By David Siegel
The history of the women’s college basketball game needs to be remembered and needs to be cherished. Programs such as UConn, Notre Dame and Duke owe their legacy to the groundbreaking achievements of Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and others.
Rebuilding tradition, raising programs, cultivating history while building for the future. These are the themes for this week’s podcast.
UCLA and George Washington are two programs that have history on their side. In the case of UCLA, especially the men’s side of the game, with the great John Wooden and all his championships, but also that of Ann Meyers Drysdale and other great women’s players. George Washington University was a postseason staple for years, a juggernaut in the Atlantic 10 under Joe McKeown.
Both have also seen better days, but under two bright, young, energetic former assistant coaches they are on the rise and earning respect.
The first guest on today’s podcast is UCLA’s Cori Close. Close is in her third year at UCLA, coming over for the 2011-12 season from Florida State. A student of the game who continues to study other coaches (she has attended practices at UConn and Notre Dame), Close has an injury-depleted Bruins squad playing at a high level. They achieved a signature win with an upset victory over Oklahoma last week, despite being down to eight players. The Bruins have three players averaging over 17 points per game, led by Atonye Nyingifa, the current Pac-12 player of the week. Close has embraced the UCLA tradition, and is using it to help cultivate her program and recruiting; she shows recruits all those men’s team championship banners, and emphasizes to them there is not one for the women…..yet. UCLA has the number one ranked recruiting class for 2014-15, so the future is bright in Los Angeles.
Then we cross back to the eastern seaboard, where former Notre Dame associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Jonathan Tsipis is in his second season at George Washington. Tsipis moved from a seat beside Muffet McGraw at the final four, to an Atlantic 10 program that was floundering. He knew exactly what he was doing, however, and despite his young age knows fully of the legacy of McKeown at GWU, and aims to bring that program back to the top of the conference. Teams like Delaware, Dayton, Gonzaga, Green Bay and Marist have shown that there is a place in the top 25 for a non-BCS program that consistently achieves success, and Tsipis plans on the Colonials joining the list. His current team has three grad students starting, including wing Megan Nipe (19.5 points per game) and helping mentor a talented group of underclassmen. His coaching staff is filled with Notre Dame alumni as well. His first big win has already happened this season, an upset over the tenth-ranked California on November 15. While they lost to Maryland in the next game, this weekend, GWU will try to knock off Georgia in the Bulldogs’ holiday tournament.
Rebuilding tradition, raising programs, cultivating history while building for the future seems to sum up the goals of Cori Close and Jonathan Tsipis pretty well.
Enjoy the podcast, have a happy Thanksgiving, and be safe in your travels!