Posts tagged ‘Coquese Washington’
So I’m sitting on the back of this bus, rolling through suburban Maryland, listening to a couple of guys talk sports.
In general, I don’t really enjoy listening to other people talk about sports—I abhor the shouting and cliches of sports talk radio, and unless the subject is a team I really care about, I’m probably not interested anyway —but this is a little different. These guys have great stories. These guys know what they’re talking about.
Cael Sanderson and Bill O’Brien spent Thursday morning trading stories as the Penn State Coaches Caravan rolled from Washington, D.C. to Lancaster, and I was lucky enough to be sitting a few feet away. We’ve had a different coaching combination on each leg of the trip—Tuesday it was O’Brien and Pat Chambers, who are famously close, swapping tales about recruiting and rival coaches. Wednesday brought Sanderson to the mix, and with Chambers back home in State College on Thursday, Penn State’s football and wrestling coaches were talking shop.
As a lifelong sports fan, and as a sportswriter for most of my career, I find this all to be very, very cool.
The details are all very much off the record, of course, but what I can tell you is how much fun it’s been to watch these guys interact. There’s such an obvious mutual respect between them, and it comes across most clearly in how they listen to each other. With Sanderson and O’Brien in particular—despite having very different personalities and working in arguably polar opposite sports—you could sense a genuine interest in learning from each other. Since arriving at Penn State, O’Brien has spoken repeatedly of how much he enjoys interacting with his fellow coaches. He pretty clearly means it.
I was bummed to learn that Coquese Washington (who joined the Caravan on Wednesday) and Russ Rose (who arrived in time for the Lancaster stop Thursday morning) wouldn’t actually be on the bus; in both their senses of humor and their coaching acumen, both would have added much to the conversation. As it is, I consider myself lucky to be able to listen in; Penn State fans should consider themselves lucky to have such capable men and women in charge.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Coquese Washington held a press conference Monday afternoon. It came on short notice and without a stated purpose, but after reports last week that Washington had interviewed for the vacant head coach position at Michigan, it seemed obvious she was going to clarify her job status. Given that there were no rumors trickling out of Ann Arbor—and that it would be a joint press conference with Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner—the local media consensus was that Washington was staying put.
We guessed right on that. What none of us predicted was the emotion with which she explained her decision.
In 20 minutes at the Bryce Jordan Center media room, Washington repeatedly used words like family, community, and values. She invoked patriotism, Susan B. Anthony, and Dr. Martin Luther King. She re-confirmed her commitment to Penn State in dramatic and emphatic fashion.
Fresh off her fifth season as coach of the Lady Lions, with a Big Ten championship and NCAA Sweet 16 run recently added to her resume, Washington has confirmed the high expectations that came with her hiring. Her success understandably meant other big-time programs might try to pry her away, and while Michigan hasn’t traditionally been very strong in women’s basketball, the Wolverines’ overall athletic success—and the fact that Washington is a Michigan native—meant folks were taking this seriously.
Ultimately, Washington told reporters, we had nothing to worry about. And while she and Joyner acknowledged (without getting specific) that the coach’s contract would reflect her status was one of the most respected young coaches in the nation, Washington said money wasn’t the issue. She said much of what you might expect her to say, about how Penn State felt like home, about her loyalty to her players and staff. But she also made an indirect reference to the fallout from the Sandusky scandal, and when I asked her to clarify—if she didn’t want to be seen as running out on the university in a time of crisis— Washington’s reply was intense.
Speaking of how she’d seen Penn Staters rally in the wake of the scandal, Washington said:
…I see a university that is going to elevate itself because we’re willing to look at ourselves, examine ourselves, at a time, maybe not our best time, but we’re willing to say, “Is this the best that we can do for Penn State alums? Is this the best that we can do academically? Is this the best we can do for the community that supports us so well? Is this the best that we can do for higher education in the country?” That inspired me. That inspired me to be here and to stay here and to make myself and this program the best that it can be because we’re around people who take that challenge head on and we’re going to be better because of it. So, to answer your question, absolutely it was a consideration. Absolutely.
You can read the entire press conference transcript here. And you can count on Coquese Washington being around for a while.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Coquese Washington could barely sit still.
The Lady Lion head coach—along with her team and about 75 fans and friends—sat patiently in the Bryce Jordan Center’s Founder’s Room on Monday evening, eyes glued to several televisions airing the NCAA women’s tournament selection show. But Washington, recently named Big Ten Coach of the Year, couldn’t contain her nerves. Just five minutes into the show, the coach got up to fetch a glass of water. About five minutes later, Washington got up again.
“I can’t take this,” she said to an assistant coach with a laugh.
Finally, as the ESPN analysts unveiled the Kingston, R.I., region of the bracket, Washington could breathe a sigh of relief. The Lady Lions are going dancing. Here’s video of the team’s reaction, including a quick interview with junior point guard Alex Bentley:
Penn State earned a No. 4 seed and will open against No. 13 UTEP Sunday night in Baton Rouge. The Lady Lions’ region is stacked, featuring No. 1 seed UConn—which has won six NCAA titles in the last 12 years—and a potential second-round matchup with No. 5 LSU in the Tigers’ backyard. The Lady Lions don’t seem fazed. Everyone seemed to share the same sentiment: Excitement for what’s to come.
