
Yet all three were basketball outposts, where there was little footprint or scrutiny, and the expectations were only as great as the head coach set.
Old Dominion is by far Barefoot's greatest and most visible challenge, one that she believes she is prepared for.
"I'm not going to be perfect," she said, "but I'm never going to give you less than my best."
We'll see if that's enough. Wednesday was an encouraging first step.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times