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Tim Taylor was named women’s basketball associate head coach on June 4. Taylor, a Madison, Va., native and an assistant coach under Debbie Ryan from 2000-05, returns to Virginia after two seasons as the Madison County High Schools head boys basketball coach. He recently checked in with about his first weeks in John Paul Jones Arena and the excitement surrounding the program’s 2009-10 campaign.

Question: How does it feel to be back on head coach Debbie Ryan’s staff?
: I’m so excited. We’ve got a great staff and great kids. Debbie is excited and you can see the energy in her. She is committed to getting this program to the national championship level. Being in a new facility and getting to know the new men’s basketball coaching staff, it’s all been great. Now it’s a time that we can put Virginia’s name back on the map. Our baseball team did a pretty good job of that at College World Series!

Question: Speaking of John Paul Jones Arena, how is it to be working in the facility that was in its planning stages when you last worked at Virginia?
: I stood right in the middle of all the construction and said to recruits: “This is our vision.” Now, that vision is a reality. It’s a great selling point. It’s the finest arena in the country and it is just like a professional arena. When our kids walk in they definitely still get that ‘wow’ factor.

Question: You helped recruit rising senior Monica Wright. How has it been to reconnect with her?
: Monica Wright is a special kid, and I knew that when I started recruiting her. Monica played a role in this decision, because I always said one of my regrets in leaving Virginia was not getting to coach her. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to sit down and have the day-to-day relationship with her. Hopefully she will be an All-American because she deserves it.

Question: How closely did you follow the team’s successes?
: The whole time that I was away, I always followed them. Paulisha Kellum is a kid I recruited, Jayna Hartig was a kid I recruited. They are special kids. The new kids, it seems like we have a great nucleus of people. I’m excited to put my arms around them, kick them in the rear end a little bit, and get them excited about the game.

Question: You were hired along with Wendy Palmer, a former Virginia All-American. What does it mean to have a former player on staff?
: We’ve created a buzz around the area and in the community. With myself returning, someone with ties in the area and someone who loves Virginia, along with Wendy Palmer, who is one of the best hires Debbie could have ever reached out to. Here’s an 11-year WNBA veteran who averaged double figures, and was a two-time All-American and ACC Player of the Year. Angel Elderkin, I have known her a long time, and she works extremely hard and is a great person. Add to that the fact that we have a Hall of Fame coach and we have four different personalities that mesh very well. That’s what kids will find out, not only will you get a great education and play in a great conference, you will be surrounded by great people.

Question: As a highly successful boys high school coach at both Madison County High School and Orange High School, how will you bring those experiences back to Virginia?
: In returning to Virginia, it’s about creating a championship mentality on a day-to-day basis. On and off the court. Making sure that once our young people step out of here, they are prepared to be good citizens and will want to come back.

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