New University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear basketball coach Sandra Rushing has filled her staff with three assistant coaches, one of them already familiar to UCA fans.
Jaye Nayreau, Shameka Russell and Destinee Rogers, a former standout guard for the Sugar Bears, will join Rushing’s staff. Former Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel took both of his assistant coaches, Tony Kemper and Caronica Randle, to his new job at Marshall University.
"You’ve got to make sure it’s the right fit when you’re putting that puzzle together," said Rushing, who came to UCA after a highly successful career at Delta State. "The pieces all have to fit — it can’t be just a good fit with one other piece; you have to be able to put them all together. And this is the right fit we need to be successful. I’m really excited about this staff. They have come in and hit the ground running and have brought a lot of energy to the program."
In Nayreau, Rushing gets familiarity with Division I basketball and the Southland Conference. In Russell, she gets familiarity with her own system and philosophies. In Rogers, she gets familiarity with UCA and the Sugar Bear program.
"Everybody complements each other so well," Rushing said. "Every person brings something different, but also have the same characteristics that you look for. You’ve got to have go-getters, people who don’t mind that this isn’t an 8-to-5 job and there are long hours. You’ve got to surround yourself with people who have the same passion, drive and goals that you have."
Nayreau comes to Central Arkansas following a two-year stint in the Sun Belt Conference at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to his time with the Ragin’ Cajuns, he spent one season at Southern Miss in Conference USA and two seasons at Stephen F. Austin. He got his first full-time coaching job at Dodge City Community College, where he spent two seasons as an assistant coach. His career began during the 2001-02 season at Sam Houston State, where he was a student assistant. In 2004-05 he served as a graduate assistant at Saint Louis University.
He’s got that natural knack for recruiting," Rushing said."When you talk to someone on the phone and they can sell you, you know they’re a great recruiter."
Russell, who was a three-year letter-winner under Rushing at Delta State from 2008-2011 after one season in the Southland at Southeastern Louisiana, was hired to Rushing’s staff at Delta State two weeks before Rushing accepted the job at UCA. Bringing the 2011 DSU graduate with her to Conway was an easy choice for Rushing.
"She played for me, is familiar with my philosophy and how I’d like things done, and that’s very valuable in itself," Rushing said. "Any time you’re coming into a new program, you’ve got to have somebody familiar with how you want things done."
Rogers, who will be a graduate assistant. She was the starting point guard in all 64 games the last two seasons, Rogers helped direct the Sugar Bears to their first two Division-I postseason appearances and their first Southland Conference championship in 2012, marking their third straight season with 20-plus wins.
"Destinee has been wonderful," Rushing said. "She comes in and it’s ‘anything I can do for you, coach.’ She’s familiar with the players, the program, and the university. She’s who I turn to to ask a lot of questions as far as who to contact here or there, directions on where to go on campus, the things they did here last year." The staff has already been busy, touching base with the current roster and looking to restock it for the following year, as five seniors graduate after the 2012-13 season.