Robin Pingeton understands the magnitude of the task at hand.
A Cedar Rapids native, Pingeton was hired Thursday as head women’s basketball coach at the University of Missouri.
Her challenge: Pull the Tigers from the depths of the Big 12 Conference.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we have never been afraid of hard work,” Pingeton said in a statement released by the university. “It starts today.”
Missouri was 12-18 last season, including a last-place finish in the Big 12 — one of the toughest leagues in the land. The Tigers lost 16 of their final 18 games.
Pingeton owns a 15-year record of 338-157, including 144-81 in seven years at Illinois State.
The Redbirds compiled 20-win ledgers in each of the last four years, and reached the NCAA tournament twice during Pingeton’s tour of duty.
“When she came to Illinois State, they weren’t in a good situation, and she turned it around there pretty quickly,” said Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder, who coached Pingeton at St. Ambrose University from 1986 to 1990.
Before that, Pingeton played for Larry Niemeyer at Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“Good for Robin. Good for her,” Niemeyer said. “I am so impressed by the job she has done. She’s got to be one of the top young coaches in America. She understands the game so well.”
Pingeton is the school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,502 points, and earned all-America honors in both basketball and softball.
When Bluder left St. Ambrose in 1990 to take the job at Drake, Pingeton followed as an assistant.
Bluder texted Pingeton with congratulations Thursday.
“I’m really happy for her,” Bluder said. “She has always been an incredibly goal-oriented person. I’m really proud of her and with what she has accomplished.”
Pingeton returned to St. Ambrose as head coach in 1992, compiling a 194-76 mark there in eight seasons.
She spent three seasons on Bill Fennelly’s staff at Iowa State, including the 2002-03 season as the associate head coach.
“Robin has worked very hard to get to this point,” Fennelly said. “She is very committed to her student-athletes and their success in life. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
“Missouri made a tremendous hire.”