Teresa Weatherspoon Weathering the Rebuild at Louisiana Tech
You can’t help but think that Teresa Weatherspoon sounds a little like a preacher when she talks about the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball program.
She is preaching the gospel of Ruston, trying to spread a little good news about her team.
Weatherspoon is in her first full year as a head coach. But she’s been a Techster for more than 25 years and her sense of ownership is unmistakable.
Weatherspoon expects her players to know the tradition. Nine NCAA Final Fours. Eight appearances in the national title game. Three national titles.
And now, a different era. The powerhouse mantle is gone. The program hasn’t made the NCAA field since 2006, when it ended a run of 25 straight appearances. There have been no FInal Four appearances since 1999, no national ranking since the last weeks of the 2007 season.
This year’s version of the Lady Techsters is 15-6 overall, 6-3 in the Western Athletic Conference, good for third place, a comedown from the six straight conference titles it won from 2001-2007.
The move to the WAC in 2001, necessitated by football, has not done the program any favors. The travel schedule is brutal. The closest conference opponent is in Utah. The top players don’t regard Ruston as a place to go to win a title.
Weatherspoon, who led Louisiana Tech to the NCAA title in 1988, said it is her goal to “get us back to where we were.” “I’m not settling. That’s not who I am. I know there are people who say it won’t happen for five or ten years, but I’m not about that.”
– Teresa Weatherspoon
“I’m not settling. That’s not who I am,” Weatherspoon said. “I know there are people who say it won’t happen for five or ten years, but I’m not about that.
“If you think that, then it’s not about now for my players and then they won’t work hard. We have to change the mindset. We have to do the work.”
Instead of listening to those who say the Lady Techsters’ best days are behind them, Weatherspoon thinks Louisiana Tech’s future looks bright.
She said she will recruit players who want to be in Ruston. She will beef up the program’s non-conference schedule. She will bring back the defense-comes-first philosophy that guided her entire career as a player.
Who’s going to argue with “T-Spoon”? She’s a two-time All-American, the 1988 Wade Trophy winner, a two-time Olympian and four-time WNBA All-Star. She will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville next summer.
And she played proudly with the “Lady Techsters” name across the front of her jersey. If anybody is going to impart to her players what that means, it’s going to be her.
“It’s my job to teach them that,” Weatherspoon said.
She also knows this much for absolute sure. Her team will likely have to win the WAC Tournament in order to make a return trip to the NCAA brackets. And she thinks it’s very possible.
“We are creating our own legacy within the tradition here,” Weatherspoon said. “And we are getting better at the right time.”
Story by: Michelle Smith
(Michelle Smith is a Women’s Basketball Writer for FanHouse)