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First practice is Tuesday.

New Gophers women's basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit was introduced to the Twin Cities on Monday at the team's practice facility, on the same court the first practice of her tenure here will be held.

Plitzuweit came prepared, taking her opening remarks from a folder, talking easily. During the question and answer period, she was adept at crafting her answers to fit her message.

She used three words to describe the players she inherited — most of whom were sitting together watching — gleaned from their first meeting Saturday night: Energetic. Hungry. Close-knit.

She described the three building blocks of her coaching philosophy: Toughness. Togetherness. Find a way.

"But today is not about me,'' she said. "Today is about Minnesota women's basketball. The most important people in this room are the young ladies sitting in front of us.''

She's done this before.

Having won everywhere she's been, having done it for decades, Plitzuweit has a plan. And that plan was slated to begin Tuesday.

Plitzuweit, a Wisconsin native who grew up on a farm near West Bend, Wis., is here after a year at West Virginia because here is home. To the Midwest, where she and her husband, Jay, were raised. To the region where she made South Dakota a mid-major power over six seasons coaching the Coyotes. To an area where she already has well-established recruiting ties.

"Ultimately, the reason this happened as fast as it did was because we have young ladies; this is an anxious time for them," Plitzuweit said. "We have the opportunity to build a connection and continue to grow."

Defense first

Plitzuweit comes to a program where many key players have decided to stay, to a place where the cupboard isn't bare, to a team in the powerful Big Ten Conference, which is a huge challenge. But she preferred to describe it as a big opportunity.

"You can look at it in one of two ways,'' Plitzuweit said. "You can say, 'Man, I wish it wasn't quite that good right now, 'cause [if it wasn't] we could make up ground faster.' Or you can look at it and say, "Good, once we learn how to compete, we'll have a chance to do some special things, too.' "

Through it all Monday, she stuck to her plan. Expectations? She's a process person, she said. Stick to the process and the rest takes care of itself. Offense? She will mold the attack to her players' skills, which she will start getting to know Tuesday.

But the team will be tough. It will defend, rebound. It will take care of the ball and be accountable. It will work. "We have to be sure we're good on the defensive end,'' Plitzuweit said. "And then we build in the offense after that.''

There was some humor, too. She jokingly asked if a question about her experience was another way to ask if she was old. Talking about Tuesday's practice, she looked at her players and smiled.

"Defensive problems probably won't be tomorrow, you guys,'' she said. "It will be offense. That's way more fun to practice."

'Great energy'

All four of former coach Lindsay Whalen's highly regarded 2022 recruiting class talked afterward. They all agreed that when Plitzuweit entered the room for their first meeting Saturday, you could feel the energy.

"She has the energy that matches our energy,'' Mara Braun said. "We're ready to get to work.''

"She's a winner, and that's super important,'' Mallory Heyer said. "And she has great energy.''

Heyer talked about looking forward to watching film with Plitzuweit, a fellow film addict. Amaya Battle said she didn't know yet what style the team would play — the roster isn't complete yet. But: "She seems like someone who will hold us accountable, make sure we meet expectations,'' Battle said. "But also teach us and help us meet those expectations.''

There is work to do. With the 2022 class returning, it appears Rose Micheaux might be the only player to leave via the NCAA portal. Still, Plitzuweit said Minnesota will have to use the portal to fill and round out her roster. Among the incoming class of recruits, it appears only Czech player Dominika Paurova will ask for a release from her letter of intent.

But the most immediate task was getting on the court for that first practice. You have to start somewhere.

"I'm grateful for this opportunity to be here today,'' Plitzuweit said. "I look forward to growing together.''