Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Thursday, April 01, 2004

"At what point do we get some loyalty?"

Part of what makes the Gopher story so special, and part of what has made them so tough, is the terrible time they endured with coaches.

It wasn't just Littlejohn. It was also Brenda Frese (Oldfield), whose departure was undoubtedly harder on the players than any of Cheryl's torment.

Brenda came in as the savior after the Littlejohn horror. She said it was her dream job. She said the team would be like family. She then left after only a year.

Adding insult to the players' injury, Brenda apparently told U officials she was leaving because she didn't believe Minnesota would ever have the talent to compete for a national title. She later denied having said that -- she always implied that she just hated the women's AD. But whatever the reason, leaving after one year is just unfair to players.

(Contrast Cheryl Burnett, who undoubetedly could have had the KU job, but -- class act that she is -- wouldn't have even thought of leaving the Michigan program she committed to fixing.)

The Gophers were devastated. Said Whalen at the time: "You feel like all of her talk about next year wasn't true. You do feel like you didn't know her as well as you thought."

"At what point do we get some loyalty?" she asked. "We had been working so long to get things right again. Sometimes you wonder if there's any loyalty at all."

But after the initial shock, Lindsay just got more determined. "I think we'll be an elite program in the NCAA," she predicted. After all, Lindsay said, it was the players, not Brenda, who had done the hard work. "I don't think she played any minutes this year. We played between 35 and 40 minutes a game. We're the people who got her this contract and we're the ones who got her all the awards."

Now Lindsay has the awards. She has the credit she deserves for creating, almost out of force of will, an elite program.

And she has found loyalty. Not from Brenda Frese, but from thousands of new women's basketball fans in the frozen north, and countless others around the country.