Torie Murillo Named Women’s Basketball Coach at Avila University

Torie Murillo, who spent the past three seasons as an assistant for the Avila women’s basketball team after a fantastic career as a player for the Eagles, was introduced on Monday as the head coach of the Avila women’s basketball program.

Murillo, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Avila in May of 2014 and will earn her master’s degree in May will take over the program as head coach from Larry Williams, who resigned at the end of the 2015-16 season after ten seasons with the Eagles.

Murillo was offered and accepted the job late last week, and met with the team at the end of the week before Monday’s official announcement.

Prior to joining the coaching staff in December of 2013 as an assistant, Murillo, a Lee’s Summit, Mo. native, played for the Eagles from 2008-2012, helping them to back-to-back NAIA National Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Round of 16 in her senior season.

Murillo was the team’s starting point guard, and one of the best defenders in the nation, earning Heart Defensive Player of the Year honors in both her junior and senior seasons. She led the nation in steals in each of her final two seasons for Avila, finishing with 164 as a junior and 132 as a senior. She finished with a school record 430 steals in her career to go along with 912 points, 650 rebounds and 540 assists.

Murillo plans to ring in a new culture to the women’s basketball program based around leadership, toughness, accountability and respect, both from the coaching staff and the players. She said that from day one, she will work to earn the respect of her players.

“Moving from my role as an assistant up to a head coach, the most important thing for me to do is earn the respect and trust of my players from day one,” Murillo said. “In order for us to get back to being a contender in the Heart (Heart of America Athletic Conference), we need a program built on structure and consistency, and that all begins with me. I plan to instill in that consistency and structure from the beginning, as well as build a culture of winning by bringing out the competitive nature of each and every one of our players.”

Murillo was hired after a thorough nation-wide coaching search, and Avila director of athletics Cristina Cowan said that she feels Murillo was far and away the best candidate for the job.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Torie for many years now, and I believe she has what it takes to take the women’s basketball program back to where we all believe it should be,” Cowan said. “Torie has been a part of this program and university since 2008, and she has seen this basketball program at its highest and lowest points. Her vision of the women’s basketball program is right on par with this department’s vision, and I am excited for her to get started.”

Murillo will inherit a team that won just four games this past season, and just 25 games since over the past four seasons after making the National Tournament for the second straight year in 2011-12.

Entering the 2016-17 season, Avila is poised to return both of their Honorable Mention All-Heart selections, Raven Bunn and Luci Sarcone, who will both be entering their junior seasons. The duo combined to score 691 of the team’s 1,602 points this season. The Eagles were an extremely young team in 2015-16, so they only lose one senior, Kelsey McConnell, entering next season.

Murillo said that she’s excited about the players that are returning next season, but she knows she will need to bring in a few difference makers both on and off the court on the recruiting trail if the team is going to make big improvements next season.

“After meeting with the team last last week to tell them the news, I’m really excited about what we have coming back, and luckily I will not have to change anything when it comes to recruiting since I’ve already been on staff with Avila for the past three seasons,” Murillo said. “In this conference (Heart of America Athletic Conference), the successful teams have a great point guard, so obviously that is our biggest need in recruiting, and I would also like to bring in another post player to create more depth down low.”

Murillo did say that the team has already signed two players for the 2016-17 season, and she has been in contact with many others since before the season started.

Photo Courtesy Avila Athletics

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