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Thread: Two Techs showcase Hall of Fame credentials

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    By Dan Fleser, News-Sentinel sportwriter
    November 10, 2002

    Marsha Sharp is part of select company today.

    The Texas Tech women's basketball coach is one of six new inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

    She will be introduced at halftime of the Tennessee-Oklahoma game as part of the State Farm Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic festivities at Thompson-Boling Arena.

    Sharp also will be one of the four head coaches working on this busy day. Her Lady Raiders open the Classic doubleheader against Louisiana Tech at 12:30.

    "It's obviously special,'' Sharp said of her induction, "one of the most special things that will happen in my career. I think it makes Sunday's game more special for me.''

    Sharp is beginning her 21st season at Texas Tech, where she has won 479 games and posted a .757 winning percentage. She coached the Lady Raiders to the 1993 national championship.

    Her teams have appeared in 15 NCAA tournaments - including 13 in a row - and have won or shared eight conference championships between the Southwest Conference and the Big 12.

    The 10th anniversary of Tech's national title, coupled with the fact that the Final Four will be back in the same city, Atlanta, has not gone unnoticed by the fans or the team.

    Today's game between the two Techs certainly will have a Hall of Fame feel to it. Another member of the 2003 class is former Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore.

    He recorded 567 victories in 20 seasons as head coach of the Lady Techsters. His .869 winning percentage is No. 1 on the list of all-time winningest coaches, men's or women's.

    Under Barmore, Tech won the 1988 national championship and played in five national championship games. Tech placed among the top four in the final poll for 12 consecutive years (1979-1990).

    Barmore will not be here today. He would've been coaching against Sharp, but chose to retire this summer.

    Kurt Budke, who had been an assistant on Barmore's staff the past two seasons, has taken charge.

    The Lady Techsters are prepared to build on Barmore's legacy.

    "It hasn't been that big of a factor so far that Coach Barmore hasn't been here,'' Budke said. "I think they (the fans) will see whether we win or lose, we're going to try to keep this program where it is."

    The other members of the Class of 2003:


    Doris Rogers: A seven-time All-American, she played on eight consecutive AAU national championship teams at Nashville Business College (1962-'69). She played for Porter High School's (Maryville) state championship team in 1959, scoring the winning basket in the final.

    Claude Hutcherson: A successful businessman who owned a flying service when he began sponsoring the Wayland Baptist women's team in 1950. He transported the team with his aircraft, flying one of the four Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes. Hutcherson's support inspired the moniker "the Hutcherson Flying Queens.''

    Patsy Neal: The three-time All-American played for Wayland Baptist (1956-60) and helped the Queens win a pair of AAU national championships. She also played for several U.S. teams, including the 1959 Pan American gold-medal team.

    Tara Heiss: The point guard at the University of Maryland helped lead her team to the 1978 Final Four. She was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team and was selected most-popular player at the 1979 World Championship.

  2. #2
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    Oklahoma will provide a big game early for Lady Vols
    By Dan Fleser, News-Sentinel sportswriter
    November 10, 2002

    Tennessee versus Oklahoma. It's early November, and it's a big game.

    Reads like a football setting. It will play out at Thompson-Boling Arena, however, as the first meeting of the women's basketball teams.

    The game tips off at 3 p.m. today as part of the State Farm Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic.

    Louisiana Tech plays Texas Tech in the doubleheader opener at 12:30 p.m.

    The Sooners filed through Saturday's gathering football traffic to practice at the arena. Dane Coale, the husband of Sooners coach Sherri Coale, and son Colton were throwing the football around on the basketball court beforehand.

    The Lady Vols had just finished their workout. Undoubtedly, many of them were heading for Neyland Stadium.

    This was typical Saturday doings. It could have been happening on either campus.

    The teams will have their own stage today and begin working on some women's hoops history. A first encounter in this city has an ironic twist to it.

    Although the Sooners never have played in Knoxville, their presence amounts to a triumphant return of sorts. The school tried to drop the program during the 1990 Final Four here.

    Oklahoma's timing couldn't have been worse. The Women's Basketball Coaching Association was gathered for its convention. The reaction was swift and angry.

    The school did an about-face. Last year, the Sooners played in their first Final Four and reached the national championship game in San Antonio.

    Coale thinks the Sooners have reached another critical juncture in their history. It's their turn to react in a decisive manner.

    "I've said time and time again, be it unfair, that the season following the first season you get to the Final Four pretty much defines your program,'' Coale said.

    The early read on the Sooners is a No. 22 national ranking in the Associated Press preseason poll. The ranking reflects the loss of four starters from last season. Still, it might not reflect the true nature of the team.

    Senior center Theresa Schuknecht and junior guard Maria Villarroel are not typical first-year starters.

    The 6-foot-3 Schuknecht was the NAIA player of the year last year at Southern Nazerine. Before that she was Pac-10 freshman of the year at Arizona State.

    Schuknecht has moved around the country with her husband, Seth, who is in the Air Force. Her connection with the Sooners began with high school recruiting.

    "To take a kid with one year of eligibility, there has be something special going on here," Coale said.

    Schuknecht was something special in an exhibition game against Oklahoma Christian on Tuesday, scoring 28 points and shooting 10-for-14 from the floor.

    Villarroel was a two-time junior college All-American. She averaged 24.4 points per game last season.

    "Wow, what an athlete she is,'' Coale said. "She shoots a two-handed jumper that, when it goes in, I like it. I think she'll make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor."

    With nine returning players, second-ranked Tennessee's impact on today's game will be more familiar.

    Still, freshmen Tye'sha Fluker and Shanna Zolman will introduce themselves. At 6-5, Fluker could make a thunderous impression.

    The Lady Vols also will unveil their revamped offense.

    "I don't think it's an offense that can be scouted,'' senior forward Gwen Jackson said. "We don't even know what we're going to do."

    Sounds like an appropriate preview for an opening game.


    NOTEBOOK: Tennessee has lost its last two Classic games, including 69-64 to Louisiana Tech here in 1999. Junior prospect Alexis Hornbuckle from Charleston, West Virginia, is making an unofficial campus visit this weekend. Oklahoma played in the Classic last year in Durham, N.C., beating Purdue 80-75.

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