New Face, Same Business for Longhorns

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Restless and decorated, Karen Aston is all business.

After five seasons under the direction of Gail Goestenkors, the Texas women’s basketball team will take flight under a new leader. Although Aston is a fresh face to most, this season marks her long-awaited return to Texas.

“I’m just really excited and honored,” Aston said. “Because I worked here in the past, I just want so badly to help Texas get back to the forefront of women’s basketball.”         

Jody Conradt and Texas molded her, but Aston has done the rest, compiling an impressive resume as the head coach of North Texas and Charlotte, where she made four straight postseason appearances. After leading these programs, Aston hopes to impart her style for success in Austin.

“The tradition and excellence that’s expected here comes with a lot of responsibility which I’m excited for,” Aston said. “As far as style, I really love getting up and down the floor and pressure man-to-man defense, just getting out in transition.”

Change is tough, as any team under the reigns of a new chief will tell you. However, Aston is already pleased with her team’s progress.

“You have to make adjustments according to what style of players you have, and I think everybody has done a good job with that,” Aston said. “My responsibility is just to help them transition quickly and I think it’ll work.”

If her track record is any indication, the team should soar when completely acclimated to her style of play. With a disappointing ending to last season, Aston is anxious to rewrite the history books of the program.

“Short term, the goal is to obviously get out of the first round of the NCAA tournament and then go from there,” Aston said. “Long term is to get Texas back to the Final Four, and I think it’s time for us to step up to the plate and start performing better.”

Players’ expectations are also high.

“I think we’re not ready this year because some of the girls are still really young,” junior guard Chassidy Fussell said. “But I think soon, with Coach Aston we’ll have a good shot at the title.”

Known as a relentless recruiter, Aston takes special pride in acquiring quality talent. In her mind, Texas is the prime place for the picking.

“I take a lot of pride in it, and I ask a lot from my players so the better relationship I have with those players in recruiting helps in understanding when we get on the floor,” Aston said. “And the fun thing about it is that Texas basketball is the best in the country.”

Aston brings an abundance of passion as a coach, but as a former collegiate player she knows the ins and outs from both sides.

“As a player you can control the game more,” Aston said. “It’s very rewarding as a coach, but it’s harder to control.”

Playing for a coach who has lived the game in two different pairs of shoes is a valuable asset for a player’s development, and that has made the Longhorns’ expectations high.

“I was really excited [when she got hired],” Fussell said. “Expectations are as high as they’ve ever been, and we expect to be one of the top teams in the Big 12.”

Because she is held in such high regard in the basketball world, the real Karen Aston can sometimes be lost in translation. There’s more to her than just basketball, however.

“I don’t think many people know that I like the opera and I like going to the opera,” Aston said. “And I really just love afternoons at home with my dog.”

She’s won before, and judging by the early reviews, she’ll win again. A decorated leader and relentless recruiter, Karen Aston seems poised to accomplish great things both on and off the court in her time in Austin.

Printed on Thursday, November 8, 2012 as: Aston brings style, savvy to squad