Adrianne Long made news slightly more than a year ago for coaching a boys team, but now her attention is going back to girls basketball.
Meadowcreek announced Long as its new girls head basketball coach on Monday, promoting her from her previous position as an assistant on the boys basketball team. She replaces Paul Ireland, who stepped down after last season.
Long, who turned 40 on Sunday, coached the Mustang boys for three seasons, including a memorable first-round playoff game in the state tournament in 2005 where she was the team's interim head coach because of a suspension to then coach Mike Ireland. The situation was believed to be a first in Georgia high school competition - the first time a woman was the head coach of a boys basketball team.
Although she's glad that experience earned her some acclaim, Long is eager to make news with the Meadowcreek girls, who have struggled since reaching the state finals in 2002.
"I'm looking forward to building a program, inside and out," Long said. "I'm looking forward to teaching the girls the fundamentals of basketball and the love of the game. I look forward to building a program that will hopefully explode like the boys program here has. There's nowhere to go but up (for the girls team)."
As a boys assistant, Long helped Meadowcreek to unprecedented heights, including the Region 8-AAAAA title and an Elite Eight appearance in 2005-2006. She joined the Mustangs as a community coach at first, but enjoyed working with kids so much that she became certified as a teacher and is in her first year of teaching.
A four-year starter at the University of Arizona, she and her husband, Indiana legend and former ABA player Willie Long, helped start a basketball program at Victory World Church in Norcross. Her high school coaching experience may be limited, but her ties to basketball run deep.
"(Long's) loyal, she's very knowledgeable and the kids like her a lot," Meadowcreek athletic director Darlene Werhnyak said. "She's easy to work with and very positive. She's just a real ambitious person who I think is the right fit for our school and our kids."
Long's challenge now is boosting a Meadowcreek girls team that was 3-21 last season but returns virtually an entire team of young players, including standout guard Genea Williams.
"I have set some team goals and I have talked to the girls about what my expectations are," Long said. "The keys (to turning the girls program around) are getting more girls to participate and building a middle school feeder program. Once we've established that, we'll have a better turnout.
"And I'm a competitor. We're going to be competitive."