The women’s basketball team had yet another successful season last year going 19-13 and earning another bid to play in the postseason.
The Panthers eventually lost an opening round game in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament to a much bigger, faster and all around more talented team out of a bigger, faster and all round more talented conference the Southeastern Conference. That team was the Florida Gators. And to be quite honest, this was a game the Panthers probably should have won. Behind the heroics of Junior all-star Jerica Coley, they had a stranglehold on the game up until the very end and the Gators won 75-68.
My point is that when you take a quick look around athletics, you see a vast majority of programs struggling. Men’s basketball is dealing with a postseason ban due to poor academics, football is having trouble putting their best players on the field because of legal and academic issues.
But there is a bright side.
That bright side is the tradition of winning that the women’s basketball team has stood by since the beginning of Head Coach Cindy Russo’s lengthy tenure some 34 years ago. That last line is eye popping, I know. Russo has been behind the wheel of the program since before the majority of anyone attending this university was born. So in a nutshell, she has forgotten more about basketball than most of us will ever know.
In her time at FIU, she has led the program to 22-consecutive winning seasons from ‘81 to ‘03 and her teams have won at least 20 games on 18 occasions. Russo has led her teams to six NCAA Division I Tournament berths, seven postseason WNIT’s and two NCAA Division II Tournaments, in addition to winning eight regular season conference titles and seven tournament crowns. Russo enters the 2013-14 campaign as the ninth-winningest active coach in Division I women’s basketball. She owns a career record of 689-364 over 36 seasons, and a record of 649-342 in 34 seasons at FIU.
With that being said, someone should ask her how she does is. She has won almost 700 career games! Please, someone from each struggling program ask this lady how does she run her ship so well. Ask why her student-athletes are featured on the news its for POSITIVE reasons and not because they’re in trouble. Simply, just ask how to keep winning on such a consistent level.
Someone has to take action because I cannot be the only person noticing all this success surrounded by so much failure.
Russo took an under-recruited Coley, that other schools said she was too short to play point guard at the collegiate level, and helped mold her into a two-time All-American and Conference Player of The Year.
Oh, and Coley is just her latest (and possibly greatest work) but it’s not a fluke. She has produced a ton of WNBA caliber talent during her tenure. Coley is just the seventh All-American she has coached, I repeat just the SEVENTH!
It’s just so simple to see, there are no APR scandals, no parking lot shootings, no National Park nude fests, no kidnappings and most of all no losing going on when you look at the women’s basketball program.
Someone should ask Russo how she does it.