“One of the most fun parts of being a college basketball player is Selection Monday,” Washington said. “And seeing your name come across that screen, it doesn’t matter who you play, where you play, you’re in and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Emily Kaplan, intern
When last we saw them, Coquese Washington and the members of the Lady Lion basketball team were in tears. This was in March, when Penn State lost in heartbreaking fashion to DePaul in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The coach and her players have had half a year to try to forget the pain of blowing a huge second-half lead that night. Some of them have chosen to do the opposite.
“I think this team, Alex and Maggie in particular, won’t forget it,” Washington said Thursday during the Lady Lions’ preseason media day. “They won’t let it go. They hate to lose, and particularly hate to lose in the way that we did. So I don’t need to beat them over the head with it. It lives with them. It lived with them all summer.”
“Alex and Maggie” are junior point guard Alex Bentley and sophomore sharp-shooter Maggie Lucas. They are two of the biggest reasons the Lady Lions made that NCAA appearance—the program’s first in six years—and arguably the best players on a team that enters 2011-12 ranked in the top 20 nationally by Athlon and The Sporting News. What’s not arguable is that Bentley and Lucas suffered their lowest moments as college players in that season-ending loss last March.
Bentley, who enters her junior season as (more…)
So when athletic director Tim Curley said of new men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers, “There will be no one better at promoting, marketing, and selling the Penn State basketball program 24/7, 365,” he wasn’t just delivering a throwaway line.
Chambers is a guy whose sales experience goes beyond recruiting basketball players. He majored in marketing at Philadelphia University and began his professional life as a copier salesman.
“Bottom of the barrel,” he said Monday afternoon, not long after he (more…)
Coquese Washington and Julia Trogele walked in with sniffles and moist, red eyes. Nikki Greene just looked dazed. The coach and two players who represented the Lady Lion basketball team in front of the media late Monday had different ways of showing it, but the pain was evident on the faces of all three.
Their season was over. The end had come swift and cruel.
Penn State lost to DePaul Monday in the second round of the NCAA tournament, falling 75-73. The final points came on a pair of DePaul free throws with 4.9 seconds left, turning a tie game into a deficit the Lady Lions simply ran out of time to erase. That they led for nearly 39 of the game’s 40 minutes only magnified the sting.
Afterward, they fulfilled their obligation and met the press, Trogele, a senior captain, talking willingly while Greene, a soft-spoken sophomore who appeared overwhelmed by the moment, sat silently next to her. I only covered the Lady Lions twice this season—the first time being a regular-season loss to Michigan State—so I didn’t have a great sense of what makes these players and coaches tick.
On Monday, I saw enough to come away thoroughly impressed.
It was Trogele, a versatile starting forward, (more…)
Fresh off their sixth straight victory—a 70-66 win over Illinois on Sunday—the Lady Lion basketball team today returned to the national rankings for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The new Associated Press poll has Penn State (15-4, 7-2 Big Ten) ranked 23rd nationally. Third-year coach Coquese Washington seems to be putting her mark on the squad, and the solid play of freshmen Alex Bentley and Nikki Greene shows Washington’s recruiting acumen is already paying off.
Longtime Lady Lion fans know that Penn State used to be a fixture in the national Top 25. Hopefully those days are back.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Came across this link when I was doing my morning check of women’s sports news: Lady Lions basketball coach Coquese Washington getting recognized as one of the sport’s best dressed coaches.
I’ve spent most of my journalism career covering sports, and I hate when female athletes and coaches are trivialized or categorized by how they look. But the Women’s Sports Blog doesn’t do that. It covers everything: results, athlete profiles and the real issues facing women’s sport. Besides, sportswriters are constantly referencing Pat Riley’s Armani suits, and he’s not the only well known NBA fashion plate. So I’m cool with this, as long as it’s not the only thing Washington is noted for. And with the Lady Lions, who finished 11-18 last season, off to a 10-4 start, it seems like more recognition will be forthcoming.
Update from my eagle-eyed co-senior editor, Ryan Jones: There are two Penn State soccer players in the blog’s title photo. Alyssa Naeher is in green on the right, and Christine Nairn (No. 11, in the middle) is holding up her gold medal. We think it’s the 2008 U-20 World Cup team.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
The latest addition to the Lady Lion basketball family isn’t a hot-shot recruit — although they’ve added a few of those recently — but a baby girl. Coach Coquese Washington gave birth Thursday to a daughter, Rhaiyna Kamille Brown. Congrats to Coquese, her husband, Raynell Brown, and brand-new big brother, four-year-old Quenton.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Lady Lion basketball coach Coquese Washington has only been a head coach for two years, but that doesn’t mean she’s not an expert on some big stories in the women’s college game. Washington’s unique resume — a standout player at Notre Dame, she went on to a professional playing career in the WNBA before getting into coaching — made her a perfect source on one of the big offseason stories in the women’s game: Rutgers junior Epiphanny Prince leaving school early to play professionally in Europe. When USA Today went looking for perspective on Prince’s story, Washington, the rare NCAA coach with pro playing experience, was an obvious choice.
The good news for Lady Lion fans: Washington’s high-level playing experience appeals to the kids she’s recruiting, too — especially the ones good enough to have their own dreams of playing pro ball. Look for that fact to start having an impact on the court soon.
Ryan Jones, senior editor