Caroline McCombs has now had 150 days to settle into the ways of life that come with being a Stony Brook Seawolf. Contrary to new Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron, her introduction to the Stony Brook community has been somewhat muted.
News outlets have asked her about her favorite foods and movies to watch, but that is really the extent to which Seawolves fans know McCombs at this point. But at the end of the day, there are certain things that will be more important to the Stony Brook faithful. That is, what McCombs thinks about and wants out of her new team.
Within moments of being around the former Auburn assistant, McCombs made it clear she has expectations. The Stony Brook women’s basketball team had the best turnaround in the country over the last couple of years, going from four to 24 wins, yet its new coach is not satisfied.
“We have a winner’s mentality,” the first-time head coach said. “Our players want to win.”
It is safe to say McCombs will make sure to hammer that point home early and often in her tenure at Stony Brook.
Whether that stems from the team’s recent success or desire to get to the next step of the America East Conference by battling for another conference championship, McCombs said that in her mind, there are a few things that play an integral role in the journey.
“I think that’s just an everyday process of them coming in and working together,” McCombs said in reference to her team. “They work together at that everyday.”
McCombs may have only been at her new home for about five months, but every moment she has gotten to spend with her team has counted. Stony Brook has become known for their interior play in recent years, with senior Sabre Proctor leading the way, earning first-team All America East recognition last season.
“[It is about] looking to have everyone’s role expand and get good at that role on our team,” McCombs said, even if those roles were already major assets to the Seawolves.
According to her, it is those effective cogs in a team effort that will make up what the team needs to do to continue its newly found winning tradition.
“I think you have to play to your players’ strengths,” McCombs pointed out. “We have certain strengths and our interior game is a big strength of ours.”
Another talking point that McCombs already implemented has nothing to do with physical talent for the sport, but something that comes straight from the coach herself: working hard.
If you ask her, everybody on the team, from the three new freshmen for Stony Brook to the role players to the core veterans, there is not one person who is not working extremely hard.
Compared to spending time in a more suburban area down at Auburn in Alabama, McCombs is excited about Long Island and what its surroundings has to offer.
“I’ve enjoyed being in this atmosphere,” the Youngstown State graduate said. “I really am excited about what everything has to offer here.”
So, for the first time in her basketball career, McCombs now has the opportunity to take full reins of a college program. Is she ready?
“It’s what I love to do,” she said. “I spent 15 years as an assistant coach and I’ve loved all the places that I’ve had an opportunity to work [at] and I’ve developed myself as a person over those 15 years to prepare myself for this moment.”
That moment becomes a reality right around the corner, as McCombs officially starts her journey with the Seawolves on Nov. 15 in the new Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
So, McCombs, what will you do with that moment? Throughout the winter, Seawolves fans will have a chance to find out.
Correction: November 6, 2014
A previous version of this article referred to Island Federal Credit Union Arena as Stony Brook Arena.