Kelly Graves is in his third season at the helm of the Oregon women’s basketball program. Graves was named the seventh head coach in program history on April 7, 2014.
Graves guided the Ducks to a 24-11 record and an appearance in the semifinals of the WNIT in 2015-16. Oregon's improvement by 8.5 games over the previous year was tied for the 13th most in the NCAA. Oregon's 24 wins was just one shy of the program record of 25, set in both 1980-81 and 1998-99. The Ducks started the season with an 11-0 mark, the second-best start in program history and later in the year won five straight Pac-12 games for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Ducks led the NCAA in three-point shooting at 42.1 percent and ranked sixth overall at 46.6 percent. Oregon ranked 17th in nation with 551 total assists as a team and 38th in the country in scoring, averaging 72.7 points per game.
Graves went 13-17 in his first season with the Ducks in 2014-15, taking a team built to run-and-gun under former head coach Paul Westhead and instilling strong fundamentals and a tough defense-first philosophy. Oregon held their opponents under 70 points 14 times in 2014-15 after allowing an NCAA-worst 89.1 points per game in 2013-14. The new offense also got going as Graves led his Ducks to a 66-64 win over No. 19 ranked Stanford in the regular season finale, UO’s first win against the Cardinal since 2004. Forward Jillian Alleyne had 22 points and 12 rebounds in that contest, one of her 28 double-doubles on the season. The junior was named a third team All-American and first team all-Pac-12 following the season, making the jump from honorable mention in both as a sophomore.
Oregon is Graves’ fourth head coaching position, previously leading the programs at Big Bend Community College (1989-92), Saint Mary’s (1997-2000) and Gonzaga (2000-14).
Graves’ coaching career started at Big Bend CC in Moses Lake, Wash., where he accepted an assistant coaching position on the men’s team, but after the women’s coach left, he moved over to lead the women’s program instead. In three seasons (1989-90 through 1991-92) Gaves took a four win team his first season to a 23-10 record in his final year.
Graves left Big Bend CC to become an assistant coach under Jim Sollars at the University of Portland prior to the 1992-93 season. Following four years with the Pilots, Graves was named the head coach at Saint Mary’s for the 1997-98 campaign. Graves advanced to his first NCAA Tournament with the Gaels during the 1998-99 season, his second of three seasons at Saint Mary’s, and went to seven more over 14 seasons at Gonzaga.
Graves left Saint Mary’s for Gonzaga for the 2000-01 seasons. His first year with the Bulldogs, his team went 5-23, including 0-14 in WCC play. But by his third year at Gonzaga, the Bulldogs went 18-12 overall and went to the WNIT the following season.
Gonzaga won the first of 10 straight WCC titles under Graves during the 2004-05 campaign when his squad went 28-4 overall and 14-0 in league play. Including that year, Graves and Gonzaga lost just 12 total conference games over his final 10 years leading the program.
Gonzaga’s first NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2006-07, when the Bulldogs went 24-10 and 13-1 in WCC, and after a WNIT bid in 2007-08, Gonzaga advanced to six straight NCAA Tournaments. Graves and the ‘Zags advanced to the Sweet 16 for three straight years (2010, 2011, 2012) and went to the Elite 8 in 2011. Overall, Graves brought eight West Coast Conference Coach of the Year awards and a 382-162 (.696) Div. I head coaching record to Eugene in 2014, with a 427-202 record overall before joining the Ducks.
“Kelly Graves is a great guy and one of the best coaches in America,” said UConn head coach Geno Auriemma. “Oregon is a place with tremendous women’s basketball potential and Kelly is the perfect person to lead the Ducks to the next level. I won’t be surprised when Oregon is competing for Pac-12 championships, and contending on a national level, in the near future.”
Graves added USA Basketball to his resume in the summer of 2012, becoming an assistant coach with the U18 women’s basketball squad and helping the team to a gold medal at the 2012 FIBA Americas. He again coached for USA Basketball in the summer of 2013. As an assistant with Team USA, he helped the U19 squad win the FIBA World Championship for Women. Another coach on the U19 staff was current Miami head coach, Katie Meier.
“Kelly is a tremendous teacher of the game,” Meier said. “His teams are always disciplined, smart, fun to watch and display the same enthusiasm and love for the game that he possesses. He builds winning cultures first, which leads to championship teams. Oregon has made a tremendous hire. Kelly is a talented coach full of integrity and a man who treats his players as family.”
Graves and his wife Mary have three sons - Max (1995) Jackson (1997) and Will (2000). Max currently attends the UO and works as a practice player for the team.