You know all about the guys from Alabama, UNLV, Carolina and the rest of the biggies, but what about the women's game? Herewith a report:
VIVE LA DIFFERENCE
Ten years ago Courtney Leishman became the women's head coach at Brigham Young University after having been a men's assistant. Some of his observations:
"Coaching women has made my life easier. There is considerably less sulking and pouting and griping on the women's teams. The girls seem to forget it faster. By the time they're out of the shower the game is over....
"Huddles are more pleasant. They smell better....
"Traveling is easier. You buy them a steak or stop at McDonald's, they say thank you. It's like they haven't had all this handed them all their lives, so they appreciate it.
"The thing you've got to get used to is the emotion. When they're sad they cry. When they're happy they cry." Leishman will always remember the game in his first season as women's coach when BYU traveled to Utah and trailed its archrival by 13 points at the half. "I walked in the locker room, and there were 12 girls, their heads in their hands, just sobbing," he says. "I walked back out. I didn't know what to say. Eventually I walked back in and gave them my speech. I told them Utah had its half, and now it was our turn. If anybody wanted to follow me out, then let's go after it."
The speech worked. BYU rallied to win by a point. "I walked in the locker room," said Leishman, "and there were 12 girls, just sobbing."
Minnesota men's coach Clem Haskins's legacy to the school where he starred and later coached, Western Kentucky, is his daughter Clemette. Felled by a leg injury, she scored just 7 points in the Hilltoppers' 63-41 loss to Texas on Wednesday, but she needs just 161 points to break her father's career scoring total.
NUN BUT THE BRAVE
A recent addition to Marquette's basketball department is women's coach Maria Pares, otherwise known as Sister Maria Pares, Order of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity.
After the Warriors finished 5-20 in their first Division I season last winter under coach Pat Sheily, the Marquette fathers hired Sister Maria, who's 45. She had led the girls' team at Sacred Heart academy in Buffalo to a 13-season record of 229-10, including one unbeaten stretch of seven years. During her spare time she coached the women's team at nearby Canisius College to a 108-39 record for the last five seasons.
"At first I resented all the attention to the nun thing," Sister Maria told The New York Times, "but then I learned to roll with the punches—and the plaudits."
Not unlike the aura surrounding that other enthusiastic and ecclesiastic Maria of Broadway and Hollywood fame, the hills are alive with the sound of musing: "Sports is my talent...my work is my ministry," says the coach. "I used to wear a habit. I got in some trouble. You know, the decorum thing, jumping around and all. Now I don't decorum anything. Every time we see a nun with a habit on, my mother tells me, 'There's a real nun.' I can't separate it—the nun and the coach. I'm one package."
And a formidable one at that. The coach instituted a strenuous regimen of running, shooting and lifting for her players—all "voluntary," of course. Then came longer practices, barked orders, even an occasional mild oath. "Why shouldn't I yell?" she asks. "Certain vulgarity isn't a sin. I'm sure the Lord had his moments."
"She's kind of cocky," says Marquette co-captain Beth Ayers. "In the past it wasn't great to lose, but it was acceptable. This year it's important to win."
For their first game the Warriors came out chanting "Beat Chicago," and they beat Chicago State 66-59. Although Sister Maria has already equaled Marquette's win total of last season, the team continues to struggle, falling to Dayton last Saturday 60-55 for its 11th loss. "There's nothing more exciting than coaching basketball, always adjusting to the other guy's moves, always something new," she says. "Of course, if you don't have the players with the talent, you could be the Guru of Shangri-la and you'll lose every game."
The Guru of Shangri-la? Those Marquette coaches have such a way with words.
THE SIGHS OF TEXAS
To decorate the covers of its basketball programs, No. 1—ranked Texas borrowed the state's antilittering theme, "Don't Mess With Texas," and featured photographs of team members at some of Austin's more scenic spots. But in the process....
Guard Yulonda Wimbish fell into a creek while posing.
Forward Paulette Moegle tried to hold up an ornate concrete railing as it started to crumble. She fled just in time, as the 70-year-old structure crashed in a cloud of dust.
Guard Pennee Hall was en route to a photo session when a woman running a red light smashed the car Hall was riding in.
Center Ellen Bayer, at 6'8" the tallest woman in Division I, was feeding squirrels when one of the rodents startled her and caused her to scatter granola everywhere.
The mishaps haven't affected the Longhorns on the court. They outdraw the Texas men's team by an average of 2,200 fans per game, have lost only once—to No. 3 Tennessee (which they have since beaten)—in 18 games and have now won 123 straight in the SWC.
And now to Don Dunphy at ringside....
With 24 seconds left in Missouri's 72-70 homecourt victory over Oklahoma on Jan. 17, the Sooners' Margaret McKeon fouled Lisa Ellis, who threw the ball into McKeon's face for a technical foul. At the conclusion of the game, OU's volatile coach Maura McHugh interrupted the opposing players' handshaking ritual and confronted Ellis. She shook a finger in Ellis's face and Ellis emphatically pushed McHugh's hand away. At that point OU's Lisa Allison grabbed Ellis from behind. Then the pleasantries ended, and everybody joined in.
Players rolled around on the floor, kicking and punching each other. Ellis sustained a broken nose and bruised ribs and hasn't played in any games since. McHugh was photographed lying flat on her back, apparently kicking at a Tiger player. The Columbia Tribune ran a picture of the melee on its front page the following day, along with a caption that read: "More fight photos, see page 14."
Said Missouri coach Joann Rutherford, "I always try to shake the opposing coach's hand, but how can I when she's on the floor?"
Said McHugh, "I was punched in the back of the head and kicked in the ribs. When I was on the floor I was hit more times than anyone. If I didn't kick I'd still be down there. It was just a matter of survival." McHugh, who is widely known throughout the Big Eight for her aggressive behavior and abusive language toward officials, says it is not fair to call her an emotional coach.
"Anybody who gets involved, gets excited, [people call] an emotional coach. I'm no more fiery than anybody else."
A Big Eight investigation into the incident is pending.
DAVID E. KLUTHO
Down by 4 when Haskins was hurt, the Toppers lost to No. 1 Texas by 22.
JIM NOELKER/COLUMBIA TRIBUNE
Allison (on floor), one of the initiators of the Oklahoma-Missouri brawl, fends off the Tigers' Sandie Prophete (24).
Stacey Spitko of Bucknell averages a perfect 4.0 in her accounting major and 40-plus minutes per game (one went OT) for the Bisons.
Robin Connolly became the first Arizona State woman to achieve a triple double, with 16 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in an upset win over Washington.