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McKinney talks about winning national titles

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Cristy McKinney, the winningest women's
basketball coach in Rice history, is now Clemson's coach.

McKinney will take over for Jim Davis, who stepped down last
month as Clemson's winningest coach to become an assistant athletic
director at the school. She gets a five-year contract with a base
salary of $150,000, as well as $80,000 in supplemental income for
personal appearances and radio and television. The school also
plans to negotiate an incentive package.

McKinney, 216-139 in 12 years with the Lady Owls, said she felt
she accomplished as much as she could at Rice with six 20-win
seasons, two NCAA tournament appearances, and a share of the
Western Athletic Conference title this season with perennial
powerhouse Louisiana Tech.

"I want to win and I want to win big," McKinney said Monday.
"The facilities, the resources and the support I have here, I
think we can do it."

She even mentioned winning a national championship.

"Realistically, the opportunity to do that at Clemson is a whole
lot greater," McKinney said.

For McKinney to achieve any of her goals, she has to rebuild a
once proud program that has fallen on hard times. The Lady Tigers
have made 14 NCAA tournament appearances since 1987. But Clemson
had losing records in two of the past three years and finished this
season at the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference at 8-20.

"She understands building a program," Clemson athletic
director Terry Don Phillips said. "She understands working against
the odds in a competitive conference."

McKinney doesn't think the Lady Tigers will stay in the
basement.

"I think we'll compete next year. I think there is some talent
here, some athleticism," she said.

But to make it back to the elite, Clemson needs to get better
players, especially those from South Carolina who are leaving the
state in droves.

"We have to go out and recruit some players to get to the level
Duke and North Carolina are," McKinney said.

McKinney is used to building programs. When she took over at
Rice in 1993, the Lady Owls had nine losing seasons in the previous
11 years. McKinney slowly built a solid program.

In 2000, Rice finished 22-10, winning the WAC tournament and
upsetting No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA Tournament. Even
the addition of Louisiana Tech to the WAC didn't slow the Lady
Owls. They won the tournament title in 2005, losing to Georgia in
the first round of the NCAAs.