AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the doors to Alumni Arena opened, the UB marching band began playing and the crowd stood on their feet. In walked Becky Burke, the new head coach of the women's basketball program.
"It felt like home," Burke said when walking into the gym to a crowd of people.
Burke joins the Bulls program following two years at USC Upstate. She helped turn that program around and was voted as the Big South coach of the year last season following a 22-8 record. Her next challenge is taking over a UB squad that's had its fair share of success over the last seven years in the Mid-American Conference.
"Our vision is to sustain that Championship program with Championship people who have Championship habits," Burke said. "I want to build a team and help this team that's already in place embody the things I value as a human being and as a head basketball coach."
"When you look at qualities of a next head coach, it's someone who puts the student-athlete first and someone who wins the right way," Athletic Director Mark Alnutt added. "You're gonna hear the passion she has for young women and the game of women's basketball."
What can fans expect from Burke's team? She used the words tough, competitive, resilient, and prepared. She knows her vision may be a little different that the vision fans have been used to, but says that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"I'm very confident in our process and how we do things and I'm confident we can do that in Buffalo," she said. "I want us to win at every single thing we do. Our team is going to understand and know that. It's going to be competitive and we're going to want to win."
The UB women's program is coming off their 4th NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2016 season. But as of right now, their roster looks very different than the one they had in the team's 1st round game against Tennessee a few weeks ago. Several players, including Dyaisha Fair, have entered the transfer portal. Keeping those players in Buffalo is a priority.
"This is a phenomenal place, it's been a program they've put time and effort into and they're wanted here. I think when you have roots, when you've invested so much into a program, you want to feel wanted," she said about those who are thinking of leaving. "We want the best for them but we feel this is the best for them. We need to do everything we possibly can to bring them back here and if we don't ultimately, we have a roster to fill so we'll start recruiting and get the high caliber players in here we need to."
Burke met with her new team for the first time Friday morning, having conversations with several of the players. Jazmine Young, who will play for the Bulls next season, is excited for a new chapter.
"It makes me feel like she's invested in me as a player and as a person and my future here at UB," Young said about Burke's energy. "We're very eager to see and very excited to see Coach Burke continue the success of this program."