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Thread: Ex-Techster coach to join Hall of Fame

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    On Top of Her Game
    Hall of Fame honor to mark net gains of Lady Raiders' coach


    BY PATRICK GONZALES
    AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

    When Marsha Sharp began her journey with the Texas Tech women's basketball program more than two decades ago, she had only two immediate concerns.

    "Make sure I tried to get everything running," she recalls, "and try to beat our next opponent."

    Mark it down as the pillars of success.

    Twenty-one years later those tasks have become a little easier, and Sharp has gone from simply trying to survive to becoming a West Texas icon and one of the most influential people in women's basketball history.

    The latter will be made official today.

    Sharp will be one of six people inducted next year into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. The inductees for 2003 will be officially announced today during halftime of the Oklahoma-Tennessee matchup at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic being played at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

    The Lady Raiders will face Louisiana Tech at 11:30 a.m. today in the first game of the event.

    The weekend induction ceremony will take place either April 25-26 or May 2-3.

    "This is going to be one of the best honors I'm going to get in my career," Sharp said. "I think to be included with that group of people is special because first of all, I know all of them ... and the things they did for women's basketball obviously affected my career in many ways. To be included in a group you know and respect so well is really special."

    Sharp is in the fifth group to be honored; inductees first were recognized in 1999. This is the first year she has been eligible for the honor as a coach. Coaches must serve 20 years at the collegiate level to be considered.

    "There are not a lot of people in basketball today that I think more of than Marsha Sharp," said Nan Elrod, director of programming for the WBHOF. "When the board of directors handed me a list of the new inductees they had chosen, I was so elated.

    "She was not only chosen for the success she has had on the court but for just being a wonderful person and for all she has done for the game," Elrod said. "What she's done at Texas Tech, and the way she has done it, just opened the eyes of the nation. She is a great ambassador to women's basketball."

    And the achievements are pretty impressive.

    Sharp ranks seventh among winningest active coaches with a 479-153 career mark (.757) and has won a national championship (1993) more recently than any other men's or women's basketball coach in the Big 12 Conference.

    She has directed the Lady Raiders to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 13 straight, and has reached the Sweet 16 nine times and the Elite Eight three times. She also was named the National Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association in 1994.

    Off the court, Sharp is serving a two-year term as president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and last summer guided the USA Basketball World Championship for Young Women's Qualifying team to a gold medal in Brazil. She also boasts a 99 percent graduation rate among her players.

    "This honor really means a lot just because of the fact that it's maybe the ultimate award you can get," Sharp said.

    "But honestly I never in my wildest dreams early in my career thought that anything like this would happen," she said. "That's not because I had any doubts in what I thought we could do at Tech, because I thought it was a great place to build a great women's basketball program.

    "It's a situation where the administration, my assistant coaches and the players we've coached at Tech have been a huge part of it, and I think in some way that makes it even more special," she said.

    Sharp said the honor will mean even more because she will be joined in her induction class by two fellow West Texans: Claude Hutcherson and Patsy Neal.

    Hutcherson was a successful businessman from Plainview who began sponsoring the Wayland Baptist College women's basketball team in 1950. He owned a flying service and furnished four Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes to transport the team and coaches to road games. This is how the team acquired the moniker "The Flying Queens."

    Wayland's physical education center, which serves as home to the men's and women's basketball teams, is named in his honor.

    Patsy Neal was a three-time AAU all-American and played collegiately at Wayland, where she helped the Queens win AAU national titles in 1957 and 1959. She has authored nine sports-related books.

    Sharp earned her undergraduate degree from Wayland Baptist and served as a freshman coach and graduate assistant during her time there.

    "Wayland Baptist holds a special place in my heart, and Claude Hutcherson has always been a part of my basketball history," Sharp said. "I always knew about and respected Patsy Neal. I read a book she wrote earlier in life about competing, which was maybe more of a motivational type of book, and I always thought that was special."

    Also joining Sharp's induction class are longtime Louisiana Tech coach Leon Barmore, Maryland and U.S. Olympic standout Tara Heiss and Nashville Business College standout Doris Rogers.

    Barmore compiled a 576-87 record in 20 seasons as the head coach of the Lady Techsters before retiring last season. He led Louisiana Tech to nine Final Four appearances, five national championship games and the 1988 title.

    Heiss was a relative fixture at point guard for the USA basketball teams in 1979 and 1980, and was named the most valuable player at the '79 World Championships.

    Rogers played on eight consecutive AAU national championship teams (1962-69) with Nashville Business College.

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