IlliniGuys Q&A With New Women's Assistant Basketball Coach Britney Anderson

May 29, 2023

(Editor's Note: New Illini women's assistant basketball coach Britney Anderson appeared recently on the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular radio show)

Larry Smith:  Coach, congratulations on the new gig and welcome to Illinois and Shauna Green’s staff.  How did this process begin of you leaving Stanford and coming to Champaign?

Britney Anderson: It started with me looking to get back towards the east coast. My family lives in North Carolina. I think as you get older, you realize your parents are getting older too. And you're trying to get closer to them, so they don't have to travel as far and you don't have to travel as far to get to them. So that's kind of how it started. I've known (Illini assistant coach) Calamity McEntire for probably close to like 10 years when I first started in college coaching. So we stayed in contact and we talked about stuff even outside of just basketball. We've formed a friendship, a bond of just kind of like when you're in the coaching ranks, kind of like people that you've been around and see on the recruiting trail and stop and talk to. And then I've from afar, followed coach Green from her stops as an assistant. And then watched her when she became the head coach at Dayton and kind of what she did there. And just, uh, you pay attention, as the season goes on to teams that have kind of like caught stride and those different things and Illinois caught my eye as they were having a successful year. I knew it wasn't the same program or team from when when I was at Virginia Tech. We played against Illinois and it wasn't a pretty game and the program wasn't in a good situation. So it just kind of caught my eye kind of what she was doing last year and in her first year. And then she reached out and talked to me and we went from there.

Brad Sturdy: Now, I think an interesting thing in your background is you didn't originally coach basketball after you got out of college. You were a corporate recruiter. So you obviously know what it's like to go out and find talent. But what made you make that jump from corporate America into competitive basketball America?

BA: I laugh at it now because my mentor Bobbie Kelsey, who was the head coach at Wisconsin, several years back, when I graduated, she was like ‘have you thought about coaching?’ I said ‘you know what, I don't want to be a college coach’. And she was just like ‘okay, well think about it’. So I coached AAU for about six summers and I enjoyed it. I saw basketball from a different point of view of I've graduated, trying to give back to the game in a way that the game gave a lot to me just in life. And so I did that for about six summers. Working in corporate America, I kind of got bored and I think it just really wasn't as challenging as much as I thought I would be.  I enjoyed the people that I worked with, but I just felt like I needed to kind of like step out there. Try to figure out my why. Like, what do I want to do with my life? How do I want to inspire people? And it's kind of funny, I think, working in corporate America as a former student athlete, it makes you grow up faster, you quickly realize all the perks you get as a division one athlete. Like, nobody cares, just do your job and go. It made me grow up really fast, because I just was like, nobody knows my whole name. Nobody's gonna say Britney Anderson, nobody's gonna say, you played here. This is what you did. They just care about if you graduated. And that's it. So there are a lot of lessons that I learned working in corporate America that are invaluable. But I'm glad I went that route. Because I was telling a former player that I coached if I had gotten to college coaching, like when I first graduated, they'd be like ‘don't hire her. She's immature’. I would have been done a long time ago. So I'm glad I did it, because it forced me to grow up.

LS: How frightening was that? Did you ever have moments of fear or doubt that maybe you, you didn't make the right call when you did this?

BA: When Michael Grier took over at Radford, we had seven players. And this was like before the transfer portal where you have to sit out a year. In that first year, we lost 15 games in a row. And to me, like, I've never been in that situation, I had never, I mean, the most games I'd lost in a row as a player in college, probably two or three, and then you kind of get out of it. It was a very trying time. But it helped me understand like the foundation of building a program to see where he is now in year 10. And he's still there and where we started. And some of the players that have gone through there. Some players I still talk to, to this day, I would say like in year one, I just was like, Okay, we've lost 15 games in a row. And you honestly are like, you don't know what you have left to say to help get out of this rut that we're in. So once we broke that 15 game, losing streak that when we won, to break it, it was like we had won a national championship, everybody was going crazy, just because it was just kind of like we got out of that and helping them bottle up that feeling and remember it to help propel them as we move forward and help build the program. That was probably like my one thing where I was like, I don't know about this. But I think you quickly realize that there are a lot of things that you as a student athlete that you had instilled in you that you fall back on as a coach, and allow those lessons that you've learned they're going through them. It helps them get through what they're going through, because you've been through it yourself. So I can speak to you from experience. So you quickly rely on that stuff when you're like, Okay, I don't really know what to say, I don't know how they're gonna get through this. I know they're struggling because I was in their shoes at one point in time. So you fall back on those things very quickly. But I don't think I'll ever forget the 15 game losing streak. Whenever I think something is bad, or I'm going through something bad. I'm like, we lost 15 games in a row. So it kind of helps to be like okay, it gets better. There is a tomorrow there. Yes.

Mike Cagley: You come to Illinois basketball, which is enjoying a resurgence. What do you bring to the table to help add to what coach Green is building here?

BA:  Some of the things that I've learned here at Stanford, like winning a national championship. There's a lot of things that you remember from it. There's the hard times because it wasn't easy during COVID. I think there's some of those situations that I've been in and then to share with the team. The players themselves, they're all unique in the fact that they do something different. I think on some teams, you have a lot of players that kind of do the same thing you're trying to figure out who's going to have a good night. I think everybody being able to do something different helps. Because they all feel like they have a role as you're going through the season, or they have a place on the team. They're a piece of the puzzle. So I think you're relying back on those things. Recruiting is something that I'll bring as well, just having connections on the west coast, the east coast relationships, I've been through recruiting. And I always say get in where I fit in.  Their staff that is established, respectfully. So just because of the success that they've had, when they were at Dayton, and now they're having success here, but just trying to fill in any holes or wherever I'm asked to fill in spots and help the team.

LS: Let us be the first to say welcome to Champaign and don't be a stranger here on the show.

BA: Thank you all so much!

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