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Meet the Staff: K-State Women's Basketball
August 19, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the K-State women's basketball coaching staff. Today, K-State Sports Extra will highlight assistant coach Ebony Gilliam. Don't miss Thursday's Sports Extra where Kelly McHugh will highlight women's basketball associate head coach Brian Ostermann and assistant coach Claire Coggins.
If you head out to a K-State women's basketball game this season, you'll notice a few new faces on the sidelines of Bramlage Coliseum.
While K-State fans have had the opportunity to get to know new head coach Jeff Mittie since his hiring on March 18, 2014, today's K-State Sports Extra will shed some light on his new staff as well.
From long-time, experienced coaches to former collegiate and professional players turned coach, the new K-State women's basketball coaching staff is a group of talented, yet very different, people. Mittie's crew of assistant coaches is made up of Brian Ostermann, Ebony Gilliam, and Claire Coggins, and while the three have their differences, their common goal of leading K-State women's basketball to success in the upcoming seasons is the same.
"We have a really great staff," said Gilliam, a former player and coach with Mittie at TCU. "We all get along well, and where someone might have a weakness another has a strength. We talk a lot, and we're always coming up with ideas. We're a very creative staff. I think from top to bottom, we're a very strong group that has a very good knowledge of basketball, but we're also young enough and hip enough to get recruits as well."
EBONY GILLIAM - ASSISTANT COACH
A member of Mittie's coaching staff at TCU for the past four seasons, Gilliam made the move to Manhattan with her husband, Richard Gilliam III, earlier this summer and said the transition has been going smoothly so far.
"It's been great, I've enjoyed Manhattan a lot," she said, "I come from a big city, the DFW-area, so it was definitely a transition to Manhattan and it has been very different, but I've been pleasantly surprised. I really like it here. It has everything you need, good people, nice shopping, and the food here - it's great. It's going really well. I like it a lot."
No stranger to Mittie's coaching style, Gilliam became one of the most successful players in TCU history during her collegiate playing career with the Horned Frogs from 2000-04. She played in 130 career games (second in TCU history) and scored a total of 1,156 points - a number ranking sixth on TCU's all-time scoring list.
Under Mittie's guidance, Gilliam helped TCU to its first four NCAA Tournament appearances in school history and claim its first-ever conference title.
"Right now, I'm the only person in Manhattan that has actually played for (Mittie)," explained Gilliam. "The girls are yet to play a game with him now, but I think that has a lot to do with my role. After playing with him and coaching with him for a while, I know what he is looking for, and I can relay that on to the girls. Sometimes it's difficult when the head coach is trying to relay the message and he has to be tough on them, so you kind of have to be that extra help. Having played for him and kind of knowing how he works, that definitely helps me as a coach."
Following her playing career at TCU, Gilliam played one year of professional basketball for Keflavik, Iceland. She helped the team capture the 2005 National Icelandic Cup Championship and averaged 23 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Upon her return to the United States, Gilliam spent six years coaching girl's high school basketball. She spent two seasons at Trimble Tech High School and four years at Dunbar High School (where she earned district coach of the year honors after leading Dunbar to a perfect 18-0 record in 7-4A play) before returning to her alma mater in 2010 as the Horned Frogs' director of operations.
By 2012, Mittie had promoted Gilliam to assistant coach, and she's been by his side ever since.
"The Mittie family had a lot to do with my move here; they're kind of like family to me," explained Gilliam. "His kids were young kids when I was a player at TCU and his parents were always around. For me to come to Kansas State and be in Manhattan, it was initially because of Coach Mittie. He is like family to me and I trust him, in that aspect, that he'll put me in the right position to succeed as an assistant coach."
Finally, while coaching with Mittie and Ostermann is familiar to Gilliam as the trio all coached together at TCU, adding Coggins - a former K-State star who helped the team win a Big 12 Championship in 2004 and a WNIT title in 2006 - to the mix has been something special.
"Coach Mittie and Coach O obviously have 20-plus something years of experience each, and Claire and me, we're younger, but we also have played in successful programs and got out there and played professionally," concluded Gilliam on the new K-State coaching staff. "I think there is a lot of good experience on both sides."
K-State fans can check out the complete 2014-15 women's basketball schedule by clicking here. Also, women's basketball tickets for the upcoming 2014-15 season are available now for purchase. For more ticket information, call 1-800-221-CATS, visit the K-State ticket office in Bramlage Coliseum, or visit www.kstatesports.com/tickets.