The UC Irvine women's basketball program's nationwide search for a coach to replace Molly Goodenbour found its man just a few feet down the bench.
Doug Oliver, whose coaching resume extends nearly 40 years and includes stints as an assistant with the UCI men's and women's program in the last three seasons, was named Monday to become the Anteaters' eighth women's coach.
Oliver, a men's head coach at Idaho State for eight years (1998 to 2006) is known best for his two tenures as a men's assistant at Stanford, where in 14 seasons, the Cardinal made eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four in 1997-98. He was also an assistant at Utah and Boise State.
Oliver has worked at UCI the last four years, the first in athletic administration, before spending two years as a men's assistant, first for Pat Douglass, then Russell Turner.
Oliver announced his retirement after the 2010-11 season, but weeks before last season, Goodenbour coaxed him into being an assistant for the UCI women's team. He said he agreed to coach last year with a one-season commitment and he had his things packed up under his desk when Goodenbour was fired after compiling a 44-76 record in four seasons, including 13-17 last season.
He said players and support staff were among those who inquired as to his interest in becoming head coach and he quickly decided it was a challenge he would like to pursue.
Now, Oliver, who turns 61 in August, has signed a five-year contract and plans to provide a seamless transition for the players and continued growth in terms of on-court success.
"The program has made strides in the last couple years," said Oliver, who lives in Dana Point with wife Debby. He has four children and five grandchildren (ages 5-12), who call him Papa Coach. "I think we have a foundation in place and we'll be able to continue to move this program forward. I really believe we are going to be successful."
Oliver said his former boss at Stanford, Mike Montgomery, championed his candidacy for his current job and he has received several congratulatory calls from former colleagues after Monday's announcement.
"Some of them jokingly said, 'What are you doing?'" Oliver said with a laugh. "But most of them also said, 'We can hear it in your voice that you are excited.' A few of them said, 'The kids you are going to be coaching are very fortunate,' which was very meaningful to me."
Oliver said he will do things differently than Goodenbour, but he will also keep some of her schemes.
"We'll be a little more systematic in our approach to the game, which is my preference, on both ends of the floor," Oliver said. "But there will be some carryover from some of the things we did, because they work. To be 9-7 [in the Big West Conference last season] as banged up as we were the second part of the conference, was a credit to what we did and how we did it, and to the toughness of the kids."
UCI lost first-team All-Big West guard Kassandra McCalister and starter Kiara Belen from last year's roster, but return three players — Jasmyn White, a former conference freshman of the year, Jacquelyn Marshall and Anete Klintsone — who averaged between nine and 10 points per game last season. Also back is Methlyn Onogomuho, who was named to the conference's all-freshman team.
Oliver said he would consider former UCI players Annie Mai, an assistant last season, and Lauren Bowie, the director of operations last season, for assistant coaching positions. George Libbon, an assistant under Goodenbour, has moved on, Oliver said.