Six weeks after the stunning retirement of longtime women’s basketball Head Coach Mark French, UCSB introduced Lindsay Gottlieb as the fourth head coach in program history.

Formerly the associate head coach at Cal, Gottlieb was introduced in a Friday morning press conference that was attended by Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Athletic Director Gary Cunningham and men’s basketball Head Coach Bob Williams, among others.

“I visited with every candidate, and I must say that Lindsay was the first choice of Coach French, the first choice of Coach Cunningham and my first choice,” Chancellor Yang said.

In her third season in Berkeley, Gottlieb helped lead Cal to school-record 27 wins last season and the NCAA Tournament, where the Bears were upset in the second round. A 1999 graduate of Brown, Gottlieb was a student assistant coach at the school during the 1998-99 season, before spending two years as an assistant at Syracuse. Following her stint in Syracuse, the Scarsdale, N.Y., native moved on to New Hampshire for one season before accepting a position as an assistant at the University of Richmond. Three seasons later, Gottlieb moved to the West Coast, where she helped turn the Cal program around and earned a reputation as an excellent coach of post players.

After making what will likely be his final big decision as head of the Athletic Dept., Cunningham expressed great pleasure at the Gottlieb signing.

“Lindsay [Gottlieb] will do a great job for us. I’m highly confident that she’s going to just be outstanding. I think she will fit into our Gaucho family in a very, very positive way and I’m very pleased to have her here,” Cunningham said.

Following her introduction, Gottlieb spoke at length about her expectations for the program, showing the kind of enthusiasm and drive that will likely keep UCSB on top of the Big West for years to come.

“Words really can’t express how excited I am, how honored I am and how really humbled I am to be chosen to take the reins of leadership of this remarkable program. I think this is a gem of the women’s college basketball world,” Gottlieb said. “Top to bottom this is a special place and I intend to show the country that we’re doing it the right way and that we’re going to do some unbelievable things on the court. I’m absolutely thrilled to start the journey.”

A one-time finalist on ESPN’s “Dream Job,” Gottlieb displayed the kind of media savvy and humor that French was known for during his 21 seasons at UCSB.

“A lot of people told me when you get your first job make sure you follow someone who’s fallen on their face and been not successful because then you come in and look great, but if that’s the rule then I’ve already made my first mistake,” Gottlieb said. “[French] has put UCSB women’s basketball on the map and I know that I’m going to do everything I can to make him proud and keep this team at that level.”

After getting her first gig as a head coach, Gottlieb is still in the process of filling out her new staff, but she has already met with the team and said she looks forward to defending the school’s 2007-08 Big West title. No stranger to success in big conferences, Gottlieb talked about her hope that the mid-major Gauchos can make waves nationally and even stated that she hoped to get the squad into the top-25 in the rankings. With a loaded roster that’s expected to repeat as Big West champions, Gottlieb insisted that she will adapt to her personnel, and she promised to turn the Gauchos into a more up-tempo offensive squad that thrives on easy transition buckets.

“I think she’ll fit in really well, she’s a smart basketball coach and I like how she said she’s going to adapt to the players we have. Obviously she’s been doing her homework and watching film so we have high expectations,” junior guard Lauren Pedersen said.

UCSB went 23-8 overall last season and dominated the Big West conference en route to the schools first trip to the Big Dance since 2005. The Gauchos lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but with only two players departing, UCSB is likely to start as many as five seniors next season.

“[Junior guard Sha’Rae Gibbons] told me yesterday that the seniors combined are 114 years old, so that’s a lot of senior leadership,” Gottlieb said. “Rumor has it [senior forward Jenna Green] may be older than me, I don’t know, but I think it’s a mix of senior leadership and youthful energy and it’s going to be my job to mix that and put a team on the floor that everyone’s proud of.”