Dishin & Swishin 10/16/14 Podcast: Karen Aston has Texas on top of preseason Big 12 poll, Anthony Bozzella has Daisha Simmons & asks #WhyNotSetonHall?
It is the middle of October and it is time for Dishin & Swishin to begin focusing on the upcoming NCAA women’s basketball season!
We have a great first podcast for you today, featuring two first-time guests, two head coaches that are making headlines for doing what college coaches are supposed to do: making their programs contenders, looking out for their student-athletes, and growing women’s basketball at their schools.
If you checked, you would probably find that Karen Aston has Longhorn-orange blood running through her veins. A former assistant coach and associate head coach under Hall of Famer Jody Conradt at Texas, Aston begins her third season as head coach with a preseason number one ranking from the Big 12 coaches.
With an announced team motto of Loyalty, Tenacity, Trust. (#LTT), Aston’s roster is loaded with Texas-based recruits, including national player of the year candidate, senior double-double machine Nneka Enemkpali, a preseason all-conference first team selection, and freshman Ariel Atkins, preseason freshman of the year choice. Still, the defensive-minded Longhorns will only truly reach their pinnacle if injured junior center Imani McGee-Stafford is able to return to good health. The 6’7 center anchors the paint, but recently had surgery to reinforce her left tibia; Aston says on the podcast that her return is up in the air, but they will not rush her back.
As always, the Big 12 is an extremely deep conference though; in fact, Baylor, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State also received first place votes in the coaches preseason poll. Aston will find out pretty quickly how good her team will be though, with games at Stanford and UCLA, and home against Tennessee all before November 30.
After coach Aston, we are pleased to welcome the coach of Seton Hall, Anthony Bozzella to the podcast. Entering his second year as head coach of the Pirates, Bozzella has used social media to be an outspoken protagonist for the school, his players, and the Big East conference. Still, Bozzella found himself on the sideline recently in his program’s own problem, the eligibility of transfer Daisha Simmons.
You are no doubt familiar with the story; Simmons graduated from Alabama with remaining eligibility, enrolled at Seton Hall to begin graduate studies, and was denied the paperwork required to play from Alabama until people such as Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale took up her cause.
Bozzella discusses the saga on the podcast, and it is interesting to note the perspective of someone so involved with the situation, and more importantly, the life of Simmons herself, and the impact of the events.
However, Seton Hall is more than just Daisha Simmons this season, and Bozzella has a lot to talk about, and a right to be optimistic about his team. Returning leading scorers Tabitha Richardson-Smith and Ka-Deidre Simmons lead the way, and this is a deep, veteran team that features three grad students in their rotation (both Simmons and forward Janee Johnson).
Not just athletes, the Pirates are also visibly showing community support, hosting an anti-bullying program in November, in the wake of New Jersey’s high school football hazing scandal.
The Big East conference may no longer have UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville or Rutgers, but in its wake, it is a wide open conference, where programs have an opportunity to thrive and advance. DePaul made the sweet sixteen last year. Seton Hall advanced to the third round of the WNIT before falling to Rutgers, the eventual champion, in double overtime. So as they look forward to this season, as Bozzella likes to tweet #WhyNotSetonHall?
Enjoy the podcast!