After a steady climb through the coaching ranks during the past few seasons, new Kansas University women’s basketball assistant Damitria Buchanan elected to go back in time.
Since her playing days ended at Texas A&M; — after three Big 12 championships and a trio of Top 10 finishes — Buchanan moved from middle school hoops to Stephen F. Austin to Texas Tech, where she spent the past two seasons as an assistant to Candace Whitaker.
This offseason, she elected to leave Tech for the chance to reconnect with the man she worked for at Stephen F. Austin, first-year KU coach Brandon Schneider.
“One thing I loved about Brandon the first time was that he was so laid-back, but he still demanded the best out of his coaches and his players,” Buchanan said. “He’s defensive-minded. And I played at a school that was defense, defense, defense, defense. So when I transitioned to coaching, it was easier for me to be able to listen to the terminology and grasp different ways of doing things.”
That understanding, not only of defense but also of his style of coaching, was a huge reason Schneider pursued Buchanan after landing the KU job in April.
“You obviously have a built-in trust and loyalty immediately,” he said. “But also from a terminology standpoint, when I use a certain term, she’s already gonna know what I’m talking about, and it’s gonna be easier for her to relay that to the players.”
Buchanan said she expected that kind of familiarity to make her latest transition much more smooth — “It’s huge,” she said — and she compared rejoining Schneider’s staff and jumping back in on his philosophies about the game to riding a bike.
“It’s easy,” she said. “Any time you leave and you go somewhere and work for somebody else, you kind of get accustomed to doing things the way they had you do ’em. So the adjustment won’t really be too difficult, it’ll just be going back to what I did for him, how he operates and how he expects things to be done.”
Of course, there was more to Buchanan’s decision to relocate than the reunion with Schneider. As a player at A&M; and an assistant at Texas Tech, she has come through Lawrence several times throughout her life. Finally being able to call it home was way up there on her list of pros.
“I feel like I’ve been a part of the Big 12 my whole collegiate career, and I know a lot about this place,” she said. “Played here, coached here, and now I actually get to coach for Kansas. I know that this is the basketball mecca, and that helps with the transition because I’ve already been here before, and I know what it’s like.”