INTERIM TAG REMOVED: Finley named Head WBB Coach at Florida

After guiding Florida women’s basketball to their most successful season since 2016, Kelly Rae Finley will be the 11th head coach in program history, Athletics Director Scott Stricklin announced Monday.
Media availability with Kelly Rae Finley will take place post-game at the SEC Tournament and the next in-person availability will be the week of March 7th.
Finley spent the 2021-22 season acting as the interim head coach for the Gators, leading UF to a 20-win season for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign and the 16th time in the history of the program. Under her command, the Orange & Blue also won 10 Southeastern Conference games for just the fourth time in program history.
Securing the fifth-seed in the SEC Tournament, the Gators defeated five ranked opponents for the first time since the 2005-06 season, including five nationally ranked opponent in the SEC for the first time since 2004. A victory of note, Florida earned their largest margin of victory over a top-10 team when they defeated No. 7 Tennessee, 84-59, handing the Lady Vols their worst loss against an unranked squad since the AP Poll debuted in 1976.
Under her continued tutelage, graduate Kiara Smith continued to improve, leading the team this season with 14.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game. In SEC play, the District Heights, Md., native averaged 17.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.3 steals per game, helping her to two SEC Player of the Week honors during the year.
Prior to her time as the interim head coach, Finley held roles as both the associate head coach and assistant coach for the Gators, playing an important role in the development of athletes such as Kiara Smith and Jordyn Merritt. Acting as the main recruiter, Finley played an integral part of rebuilding the roster upon arrival in Gainesville, helping to sign the No. 26 overall recruiting class in the nation in 2019, according to ProspectsNation.
Prior to her time in Florida, Finley recorded stints at Arizona (2016-17), Colorado (2012-16) and Harvard (2009-12). At Arizona, Finley helped to bring in the No. 34 recruiting class in the nation, which included three state players of the year, while also helping Colorado achieve a similar feat with a top-25 nationally-ranked class in 2015.
During her time at Harvard, Finley assisted in the signing of Temitop Fagbenle, the Ivy League’s first ever McDonald’s All-American and second Olympian.
A Minnesota native, Finley graduated from Colorado State in 2008 where she earned Mountain West Conference Scholar-Athlete honors as a member of the women’s basketball team.
Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin
On Kelly Rae Finley becoming head coach…
“Kelly Rae is such a talented young coach whose natural poise, intelligence and relational abilities have all been on display during this remarkable Gators Women’s Basketball season. I’m excited that she’ll have the opportunity to build off of this year’s success and that future Gators will be able to benefit from her leadership the way this team has.”
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On becoming the next Florida women’s basketball head coach…
“I’m humbled to be given the opportunity to lead our women’s basketball program and I believe that together we will be able to achieve great things. I’m forever grateful for our staff and student-athletes for their dedication to growing this program and I look forward to continuing on this journey.”
On the culture she wants to instill at Florida…
“Within this program, we strive to create a sustainable and competitive environment that encourages collaboration, fosters creativity and empowers our young women to achieve growth and success during their time at Florida and beyond.”
Florida’s Accomplishments under Finley
– First 20-win season since the 2015-16 campaign
– Recorded 10 SEC wins for just the fourth time in program history
– Defeated five ranked opponents for the first time since 2005-06
– Defeated five ranked SEC opponents for the first time since 2004-05
– Won six SEC matchups on the road, the most since the 2000-01 season
– Reached highest rank in the AP Poll since the 2008-09 season, going as high as No. 15
– Earned largest-margin of victory over a top-10 school with an 84-59 victory over No. 7 Tennessee
– The victory over Tennessee was the first time that Florida defeated the Lady Vols by more than 10 points
– Florida handed Tennessee their worst loss against an unranked opponent since the AP Poll debuted in 1976
– Handed No. 23 Kentucky their worst home loss since Jan. 27, 2008 with a 77-52 victory
– Recorded a 19-point comeback at No. 25 Texas A&M to earn the program’s first-ever victory in College Station, Texas
– Won 10 non-conference games for the first time since 2015-16 season

Tagged with: