Family was at the heart of what Jordan Dupuy’s professional references often said when asked about the 36-year-old.
Upon pulling on a Northwestern State cap and taking the podium at the introductory news conference introducing him as the sixth coach in Lady Demons basketball history, Dupuy wasted no time acknowledging his flesh and blood as anchors in his life.
“We mentioned throughout the process how important family is,” Dupuy said. “So, first and foremost, I have to thank my family. Everyone knows how difficult it is to be a coach, but the more difficult job is to be the spouse of a coach. They go through everything we go through, but they can’t control the outcome. My wife (Elizabeth) has been by my side from when I was washing jocks as a (men’s basketball) manager all the way until today. It’s been a long journey. It’s been a blessed journey.
“(Daughter) Madison and (son) Alex, thank you for everything y’all have done for Daddy. There’s no better feeling than waking up in the morning knowing those two are proud of you, and today, they’re very proud of their dad.”
Dupuy even joked his mother and father set him on a course that landed him in Natchitoches on Monday as the sixth coach in the 42-year history of the Lady Demons program.
It was an early nickname, Dupuy said, his mother and father – who were in attendance Tuesday, along with Dupuy’s wife, two children, his brother and his mother- and father-in-law – tagged him with that turned out to be prophetic.
“They did a little bit of foreshadowing in this whole thing,” Dupuy said. “I believe I was around the age of one, and they started calling me ‘a little demon.’ Ever since then, I was destined for this day. I didn’t know what y’all were setting me up for, but I appreciate it.”
The importance of family was not lost on Northwestern State President Dr. Jim Henderson, who delivered the opening remarks of the 20-minute introduction.
“I got a call Saturday night from (vice president for external affairs) Jerry Pierce, who said, ‘We got a coach,'” Henderson said. “Not only did we get a coach, but the city of Natchitoches gets a beautiful, wonderful family. Elizabeth, Madison and Alex, we’re delighted to welcome you to the Demon family, to Northwestern State University. You’re going to be here many, many years. We are so delighted to welcome them here.”
Dupuy’s definition of family quickly extended to his team, which was represented by juniors Tia Youngblood and Sami Thomas and sophomores Cheyenne Brown and Gabby Jackson.
On several occasions, Dupuy referenced the team as “my girls,” quickly establishing a bond between the new coach and his players, who gave Dupuy rave reviews following their initial meeting with him one week ago.
Northwestern State Director of Athletics Greg Burke alluded to the reputation Dupuy carved as a recruiter during his eight years at Southern Miss. In addition to spending the past three seasons as the associate head coach on Joye Lee-McNelis’ staff, Dupuy has been named the top recruiter and top assistant coach in Conference USA by scouting services.
That background was just a part of what made Dupuy, who will be a first-time college head coach, stand out to Burke.
“His coach said she heaped a bunch of stuff on him with the idea he would be a head coach one day,” Burke said. “He’s done everything. He’s done recruiting. (McNelis) says the moms absolutely love him. Xs and Os, she told me that was his strength, among many strengths. He can really X and O.
“Fundraising, you’ve got to do a little bit of that here. They had a golf tournament (at Southern Miss) and they only had 12 teams in it. There weren’t where they wanted to be. (McNelis) told Jordan about it. The next day, they had 24 teams.”
In his 20 years at the helm of the Northwestern State athletic department, Burke has built a family-centric culture.
Dupuy’s ease with his new players during last week’s interview also helped sell him to Burke.
“What’s most important to me is, when I walk out of a room and it was just our new coach and our young ladies, how would I feel?” Burke said. “I have to know that I feel good with these young ladies being with this coach. I have no doubt that is the case with Jordan. He has a beautiful family. He’s a family man, a man of integrity. The basketball part will follow. He’s demonstrated that.”
Both Burke and Dupuy spoke of the solid foundation Dupuy inherits.
The Lady Demons reached three consecutive national postseason tournaments – the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Tournaments and the 2016 Women’s Basketball Invitational – under Dupuy’s predecessors, Brooke and Scott Stoehr.
Brooke Stoehr and Dupuy worked together for one season (2008-09) at Southern Miss and developed a strong relationship.
“I don’t have to start anything,” Dupuy said. “I don’t have to redo anything. I don’t have to bring in anything. It’s all there for us to take and run with. Everyone knows how special the Stoehrs were. Great people, I love them to death. I have a great relationship with them. They have laid a tremendous groundwork for me and the staff I bring in to be successful. For me to come in and redo things and start from the ground up, one, it’s not necessary and, two, it wouldn’t be smart. Everything is there and in place to take this program to the next level.”
Dupuy said he will tailor his playing style to the talent on the Northwestern State roster and to that of the five incoming signees, all five of which Dupuy spoke to Monday night.
He also said he will tweak some things, including a possible introduction of a matchup zone he convinced McNelis to implement during his time at Southern Miss.
Dupuy did not commit to a timetable for hiring a staff, saying finding the correct fit and coaches with integrity and character were too important to rush.
Dupuy did, however, make it clear he wanted to win in three distinct areas.
“We’re going to win in the classroom,” Dupuy said. “We’re going to win in the community. We’re going to win on the court. We cannot prove ourselves on the court until November, so right now is about winning in the community and winning in the classroom.”
Speaking directly to “his girls,” Dupuy made one thing abundantly clear. He has no designs on stopping the momentum the Lady Demons have built in the past three seasons.
“We’re going to see everything we built in the community and the classroom carry over to the court,” Dupuy said. “We’re going to continue to hang banners, and we’re going to be trying on rings really soon. Get your ring finger ready. That’s the plan.”