The three national championship nets still hang on a hook in his office, constant reminders of the rich history of excellence and tradition that is expected of the position he holds. Numerous trophies, including many that he helped earn as an assistant, cram the shelves in new University of North Dakota Head Women's Basketball Coach Travis Brewster's office at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. While he's working on getting comfortable to the move one office over, you likely won't find him there anytime soon.
Officially taking over the reins as the head man on July 1 following the retirement of Gene Roebuck, Brewster has had little time to familiarize himself with his new digs. However, he plans to make the move a permanent one. Since signing his five-year contract, he's spent the bulk of his time on the road- out recruiting in Minneapolis, Kansas City and Georgia, among other stops trying to get the word out of the new face of UND women's basketball. It's the latter that Brewster says has been his most important challenge in the transition.
"The biggest hurdle I've faced is getting word out there in the recruiting circles that I'll be at UND for a long time," Brewster said. "I want to let everyone know that I plan to be here for the long haul and I'm very thankful for the opportunity here. To have Gene mentor me is very humbling and meant a lot for me. Athletic Director Brian Faison and President Robert Kelley's support of me in this new endeavor in my coaching career is absolutely exciting and tremendous."
He and his newly-installed staff have hit the ground running. They've established clear goals and expectations for the coming season and beyond.
"The expectations were put in place when the season was over and we had the first meeting when the staff was hired," he said. "We want to go a step further than we've done- the NCAA Tournament. That's a goal and it's a big one. We want to put a good product on the floor for the fans."
That product will be mentored by a staff that includes newcomer assistant coaches Linda Sayavongchanh and Drew Woods along with Tom Dryburgh, who slides over to the women's program after spending the last five years on the UND men's staff and former standout Val Sussex (Sannes), who serves as the Director of Basketball Operations. What do these coaches all have in common?
"I was looking for three big qualities when assembling my staff," Brewster said. "People that can teach. All of these coaches can do that, they are good teachers. I also looked for people that will have a loyalty to the university, women's basketball and loyalty to the student-athletes. I want them to set an example for the student-athletes in the community. Finally, I targeted people that have the willingness to try to outwork each other."
With that, Brewster admitted that delegating is an area of improvement for him:
"I have an excellent staff. I'm very excited about their abilities as I begin to lean on them more. They all do a great job collectively keeping us organized and focused.
"Overall, the transition has been good, pretty seamless for the players. They know who I am and for me it's been a bit of a whirlwind because you can only prepare so much. I don't sleep a whole lot."
Brewster and the UND women will tip-off the 2012-13 season in early November. The complete schedule will be announced at a later date.