Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Debbie's vote is in, and no one's asking, but here's my Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year: Kelly Packard, Ball State.

After tallying a school-record 25 wins, the program's first Mid-American Conference Tournament title and first bid to the women's NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals will meet Tennessee in the first-round. Packard knows that much of this season's success can be laid at the feet of previous coach Tracy Roller
The players were recruited by Roller and her staff, and Packard acknowledged that she was provided a stronger cast than many first-year coaches get.

"Tracy Roller has a lot to do with today's championship; that needs to be said," Packard said. "If you say 'Ball State women's basketball' right now, people would still think of Tracy Roller. I humbly say she had a lot to do with today."
That being said, stepping in to Roller's shoes could not have been easy, especially considering the nature of coach Roller's departure. Not to mention the fact that some might consider her coaching resume (5 seasons as a college assistant, 2 years as head of the successful NWBL Chill) light, if not untraditional (tournament organizer, player agent).

But she's made what appears to be seamless transition to Division I, and lifted her program to new heights.

So, while I'm guessing that the award will be given to a more visible coach/program, I say congrats to Coach Packard for earning the first WHBMDRCOY award.

By the way, Pat ponders their match up with the Cardinals:
What are some of the things that may worry you about Ball State?
“Obviously, I think that the balance they have. They have four players in double figures and have good balance offensively. They do a good job of pushing tempo and spacing. Their screening action is also very good. They’re a team that seems to play very well together and I think that’s why they’ve had the success and the balance from an offensive standpoint.”

Does it bother you that you’re facing a team on an 11-game winning streak?
“I think at this point in time, it’s more about how you play in the tournament, it’s a new season. For us, I thought we came off the SEC Tournament playing some of our best basketball, but we’re still trying to get better. From the standpoint of, we finished with a loss as opposed to a win, and I think that’s been a motivation as well for our team.”