No matter what you do, it will never be enough.
As a sports writer, I have the privilege of hearing every
would-be Pat Reillyís thoughts as to why a team did or didnít win and how
stupid the coach is for letting it happen that way.
Thatís the toughest part of coaching; if you win, the
players did great; if you lose, the coach is an idiot.† You never come out on top.
It really is a thankless job, but it is one that two men
at Tech have excelled at on the basketball court over the past few months.
At this time last year, the Lady Techster
basketball team held a season record of 20-10, with five losses in the WAC,
including a 20-point defeat in the tournament, and finished second in the
They squeezed into the NCAA tournament as an underdog
11th seed, and saw an early exit with a 66-61 loss to Temple.
Enter Chris Long.
Long, the first-year head coach for the Lady Techsters,
is currently riding a 15-game win streak and has led Techís women to a 26-4
record, conference regular season and tournament titles and a top 20 national
In one season, Long has elevated
his squad back into the position among the countryís elite that we have come to
expect from Techster basketball.
With the exception of one player added to this yearís
roster, Long accomplished all of this with virtually
the same roster that Kurt Budke struggled with last
Then, there is Keith Richard.
Richard, in his eighth season as head coach for the
Bulldogs, has been under scrutiny for the better part of his tenure at Tech, despite
the success his teams have seen on the court.
Like Long, Richardís team has made a significant
turnaround from last year to now.
Last seasonís Bulldogs went 13-14, 8-9 in the WAC, and
failed to qualify for post season play or even the conference tournament.
One year later, Tech is sitting on a 20-win season,
finished second in the conference, and received a bid to the National
Richard brought nine new Bulldogs to the roster this
season including six junior college transfers, five of which saw playing time
regularly during the year. A fact suggesting that Richard has talent when it
comes to recruiting and that new players see something in his system they like.
Although the new additions were certainly a plus for the
program, none of them were program-changing All-Americans, leaving Richard with
a team very similar to last years.
So what did Richard do to make the turn around?
Richard has preached defense all season long, and it has
Tech led the conference this year is scoring defense and
rebounding margin, and was in the top three in virtually every other defensive
Another reason for Techís success is in the numbers.
Ten different players have seen regular playing time this
season, giving the Bulldogs more depth than most teams in the WAC and even the
country. Giving so many players experience this season will also benefit the
Bulldogs next year, as Tech will be losing three seniors at the conclusion of
the season, and will likely lose junior Paul Millsap to the NBA draft.
Even with the loss of key players, I expect that Richard
will continue to raise the bar for Tech basketball, will bring in more big time
recruits, and will continue to succeed in the midst of nay sayers.
As if he hasnít done enough to silence his critics.
Matt Dearman is a junior journalism major from Baton
Rouge and serves as sports editor for The Tech Talk.
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